Francesco Caresio, CEO & Founder of Kronoshev speaks to us about merging social media and Blockchain
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Francesco Caresio: We are doing relatively good! Everyone is struggling a bit due to Corona regulations: I’m Italian, but I’m currently living in Germany where regulations aren’t that strong, and it’s still possible to go outside, of course, while respecting the social distancing norms. On the other hand, my family is living in Italy, where regulations are stricter. Although, I’m happy everyone is healthy and safe: that’s the most important thing!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Kronoshev.
Francesco Caresio: I’m Francesco, and I’m 21 years old. I have always been in love with the business, probably because I grew up looking up to my dad and his work: he built a company from the ground up, with 20 years of constant hard work and sacrifices. I started my first “business” when I was 13 years old: I was buying, fixing and reselling mobile phones and original parts. The business grew and went on for more than 5 years, quickly taking my operations to an international level. While running this business, I graduated from high school. After that, I decided to pursue my business passion by applying to ESCP, one of the world’s top business schools. I moved to London to attend my first year of university, and while I was there, I decided to reinvest most of the profits made with the phone business into something bigger. I had a dream: disrupting the social media market with the world’s first fair, transparent and innovative social network. That’s how Kronoshev was born! I hired an American based team of developers, and in less than one year, we had a proprietary software ready. Today, I’m still working on this, perfecting the business and speaking with investors from Silicon Valley and Crypto Valley: to be the leaders of a big change, it’s important to have the right partners, and that’s why I value networking more than anything.
How does Kronoshev innovate?
Francesco Caresio: We innovate by being the world’s first company to merge social media and Blockchain. By basing our platform on Blockchain technology, we can assure a superior level of protection to our customers: not only all their content is timestamped and registered in order to prove ownership, but every single operation we do with the user data is visible and traceable. In fact, Blockchain is synonymous with transparency.
In a data-driven world, users can’t afford to give up their digital assets to companies that resell them to advertisers for a profit. That’s why all the rights of every content uploaded on Kronoshev will always belong to the user.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Francesco Caresio: The pandemic happened with the worse timing ever, and we hit a rough patch. We were just about to close a big round of financing from private investors, but Corona deeply affected their business, and they had to pull out. My business was stalling. For some months, I paused most of Kronoshev’s operations (except the networking ones), and I focused on building Stè a Ca, a free platform to deliver essential groceries and products to people in need in my hometown. That didn’t bring any revenue and consumed quite a lot of time and economic resources, but I felt like I had to help. The main business was stuck anyways, so I had a lot of time on my hands. After a couple of months, things started moving again: I moved to Germany, and I had wonderful networking opportunities, which allowed me to partially enter into the Silicon Valley environment while bringing my company to the next level with new Blockchain and NFT applications.
Seeking financing during a pandemic is very hard: I used to go to big conventions, like Lisbon’s Web Summit in 2019 and closed deals between a cigar and a glass of scotch. The most important thing is creating a personal bond with the investors: there are many great companies out there, and investors get stopped for a pitch all the time. If you manage to connect with them on an emotional level before than on a business one, you will make lifelong connections, and it will be easier for them to believe in you and your company. When doing conferences online, all the personal part disappears and goes to waste. Therefore it’s a big challenge to reinvent the “connection” process. Behind a screen, there are no emotions.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Francesco Caresio: Luckily, all people working on Kronoshev had other income sources, so we didn’t really have to make challenging choices. However, one time we had to pay for some outsourced services, and it took almost 5 months to pay the outstanding bill. Luckily, we built a relationship of trust with all our partners and suppliers, so they knew we were going to pay, and they didn’t pressure us too much.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Francesco Caresio: In Italy, governmental grants are highly ineffective. First of all, they’re too small actually to do anything. Also, the legal and taxational environment doesn’t encourage innovation and entrepreneurial spirit at all. In fact, 86% of Italian startups reached less than 50.000 euros of financing (source: Agendadigitale.eu), and to open a normal LLC (SRL), it takes months of bureaucracy and at least 10.000 euros of share capital. In America, you can open the same LLC for 220$ and by signing two sheets of paper. The main problem is that the Italian government, instead of investing in innovation, spends huge amounts of public money for social initiatives which don’t do anything to boost the economy. As a result, many young people are going abroad with their ideas and companies: Italy is becoming older in fact of age and innovation every day. It’s a deep pain for me to say such things because I’m a proud Italian. But I don’t see any future for my company in the Italian environment.
Your final thoughts?
Francesco Caresio: I believe that innovation must be encouraged, and that’s why startups are a crucial contribution to society and the economy. A State which allows and helps startups to prosper is destined to be wealthy.
In these challenging times, companies must reinvent themselves: it’s all about flexibility. An entrepreneur should aim to have a diverse business portfolio because, with a growing sense of uncertainty, it’s hard to evaluate which companies will become the next unicorns and which ones will fail. Being informed, curious, hungry and a bit crazy is the only way to keep your company afloat during Corona times.
This pandemic was a good lesson for everyone. It taught us not to take for granted the most basic things in business as well as in life. It taught us that, even if technology connects us, we crave for real, tangible human interactions, and digitalization can’t be the answer to everything. It taught us not to give up, to stay strong when things are bad. And hopefully, it helped us understand that we can reinvent. We can start from scratch a thousand times and still make it. To all the fellow readers, entrepreneurs and people who will read this, I want to tell you one thing: change your perspective. Where others see trouble, find a solution. Where others see a pandemic, find a shift in demand and adapt. And where others complain and critic, be the one who proves them wrong. Because everyone has a business light inside of them: they just have to find the way to make it shine.
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