We talked to Marco Filippi of Volvero about his platform and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Marco Filippi: Everyone is safe and sound. I moved to Zagreb to cut every connection I had with my family based in Venice!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Volvero.
Marco Filippi: I came out with the idea of Volvero in 2016 as I was often commuting between Luxembourg, where I was working, and Milan, where my girlfriend was studying. The car rental experience from a user perspective sucked, so I decided to create an app for disrupting the car-rental model by connecting private owners with people in the same position as I was. At that time, I was working in the financial industry, just straight out of my Masters in Private equity; therefore, changing from that role to turn to entrepreneurship was not easy. I had always had this entrepreneurial mindset since when I was young: I loved to organize events in my hometown, and doing that for more than 10 years, while I was a student, allowed me to develop those skills that today are vital for my actual role. I learned how to manage people, motivate them, and learn many managerial tricks that really help me a lot even today. Something I am very proud of is being a Fulbright Fellow. Thanks to their support, I have lived one year in San Francisco and had the chance to become a much better entrepreneur.
How does Volvero innovate?
Marco Filippi: Volvero is a drive sharing app where owners can share their vehicles with the drivers. Our app creates a system in which one can have a car, a motorcycle, or commercial vehicle in the most efficient and sustainable way, saving time and money. By registering on our platform, owners can set the sharing time, distance, price, and other terms, being able to accept any drivers’ request. At the same time, drivers are able to choose any vehicle and terms of sharing that best suit their needs. With the help of AI and advanced technologies, Volvero guarantees maximum security and transparency, providing necessary information such as owners, drivers, and vehicles’ performance. Overcoming outdated paperwork, Volvero creates smart contracts at the start of the ride while one of a kind built-in insurance covers drivers and all kinds of vehicles.
Volvero is a game-changer in the market, thanks to the technology innovation leaps. Volvero is the first startup that is leveraging advanced technologies matched with a car-sharing service. First of all, it offers an insurance policy that covers various types of vehicles (cars, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, vans, etc.) of private and commercial owners. Moreover, it uses technology for data analytics of drivers’ behaviors. The app’s software is based on data produced by the sensors of the mobile phones of drivers (GPS, gyroscope, and accelerometer). It collects data while driving and performs data analytics (AI) to give users and third parties scores, reducing hazardous conduct of users through gamification by rewarding them with credits that can be spent in the partnership program. All data, contracts, and insurances are stored in a distributed ledger (blockchain), allowing for improved data transparency, reliability, and maximum security.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Marco Filippi: Coronavirus had a tremendous impact on our business, as we were planning to go live right in March 2020. Notwithstanding this inconvenience, though, we were lucky enough not be already live, as that would have been extremely costly. Being at a pre-commercialization stage indeed allows us for dramatic cost reductions if needed. Our extremely lean and capital-respected cost company’s structure made us resilient enough to survive not to one but two COVID epidemics. That being said, we like to quote Winston Churchill, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Indeed, we have learned many things from this unique situation, such as understanding where to focus exactly on, but also many market opportunities are showing up, as COVID had an impact, especially in the transportation domain. We see a much more receptive industry, both from businesses and big players like OEM, global car rental, insurance carriers, or car dealers. From an end-user perspective, people understood how costly vehicles are and how convenient it is to use Volvero to get around. Of course much better than using public transport or an expensive private owned car! We are indeed receiving many inquiries from all these subjects, as everyone is very interested in innovation in an industry (the mobility one) that hardly innovated in the last 40 years. In spite of COVID, our team growth from 4 to 10 people, and we are hiring more (…yes, developers, data analysts, and sales positions). That’s why we are going to run a seed round anytime soon. Finally, we planned to commercialize Volvero in March…this time 2021 tho!
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Marco Filippi: The difficult choices were if to commercialize after the first wave of COVID and whether to raise around the last summer or not. We wisely decided to postpone both, and we are super happy with that. The second wave indeed happened and the T&C proposed by the VC industry immediately after COVID was not founders friendly, with much lower valuation compared to just a few months ago and much stricter terms. Therefore we cut expenses, raise money via grants, and extended our runaway to a further 10 or 12 months. We have learned that it is always better to leave the dust settling a bit before making any important decision and use tools like decision-matrix to make better and wiser choices.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Marco Filippi: Though I work very hard (70 to 80 hours workweek is the standard) and on top of that, I am attending a Master’s at the Business School of ENI, I cope very well with stress. From my previous experiences as an elite athlete, I have learnt that consistency in performing physical activity makes me feel great while keeping away tensions from my head. The same goes for sleeping 8hours every day. The several journeys in Asia instead taught me how to focus on things that we can control and channel our energies into them, while at the same time trying to keep away negative or close-minded people that affect my yang. Finally, I believe that our mind is much stronger than what we usually think of, and being able to properly manage it allows for the achievement of apparently impossible results.
Ah and…I am Italian! I love to cook and taste great dishes. Eating healthy food is another fundamental aspect of my life. My days are indulged with dark chocolate, green tea, and homemade bread. And a glass of wine.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Marco Filippi: Our main global competitors are Turo and Getaround, while other small local competitors are in the US and the EU.
We are still an early-stage startup, so we can still move in “incognito mode.” Our weapons are the cutting-edge technology we deployed for running our service, a great user experience, and…our communities who really show love for Volvero. That’s amazing, indeed.
Your final thoughts?
Marco Filippi: I hope that readers will be able to take out the best from these weird times and that sharing my experience helps them a bit. We are very positive about the future. Life is an amazing journey, and everyone should fight hard to pursue their dreams and help others in living better, meaningful lives by giving much more than what they get or take.