Neil Patel

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In a candid interview, Luca Cartechini shares his remarkable journey from the finance world to becoming an entrepreneur in the thriving e-commerce industry.

Born in Italy and educated in the UK, Luca’s story is a testament to the changing landscape of venture capital, the challenges of entrepreneurship, and the strategic approach to fundraising and acquisitions.

The interview provides insights into the dynamics of venture capital and the differences between European and American approaches to the industry.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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    A Global Perspective

    Luca did his masters in management between London and Paris. His international experiences, from studying in an exchange program in Germany to working in the UK, shaped his perspective of the global market.

    Luca highlights the significance of the UK, particularly London, as a hub for finance and technology, offering more extensive opportunities compared to his home country, Italy. He also considers his German and English experiences to be way more tactical and practical.

    As Luca opines, in terms of finance, most of the major investment banks are based in London and are typically American, having branches in Europe. When it comes to starting a company and raising capital, the UK is a more viable location, particularly London.

    That’s also because London gives founders access to a broader range of capital, particularly in the US.

    Venturing into Venture Capital

    Having started his career at Jefferies, an American investment bank with operations in Europe, Luca transitioned from providing recommendations to executing them.

    He was responsible for brands like Boohoo, Ocado, Asos, Zalando and European internet companies listed on the stock exchange with market caps between $1B and $15B.

    His move to Pretiosum Ventures, a fund based in London, marked the beginning of his Venture Capital journey. One of the fund’s Partners was Gérard López, founder of Mangrove Capital Partners, the first European VC to invest in Skype and Wix.

    Luca was working on transactions ranging from $1M to $10M in the technology space.

    With a focus on early-stage companies, Luca shares the pivotal moments that led him to venture into entrepreneurship, emphasizing the importance of gaining practical experience and being closer to the starting phase of a company.

    Luca started out working in the banking sector covering fast growing internet companies. He acknowledges that he was lucky enough to work in the technology sphere. This gave him insights into tech trends and venture capital.

    He naturally transitioned to the buy side. Given the decision between later-stage private equity growth faculty or venture capital, he chose the former since he intended to start his own company eventually.

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    The Birth of Shop Circle

    Luca’s entrepreneurial journey took shape with the inception of Shop Circle three years ago. He carried his experiences in VC into the new company.

    Luca started his company in the UK, though he does maintain a small office in Italy. He also realized that much of the recommendations he had been providing to entrepreneurs as a VC were given without understanding the struggles they go through.

    Luca talks about the early stages of Shop Circle, emphasizing the challenges and strategic decisions that led to the company’s focus on providing software for eCommerce brands, particularly those operating on Shopify.

    Today, Shop Circle has around 100,000 clients and provides a single solution, the veritable Microsoft of eCommerce. Since Luca came from a finance background covering tech, he did have experience with eCommerce, but it was important for him to partner with people who had expertise in other areas.

    Team Building Dynamics

    Shop Circle’s co-founder is Gian Maria, who formerly worked at Amazon.

    The company also needed to master operations, hiring, fundraising, HR, development, product, management, and customer service. And then it needed capitals.

    Fundraising and Market Dynamics

    Luca recognizes the two prerequisites of raising capital that investors focus on– how big the market is (>$1B) or how many competitors there are.

    The second concern is the founder’s potential to capture a good percentage of that market. As Luca explains, entrepreneurs who can answer these concerns are more likely to get the seed capital they need.

    Luca recalls that in less than three weeks raised more than $1.5M from angel investors all over Europe and decided to go full-time into the idea.

    Shop Circle’s fundraising journey, securing around $140 million, reflects the evolving dynamics of the market. Luca sheds light on the changing fundraising landscape, focusing on team dynamics and the critical role of understanding the total addressable market.

    He explains how Shop Circle’s rational approach to valuation and commitment to fundamentals set it apart from other startups.

    Storytelling is everything, which is something that Luca Cartechini was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

    Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

    The Shop Circle Platform

    Luca pointed out that the real strength of platforms like Shopify is their partner ecosystem, where the platform makes $1 for every $7 its partners earn. These platforms are essentially driven by thousands of bootstrapped developers who create the software and applications to power them.

    Although these professionals have the skills, they struggle to scale up since they lack the expertise and resources. Shop Circle acquires the apps or starts them from scratch and centralizes them under a single brand.

    At the time of this interview, the company operates 40 solutions in the space of delivery, inventory, fintech and digital downloads.

    Essentially, Shop Circle is an all-in-one platform that centralizes the customer service onboarding and partnership experience, eliminating the need for 40 different points of contact to deal with 40 different products.

    Mergers and Acquisitions

    The interview delves into Shop Circle’s impressive track record of over 14 acquisitions in just three years. Luca outlines the strategic rationale behind acquisitions, emphasizing the unique position Shop Circle holds by operating within the Shopify ecosystem.

    Shop Circle leveraged acquisitions as a way to really build up the infrastructure and the growth of the business. Luca reveals how they are in a unique position to assess the needs of their clients because they have 100000 interactions every year with their clients.

    However, they also consistently look for different solutions to complete their tech stack.

    The discussion touches on the challenges and advantages of M&A activities and how the company’s early focus on integration facilitated a smoother process. Luca explains how integration has been relatively easier for them since they’re all part of the same ecosystem, the Shopify app store.

    Vision and Future Growth

    Luca Cartechini concludes the interview by sharing Shop Circle’s vision – to become the first global operator of e-commerce tools.

    With an emphasis on serving brands comprehensively, from product to technology, Luca discusses the company’s expansion plans to other platforms and the significance of having a presence in both marketplaces and proprietary websites.

    At present, Shop Circle is managing nine of the several categories on Shopify and has plans to expand. The objective is to serve brands with everything they need from a product and technology perspective.

    Luca intends to cater to not just medium and large enterprises but also solo entrepreneurs, drop shippers, and small and mini enterprise brands.

    Entrepreneurial Wisdom

    The interview wraps up with Luca offering valuable advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. He encourages them to start early, emphasizing the changing perception around failure.

    Luca highlights the importance of persistence, urging founders to be undeterred by rejection and to view each setback as an opportunity to prove themselves.

    Luca Cartechini’s journey is a testament to the transformative power of embracing change, taking calculated risks, and persistently pursuing one’s entrepreneurial vision in the ever-evolving world of e-commerce.

    Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:

    • Luca Cartechini’s journey underscores the international perspective shaping his success, transitioning from finance to entrepreneurship.
    • Shop Circle’s strategic focus on e-commerce brands operating on Shopify highlights the importance of specialization in the startup landscape.
    • The rational approach to fundraising and valuation sets Shop Circle apart, emphasizing team dynamics and a deep understanding of the total addressable market.
    • With over 14 acquisitions in three years, Shop Circle’s unique position within the Shopify ecosystem facilitates smoother integration processes.
    • Luca envisions Shop Circle as the first global operator of e-commerce tools, with plans to expand to other platforms beyond Shopify.
    • Luca’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to start early, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and persistently engage with a broad spectrum of investors.
    • The interview unveils the evolution of venture capital, emphasizing the importance of practical experience, diverse team building, and a relentless pursuit of one’s entrepreneurial vision.

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    Neil Patel

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