21. November 2012–
There are some fresh faces on the Berlin startup scene and they're on a mission to help people bookmark, organise and share URLs. The Italian team behind URList made the decision to move over a month ago to work-out of mobilesuite Coworking Berlin in Prenzlauer Berg. VentureVillage caught up with CEO and co-founder Alberto Granzotto, to find out how URList is offering a simple solution to a common problem and why it isn't always easy to work with friends...
Hi Alberto, who are you and what are you doing?
Hi, I am Alberto, the CEO and cofounder of URList, a platform that lets you gather your URLs in lists and share them with your friends. In the long run, we also want to be a platform for content discovery. We want to exploit the knowledge of our users to sort through the internet. For example, one of our users, a Muslim girl, made a list on hijab fashion, she collected about 50 links. So, in time, we want to have a lot of these vertical lists – it's structured information. And then people who are interested can explore the lists.
We don’t have a lot of users yet, but those we have are very engaged. We have a lot of teachers on the platform, because it works for their profession – they use it to share with their students. They are natural curators.
Behind every success is a vision. How did you come across your idea?
I thought of the idea two years ago, as I couldn’t find anything on the internet that would help me share a small amount of information with other people and list URLs online. There's Delicious, but URList isn’t like Delicious, because you don't share a tag with other people. A tag is a lot more generic than a list, a list has a lot more semantic information.
Who are the founders and how did you find each other?
We are a team of five at the moment, the founders are myself, Stefano Cavallari (CTO) and Valentina Montagna (the UI/UX designer). Then we have two extra developers, Riccardo Buzzotta, for the front end and Andrea Di Persio, responsible for the back end. We all have a technical background, I studied computer science and I met Stefano while studying at the University of Padua - he also did computer science. I met Valentina in Milan through a mutual friend. She has a background in design, she studied in England and worked on books, on their designs, layouts and covers. We all moved from Italy to Berlin in mid October.
What is your USP and what makes you different from everyone else?
There are big players on the market for sharing, collecting and collaborating sources, like social bookmarking from Delicious, content and image curation like Pinterest, or social news like Reddit or Digg. We are in the middle of all these players. The difference is our atomic unit – a list of links. We are not doing content curation. We aren’t manipulating the content, because you see the original links, the source.
There is no big player doing this very simple task. I say simple, but the task is still hard to solve. There are a lot of lists on the internet – but linkography hasn't really been solved, I mean there is no way to say I wrote an article about this topic and here are the links to all other articles related to this topic
What is your business model?
Now we are thinking about traction and user growth, but in the long run we will use the verticality of every list so we can do some advertising and have sponsored lists or links. There are a lot of specific lists and we want to exploit this feature of the list.
Who is financing you?
Is there something that you're missing?
The financing round is still open and we're looking for investors and angels in Berlin. We have the money in the bank, but we want more cool guys that believe in URList. We need a community manager, someone that cares for the users.
Who would you like to have a lunch with?
Any advice you'd give for fellow startups?
Have a strong will to do what you do. We often see negative responses to what we’re doing, but we don't get depressed, we kept moving forward. Listen to your users - they give you so much feedback and can cheer you up when you’re down.
Any challenges you've faced?
It's difficult to keep the team together when you don’t know when you'll get an investment. Also, we started as a project between friends, which was hard, as we had to switch from just an idea we worked on over the weekends to something bigger. And running a company with your friends isn’t always easy!
Why the move to Berlin?
We are from Italy, but startups in Italy are the new trend, there are lots of cool ones at the moment, but the environment is still very young. We wanted to move to London or Berlin, but Berlin won out because it's growing a lot: there is more competition here which helps you grow faster.
In Italy it’s a lot slower. So the competition motivates you. And every day, every week, every hour basically, there is an event here! Our investors also pushed us to move away from Italy, to a place where we speak lots of English and can see what other startups are doing.
Where do you think you'll be in a years' time?
We'll be the main platform where you can find new and structured content, a trusted site for links.