Are you passionate about building things? But don’t know how to get started and how it can scale? Wait no more, Alessia Camera is here to tell you all about setting up and growing a startup.
Alessia is the author of the book Startup Marketing, has a wealth of experience working as a Startup Marketing Mentor numerous startups over and is the Founder of the ACE Marketing Consultancy.
Apart from her work with startups, Alessia is also passionate about giving back to the community. A freelance contributor to the WIRED magazine, she is also a public speaker speaking at various tech conferences and events on Growth Hacking, Startups, Open Innovation, and Digital Trends.
A great proponent of women in leaders in tech. She is the co-founder and co-organizer of WhatsNextTalk which is a Ted-like conference to highlight Women in STEM and to encourage more women achieving tech lead careers. Alessia’s achievements in the field of technology are remarkable and wide-ranging. A true technology leader who has co-founded multiple companies authored Italy’s best selling book ‘Startup Marketing’, is a freelance contributor for best selling magazines like WIRED and a mentor and an inspiration for women in tech.
SDD: Can you tell us about how you got interested in the field of technology and your journey so far?
Thanks, girls! Well, I haven’t really co-founded many companies, only my own growth marketing agency where I work with a bunch of freelancers to help startups achieving growth.
From the initial idea, I help founders testing their hypothesis building their MVP, working with developers and designers to optimize it, and satisfy users’ needs looking at data and a combined approach between marketing and product.
In all the other cases, I simply joined founders and teams as Head of Growth and Digital Marketing helping teams unlocking results and value for users and investors.
At the beginning of my career, I thought Data and Tech weren’t for me.
Then, in my first experiences with the Internet, I realized how much I liked spending time writing stuff online and trying to understand the technical bits behind it. Maybe I wasn’t truly honest with myself or simply biased when I thought of it.
I’ve started learning a lot by myself rolling my sleeves up and opening a blog, many Facebook groups, and pages.
Every day I wanted to learn more, that’s why I enrolled in an MBA in Innovation Management back in Italy to get more skilled on Business Planning and Strategy and that’s how my approach became more mature.
During that experience, I and my classmates went to Finland to see the Nokia innovation ecosystem. Nokia was still one of the most important tech companies at that time and I remember feeling like Alice in Wonderland asking questions to everyone, I really wanted to understand what a startup was. I think that’s when I realized I was in love with tech. I came back thinking that it was the future I wanted to work in.
I got a couple of more experiences in Italy but I decided to move to London as where I was born, innovation wasn’t very strong and I’m not a patient person: I wanted to learn and gain experience as fast as I could. I think it’s one of the best choices of my life. It’s been a steep learning curve but I’m happy and proud of everything I’ve done, mistakes included.
SDD: You have been the Growth Hacker in Residence for the Open Data Institute for 25+ data startups. Can you tell us more about your experience with these data startups and driving innovation through data?
Data are a very important part of startups because they’re uncertain organizations as they base their ideas on assumptions. So, data are needed to make sure they’re on the right path.
More widely, data are important for everyone because they help to understand each of us how to make our choices.
From Google Maps to the future self-driving cars for individuals, to companies working to make their processes and their choices more efficient. Data are everywhere and we need to be able to use them, we’re not perfect human beings without data.
So, data can also be the common language between the big traditional corps (very slow at innovating and usually inefficient) and startups, as the latter can help the first ones solving their problems or inefficiencies. That’s where Open Innovation can be placed, but we still need to find a way to help the two speaking a language going beyond data, as they have different goals and it’s not easy.
SDD: What is your advice for young women who want to launch their own startups?
Go for it, believe in yourself and start building your project.
Find at least one co-founder, someone who will share your crazy ideas and will help you survive during the roller coaster awaiting you. And then study, read as much as you can, try to create a network of people helping you even if you have no money to give them and be prepared, it’s a long journey to the top.
You might fail but it’s not a real issue, you’ll survive. And you’ll be happy to have tried at the end cause you have learned a ton of things at once.
SDD: Your book ‘Startup Marketing’ was a best seller in Italy. What was your inspiration to write this book?
As a lot of people would say it’s the result of hard work and a bunch of coincidences. Funny because I wouldn’t believe in coincidences in the past, but it happened to me as well.
At that time, I had just left my last full-time role with an early stage startup and before starting to look for a new job I decided to take some time off as in the previous months I had worked a lot, jumping from project to project without really realizing the big picture.
I decided to start doing some freelance work and to take the opportunity to spend a real summer back to Italy (British summer are not proper summers, at all!). I got invited to speak at one of the biggest marketing festivals in Italy and I decided to speak about my experience in Growth Hacking: it wasn’t a thing yet, and I was the first talk about it to a wide audience.
I met the publisher at my talk who waited patiently after everyone else and he asked me if I ever had thought of writing a book. Well, I was in Italy also as a giving back to the community where I was born and I literally had in mind to collect all the experiences I had in the past, as it could have been learning for everyone else.
I said ‘yes’ and I started working on Startup Marketing in a very honest way.
So I think the inspiration was the people and again my passion for tech and startups, as I really think that by knowing how to do it in reality, entrepreneurs can change the world.
SDD: What is your biggest advice/pieces of advice to startups regarding growth hacking during these times of extreme uncertainty?
Focus on data and your first users, try to develop something valuable to them, a very good product should able to solve their needs from the very beginning. Don’t fall in love with your idea, listen to them and change as much as you can if you see that it’s a difficult one. You need to focus on numbers and people at the same time.
SDD: For those children who have an aptitude for technology, what are your thoughts on incorporating data science, ML and AI in our current education system?
I think this is a tough question because it really depends on the country and the education system. It will be nice approaching those subjects when you’re still a child as we can fight biases and stereotypes from the very beginning. I think schools should provide a way to help children understanding what they like by playing and having fun with technologies and they shouldn’t be only judged on their marks. Maybe creating more labs inside schools so children can play and try tech and robots in their own way could be a nice start.
SDD: What is your advice for our SHE Drives Data community women on how they can get started and make better progress forging careers in the field of ML, AI, and Data Science?
I think at first you need to make sure it’s something you like. Easy if you’re just graduated but not if you’re more mature. They should try to give it a real meaning, a deeper “why” which will help their motivation. Changing a career is tough and we really need to make sure it’s a long-term investment, it shouldn’t only be to get more money.
For example, predictive analysis is very interesting, based on patterns you can try to understand things before others and try to help create the future, in a way.
Then, to be able to progress you should never be satisfied with what you learned or achieved. Our world is changing super-fast and everyone needs to be on top of our stuff.
Be curious, be humble, ask a lot of questions without fearing you’re doing something wrong is my advice in that case scenario.
SDD: What inspires you every day?
Knowing that this is only the beginning of what I can do if I truly believe in myself and my skills. It’s hard but as soon as you think it’s not your fault if something bad happens, and focus on what’s next, it’s easier believing there are no borders and you can achieve everything.
My personal motto is: Go, girls, you can do it, only #keepushing
You can also read this interview on the SHEROES app here. While you are there, don’t forget to drop us a hello at the She Drives Data community on SHEROES! We would love to hear from you ❤️️