Friday Interview: Daniele Casal

This week, I interviewed Daniele Casal, an Italian now living in London. This entrepreneur shares his experience with us today.

Why did you choose to move to the UK? Was it always part of your life plan?

I didn’t plan it. I was living in Dublin before and had a pretty good life there. The opportunity came up in the summer of 2014; at the time I felt that spending some time in the UK could be an interesting experience. I also thought London was a good place to try and start a business because of its vibrant startup ecosystem. I could meet like-minded people and so on.

Did you always know you wanted to work in IT?

 Yes I did. I always thought software is a great vehicle for solving a variety of society’s problems. A lot of people can live and work with better tools, lower costs, more automation, efficiency, clarity and fun. Software is able to provide these and many other benefits.

Have you always wanted to launch your own venture?

I think it has always been a part of me, but it took some time to realise it.

I was working as a salaried employee initially and a consultant later, and I felt there was always something that prevented me from being completely happy and fulfilled. Unlike most of my peers, I wasn’t driven by career progression either.

I ignored this feeling for some time while working jobs, before I decided to try something new.

How did the launch of your first product go in June 2015?

The launch went well, considering this was my first real product. I pre-sold it between January and February before it even existed. At that time it was just an idea on a PowerPoint deck. When five companies agreed to sign up for it, before it was even created, I had a high level of confidence that this project was going to work out.

It was a pretty good feeling, to launch in June with five clients that were waiting for my product that would allow them to start working better and smarter.

Now I have seven clients in Italy, and I am getting ready to launch my second SaaS product to three more companies in the UK, which I’ve built using the same approach.

What does your software offer that makes it unique?

The first factor is the software being cloud-based which is still a unique selling point in my target niche. Users can log in, and work from anywhere on any kind of device. They do not have to worry about installations, hardware failures, backups etc.

Also, I think the way I approached the market is quite different from my competitors: instead of building the product by myself, I asked my early adopters to participate in its creation financially and by providing ideas and feedback. I involved them from day one and constantly worked with them to deliver exactly what they were looking for.

Q. What is your philosophy for success?

A. Right now, my notion of success is getting my time back. Time is a limited resource. In my opinion, every hour we spend working in a job that is not aligned with who we are, and our life vision, is wasted. To me personally, trading my limited time doing uninspiring work in exchange for a paycheck no longer interests me.

Personally, I would rather work on what I like, on my own terms, planning every day the way I want: waking up without an alarm clock and going for a run before sitting down in my home office to work on own my projects that I choose to pursue; being able to create value on my own without the constraints imposed by an employer; achieving financial freedom and location independence. This is what success means to me at the moment.

What does the term “entrepreneur” mean for you?

It’s a person with a very specific mindset, strong determination and a higher tolerance for risk and uncertainty.

I see that you have several certifications, alongside your BA in Computer Science. Is it important to you to keep improving your credentials?

I used to think I had to continue to improve my credentials to feel safe at my job, getting a new job, a raise and that sort of thing. Now, I think credentials are less important. What is important to me is continuously learning and growing. Rather than acquiring new credentials, I like to look for new challenges and study the mindset of other successful entrepreneurs, how they see the world, how they’ve started and created their businesses from nothing, learn from their proven approaches.

What have been the challenges of launching your own entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship is not an easy ride. There are several challenges that I’ve experienced and am still experiencing. Among these are uncertainty, fear of failure, running out of money, being forced to go back and work for someone else, fear of being rejected by customers and prospects… The financial aspect can be a significant issue when starting out; going from a steady paycheck to having unpredictable, inconsistent income can be unnerving.

These are just a few, but there are many emotions, mental blockages and limiting beliefs that emerge when you start your own business. Recognising these feelings, reflecting and working on them, can make you a stronger person.