Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

Hi, Do You Wanna Do A Startup?

I do get this a lot, probably too often.

I usually get, once a week, either a tweet, email, Whatsapp message or even a voicemail from someone who’s looking for a “technical co-founder” to do a startup with.

Yes, this is what I call “The Social Network” effect. People have watched that film too many times and now everyone has gone crazy for the “American dream”.

I am crazy too, but I do have a co-founder in whatever I want to do (sorry guys), so I am sorted for the next years.

Again, this is not an article for wanna be entrepreneurs, but part of my own thoughts and some of Paul Graham’s ones. If you don’t know who he is and you want to do a startup, you have a problem.

Let’s assume an imaginary world where I didn’t have a co-founder or any friend and I was looking for something. Why would I still say no?

  1. A co-founder is like a marriage, you need to spend 5 years of your life with the guy/girl, so why would I want to team up with someone I don’t know?
  2. If you don’t know to write a single line of code, why do I have to develop a product for you?
  3. Why don’t you get an intro from a friend of mine, instead of calling me?

Point No. 2 is crucial, especially because most of these messages come from business students, who obviously tell me they have focused their life’s goals into “digital marketing, strategy and business”, which is equal to “I know how to peel an apple and make sandwiches”.

No offense, but that’s true.

This is usually the case with tech ideas.

If you think you have a tech idea and you need a guy to build it, there is a high chance that your idea is completely wrong or doesn’t make sense, why?

You don’t know how to build it, so you have let your Steve Jobs’ mindset flow without even considering tradeoffs.

There was this time where a guy made me sign an NDA to later find out that he wanted to build the Internet all over again (literally, he wanted to make a clone for each website there was out there).

What lesson did I learn? Never sign a NDA. If you don’t have the guts to tell me what you want to do, why would I be interested?

Ideas change while you develop them, why?

You find better solutions, things to do or you see that your Steve Jobs’ idea is not doable.

Let’s assume that I say “yes, let’s do it!”.

The output would be me developing the thing for probably 6 months, then releasing it and iterating on the product, while getting feedback from the customers to get market product fit.

What would you do? Nothing. You would mostly sit and stare at me, while I play the orchestra.

You thought you could play the orchestra, didn’t you!?

That’s not going to happen, because you don’t know the product, you haven’t built it and you can’t understand what the users want because when I try to explain to you the lean startup model, you show me a business book.

Ideas != products.

If you don’t know what != means, again, close the business book and learn how to code.

“Steve Jobs DID IT!

I can shape the product, find customers, iterate, market, build a strategy, while you code it.”

Steve Jobs is one and he wasn’t even an exception. Yes, I am telling you that.

The exception was Steve Wozniak, the guy who invented the Apple 2.

You want to know the truth? I am not as smart as Steve Wozniak and Jobs, at least, knew how to connect a few wires, plus there is a big difference between doing a startup and running a 40k employees organisation.

In the latter case, you need to be a manager.

Guess what? You don’t need to get a degree, you can learn it.

In the past years, several different VC firms have set a trend where they invest in Founders/CEOs and train them to stay where they are supposed to be, in the CEO seat, even if they are Computer Scientists.

YC only invests in technical co-founders when it comes down to tech products. Having the bullshitter and the slave is pointless.

So why don’t we still get that times have changed?

University doesn’t talk about Startups. There are a few people who talk about “Entrepreneurship”, but they are wearing a suit most of the time, so they are not credible.

There are also a few groups that do “Entrepreneurial” events, but they are pointless, because it’s full of guys looking for the Computer Scientist to use.

The Computer Science department doesn’t talk about this. It’s an issue, which is also due to the demographic of students who study here. The majority of them opt for working in a bank.

Why? Money and the inability to understand that a startup could be 1000x rewarding, both financially and from a knowledge point of view, in any way.

How can we fix this?

Well, writing a blog post is a first attempt.

A second attempt would be to make people aware.

If you want to know how to write a CV, a cover letter, find or get a job, prepare an interview, be more “employable”, the University offers full support, but what if I want to be unemployed?

Where are my unemployment people? Are there any?

If we focus back on the business guys, I have got two pieces of advice.

  1. Don’t get a business degree, do something that makes you creative and gives you a domain expertise (and learn how to code). You don’t have to be a Computer Scientist, you just need to know how to build your own things.
  2. If you are already in a business program, learn how to code if you want to do tech stuff. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of Instagram, had a humanities background, he learned iPhone programming and sold his company for 1 billion dollars. It’s still doable. If you don’t want to learn, open an ice-cream parlour, you’ll have more success selling ice cream.

We come to the end of this blog post where I need to:

  1. Apologise to all the guys I have insulted. This usually happens when you put an egocentric guy, behind a screen, at 5AM, on a train to London.
  2. Thank all those who look for me. It’s always a pleasure to reply and also give you feedback on what you are doing. I always don’t know what I am talking about, but people still think I look smart, so if you want smart thoughts, get in touch.
  3. Apologise to the University, which is really not doing anything to fix this, but it’s also true this is not Stanford and we are not in Silicon Valley.
  4. Ask to all the Computer Scientists out there to look in the mirror and tell themselves they can do it without the guy who has read “The art of doing business”.

ps: I wrote this blog post while I was wearing a suit and heading to an interview with a bank. We all know that in the end, I will accept those nice £40k a year that are waiting for me! ehehehe

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ps1: “omitted, read the next blog post”

ps2: thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks for reading and not having punched me yet.

ps3: You can find me on Twitter at @edoardomoreni or Linkedin (I usually don’t accept many people, so if you want to talk, just stop or find me.)

My sweet spot is on the ground floor of the Learning Commons in the corner, but I haven’t been there in a while. I am spending my time in the Computer Science department because it’s my last year and I have stuff to do.

You could also poke me on Facebook, no one has already done that!

Please, please, please, my phone number is public, but don’t use it.

I can’t even remember my digits, so why would I think it’s important to listen to the first stranger who phones me?

Thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks, thanks for reading.

You’ll keep seeing blog posts like this because it’s my last year, so I feel the need to share.



The Day I Interviewed At Google

Getting a job at Google might not sound as cool as it was ten years ago, straight after their Initial Public Offering; but, although this company has become a corporation, the lifestyle that you gain by working there is pretty amazing. Yes, I interviewed at Google in London for a summer internship as an Associate Product Manager.

I actually had a first phone interview, where they asked me a “behavioural question”, a “product” one and finally an analytical. It was pretty straightforward and also amazing, because you don’t get “normal questions”, but it’s more a race to determine if you are crazier than the interviewer, and if you are, you move to the on site interviews.

After a few weeks, before new year’s eve, I received an email saying I had passed the phone screen and I was moved to the next stage “on site”. This is something similar an Assessment Centre run by banks. You spend the whole day at Google and you get between 3/4 interviews. In my case, I went through 4 interviews, 3 with Product Managers and 1 Technical.

Two assessed my “product” skills, one was “analytical” and the last one was purely technical. For the first three, the advice is to be crazy, understand Google, lead the conversation and show off as much as you can. As soon as they asked me the first question, I got the marker and told the guy I was going to the whiteboard. We also talked about strategy and the future, so an advice is to read TechCrunch, The Next Web, The Verge, on a daily basis and understand companies’ moves. You are not interested in what happens but why.

I just received an email by the recruiter who told me she would let me know next week, probably on wednesday. If I have passed this stage, I move to the next one, a 3 page essay to be written in 48hrs. I feel like I did good in the first three interviews and underperformed in the technical one, even though I should suppose to be a “Computer Scientist”.

This wasn’t an in-depth post about what really happened. The reason is because Google doesn’t let you tell everything publicly and also because I am not sure I passed this stage, so I’d rather focus on my own things, wait, reflect and let you know what is going to happen in the next few days.

If I go through this stage and the essay one, I’ll probably describe in detail everything and even blog during the summer; but it’s an hard guess and the APM program is probably the hardest program to get in. Keep in mind that for a Software Engineering Internship you just have to pass 2 interviews, I already went through 5. lol.

Stay Tuned!

[GreatPreneurs] Matthew Stafford From Student Upstarts

I have recently reached Matthew Stafford, one of the co-founders of Student Upstarts. This is an incredibly interesting firm that invests only on graduates, postgraduates or Phd students. You can find the article here.


Matthew Stafford is a co-founder, with Christian Jakenfelds and Nick Wheeler, of StudentUpstarts. Student Upstarts invests up to £15,000 in exchange for up to 8% into student and graduate teams to start and run their own business. Matthew and Christian also co-founded UpstartsConnect – a co-working space in Kings Cross, London, and Matthew is a co-founder of 9others – a global network solving the problems of business that keep entrepreneurs up at night – all over a good meal with 9others.

The Uk university system seems to be focused on people getting jobs and graduating with an outstanding CV that can help them, so why do you bet on graduates instead of everyone, even dropouts?

Traditionally graduates have had two options – do further study or work for someone else. What Student Upstarts is about is giving them a third option – starting a startup. We think that students and recent graduates are perfectly capable of running a business and we believe it’s the perfect time to do it. We can give a bit of startup cash, some office space, an amazing network and mentoring. It’s not for everyone but we want to be part of that ‘third option’ for those students and graduates who are smart, entrepreneurial and driven to build a business.

You say that you take between 4-8%, so how does the equity you take vary?

We won’t take more than 8% because we think that’s fair for £15,000 and we want the founders to be very incentivised to build a huge business. We’re open to taking less if the team are more developed but this hasn’t happened yet.

In how many businesses have you invested till now and do you think you are going to reach your 100 companies goal by the end of 2015?

We have invested in 5 teams so far and 4 are still running. We’re going through the paperwork for our sixth and that they should have the money by the end of February. More importantly that sixth is the third in two months. Last week we interviewed seven teams and if we like them all then we’ll offer to them all – we have the vision of investing in 100 teams in the next couple of years so we’re aiming of doing 30-40 this year and more next year.

Have you got any success story?

Well, 4 our of five still running is pretty good so far for such early stage businesses! One of the teams has raised further investment and three of the four have regular paying customers.

What’s the ratio in applicants between graduates, postgraduates and Phd students?

Of the five teams there are 3 PhDs, 6 undergraduate degrees and 2 masters.

How do you see the startup scene in London and what do you think the best three startups are?

The London scene is great and getting better – it’s really developed and matured over the last few years that I’ve been involved. There’s more investment around but it’s never easy to get this – it also shouldn’t be the focus the whole time, which it sometimes seems to be – what’s more important is selling to customers and getting cash in, something that too many entrepreneurs forget.

There are some terrific businesses around but three early stage startups that spring to mind that I admire right now are:

How do you think universities should improve the presence of Entrepreneurship in their institutions?

They should cause chaos by creating and getting involved in as many external networks as possible – too often universities look inwards and try to get the ‘perfect’ solution before acting.

They should also stop measuring/being measured by salary increases and percentages employed and start measuring the number of companies started and jobs created by their alumni.

You have organised a conference with one YCombinator partner, do you see a difference in operating between an american investor and an european one?

Yes, this is a massive question – I don’t have any experience investing in the USA but they do seem to have a greater appetite for risk and they act quicker (whether that’s a yes or a no). They also seem more accessible – I’ve had email conversations with a few well-known and prolific US investors and they’re not hidden away like many UK investors seem to be.

Fred Wilson and other american investors have said more than once that they are seriously looking at the european startups, what do you think it makes them more interesting?

Yes, the world is a small place and there are incredible opportunities for investors here as well as many other parts of the world – it takes a while to get to know they lie of the land though so don’t expect masses of activity overnight.

In what area do you invest the most?

So far with Student Upstarts it’s been e-commerce. I like the internet enabling real ‘products’ with a ‘price’ that can make some ‘profit’ to be sold in huge markets all over the world.

GreatPreneurs And The Next Level

When I started blogging on my own, I would have never thought I’d find people who share my interests. That’s why I have tried to get more people involved in what I do at GreatPreneurs. From a solo blogger, we are now five people who believe in the same things and blog for fun. We are trying to bring GreatPreneurs to the next level, with good quality content. However we are still struggling to expand our user base, which is currently under the 10k visitors.

The next step is to get more than 500 likes on the Facebook page in order to have a solid structure on the most used social network in the world. Then we will have to get more writers. Yes, we definitely need two more guys who are able to write and see where the market is leading. We don’t want to be a news site, we just want to be different.

In the future we plan to incorporate the company, set a GreatPreneurs Tv and try to push it even further. It’s all about what we want to achieve, because there is nothing that can stop us. Further what really helps us at the moment is the fact that the Manchester startup scene is growing, which gives us the opportunity to network with more Entrepreneurs and ideas.

We are all about finding crazy guys who have crazy ideas and Manchester is the place to be now.

If you think you are good writer, contact us

If you believe in what we believe, contact us.

If you want to be part of a startup, contact us.

How are my studies going? I am not sure. I am getting too involved in being the person I want to be. : )

We Want You!

Being a student at the University of Manchester is a great experience, but University is not just about studying. I believe it’s about enjoying the experience with the most interesting people you have ever met. That’s why we want you! We are launching a startup in September, it’s called Great Preneurs. I have been writing on Great Preneurs for the last year and half, but I am ready to get more people involved in this project.

GP is about Technology, Entrepreneurship and Startups and we are looking for people who are willing to write, participate and enjoy the experience of being part of something.

We are currently looking for:

– An Editor
– Writers
– Monthly Contributors
– An Associate Publisher
– A Publisher

The website is on and is already alive, but we want to take the next step with you.

If you are interest or if you want to hear more about the site, just drop an email at:

Why You Should Go To University

A huge dilemma or the silliest thing to think about for a Young Entrepreneur?

Peter Thiel once said:

You can’t teach people a specific way to change things for the better. I don’t believe people can become entrepreneurs as an aspirational thing. It’s like saying you want to be rich and famous when you grow up–it’s too abstract. The motivation is what’s important. There should be a problem you want to solve, and in the process of solving it, you might have to become an entrepreneur.

In the same way, many Entrepreneurs would completely agree on what Thiel states. You can’t teach Entrepreneurship because it is something that you feel inside, not just an “aspirational thing”. Likewise many mentors see College as a waste of time and resources. Young Entrepreneurs aren’t able to see the world from several points of views, but they can see it just from textbooks.

Further Students are overwhelmed by student loans and part time jobs, things that a Young Entrepreneur can not bear. When you are young you should start seeing dots, connections and links in order to build what it is going to be your future. In many aspects, College can’t help you and it could be easily considered something to leave out.

However there are thousands of reasons to go to College to be Entrepreneurs.


This is one of the main point. Connections, as we already said before, are extremely important for a Young Entrepreneur who needs a mentor and a group of people that can support and stimulate it. Further when you build a strong network, you can easily ask for help. During the development of an idea or a project, you turn to the point in which you need a developer or marketing strategist and if this person is in your connections, you don’t need to look for other people, because you already know the right person and you have complete trust in him.


I strongly believe that Entrepreneurship is an aspirational thing. I mean, you have to be creative and you have to feel it, but you can easily look for it if you really want to become an Entrepreneur. College is the best place to find it; through courses and the learning of new things you can get the most.

Critical Thinking

What an Entrepreneur should have is Critical Thinking. When you have a problem or an idea in front of you, you should be able to see it from a critical point of view in order to understand if it can or can’t work. Likewise CR can let you understand and connect the dots in particular areas such as Social Networks. What you need is a different way to look a the world and this is what College is about.

Psychology and Sociology

A real Entrepreneur should understand people’s needs and what they could want. People’s psychology is extremely important to see patterns into society and to think as your future costumer. A strong study in this area lets you see dots and connections in a clear way. A recent proof comes from Mark Zuckerberg, who studied Psychology and Computer Science; he was able to develop most of what he learnt from this course (Psychology) in Facebook, making it more social and engaging.
If you don’t want to study it, you can learn it by meeting new people and talking to them. The more you talk, the more you understand social interactions.


From the study of what other people did in the past, you can perceive the mistakes and the good things. If you know what others did, you could apply your knowledge in the challenge that you would encounter in an Entrepreneurship life.
With this idea in mind, Sir Isaac Newton once said:

If I have seen further, It is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.


This is one of the Critical Skills that an Entrepreneur should always have and to get it you need to live, to interact and to meet people. You don’t need an extend course about public speaking to understand what communication is about, you just need to meet and talk to people. The key to do it in an easy way is to go to College, one of the most overcrowded place on Earth.

Although there are dozens of reasons to move to College, we decided to list the most important key points that you would gain in College. What we wanted to underline is that College could be the most interesting experience of your life and there is no reason to lose it for a young and immature project. Life is long.

Further you can always think about “dropping out”; if the project is very strong and you are really motivated, you should definitely drop out.

Just relax and take the most from it.

“This article first appeared on GreatPreneurs