As CEO at uDroppy, Carlo Bellati helps E-Commerce Owners overcome the challenges they face today in product supply, business operations & customer experience. With his global experience in the technology industry, Carlo is a recognized expert in business processes related to E-Commerce and Customer Experience, with several international speaking credits, publications to his name that lead him to become also a Master’s Degree professor at Grenoble Business School, France.
He started his career in Ireland, working for two of the top tech giants in the world: Oracle and Salesforce. His job consisted of helping organizations in leveraging technology to stay ahead of the competition and thrive in the Digital Physical Era. In this competitive industry, he understood that the final product itself is not the reason why customers are buying it. There is a deeper reason that companies could leverage to navigate in blue oceans and stay ahead of everyone else. At the end of the day it is about the “Why” the company is doing what is doing. Simon Sinek calls this phenomenon “Golden Circle”. Therefore Carlo Bellati is consistently working on the “Why” every day in order to build a community of people that would work with uDroppy and become partners of it.
He is a graduate of Politecnico of Milan in Management Engineering and holds a double Master’s degree qualification in Business Development and International Business Manager from Grenoble Ecole de Management.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you to start this business?
When I was working for Oracle and Salesforce I had the chance to meet with a lot of different companies and incredible founders, discovering innovative business models that were disrupting the current status quo of various industries. The idea to build something so innovative that could have one day an impact on the economy has always been my dream.
Nicolò Manica, one of the co-founders, reached out to me in August 2017 with this text message: “Carlo, tell me when you have time, I want to talk to you about an opportunity”.
He told me that he recently had a meeting with an experienced affiliate marketer, Orlando Vallelonga, who had the idea to build a platform with the purpose of bringing automation into the dropshipping activities across every border. They were looking for another co-founder, someone who could have helped them in setting up a real corporate environment since the very beginning. I had no idea of what dropshipping was at the time but I remember that I was proud that Nicolo chose me among his network and also fascinated about this idea. That night I didn’t sleep well. After researching on the topic I started to think about my future, on what was important to me and what I wanted to achieve in my life. Leaving a company like Salesforce is not an easy call but pursuing your dream must be the easiest one.
The day after I became the CEO of uDroppy.
The co-founding team is made by people who have always raised the bar of their success and limits and this made uDroppy since the beginning “The Challenger” of the industry.
What inspired me the most about this venture was that we were going to bring a concept, which was working very well in this competitive industry, into new undiscovered horizons.
How do you make money?
We help ecommerce merchants and dropshippers streamline the entire shipping process and reduce shipping times from around the world from weeks or months, to days.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
There is a saying in Italy, some things are best not discussed in public.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
After a few co-founding team meetings we realized that this project was way bigger and more complex than we initially thought. We needed a solid co-investment and a team of highly skilled and experienced people to bring this whole venture to market.
It did cross my mind the possibility that this project was not going to work.
In January 2018 we raised the first round of investment. More people believed in this project and this brought back the enthusiasm. We were not a group of four young entrepreneurs anymore. We choose our partners carefully as we were going to choose our spouses, conscious that with them we will have spent hours and hours together.
Now, the team was the only part missing. We were obviously looking to hire people and fill the temporary competency requirements for the roles.
uDroppy created a new job position in the Industry: the “E-Commerce Manager”. This role should have been filled by someone whose responsibilities were to assist merchants to scale up their E-Commerce stores. The skills that we were looking for were really difficult to find in the candidates, who had to be skilled in Sales, Account Management and also very strong in Marketing.
However we had those skills in house, each of us could have trained new candidates, shaping them for this niche industry.
We decided to look for people and not skills. This was definitely a bet for the company.
Today we can certainly say that it was the best choice we made.
How did you get your first customer?
In June 2018 uDroppy was ready to launch the Closed Beta 1.0 version of the platform. At the time we were looking for partners who could test the application and give us valuable feedback to improve it. The two co-founders Luca Borreani & Nicolò Manica have built in the previous months a community of people who were following their advice on how to build e-commerce empires. We decided to start from there. It was the perfect poll of people; the e-commerce managers, at the time just the two of them, were ready to try out the techniques they learned from us to help those first customers in their journey. The results were incredible and we did not expect such great enthusiasm. The idea got hugely validated and we got the first customer; the first sale.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Conferences represent a great investment for uDroppy since we usually manage to make noise. Every time we attend a conference all the co-founders team and I brainstorm different ways to present ourselves in a memorable way. Then, our Executive VP of Marketing Luca Borreani thinks about the war plan and the whole team execute.
So far we attended different conferences worldwide, managing to create a good brand awareness which brought to thousands of people joining the platform.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
September 12th, 2018 was the date of the public beta release. The Marketing strategy was to reach globally our audience. We wanted to rapidly become the #1 trusted platform for this industry. We hit all the Affiliate Marketing Conferences out there: Barcelona, New York, Casablanca, Prague, Rome, Bangkok, Singapore. Our ads have been seen by people in more than 100 countries. When you go that broad you might lose control. Our communication had not been tested before and we were already going global. After Bangkok, I had to take a decision in order to focus our strategy in a more local and more friendly zone: Europe. Today, we are still managing hundreds of customers from the US and Asia but our core focus in terms of logistics and target audience still remains Europe and it will stay like that for the next couple of months.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I think what makes me successful is the ability to communicate the vision, inspire and transform others. As a CEO my role is to keep the vision of the company, something that we co-founders have carefully built after studying the greatest leaders in the business industry, in a safe box. Each organization has different departments and the most difficult thing is to align everyone with the vision. I tell this to all the people I work with every day. The E-Commerce Management Team is the voice of the company, the Tech Team is what customers use and the Marketing & Communication is what customers see. My responsibility is to open that safe case and share the vision with all the people who work in those departments and build trust with each and every single of them, because now they should treat that message as if it was theirs.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
After almost 12 months of hard work, in mid-June arrived the most satisfying moment: the first order. The concept got finally validated and we knew that from there we could have really achieved what we were all already seeing in our minds. When something you can only see when you close your eyes becomes reality your enthusiasm becomes a motivation source for everybody around you.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Today I can say that in uDroppy we have really built what French people say: bonne equipe! That sense of family and ownership of the business was necessary to build in each and every single Droppers (uDroppy employee =) ). We are all aligned here. Everyone from the founders to the last person who joined the team. We are going to scale up this company and achieve our goal: Become the #1 trusted E-Commerce platform that enables everyone to start an online store and sell with just a few clicks, focusing on what he/she loves the most: Marketing.
I imagined the journey of uDroppy as scaling up a mountain. The peak of it is far from where we are today. Hikers don’t scale mountains straight up to the top with no stops because their bodies will not be able to get used to the high pressure and everybody has different limits. They rest through the basecamps on the line until everybody on the equipe is ready to hike again. In uDroppy we have the same vision. One of the first things I did was to properly map our line to the top and set up basecamps; everything crystal clear. Each basecamp has a name, which represents the focus of the team. Today we find ourself in Basecamp One, named the Platform. Everything we do and the investments we make are 100% coherent on where we are today and what we want to achieve in this station before to proceed in our journey.
In the next couple of months we are going to release new features that will have a tremendous impact on our partners’ businesses. We are going through a process: from product to platform.
What’s next? Basecamp Two is about Data & Operations and we are going to leverage the latest technology to deliver a smart Platform for our partners. People will see what we have in mind for them!
What business books have inspired you?
The blue ocean strategy, written by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne. This is a very academic book. It explains throughout business cases how few companies were able to leverage innovation and bring ideas from what the authors call “red oceans”, a highly competitive area, into “blue oceans”, a place with no competition. This inspired me to pursue the same path within uDroppy. Where we are going with our vision is a place where no one has already sealed.
Is uDroppy just for Dropshippers?
This is something that I have been asked a lot in the last few months. uDroppy is currently helping customers who are using dropshipping as a business model as well as another more traditional model. An example of this is customers who are ordering a product in bulk with uDroppy, stock them in our warehouse and ship the goods to the final consumer’s door.
By doing this, customers can leverage economies of scale and get products at a cheaper price. Moreover, uDroppy can customize the products at his logistic center. Activities such as printing the brand on the product, including a flyer in each box, can be done by uDroppy. Therefore branded e-commerce stores can still leveraging the platform focusing on what brings money into their business and leave us the rest.