We caught up with Figaroo founder Marco Scotti to talk about how he turned a few presentation slides into a fully-fledged business.
Explain your business in thirty seconds or less
My name is Marco Scotti. I’ve set up Figaroo: an invite-only app to share luxury experiences around the world, such as villas, yachts and VIP tables with other like-minded Members, splitting the high costs.
How did you come up with the idea?
I came up with the idea by being passionate about travelling and noticing that it was very difficult to live luxury experiences when alone or in small groups, due to a lack of connections or too expensive bills. Therefore, I decided to widen the opportunity for luxury to more people through the app.
What stage was your business at when you applied for the Start Up Loan?
Figaroo was really only a concept on PowerPoint slides when I applied for the Virgin Start Up Loan. At the beginning, there were no real investors willing to back mere ideas which hadn’t even been tested on the market. The problem is, in order to properly test a business proposition, founders need some money to build a basic version of the product/service, pay initial expenses or simply be able to quit their job! The Virgin StartUp loan is just perfect for this purpose and made starting a company a democratic process.
How have you used it to grow your business?
I’ve used the loan to build an MVP (minimum viable product) and demonstrate Figaroo's market potential to my prospective investors. It also allowed me to stay full-time in London for a few months, which is fundamental, in my view, for an entrepreneur starting out. With a successful market test, it was possible for me to open an actual fundraising round on Crowdcube.
What’s your biggest achievement so far?
In just a few months since the Crowdcube raise I’ve managed to create a team and, thanks to them, build the final version of Figaroo. As summer was approaching, we decided to pilot Figaroo in one of Europe’s most exclusive locations: Mykonos, in Greece. I consider that the biggest achievement so far, as we officially became a trading company with a complete product.
What’s next for your business?
After the challenges and the positive results from the pilot, we are now all-in for the London launch: our HQ! This is a fundamental milestone, as it should confirm the lessons learned from the pilot and allow us to raise our seed round in order for us to expand into new cities, new experiences verticals and to develop the Android version of the app.
What have you learned from your crowdfunding experience? What difference will this make to the business?
Crowdfunding is a choice I highly recommend to all founders who are creating a consumer-oriented product/service, or something that doesn’t involve “deep-tech” which might be difficult to understand by non-industry experts. The upside is that crowdfunding gives a great marketing boost, simply because investors will become customers as well, while allowing you to reach a number of potential investors which no founder would be able to contact on their own.
Who was your Business Advisor and how did they help you get a Virgin StartUp Loan?
My Virgin StartUp Business Advisor was Ollie Collard - and I’d like to take the chance to thank him. Things that might seem obvious now weren’t at all in the beginning. Ollie has always been incredibly supportive, operationally and emotionally, and he’s guided me through all the steps with knowledge and a rare patience.