The future of tradition.

Two passions, one for food and one for technology, which Marco managed to combine in a single project: Cortilia.

When Enzo Ferrari was asked what his favorite car model was, he replied “The next one”. And in this simple answer there is every entrepreneur’s essence: always looking at the future. This is Marco Porcaro, he is a serial entrepreneur who never stops innovating, who never stops innovating himself. Whenever we see each other, he always ends up telling me about new ideas and new projects. A few years ago, a journalist asked him which was, in his opinion, an innovator’s distinctive trait, and he replied: «Be serenely obsessed with the next goal!» .Today, his goal is called Cortilia, a company he founded in 2011 that combines tradition and the very much “slow” times of agriculture as well as Internet “fast” time.

Interview

Would you tell me how ​​Cortilia was born and what has pushed you becoming an entrepreneur instead of looking for a more stable job as an employee?

​​Cortilia, as an idea, was born in between 2009 and 2010. I am a very inquisitive and curious person, and at the time, I felt the necessity to get out of my comfort zone. After spending many years working for Digital initiatives, I wanted to face the “physical” world; and, above all, I wanted to make an impact on the territory where I live, and improving it, through a small contribution. There were many factors which led me to invest in Cortilia, such as family roots, a good Eno-Gastronomic base, the prospect of Expo 2015 in Milan and a careful cost-benefit analysis. Cortilia, perfectly combines my two passions, one for food and one for technology. And the reason behind my choice of setting up a business and being an entrepreneur is pretty simple: it is the context where I can freely express my obsessions.

You are an entrepreneur, but you are also a traveller. Every time I look at your IG profile, I find dozens of pictures of you travelling around the world. In your experience, how much importance do you give to travelling around the world, in order to find new inspirations? And which activities an entrepreneur should always carry out in order to be inspired and to seize new opportunities?

For me, traveling is vital and is definitely one of the five activities. It is so much important that last month I had to change my passport because I had run out of pages. Travelling, for me, is an integral part of my self-being. It is a great source of inspiration, discovery and a great moment of confrontation with myself. Traveling always helps me remember how wonderful and fragile the world we live in is. In addition, as Clayton reminds us,”The information that bring to new successful products are more similar to stories than statistics”. Travelling around the world helps me finding new stories. Besides, it is a moment where I manage to use more time to read, an other great passion of mine. To sum up, as Derek stated “I read, I travel, I become”.

Further, I find it very useful having moments of confrontation and discussion with others, especially if very much diverse from you. For me, these moments of interaction have always been a great source of professional growth. Besides, I believe that being a mentor can enrich you with new energy and enthusiasm.

I think that practicing sports is pretty important too. I am a runner, and it helped me to enhance my resilience and competitive spirit.. And, whilst running for 35 km or hiking, I had many great flash of inspirations.

As Clayton reminds us, "Information that bring to new successful products are more similar to stories than statistics". I look for stories by travelling and observing the world.

— Marco Porcaro

One day, the german fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld stated that he had his feet well planted on the ground, yet, not on this planet’s ground. I think that this sentence sums ups pretty well the spirit every entrepreneur should have towards his own business. We must be visionary, but practical at the same time.
As I know you, these are you and Cortilia. How do you combine the accounting with the vision, the imagination with the education?

With obsession. Within the entrepreneurial activity, and especially in the Start-Up world, if you want grow, you have to risk. Yet, if you push yourself to the limit, you make a mistake. Make lots of mistakes. An healthy obsession and a great resilience help you keep going again… possibly, in the right direction. It is crucial, in addition, to not get distracted by irrelevant information. As Harari reminds us, “Nowadays, being powerful means knowing what to ignore”.

As many other companies, Cortilia needs funds, to grow and to expand. In the last few years you have raised important funds, if you think about the Italian Investment market; yet, they have been quite moderate if we think about the California, London or New York markets. How difficult it is to find funds in Italy? And which advice would you give, in terms of fundraising, to all those who are now looking at funds to launch their new business?

Getting the fundings has always been complex and time-consuming. When we started in 2012 to fundraise, there were not today’s opportunities, such as a Start-Up legislation, the various crowdfunding platforms with Business Angel and the new VC funds. Thus, finding funds today is way easier compared to when we started, although much still needs to be done. A Growth Italian Capital is missing and a legislation for stimulating Start-Up acquisition from local operators too.

My suggestions are:

  • Being extremely ambitious.
  • Having a solid team with a proven team-working experience.
  • Do as much as possible before opening to third parties the capital.
  • Remember that money are not all the same.

Make lots of mistakes. Having an healthy obsession and a strong dose of resilience help you to keep going and to start running again.. possibly in the right direction.

— Marco Porcaro

A few quick questions

You are now “Destroying”, in the sense of the english term “Disrupting” the food sector, which other sector would you like to disrupt?

Packaging and waste management.

If you could have dinner (with Cortilia products) with an entrepreneur or manager from our times, whom would you like to have it with?

Catia Bastioli and Novamont.

If you could find a time machine (a working one..) and you could make one trip only, where would you like to live? In the past or in the future

In the future, for sure. 200 years ahead. I would like to know if we became vegan algorithms!

If you could write a single word over Cortilia’s vans which travel around Milan, which word would you choose?

Countryside.

In Cortilia’s success, which is the importance of Marketing, Product and Operations?

I would add the farmers and my team. Without them, there would not be any Cortilia.

What drives you to work more? Making profit and be successful (making money) or whether your job gives meaning to your life and might positively impacts the world (making meaning)?

Making what I am passionate about. And I know that if I make them right, they do have a value.