From student to Italy startup millionaire

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23-year-old Daniele Ratti sold 51% of his start up Fatture in Cloud to TeamSystem in July. Photo: Daniele Ratti
11:40 CEST+02:00
Daniele Ratti may have just graduated from the University of Bergamo, but the 23-year-old from Bergamo is not facing the anxious months, or years, of job hunting that await many of his peers.

Earlier this week,Ratti announced he had sold a 51 percent stake in his accountancy software start-up, Fatture in Cloud, to the American market leader in accountancy software, TeamSystem for more than €1 million.

Italy is not a country famed for creating young tech millionaires, but it was ironically the unique challenges the country posed that led to Ratti design the software.

“It was difficult for me to make money from previous businesses I'd tried, to set up” Ratti told The Local.

“Regulations here are so complex – but that gave us a gap in the market because foreign accountancy software wasn't designed for Italy.”

Fatture in Cloud is an online system for managing invoices and allows small businesses and freelance workers in Italy to easily keep track of and categorize their expenses online for a monthly subscription fee of €5.

The programme was designed by Ratti - then a software engineering student - in August 2013 and was officially launched in January 2014. 

It was a difficult period for Ratti, who had to balance work and study.

“I worked morning, evening and nights,” he said. “Sometimes with just a break for lunch and one for dinner.”

But the hard work soon reaped rewards.

In its first year of operation, the startup turned over €200,000 – money which Ratti reinvested to help it grow.

It was a gamble which paid off: the company has seen three figure growth in 2015 and currently has 45,000 subscribers across Italy.

Before the acquisition was completed in July, representatives from TeamSystem had been courting Ratti for some time. They had even held a meeting with him to discuss a possible acquisition at his university bar.

Ratti took a long time to consider the deal, before finally accepting to sell - he wanted to be sure that the buyers would help the company develop in the right way.

“In the end they made a really good offer and they will help us reach out to more people,” Ratti explained.

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Following the acquisition, Ratti remains in charge and hopes to establish Fatture in Cloud's position in Italy before extending the service to other countries in 2017.

The company of just three people has just moved into new offices in Bergamo, but is now in the process of hiring more staff across a range of fields.

Ratti's story is one of incredible success at such a young age, but he insists it is a story that can be replicated if the government does more to help talented people in Italy.

“It's too complicated here. Businesses have to pay fixed taxes – even if they don't earn anything, they have to pay taxes in advance too. The government could do a lot more to simplify bureaucracy and incentivize young entrepreneurs.

"“But it doesn't matter where you are operating, if you have the belief and talent you can do it. Startups are all about scaleability - just –find and idea and grow it quickly."

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