Maria Beatrice Giovandardi is the Founder of LetEmbrace, a social platform offering protection and tackling problems of violence. Born and raised in Italy, she moved to the USA for educational and the athletic purposes at the age of 17. After graduating with honors in International Business, she decided to travel the world while working as a marketing consultant and was lucky enough to have lived and experienced Asia which left a great mark on her and changed my perspective on life; transforming her into a Buddhist and a consciously aware being.
LetEmbrace was born out of a frustration that you experienced during your time abroad for work. How did you validate your idea?
I have validated my idea with my family and my co-workers at that time. Afterwards, I started asking my friends and close network- professional. After getting nothing but positive feedbacks from them, I have gone to strangers and asked them what they thought of my idea and tried to understand if they would have become future customers therefore.
Is having technical skills a pre-requisite for starting a tech company?
No. I did not have any and do not really as of today but yes, finding a co-founder who is specialized would make it much easier and better. Although if you are passionate enough in life, you can learn your way to anything, especially in our digital era. Also, thanks to the many freelancers out there ready to help, again, it is up to you and how far you are willing to take it and how hard you want to try.
In your opinion, what does it take to build a business with a strong social mission?
Social businesses are definitely something very hot and popular today which is amazing in the beginning because validation is much easier to get, but when it comes to being profitable and work your business model, you must focus and be very strong not to let what is a shark tank today- business- eat your values out and keep your mission foremost anything. No matter what. You will hear many times people trying to make your mission became marketing cover of a nothing but social business. You have got to believe in the good of it and not in the ‘’you need money to survive’’ way, else you’ll just turn into a cold capitalist venture.
What do you believe to be a truly sustainable business?
My favorite sustainable social business is the pioneering concept of microcredit and microfinance, when loans are given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. In particular obviously, my favourite is The Grameen Bank, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning microfinance organization and community development bank founded in Bangladesh by Muhammad Yunus. It is by far a social dream taken to a very structurally perfect and organized level, backed by a very deep understanding and economic intelligence.
When you first started out, was there anything that you wished you had known before beginning your life as an entrepreneur?
Not really. I believe life puts you where you need to be. I am not scared of being a small fish in a large and agitated ocean. In Italy, we say ‘’ nobody is born knowing everything’’ and nor do I pretend to be. I am a slave to education and will know everything I have to know, little by little.
At what stage did you feel ready to go full-time with LetEmbrace? Did you have any doubts?
I felt ready to go full time when I had the first big entrepreneur encouraging me and backing me up- emotionally speaking. Doubts? Yes, almost everyday, but deep inside, you know they are just fears and that you can’t stop because of them else you’d die with unbearable regrets!
Is there an ideal age for entrepreneurship?
No, I don’t believe so. I started off with it at 22 but there is cases all over the world of people who have started even before me! The passion and belief are all that count. You can build a team strong enough to cover your lacks and you will make yourself rise up to the person your project needs you to be.
What are the three top things an entrepreneur should do before starting out?
- Prepare mentally. If you are not willing to give everything up, chances are you will not make it through. Your dream wants you to be devoted to the fight and its warrior.
- Have a plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. End of the story.
- Commit to loneliness. Nobody will believe in your dream as much as you do and chances are, as you are hustling through the extra mile, you will have learnt how to be integrally self motivated.
Finally, any last words of advice for a young and aspiring entrepreneur?
Think of entrepreneurship as a night drive alone through a foreign country under a starlit sky in a full moon day. You are in control. You decide whether to let fears stop you or to take the wheels and steer towards a horizon full of surprises and possibilities.