“La Fabbrica della Realtà” (reality factory – ed.) is about everything I do. It is a space where I do innovation, where I put together people and ideas.
La Fabbrica della Realtà: Interviewing the founder Matteo Cassese
What follows here is an interview with a talented Italian entrepreneur and consultant, Matteo Cassese, currently living in Berlin. Matteo, passionate about technology and innovation, enthusiastically answers my questions about his experiences working in the USA, his own innovative project “La Fabbrica della Realtà“ (reality factory – ed.) that connects people and ideas to create new business models, his life in Berlin and whatnot.
Studies, Italy and Warner Brothers
Matteo, what did u study in Italy?
I did study a lot of different things and none of them to completion (laughing – ed.). I actually started working very early when the Internet was starting to happen. Back to your question, I was studying on one side economics, on the other side I had people who wanted to pay me to do stuff on the computer… I ended up learning most of the things I know on the job.
What brought you to the USA?
I’ve been on and off to the USA for many years. Fortunately, my parents spent some time there when I was a kid; it was a great thing to learn the language as a youngster! Thanks to the Internet I’ve been also living inside the Silicon Valley ambience in a way, even though I had always worked only in Europe….
I know you worked for Warner Brothers for some time. How was your experience there?
It was a fantastic experience. I worked at the Italian office for over 7 years, where I was involved both in production and in distribution. My role had a lot to do with digital marketing. During my time there, more than 140 movies were released!
Would you prefer working even now for a big international company or for yourself?
For me, it was very important to work inside a big company before finding my own way, and my way is being independent and work for myself. Entrepreneur is the right word to describe me, it shows action and the beginning of something new, but I also consider myself a part of a big network of people and companies.
Back to old, slow Europe
What brought you back to Europe?
I was really in love with the ideas I was experiencing in the USA and the American spirit, but I was also seeing a country full of contradictions and problems that have been, in one way or another, solved in Europe. I was thinking that I could take that American spirit of innovation and bring it with me to Europe safely and be doing things in Europe with that spirit, but without the American contradictions.
Did you come back to Italy?
Not really! I was not convinced about going back to Rome. You know, Rome is fantastic, the most beautiful city in the world… but very touristic and not easy to live in, so my choice fell on Berlin.
I remembered it was a beautiful city, the connections were great, it was very international, and there was a growing start-up and entrepreneurial scene, but at the same time Berlin is a city where people come on vacation. It’s not London where everybody is travelling on business. Berlin is a very relaxed capital in terms of mood and atmosphere…. It’s a city where you can find your own little spot.
How Italian of me…
How was your integration process?
It was not very hard; the only important thing is that you need some knowledge of German to go by and, luckily, my German wasn’t all that bad.
You also need to know that a lot of things in Germany are dealt with by letter! Small letters, bigger letters, huge ones… I never had that before and now it’s part of my office supplies to buy stamps and envelopes. But you can’t complain because it works. You send a letter and the next days you get a response. If you send an email, people might call you only a week later (laughing –ed.).
Have you ever committed any cross-cultural blunder in Germany?
There is one that comes to mind, when I first went to work to the USA and I think it can be applied to Germany as well. In Italy when you want to have credibility in your work, you need to be very opinionated; you need to have a very strong position. In America and partially in Germany, it is exactly the opposite. You have to be very soft-spoken if you want to be credible. Everything comes with a “maybe”, you don’t even express your own point of view, or you do it very broadly, very gently. All the time at the beginning of my career abroad, I would express my strong opinion about things (giggles – ed.).
Have you changed your attitude?
It was embarrassing a few times, especially to see the reactions on people’s faces, but I did learn my lesson.
La Fabbrica della Realtà, Presentation Hero and more
What is exactly your project “La Fabbrica della Realtà” about?
“La Fabbrica della Realtà” is about everything I do. It is a space where I do innovation, where I put together people and ideas. It may mean different things for different clients: sometimes it has to do with creating an online strategy for an existing brand. My work ranges from building a website, to running marketing and advertising campaigns, to helping develop innovative concepts.
Today the key to communicate in a crowded space is to find one’s message, to be true and transparent.
How do you find your clients? I imagine it is not easy…
It is not easy at all. As a consultant what you can do is to be found. It is not polite to go to a person or a company and say: “You have a problem with your marketing strategy and I have a solution.”
One thing that also works for me is referrals. One happy customer can bring another one, sometimes more than one. Long-standing relationships work pretty well. The other thing is to spread a lot of content online. If I have a great idea, the first thing I do is I spread it around my clients, people who follow me and if this idea is liked, I can then monetized it or make it a product.
What project are you working on right now?
The project I am working now is called “Presentation Hero.” It is a unique training course that helps to structure a great presentation in form of a story. I am also trying to tell people how to design their slides with a creative eye by using a few simple techniques.
There are many courses on public speaking that all go to the same direction: “We should all speak in a certain way, we should behave in the same way, we should have the same posture…” Instead, I am sure that we are all different and perfect as we are and we should find out our peculiarities and use them while presenting. For example, if you have an accent, don’t be afraid to show it. If you have a certain kind of body language, just show that body language and make sure you have a good story to tell! If you have that authenticity you can get away with imperfections and those imperfections might even improve your presentation.
How did you come up with the idea of “Presentation Hero”?
I’ve read everything you could possible read about presentations and I saw that there was something more that could be added to it. At the same time, organically, I also noticed that people started asking me about presentations. I always had good advice for them, and I thought: “Why don’t I share it with other people?” The moment people start asking you for something you are sitting on, maybe you should start sharing it!
In 5 years…
Do you see yourself in Berlin in 5 years?
I definitely see myself doing the same things. I don’t know where, probably in Berlin, probably in a different Berlin (laughing – ed).
Where should people find you?
First of all they are invited to visit my website.
If they want to know more about Presentation Hero this is the address: http://preshero.co/
I’m also on Twitter as @matteoc
Pictures are kindly provided by Stefano Corso