This week we are in the Bunker with Federico Spiezia Co-Founder of bittiq with Hidde Koning at Holland Startup
Can you tell us what you’ve been working on with Holland Startup?
Federico: I’m working with my co-founder Hidde on changing the way people deal with saving. And especially how millennials deal with their money.
What is the best part about being a co-founder?
Federico: I really like the fact that you work with a person that is sharing everything you’re going through. Pains but also the gains. It really feels like you have much more energy and much more power. The fact that you can trust the other person and share literally everything that you do. It’s something more than just having a colleague. It’s like having a partner in crime or something like that.
What is the most challenging part of your position?
Federico: What is challenging is that you really have to start from scratch. You have nothing in your hand when you start and everything is up to you. This is a very good feeling but somehow also very frustrating. Especially if you think about the fact that things may not work out. Statistically there is a small likelihood of success. But you also really have to ask yourself what you want to do. Because you start with raw data and with problems that may be visible or not. But your still have to make sense of this all and create something that did not exist before. So that is the biggest challenge I’d say I have.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Federico: The most important advice I’ve received is from my mom. Maybe more than a single phrase it’s what I’ve learned from her in terms of behavior. She probably has never phrased it this way but if I can enshrine it in a phrase it would be to always be careful never to underestimate that apart from your dreams and ambitions there are also things that you don’t expect in life and you have to be ready to face those.
What drove you to join Holland Startup as a co-founder?
Federico: The way I got in touch with Hidde was through angellist. I first saw the idea there. I didn’t know Holland Startup or Hidde at that time. I liked the idea and I really wanted to work on it. Then I met Hidde and he turned out to be a guy that I really liked. Although I was also a little taken aback by how similar we are. Now I see that there are some differences but at that time I thought we were very similar. Then Hidde introduced me to Holland Startup. I really like the formula that they work with. I like that there is a balance between experience on the one side and a lot of room for innovation on the other side.
Which word describes Holland Startup the best?
Federico: Trust. I have never experienced such a high level of trust from the people that I work with. What I really like about that is that they really enable you to develop your skills and your dreams and ideas. You really have the feeling that you are dealing with someone that is at the same level as you.
How do you think your fellow co-founders would describe you?
Federico: I don’t know. I think some people like me more than others. I think I still need some time to really get to know everyone at Holland Startup before I can say that.
Where are you from?
Federico: I’m from a place next to Rome called Latina, a very nice city on the coast. It’s a small city with about 120000 inhabitants. Very nice environment to grow upin. At least it was for me. Sometimes I’m very nostalgic. I didn’t realise how much I feel like an Italian until I moved to The Netherlands. Which I did because I thought it was time for a new chapter in my life. So I left my job and everything I had and set out on this new adventure.
Can you tell us what it was like growing up in your hometown?
Federico: I grew up in a very comfortable environment. The good thing is that it’s a place that really feels like home. The more you grow up the more challenges life throws at you. I have to say that when I’m there it really feels like a small universe where all of the big problems are not as harsh as when you have to face them by yourself. The downside of course is that you live in your own bubble and it very much feels like your life is on a track and that it’s very hard to get off of that train.
What was your childhood dream job?
Federico: When I was a child I wanted to be either an ambassador or a secret agent. Because I wanted to travel the world and discover new places. When I grew up a little bit more I wanted to become a lawyer which ended up being a dream I pursued to the end. When I became a lawyer after working for a few years I decided I wanted to do something else.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Federico: I can tell you what my friends would tell you. I’m the one who organises things in the group. I’m the one they can rely on when it comes to advice. And I’m the one that never gives up when the going gets tough.
What is your favourite thing to do in Utrecht?
Federico: I’ve lived in Utrecht for just over 2 years now. My favorite thing to do is going out. Let’s say my first year was focussed on going to bed late.
What is your top secret advice for people in or coming to Utrecht?
Federico: I like the southern part of the center. There are less shops and less people out there. Few people know that there are some Roman ruins of a temple just next to the Ledig Erf.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Federico: For the moment I really like where I am. But I’ve always liked Paris and Boston.
What book do you think everyone should read and why?
Federico: The first one that comes to mind is a book I recently read called Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It’s a book about the life of a person that went through a lot of changes in his life. Went to prison, fought for mujahedeen in Pakistan and a lot more. What I took away from this book is that life is throwing dices for you and it doesn’t matter what your plans are. What’s important is how you deal with the surprises that life throws at you. I read it in a point in time of my life where everything was changing. And it’s important that you face the fact that life happens when you’re busy making plans.
If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
Federico: Barack Obama. I would like to know what it’s like once you’re over something great. Once you’ve done something important and how it feels to be at the end of this process. You’ve worked so hard and now you have to face the fact that someone will most likely undo what you’ve done.
What is the most impactful thing that has happened to you or someone around you recently?
Federico: The one I feel most is that my dad recently lost one of his best friends. Whom he went to highschool with. It was a shock for me because I would have never thought I would see this weak side of my dad. It made me reflect on the fact that if it happens to me I would have reacted exactly the same so I really felt so close to my dad. Usually this is quite hard for me because of personal reasons. But it was very important for me to see my dad like that.