giovedì 23 febbraio 2012


Due to work overload we have to take a break in posting new articles for a fortnight.
Next new post will be ready for march 13thTo offer you a service that we hope could be appreciated, we have listed down here and will often update some links to previous articles, listed by subject, that you could enjoy reading and that could be helpful.
In the meantime we will welcome suggestions, hints, cue of other posts, news, articles, links that you would like to be discussed on this blog.
Thank you for your patience, please stay tuned and do not forget us!





lunedì 20 febbraio 2012

The German shopping

Next post Thursday Feb 23rd

The area around Varese, in the norther part of Lombardy, the region whose capital is Milan, is a sort of foreigner colony.
Many of the companies present there are no more owned by Italian entrepreneurs or shareholders.
Recently Cobra was bought by Blu, a German hedge fund.  And this is just the last one of a long list including BTicino, in the switch industry, Ignis who is now known as Whripool, CB Ferrari and much more.
Why this?

Because this small and medium enterprises can be considered like gold nugget in the present business world. Cobra, to name the last one, is listed at the Italian Stock Exchange market, employs about 450 people and is a market leader in the car antitheft systems.
Germany is a sort of new landlord in this part of Italy, being shareholder of 43 companies, on the podium you can find US (silver medal) with 33 participations and Swiss with 24.

Isn’t this a signal of the quality of Italian companies?

Let's thank Hotel Ungheria, an excellent place to stay while in Varese, for the pictures published in this post

venerdì 17 febbraio 2012

Through foreigner eyes: hetty de Vogel (II)

Next post Monday Feb 20th

Let's go on with the second part of the interview with Hetty de Vogel

Hetty loves Italy, and she talks about our country in her blog, that you can find in her website fully dedicated to the pleasure of Italian gourmandizes, like olive oil, wine and so on.

You’ll fine a short bio, better say her story at the end of this intriguing interview that is aimed to share what Italy appears to be when seen through “foreigners eyes”.

We would like to thank Hetty for her courtesy and warmly recommend you to visit her website!

Which are the main strengths of our people/country?
The strength of Italy and Italians are a lot. They are extremely creative in every front.   If you have a problem, they will find the solution. If your company needs a special product or something not being part of the normal production, they will find a way of how to answer to your demand. They are very flexible and maybe because of their organization of which I spoke before, they have the capability to adapt to every type of situation. Something more difficult to find in Northern Europe. 
And of course, I don't have to forget to mention....the Italian history, the Italian food and culture, the Italian design, its art, music and films. There are really so many things that it's hard not to forget anything.

And which the main weaknesses? 
What sometimes  maybe a strength in other situations becomes a weakness. The flexibility and organization give Italy and Italian companies still an image of "hard and difficult to work with".  
Italian companies should make an effort to break this image;  to show foreign companies that,  with a good mutual collaboration and communication, the business opportunities can be great and very interesting !

Tell us more about your blog: which is its goal? what you want to share with your readers?
My blog and website/shop all started with my great passion for Italy. With my blog I want to share this passion with those already loving Italy, with those longing to learn more about this beautiful country and for those people who are just curious. I mostly blog about Puglia/Salento because this is one of those parts of Italy I discovered some years ago and a region I really love a lot. So much that I decided to make it my work. A part of Italy where traditions and culture are still everywhere.  And then of course its nature..the olive trees, the 2 beautiful seas, its delicious food…In my blog I want to share my passion for all this. I write about thinks I like and notice, curiosities, tradition, places to go and recipes..traditional and modern. I believe that when you blog about something you really love, then this passion can be transmitted to the reader even through such an impersonal thing as internet. My goal is to reach as much people as possible telling them about this part of Italy not very much known yet. On my website, besides the blog there is a part with some information about my suppliers, their products and of course the shop.

You are selling Italian products: how it is to deal with Italian producers as supplier?
Yes, I buy specialties from Salento and Puglia and I sell them through my webstore. Dealing with my suppliers is absolutely great; I have the chance to work with people which are not only my suppliers but they became friends as well. The producers of the products I buy, like Olive Oil, Tapenades and wine are passionate about what they do, and like me, they adore sharing this passion. It are all family companies, like most of the Italian companies. Our collaboration is based on friendship and the will to create a real collaboration and transmission of ideas in order to promote these wonderful products outside Italy.

Hetty de Vogel: I was born in Holland where I accomplished my university studies in Management in 1988.  In the same year I left for Italy, where I have been working as an Exportmanager for 12 years. I've got 2 children and moved to Paris in the meantime. I decided to raise my children while they were still young. Since  3 years I've decided to pick up working again by fulfilling my dream of starting a company of my own; an e-commerce for the sales of Italian products and specialties. 
The first 2 years I've been studying an preparing everything; I found my suppliers, worked out my ideas and since one year I'm online with my website. In my work I combine my passion for Italy with my knowledge and I put in place everything I have learned and I'm still learning about internet marketing, a really fascinating aspect of my work.

mercoledì 15 febbraio 2012

Through foreigners eyes: Hetty de Vogel (I)

Next post Friday Feb 17th

Hetty loves Italy, and she talks about our country in her blog, that you can find in her website fully dedicated to the pleasure of Italian gourmandizes, like olive oil, wine and so on.
You’ll fine a short bio, better say her story at the end of this intriguing interview that is aimed to share what Italy appears to be when seen through “foreigners eyes”.
Since the interview is very detailed and therefore quite long, we will publish it in two separate post.
We would like to thank Hetty for her courtesy and warmly recommend you to visit her website!
How came you were based in Italy?
Actually, I'm not based in Italy, not anymore. I've been living in Italy for about 12 years and now I'm living in Paris. I'm Dutch, I accomplished my studies in the Netherlands and after my graduation I left  for Italy.
Why Italy? Because I've always loved Italy.  Since my childhood, when I went every summer holiday with my parents to Italy.

What do you honestly think of Italy?
It is difficult to answer this question in one sentence. As I said before you can imagine that I'm not very objective. I adore Italy, the Italian people, the culture, its history, the nature, the way of living and of course its food. I can really say that I feel at home in Italy. Anyway, being Dutch with a Dutch education and having lived and worked in Italy and having travelled a lot, I don't close my eyes and I can see some more negative sides of this country.
For example the malfunctioning of the public services, the low salaries in comparison to the Northern European ones, the difficulties for young people to start an independent life without support from their parents

How do you see the future of this country?
In the current unstable economical situation the whole world is in nowadays, it is very hard to tell how the future of Italy will be. I'm not an expert, so it's difficult to make any predictions.
I sincerely believe that Italy and Italian companies have a very great potential and they have such a lot of sources, of culture, creativity and ideas that they can really exploit all.  I'm not only talking about the small and average companies,/industries, but also about individual young people having good ideas and being creative. I think that for one reason or another they don't take advantage enough of everything they have and of all the possibilities there are to create jobs and business. For example internet, internet marketing for the promotion of Italian companies, small and bigger ones, still isn't very much used. 

Which are your hints and suggestions for foreigners willing to make business with Italy and Italian people? and specifically
            a) what to avoid?
            b) what to consider?
Having worked in Italy as an export manager and import manager and now trading with Italy, I can suggest to foreigners who want to start a collaboration with an Italian company to slow down and take their time. I will try to explain my opinion: If foreigners want to work with Italian companies and people, but not only Italy, I believe more generally, when you want to work with a foreign country, you have to know and learn about there habits and most of all adapt yourself to it and respect them.
This means in Italy you have to take your time. Things don't go as fast and quick as they may go in Northern Europe. Business discussions and deals often take place during long "relaxed" lunches rather then from an office. Often stories about their city and region (Italians are proud about there roots), about their family, their holidays abroad, are discussed before getting into the real business.
Italian companies may seem less organized or maybe are organized "the Italian way", but is is just a way of decipher there way of dealing. For example "delivery next week" means maybe next week, but it might be the week after. "There is no way of an early delivery"; just ask again and then they will pick up the phone and do there upmost to speed up things. 
Even if things are changing a bit, Italians don't speak very well foreign languages. The communication might be a bit difficult in the beginning. But with their creativity they find their way of expressing themselves. 
If you realize this and if you take this into account, working with Italy and Italians becomes really pleasant, stimulating and interesting.

lunedì 13 febbraio 2012

Resistance to change

Next post Wednesday Feb 15th

So here is Mario Monti, actual Italian Prime Minister, discussing about the new culture of job.
He said some time before this interview that  Italian guys should be more used to change their jobs frequently and should not be maniac about permanency, which was what their fathers, and especially their grand fathers were aimed to.
He needs to explain because what he said –maybe with a too ironic tone- caused a true hurricane.
I do not want to discuss that diatribe, but I’d like to point out something that Monti said that could be relevant to our goal: understand better Italy for business purposes.
There are two main mistakes Italian entrepreneur use to repeat constantly, and we can depict them with these two frequent sentences:

Our products are the best in the world: (si vendono da soli - they can be sold without any effort)”.
We always did it this way (abbiamo sempre fatto così!)”.

Now when you came to sell to Italy you should understand this and have a very clear strategy to overcome this resistance.

Either you look for those entrepreneurs who are not afraid to change and who, on the contrary, leverage the changes to win an added value


find a logical and invincible demonstration why your clients should make a change, explain them that is no more time to sit down, relax and take it easy….

Any suggestions or comment to share?

giovedì 9 febbraio 2012

The coffee ceremony

Next post Monday Feb 13th

We talked about food last time and the importance for an Italian guy to have lunch.
Now there is something also very relevant in Italian “food culture” and it’s coffee.
Coffee for us is much more than just a simple hot drink. It means welcome and care. It’s a pleasure, and even more it’s a ceremony. When we invite someone to have a coffee it’s much more than just an opportunity to spend sometime together, its’ a way to share a profound pleasure.
When the soluble coffee arrived in Italy, it was the Seventies, brough by Nestlé, the Nescafé can, it was a terrible flop. Why? Why it took so long to Nestlé to re-position Nescafé and find a market niche?
Having in mind that the coffee ceremony is a way to welcome a friend into your house, how can you really take care of her/him if you just have to boil some water and dissolve a brown power into it? How much more care and love will you show her/him if you have to set up carefully the “caffettiera”, and prepre a hot and strong coffee for your guest?
That’s why Nescaffé is now presented as a different drink, for young people, competing with liqueurs and soft drink much more than with traditional coffee.
So the coffee ritual is important for an Italian, remember it next time she/he will invite you to have one!

lunedì 6 febbraio 2012

What food means to us

Next post Thursday Feb 9th

What food mean to an Italian? You need to know if you want do business with us. Because it’s relevant.
I once read a book about European habits that open my eyes. It said that when two Anglo-Saxon people met they usually invite each other “let’s have a drink together” so they can talk about their memories.
Now when something similar happens in Italy, when I met a long time lost friend what I would suggest is “let’s have lunch together” or a pizza or a dinner or a “panino”. Never just a drink.
That book linked these main differences to some religion issues, which is not the subject of this post.
Food is.
Sitting around the same table for having meal together for us in Italy it’s really significant: it means we can shelter you, invite you to one of our inner part in (business) life, since we all know that we eat and we drink, good wine, and… “in vino veritas”… that we can translate “wine brings truth”… meaning that when you are even slightly drunk you start talking from the hearth.
Being sit at the same table means for us sharing our problems, find common path, be open to  intimacy, business confidences.
So if you want to improve your relation with an Italian guy, take him to a good restaurant and do not start talking business till he starts doing, or at least after the pasta…

giovedì 2 febbraio 2012

Find your Italian Partner

Next post Monday Feb 6th

Find your Italian partner. Or client. Not so easy.
The Italian government try to ease the process with a new web portal aimed to develop the Made in Italy industry.
You can find there a sort of mall where you can buy directly from the producers and a directory of company looking for foreigner partners, whatever this mean.
This is not the only web page that works on connecting Italian companies with potential suppliers. H2BIZ is working in the same direction opening a Mediterranean hub to ease partnership and sales between companies  based in Souther Europe, North Africa and Middle East.
It could be a good way to set the stage, to understand what’s going on and what you can find. It could be a way of conducting a market research to have a clear picture of the local situation.
Which other way do you know and what to share to find out potential clients and partners in Italy?