Davide Lugli: “We will let you know 'what's really there' online”

Owner of the Skipper company and creator of the Nebula application, the engineer from Carpi is among the most expert in Europe in web data analysis

Davide Lugli: the entrepreneur Davide Lugli is the owner and CEO of the Campania company Skipper as well as the creator of the Nebula application
Entrepreneur Davide Lugli is the owner and CEO of the Campania-based company Skipper as well as creator of the Nebula application

Captain, for the name of a company rooted in the fascinating gulf of Naples, to evoke navigation by sea; a journey in which the waters are dominated, rather than suffered, and where the captain looks confidently into the distance, knowing how to tinker with a rudder, accompanied since 2020 by a "crew" of serious and reliable partners.
However, Davide Lugli, born in 1976, is a genuine Carpigiano, the son of an industrious city and its scientific high school, as well as a degree in computer engineering from the University of Parma in 2001. In the ancient city of the Pio family, he lives together with the wife, Claudia Fontanesi, married in 2010, as well as two dachshunds who he considers his "jewels", nine-year-old Hippie and two-year-old Cleo.
It is a giant of innovation, capable of cleaving the waves of the Web like few others, a real "digital skipper", for the benefit of his customers and greater awareness on the Web.
Today she also has a little one investment holding company pre-seed called Digital Millers, which financed off-target Hemeryne, a cosmetic product for skin protection.
In between there is also a very popular book, which dates back to 2018, entitled "Web projects that work", in which Lugli explains how to take full advantage of the unique characteristics of the Internet as a media, published by Dario Flaccovio Editore of Palermo.
Between 2005 and 2015, Davide worked on more than 300 web projects of which a hundred services of eCommerce, beyond the foundation in 2020 of the "4eCom" association together with three other partners of digital entrepreneurship: a partnership capable of aggregating at present as many as one hundred member companies.

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He really doesn't lack experience: at the beginning a company in Modena that did high-level consultancy on large databases, then a Rossinian crescendo, including a period in the Ferrari racing department and at Whirlpool; from an investigative adventure in episodes built together with the Moskito Design studio of Varese called "Sofia Noir", which collected six thousand participants, to the leadership of the XY section of Yoox, a mini team of technicians specialized in creating e-commerce for big brands.
From the commercialization of its ShoppyDay program, which allowed shops to put the offers in the window on Google Maps, later sold to the publishing house of the Gazzetta di Parma in 2011, to the "La Campagna di Casa Tua" project in 2010, a delivery system at zero kilometer of local fruits of nature, six months before the birth of the competitor Cortilia, acquired by the Modenese Consortium of Producers in 2013.
In 2014 his Competitoor.com, founded as CEO and of which he sold the shares five years later, achieved a turnover of one million euros and raised seven hundred thousand from private funds and investors.
A career so rapid and so hinged on an element of innovation like the internet deserves an exploratory chat.

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Davide Lugli: privately in 2010 Davide Lugli married Claudia Fontanesi, with whom he lives in Carpi together with the dachshund dogs Hippie and Cleo
In private, in 2010 Davide Lugli married Claudia Fontanesi, with whom he lives in Carpi together with the dachshund dogs Hippie and Cleo

Who really is Davide Lugli and how would he describe himself if he had to tell himself in the third person to someone who didn't know him?
“I am a 47-year-old computer engineer, anomalous for two reasons. The first anomaly is due to the fact that I grew up in a family and in cultural environments with strong humanistic components. My brother teaches art history at Stanford and Italy is not exactly the country that makes you want to dedicate yourself to STEM subjects. Yet I have always been fascinated by digital and the possibilities it offers: I could not have lived without knowing computer programming. The second anomaly is that, apart from the first ten years of work, the ones in which you become 'senior' in the field, I have almost always dealt with product design on the Web, rather than design and programming. This led me to become an entrepreneur in the field of innovation, that is one who must try to look ahead, invest, take risks…”.

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What is Skipper or skpr.it, its latest “creature”, and what exactly does the company do? What are the most innovative and modern elements worthy of mentioning, above all with respect to your previous entrepreneurial adventures?
“Skipper is a radar that continuously measures the shape, density, perimeter and content of any industry's eCommerce marketplace. The company collects millions of pieces of information on products sold online and aggregates them to make them usable even for people without data analysis or statistics skills. The way in which we interact with data comes from geometry and set theory, i.e. it starts from the assumption that any online offer has its own unique position in the virtual space of the Web. Just as the products on a shelf are sorted for commercial purposes, knowing the position of the online offers it is possible to obtain advantages in terms of positioning, pricing, visibility. In a word: it is strategy”.

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Davide Lugli: in 2018 Davide Lugli was the author of the book "Web projects that work", published by Dario Flaccovio Editore of Palermo
In 2018 Davide Lugli was the author of the book "Web projects that work", published by Dario Flaccovio Editore of Palermo

What are the mission, values ​​and vision that your company has?
“Our mission is to let everyone know what's really online. The systems that we usually use, such as search engines or social networks, show only a part of the existing results, impose sorting, filters, make choices for the users. They are convenient and indispensable filters to be able to take advantage of the results, but if someone really wanted to see everything today they would have no other tools than to manually sample and merge information taken from different channels. Our values ​​are centered on quality at 360 degrees: quality in the work environment, quality in internal and external relationships between colleagues and suppliers, quality in the services provided to customers, large or small. The vision is that of a data company, i.e. a company that deals with data, from their collection to their distribution. Considering access to the market for services based on artificial intelligence, it will be a golden age for us. The quality of the data will determine the quality of the choices and consequent actions…”.

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Davide Lugli: the 4eCom association was founded by Marianna Chillau (President), CEO of Marlene, Davide Lugli, CEO of Skipper, Massimo Fattoretto, CEO of Fattoretto Agency, and Roberto Fumarola, CEO of Qaplà, counting today on 100 member companies
The 4eCom association was founded by Marianna Chillau (President), CEO of Marlene Live, Davide Lugli, CEO of Skipper, Massimo Fattoretto, CEO of Fattoretto Agency, and Roberto Fumarola, CEO of Qaplà, counting today on 100 member companies

It can best illustrate the concept of representation maps of the mercato online in Italy and the functioning of the Nebula application?
“Nebula is a simple yet very profound sight. In fact, it allows you to observe the density of offers generated between brands and the prices within a category. To effectively explain the usefulness of the Nebula, I always give this example: if I say 'Apple' and 'cost between 800 and 900 euros', which phone am I talking about? The answer is the iPhone 14, because there is only one who falls within this set of conditions. Set studies can replace semantic analysis in understanding the market, in comparing competing products, in immediately identifying anomalies and empty spaces. The concept of 'void' is the central element of the Nebula maps, therefore, with respect to the tables. In maps, even cartographic ones, the distance between elements has a meaning that is lost in lists and graphs. At Skipper we believe that empty spaces are as important as solids to offer a competitive advantage to our customers…”.

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Davide Lugli: in 2014 Davide Lugli's Competitoor.com reached one million euros in turnover and various investments for seven hundred thousand
In 2014, Davide Lugli's Competitoor.com achieved a turnover of one million euros and various investments of seven hundred thousand

What are the growth and expansion objectives, both vertical and horizontal, that you intend to pursue in the coming years? Will you continue with Skipper long after Corso Roma and Competitoor.com?
“The most important thing when founding a company is to leave it free to grow without depending on anyone, not even the founder or the managing director. It is very difficult to succeed, especially in Italy where the market is small, where there are private companies and success often derives from the network of relationships between owners and managers, and not from the quality of the services provided. Due to these limits Skipper can only grow above all outside the country in which it was founded, but it was created for this very reason, to overcome the limits of my previous companies and be SAAS, i.e. a 'Software that Works on Subscription', all automatic , in any type of market and country. Today we tested nine of them in two states, Italy and the United Kingdom”.

What is your punctual definition or your authentic interpretation of the concept of "digital transformation"?
“Here, 'transformation' is a word that is particularly close to my heart, because it implies that the constituent elements of something remain the same, but with a different combination, amalgam, form. I hope that everything is in continuous transformation, to make a better world and culture evolve than the previous one, and there is so much to do. Transformation, specifically towards digital, means first of all the choice to introduce measurability into any process, with all that it entails. This is not appreciated where there are garrisons of inefficient power, where those in charge choose arbitrarily and not based on data…”.

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Davide Lugli: Davide Lugli has a pre-seed investment holding company called Digital Millers, which financed the cosmetic product Hemeryne
Davide Lugli has a pre-seed investment holding company called Digital Millers, which financed the Hemeryne cosmetic product

What are the criteria that inspire your business management, i.e. the personal and human touch you give to your work?
“All my collaborators have equal dignity and deserve the same consideration. Partners and apprentices, managers and interns, I would like them to experience their daily work not as a series of tasks, but as the basis for continuous improvement that leads to rowing in the same direction, with ever greater awareness. For this reason, the first requirement for working with me and at Skipper is to have a thirst for knowledge. If you don't get up in the morning wanting to know what happened online and you don't have a passion for this question, you will never be able to bring anything useful to the company”.

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How does the analysis of the online market and of eCommerce services in general work? What are the margins of development and evolution of this sector for the benefit of companies and their customers?
“90 percent of companies that say they do market analysis with AI or algorithms do manual checks, using mechanical tricks or call centers in countries with very low hourly rates. I've been doing this job for fifteen years and I know very well how 'dirty', imprecise, difficult to map the Web is. With Skipper we have introduced a completely new approach that starts from the general overview up to the analysis of the single offer, but our method was above all philosophical: how do you monitor something within a market you don't know Do you know shape and size? Without this knowledge, control is illusory. In fact, the companies that control prices delude themselves that they are protected by classic analysis software, but they are controlling 3 to 5 percent of what they need to know, with costs often higher than the advantage obtained and with a potential growth that, in fact, it doesn't happen".

How do you spend your free time, having made innovation your school of life?
“I'm in love with my wife, I have two dachshunds and I still have to choose where to live when I grow up. Wisdom comes from the ability to wonder, as Socrates said. I agree with him: as I get older I don't want to become wiser, but more curious. I would like to still be able to marvel…”.

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In a broad sense, what is the state of the art of innovation in its territory. What does your country lack and what has been done well and deserves to be exported abroad?
“Innovation costs a lot, they are investments in the future. Italy is the worst country in the world from a technical-economic point of view for innovation, because it is an elderly nation, with very low productivity due to a socio-cultural propensity, with an underdeveloped school in need of reform, with an eye always turned to the past and protection, up to the central role of the family, which from the foundation for individual growth also becomes a dangerous brake on merit and quality, especially when it enters companies. To export (and we see it in numerical terms) we have the brains and hearts of the Italians who, having grown up in difficult educational and economic areas, always achieve success when they go abroad. I don't think I have a single friend or colleague who hasn't found satisfaction abroad”.

How do they go specifically i digitization processes and conversion to new technologies in Carpi, in Emilia-Romagna and in Italy?
“We are too slow. I'm lucky enough to be able to work with companies abroad and the thing that strikes me the most is the speed with which decisions are made and actions are taken. The ratio is 1-10. What we do in ten days, others do in one day. Change everything at the level of results. Now Emilia Romagna should become the 'Data Valley', but as has already happened to little Carpi, with the University of Fashion or with the Carpi Fashion System, these subjects created at the table do not even know the companies already present in the area same sector. How can they think of becoming the coordination center? Once again in this interview I have to repeat it: not knowing the market prevents you from building supply chains and real districts in the area”.

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Davide Lugli: between 2005 and 2015, Davide Lugli worked on more than 300 Web projects, of which a hundred were eCommerce services
Between 2005 and 2015, Davide Lugli worked on more than 300 Web projects, of which a hundred were eCommerce services

He graduated from the University of Parma and collaborated in the organization of "Cibus", the reference event for the Made in Italy agri-food sector. What is your opinion of the Ducal City, both with respect to the rest of the region and on innovation issues?
“Parma is a city that I love and, like all cities in Emilia Romagna, it has its particularities and peculiarities due to the history and economy that surrounds it. I haven't been back to their university campus for many years, which is the main reason I chose it over the drab Engineering headquarters in Modena. I found the creation of an open campus brilliant, with a farm, stables, swimming pool, restaurants and accommodation away from urban traffic. I'm told it's gotten huge over the years. I have always seen the citizens of Parma with a great sense of belonging. It is essential to love the place where you live, because in this way you continue to discover it".

What is its relationship with the Switzerland? Do you have ties of any kind or would you like to have them? And why?
“I have done several events in Switzerland and I am a friend of the president of the local Netcomm, Carlo Terreni, who has invited me several times to open in Switzerland. Skipper could have been born in the Confederacy. I also had some interviews with a law firm, but the many founding partners and the need to access the very first loans available in Italy prevented us from making the leap. Skipper is a southern company, fully remote and with an average age of 28 for its collaborators. It will be for next time, also because in Switzerland they are investing so much to become central in the digital sectors, with very high-level agreements with the giants of the Web. Really good".

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Davide Lugli: davide Lugli, born in 1976, from Carpi, he graduated in computer engineering from the University of Parma in 2001
Davide Lugli, born in 1976, born in Carpi, graduated in computer engineering from the University of Parma in 2001