Vincenzo Belpiede received his IB Diploma from St. Stephens School in Rome. He and his brother Giuseppe founded Stellup, a platform designed to help connect alumni around the world.
What is your role at Stellup and what is your day to day work like?
I’m the CEO at Stellup and given that we are a young company I need to wear many hats and take up many jobs and tasks. Typically I start the day early to work with our amazing team in Europe, and then I work out as I very much agree with the Roman proverb of “Mens sana in corpore sano,” which means healthy mind in healthy body. I spend most of the day calling potential and existing customers which are schools and universities from all over the world.
As I’m based in the San Francisco Bay area I also sometimes meet with investors and other entrepreneurs who can share amazing insights, thoughts and knowledge. I should stress that weekends are work days too although slightly slower and with a lot more activities like a hike and tennis matches. Luckily California offers amazing weather throughout the year for outdoor activities.
What do you remember most about being an IB student?
The IB represented a very important step in my life since it expanded my global view, helping me become a citizen of the world. While my high school itself was extremely international with over 40 nationalities out of just 200 students, the IB program has a very multicultural approach. Coming from a small town in Puglia, Southern Italy, simply studying subjects such as Latin, history, physics and math in English was a very big challenge that has helped me throughout my life and career.
What has been the biggest change in your life since becoming part of a startup?
The biggest change was going from earning a large salary while in the corporate world to earning zero as a startup founder, but to be honest if I would go back I would do it over and over. There is no better learning and life experience than building a company from scratch. It’s only by building a new company that you can create an amazing vision that motivates you every day. I really feel that we are doing something great by connecting schools and alumni together.
What is the best part of working with your brother? (and what is most challenging!)
There are a huge set of advantages in working with my brother, for instance we know each other inside out and we have the deepest possible level of trust. Most importantly we see each other as great talents. There are many examples of brothers that have built companies together (the Musks, the Wright brothers), yet to other brother founders I would recommend making sure of a few things:
- Ask yourself over and over again whether you would work with your sibling if he wasn’t your sibling, meaning is he an incredible talent that you would want on your team no matter what?
- If the answer is yes then start working together and ensure that you have skills that are complementary enough. If neither of you is technically minded make sure that you do have another co-founder with technical skills.
Building a startup itself is super challenging. Elon Musk, the greatest entrepreneur in today’s world and possibly ever, describes startups as “eating glass and staring into the abyss”. So you need to be able to do that together, and luckily with my brother we have had so many incredible life experiences by living and travelling together on our own in so many places that we really are two avid global warriors.