Handicraft start-up to rekindle from Italy

Stories about startup are very frequent nowadays. Indeed they represent one of the few hopes for restarting the economy and job growth in our country. Stories about people who leave Italy to look for a job, but also stories about people who decide to stay in our country and invest trying to change the destiny of our sick country. There are stories as well on people who, after experiences abroad, more convinced and creative than before, decide to come back to their origins and invest close to their home towns.

Venice, Italy A woman sews a dress at the atelier of costume designer Stefano Nicolao in downtown Venice February 6, 2012. Nicolao is one of the biggest costume designer in Venice with more than 10,000 costumes, working with theater, cinema and renting during the Venice carnival. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
All these choices are not easy, they are all courageous decisions. Reputeka is the courageous story of Luca Cornali, a guy from Trentino, 31 years old, who after a master in USA and different experiences abroad, decided to combine innovation and tradition by opening a startup in handicraft in his region “I noticed that the economy of the web was the same as the real economy where the artisans were living, but unexplainably they were not using the web”.

From that, the project of Cornali took place and gave a multimedial window to handicraft products, that, as he said, often have no space in a normal shop “Like in a book shop where only best sellers have a space, while in this way we are creating an unlimited space where also small entities and specialist authors find a place”. Reputeka is trying to give a national window to artisans with the plan to become increasingly an international window for made in Italy products which often don’t get exposure outside their village, their city or country.

Luca Cornali started his own project with a European fund from Trentino Region, to set up a first prototype of society. It was not easy then to find other investors to keep on his project “The public sectors were almost obstructing our way, they were asking to insert further elements in the project and then they were disappearing or they were not answering clearly, at the end we found private investors who believed in our project”.

At the moment there are more than 100 artisans and more than 1 thousands handicraft products in “Reputeka“ start up, from all Italian regions, from Sicily to Trentino.

How does it work?

It is all based on merit: the artisan has visibility commiserated on his reputation, evaluated and judged by the users of the website. They all start from the same level of visibility that will grow or decline over time based on ratings expressed by the users. In no other way the visibility of the products on the web can be influenced. Reputeka also opened a society in USA bringing Italian handicrafts into a world market. The concept is the promotion of the “made in Italy” brand. There are no costs of registration, no fees,  Reputeka receives a commission only from the products sold “Otherwise we do not receive any payment because it means we did not do well our job” Cornali said. The products sold until now are more than 100.

The young team, seven guys, helped from external experts and consultants who support the company in the strategy, work on all the bureaucratic stuff, the translations for artisans that often they would not be able to do by themselves. The costs to open a society, documents needed, and all the bureaucracy are more demanding in Italy than other countries, especially USA “But I always wanted to come back to Italy because I understood after many experiences aboard that we have a lot of beauties and wealth that we do not use enough and these are not in the world market, the new technologies might be an opportunity in that sense” Cornali says.


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