A chat with… Federico Sargenti, CEO of Everli

Endeavor talks with...
4 min readSep 27, 2022

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Welcome back to Endeavor talks about…! This month we had a chat with Federico Sargenti, CEO of Everli, the main European e-grocery marketplace.

I admired my acquaintances who threw themselves into start-ups, but I didn’t have clear ideas and I didn’t dare imitate them.

Tell us about yourself: where do you come from, what is your background?

I have always been enthusiastic about technology; I have a technical degree in electronic engineering. I started as an entrepreneur when I was 18 years old, with a small media website; after university I went on to become a manager at Ariston and then I was lucky enough to join Amazon when it was just beginning to launch in Italy. It was a beautiful and somewhat protected experience where you had the financial resources and a clear playbook. At a certain point it became too comfortable. I admired my acquaintances who threw themselves into start-ups, but I didn’t have clear ideas and I didn’t dare imitate them.

And that’s where Everli came in?

Exactly. It was a mix of coincidences and right moment in life. Everli’s founder and the early investors, were looking for a CEO at a time when the company had ten employees and no active business deal. I realized that this was the opportunity I was waiting for, I said to myself: if I don’t do it now, I will never do it again.

Everli was in the eye of the cyclone during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. How did you react in those delicate days?

For us, Covid had several phases. The first was a phase of enormous uncertainty and difficulty, there was an exponential boom in demand in a context where we could not all work in the same place and we had a duty to protect workers, both employees and shoppers. The problems were many: server crashing due to traffic a thousand times higher than usual, difficulty in fulfilling requests, the need to get as many shoppers on board as possible making sure they could work safely. I remember a huge effort on the part of people, we called a daily meeting “war room”. We had to blow some plans, speed everything up, but there was also a very strong energy given by the desire to succeed at any cost.

And what about the second phase?

It was the most difficult, because we had to maintain that energy for a long time. We had to move from an environment of virtually infinite growth to one where we had to plan for the long term without any certainty, because lockdowns followed one another.

In addition, at that time you also faced a rebranding. Was it difficult to handle it at the time?

Before Covid, we had decided to expand abroad and implement new strategies, so we needed to rebrand. The difficulty of doing so during Covid was to find a right time considering the emotions of consumers.

The euphoria favoured the emergence of many new operators with different models, which benefited consumers but drugged the market. The challenge now is to continue to grow, while being careful to set up business models that are sustainable for all actors in the value chain.

In your journey have you made any mistakes that have been useful to you?

I can say that my mistakes have all dependent from the same problem: I listen too much to my head and too little to my emotions. For example, during Covid we made the mistake of not prioritising the already active customers, the customer base. If I had listened to what I felt inside, I would have acted differently.

How do you choose your employees?

With regard to most roles, we tend to give more importance to certain character traits than to specific skills. In Everli things are constantly changing, so we want people who are able to adapt and also learn independently, and with the ability to be self-motivated.

After the explosion assisted by the pandemic, the world of delivery is constantly changing. How do you see the market right now and what do you think are the most urgent challenges to be faced now and in the near future?

Covid brought a strong acceleration in the growth of the grocery market, let’s say it anticipated it by two or three years. But since it was a sudden growth, it also brought problems and uncertainties. The euphoria favoured the emergence of many new operators with different models, which benefited consumers but drugged the market. The challenge now is to continue to grow, while being careful to set up business models that are sustainable for all actors in the value chain.

What characteristics must an entrepreneur have?

Each sector has its own peculiarities, but in general, we need a certain resilience to difficulties and an awareness of what can do well and what cannot so we can surround ourselves of people that can compensate for our weaknesses and amplify our strengths.

The selection process was nice, intense… and frustrating, since I failed the first ISP! But seeing the process in action convinced me even more of its seriousness and motivated me to continue, until the next time I entered.

How did you experience the selection process in Endeavor?

I was one of the first to join Endeavor, and I admit I was surprised. In Italy, there is nothing comparable in terms of network extension and quality. The selection process was nice, intense… and frustrating, since I failed the first ISP! But seeing the process in action convinced me even more of its seriousness and motivated me to continue, until the next time I entered. When I was then on the other side of the table, I realised what a unique opportunity it was to get in touch with people of great skill and different backgrounds.

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Endeavor talks with...

Endeavor Italy’s monthly column. We talk about the best Italian startups & scaleups, and amazing people.