A chat with… Riccardo Ocleppo, (Founder Docsity & OPIT)

Endeavor talks with...
4 min readJun 29, 2023

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Welcome back to Endeavor talks about…! This month we had a chat with Riccardo Ocleppo, Founder of Docsity, an online platform for students to access and share resources with their peers globally, and most recently OPIT — Open Institute of Technology, an EU-accredited Higher Education Institution in Computer Science.

The process of becoming a company began when I started raising capital, and when I brought my idea to the table, which I thought was brilliant, I had to face a series of objections.

Tell us about yourself: where you are from and your background.

I grew up following my parents’ example, first-generation entrepreneurs who, starting from scratch, were able to create a very solid software company in Italy. After studying Electrical Engineering at Politecnico di Torino, followed by a master’s degree at London Business School and a brief stint working for the family business, I launched Docsity.

You joined Endeavor with Docsity, the marketplace where students from all over the world exchange exam preparation material. When did you realize you had a real company on your hands capable of scaling?

There was a moment in the beginning when, without doing any marketing for it, we went from having a few dozen subscribers a day to having thousands in a year and a half. That opened my eyes to the fact that the service was really useful, but it still did not have a clear business framework. The process of becoming a company began when I started raising capital, and when I brought my idea to the table, which I thought was brilliant, I had to face a series of objections. In the end, they helped me structure a company that today is solid.

A few months ago you also officially launched OPIT. Could you tell us about that project?

It’s an idea I’ve been nurturing for at least four years, to create a fully accredited academic institution from the ground up. When it comes to the field of technology, there is a great deal of room for improvement in university-type education. Specifically, we believe in the importance of giving an education that is much more skill-oriented and aligned with the needs of companies, which today often have to train students for months, if not years, before making them efficient within their production cycle. OPIT is a fully online academic institution entirely in English, with selected professors from all over the world who share a great deal of experience working for companies and are therefore able to offer the practical insight we need.

Also, The creation of OPIT was made possible by the invaluable support of Prof. Francesco Profumo, former Prime Minister of Education and current Rector of OPIT, who recognized the long-standing shortcomings within the education system and actively supported the establishment of an institution that would bring about a paradigm shift in technological learning.

You can make all the business plans you want, but being an entrepreneur means being concrete and understanding that things might take a different turn compared to what you originally planned.

What characteristic must an entrepreneur have?

Adaptability. You can make all the business plans you want, but being an entrepreneur means being concrete and understanding that things might take a different turn compared to what you originally planned.
In the face of new scenarios, you have to be ready to change what you are developing — sometimes even from the ground up.

Let’s talk about mistakes: which ones did you make and what did you learn from them?

I consider myself “a product man.” I like to build products and services that solve real concrete problems. My initial idea for Docsity came from necessity when I was a student, and that allowed me to define a product that, albeit very limited, was also very apt. My mistake was to continue with that intuitive approach later on, which I then found out had little application in reality. In recent years, we have brought many valuable people on board who have contributed to the company with a more methodical and scientific approach.

Part of the growth we’ve experienced was definitely the result of the exchanges, mentorships and interactions we’ve had with entrepreneurs in the Endeavor network.

What has your selection process at Endeavor been like?
Enriching, because it forced me to engage with different people during the various stages, both locally and internationally. Throughout the process, it is not all pats on the back and congratulations, but you actually receive a lot of feedback from people who essentially have the goal of telling you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Part of the growth we’ve experienced was definitely the result of the exchanges, mentorships and interactions we’ve had with entrepreneurs in the network. Being part of a network with so many good and successful people is very inspiring for an entrepreneur.

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Endeavor talks with...

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