The guest of this interview is Mr. Giovanni Fiengo, founder and CEO of Kineton, a startup headquartered in Naples, specialized in creating software for the automotive, media, entertainment, and telecommunications sectors in the European area.
Kineton was created for consulting, developing, certifying and validating software products with the aim of making something new in an extremely competitive and innovative sector such as engineering and industry 4.0.
It was founded in 2017. During this years, Kineton gathered a total of 18 million euros in turnover with an annual growth rate of between 60% and 70%.
In this interview we will talk us about innovation, tecnologies, the challenges of expanding it abroad and more.
Questions for Giovanni Fiengo
- How did you come up with the idea of Kineton?
- Could you give us a quick intro to your services and business model, and an overview on your customer base?
- What are the market sectors in which Kineton is developed?
- How do you develop a successful relationship with possible clients?
- What are your most innovative products or services?
- What is the distinctive feature of Kineton?
- How do you inspire the creativity of your engineers?
- What is Kinecar?
- What do you mean with the expression “Internet of Cars”?
- Besides automotive and media, what are the main other industries in which you expanded your business?
- When did you start thinking about expanding internationally?
- Did you find or have partners helping you in your expansion abroad?
- How do you approach clients abroad?
- What difficulties did you experience while expanding your business abroad? What are the top issues that you had to overcome?
- Would you have any tips for startups looking to expand internationally?
1. How did you come up with the idea of Kineton?
Kineton was born from the idea of a group of friends, professionals specialized in the field of automation and software development, determined to make an innovative contribution in an already extremely competitive sector such as engineering and industry 4.0.
We are engineers and we develop and use technology to transform the world.
Personally, I am a professor at the university, but we have all been working in this sector for some time and we have had similar previous experiences that led us to develop the idea of a project of our own. Therefore, we decided to start this adventure together and the initial project turned into Kineton.
Four years later, the results achieved are evident. The growth was exponential: from 0 to 350 employees, a turnover of 18 million €, three offices in Italy (Naples, Turin and Milan), an average of 15 hires per month.
We are very proud of what we have built over these years.
2. Could you give us a quick intro to your services and business model, and an overview on your customer base?
We deal with the creation of cutting-edge engineering services.
We follow the entire software life cycle for embedded applications: conception, development, validation and certification.
We offer high-tech services that have led our company, after just four years from its birth, to boast in its client portfolio some of the main players on the international market including FCA group, Maserati, Garrett Advancing Motion, Volkswagen group, Sky, Panasonic, Rai, Discovery +, Allianz, Datalogic, etc.
3. What are the market sectors in which Kineton is developed?
We work in the software world, where it is essential to be aware of all the new technologies to be used (cloud, big data, the devices operating systems…), which are then verticalized on the various markets and industries.
We work, mainly, for the mobility and Media sectors. The revenues are split equally between these two markets. We do work for different industries and we are aiming in diversify our markets.
Automotive and broadcasting are almost 90% of the business but the ICT market is growing and we are moving our first steps in the aviation market.
4. How do you develop a successful relationship with possible clients?
At the beginning of our journey, we had to work twice as much compared to our competitors, we had to build a name and a reputation from the ground up.
Our success is built on the deep technological knowledge of our industry and business. We always prove that we are capable of delivering what we promise during our introductory meetings, actually we try to beat clients’ expectations.
Is not only about our technical skills, everyone at Kineton is sharing and spreading the passion about what we are doing and, of course, that “latin” human touch is helping in building a successful relationship as well.
5. What are your most innovative products or services?
Kineton invests almost 15% of its annual revenues in Research and Development, resulting in innovative products and services.
Various products were born from our expertise. Among others, I can mention some of them:
- KAMP (Kineton Audience Measurement Platform): a platform whose purpose is to help customers be aware of the trend and use of their applications by end users, for the definition of new strategies to increase and improve their audience and use of applications.
- KARP (Kineton Announcement Realtime Platform): a software ecosystem powered by Kineton that allows broadcasters to autonomously manage editorial communication and advertising campaigns in a few clicks.
- Kate (Kineton Automation Engine): a platform that aims to simplify communication between teams, run tests automatically, and enable continuous testing activities to improve validations’ quality and performance
- IoCars: the connected car, that is a vehicle capable of accessing to the Internet, of communicating with smart devices as well as other cars and road infrastructures, and of collecting real-time data from multiple sources, is playing a fundamental role on the Internet Of Things (IoT). In this direction, Kineton has deposited a brand, IoCars, whose name itself underlines our will to be part of the digital revolution in the automotive domain.
- K-Hero: a 2D video game populated by characters that recall the company members, born from an employee’s idea.
6. What is the distinctive feature of Kineton?
What makes us stand out is the enthusiasm we transmit, the passion in studying the technologies we use. Kineton is a modern company, which places the employee and his well-being at the center.
In Kineton there are flexible work schedule and the possibility of smart working even before the pandemic.
In the Naples offices we have created the “Kinesquare”, a communal meeting place, a gym with a personal trainer and a nursery for our employees.
7. How do you inspire the creativity of your engineers?
Combining competitiveness, passion and fun. From this perspective, we launched an internal contest with the consequent award ceremony: the Kineton Innovation Award.
Each employee has the opportunity to propose innovative ideas. Kineton offers to the winner the budget to develop the project and, if successful, a share in the revenue.
8. What is Kinecar?
A dream that is about to come true. It is an innovative Smart Mobility platform that wants to change the concept of car which is turning into a device more and more.
We are talking about a full electric microcar designed not as a simple means of transport, but as a platform of service experimentation that combines two coexisting worlds within our reality: the automotive and the media world.
Kinecar is a real “digital ecosystem”.
9. What do you mean with the expression “Internet of Cars”?
We registered the “Internet of Cars” trademark about a year and a half ago as an evidence of our desire to be part of the digital revolution that has affected the automotive sector. Kinecar is the very first expression of that.
10. Besides automotive and media, what are the main other industries in which you expanded your business?
We provide innovative solutions in the main technological sectors: ICT, Telco, IoT.
We have recently entered the world of Gaming and Aerospace and we plan to expand the area of expertise with the entry into the green entrepreneurship sector.
11. When did you start thinking about expanding internationally?
From day 1, in fact, some of our first clients were abroad. We always looked at the European market while building a strong business in Italy. All our clients have a broaden market then the Italian one.
Around 15% of our revenues are coming from international clients. We are now at the point where we are looking at starting up an office abroad and replicate the same facilities we have in Italy.
12. Did you find or have partners helping you in your expansion abroad?
Not at the moment, but you never know. We believe in collaborations and we may have few surprises in the near future.
13. How do you approach clients abroad?
As we do with all the others: market research, word of mouth, networking. We don’t see any difference between national and international clients, at least in Europe.
Of course, at the moment is not so easy to travel but on the sunny side, our clients have understood, because of the pandemic situation, that is possible to work remotely and we are running our activities, for them, from our premises.
14. What difficulties did you experience while expanding your business abroad? What are the top issues that you had to overcome?
It depends, in general it is no different from running the business in Italy.
Our guys are comfortable working using English as main language, our Italian clients often uses English as working language.
In some countries, however, we find that not knowing their idiom is an issue, I’m thinking about Germany and France, as an example.
15. Would you have any tips for startups looking to expand internationally?
Act professionally, be prepared, master the English language, be flexible but never lose your identity.
As I said before you shouldn’t see any difference in running a business abroad or locally, you need to be prepared enough to tackle every opportunity in the same way.
We want to thak Mr. Giovanni Fiengo for joning us on our website. Kineton proved itself to be a succesful startup, that managed to build a strong presence on a vast market like Europe. It was very interesting to hear from him about all his tips to start an international business.
If you were interested in this interview, also discover our interview with Jason Feifer, Editor-in-Chief of the iconic magazine in our blog!