Angelo Coletta of Zakeke: “Don’t hurry the process, do listen a lot, question yourself”

Don’t hurry the process, do listen a lot, question yourself, always look for qualified collaborators who are ready to give their opinion without fear of repercussions. Surround yourself with a highly skilled operations team, who can be the ‘boots on the ground’. Be patient and determined, these are the keys for success. As part of my […]

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Don’t hurry the process, do listen a lot, question yourself, always look for qualified collaborators who are ready to give their opinion without fear of repercussions. Surround yourself with a highly skilled operations team, who can be the ‘boots on the ground’. Be patient and determined, these are the keys for success.


As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Angelo Coletta.

In 2017, Angelo Coletta founded Zakeke to create a platform to help brands build engaging customer experiences through customization and personalization using 2D, 3D and AR. As CEO of Zakeke, Angelo leads the team’s global mission to own the visual shopping experience. By helping customers have a positive e-commerce experience, Angelo and his team work behind the scenes to make complex technology easy for any brand to adopt with the goal of increasing engagement and driving sales. For more information on Zakeke, visit https://www.zakeke.com/.


Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I realized at a very young age that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I started working when I was 14 years old, I even negotiated my own contract based on a monthly fixed amount plus the percentage of total earnings. The business increased 15 times the average monthly sales in a couple of months because of my initiatives. I’ve always had jobs throughout my education to raise capital and earn a living. I founded my first company in 1997, where I honed the skills needed to develop my first system integrator. I went on to launch a highly successful ticketing company, which gave me my first experience leading a SaaS company. I successfully completed three exits and I applied the knowledge I gained through past business endeavors to establish and launch Zakeke in 2017 — a global Saas company that empowers brands to scale through a visual commerce suite.

What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?

My goal has always been to lead a company focused on innovation, one that strives to change the way consumers think. I was reflecting on people’s beliefs and psychophysical needs in the modern times. In this era, people identify themselves with brands, not so much with ideas or movements, so I thought, how can people feel different, unique? Today, in fact, customers increasingly want to be able to play a primary role in the design of the products they buy. Although brands and logos still have a strong appeal, customers want the products purchased to represent them, giving a unique image of themselves. Another major factor I considered was the robotization of industries that has brought a great downsizing of production costs globally, so these two considerations together made Zakeke an experiential layer to transform people’s shopping experiences and businesses offers.

We live in a visual world, and the idea for Zakeke — a software designed to engage consumers in a more visually appealing way and grow revenue for retailers through visualization — was born.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I certainly considered giving up, but determination helps you overcome discouragement. Starting a business in a small city makes it difficult to find the right people, the right capital and the right services for companies and startups. All entrepreneurs have dark moments, in which you think you have done everything wrong, but there is a method to overcome the crisis. With the determination of wanting to get to “the destination” or end-goal, anything is possible. You might have to reverse course, change the people, in order to get where you want to go, but it’s crucial to always be clear about where you want to go with your team and stay determined to succeed, at all costs.

So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

Zakeke has grown by 300% over the last 4 years. What started out as an Italian SaaS company has gone global — we have customers throughout the world utilizing our suite of tools for everything from apparel and shoes to jewelry and gadgets. Zakeke is made for retailers of all sizes — both small eCommerce shops to traditional brick and mortar stores — which has helped us grow quickly and expand the kinds of customers we work with. Zakeke solves different problems of different industries: for the printing industry we digitize business processes, for others, like the luxury sector, we create a unique and interactive experience, both for customers and internal teams. I’ve always been determined, and in every business venture have brought a can-do attitude. I knew there was an opportunity in the market to provide retailers with an easy-to-use set of tools that is guaranteed to grow their sales and allow for repeat business. I love to work with talented people, I have been successfully collaborating with people possibly better than me, and in Zakeke we have assembled an extraordinary team, in which, of course, I’m the least talented person.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

Fortunately there were only a few mistakes I made when starting out. When I was organizing parties, there was a major event that technically wasn’t supposed to happen at the outdoor venue we selected because of weather issues. I was determined to run a successful event that I set everything up against the odds. As luck would have it, it started raining during the event so I needed to think and act fast — I went out and bought a ton of umbrellas and plastic covers, solving the problem. In the end, the rain made the event more special, even for attendees, who enjoyed the event, despite the inclement weather.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Zakeke is a cloud-based platform that can be integrated with any e-commerce that provides the user with a complete set of tools for personalization, acting as a powerful facilitator for eCommerce operators. Among the distinctive features of the tool, there is the distribution method: our tools are easy to install and integrate with countless back-end operations at brick and mortar stores and with leading eCommerce platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, Etsy, API, BigCommerce, Salesforce, OpenCart and more. This represents an element of radical innovation, as one of the critical issues that unites most of the configurators on the market is precisely the impossibility of being integrated anywhere.

Our operations and support team makes Zakeke so unique. Our team makes it easy for customers to understand and use our tools. Unlike our peers, our software is easily integrated with retailers looking to provide a better visual experience.

One of our retail customers saw their sales double in 6 months after implementing Zakeke’s product customizer feature. After trying other solutions that proved difficult to use and not intuitive, they adopted Zakeke. Through our automation processes, this customer was able to keep up with demand and double sales. Employees no longer had to work on each individual design, so the customer was able to keep prices low and take on a higher order volume than ever before.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Don’t hurry the process, do listen a lot, question yourself, always look for qualified collaborators who are ready to give their opinion without fear of repercussions. Surround yourself with a highly skilled operations team, who can be the ‘boots on the ground’. Be patient and determined, these are the keys for success.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I need to thank many people, first and foremost, Giancarlo Livraghi, an amazing publicist and advertiser who taught me a lot about how necessary it was to study the competition and not to be superficial in the study. He taught me the discipline of creative processes, to which I am very grateful.

I’m also thankful to Piero Inglese, because he gave me space and confidence while collaborating in his companies and Lucio Gaeta, the director of a local bank, who was the first to, without any guarantee, trust my first company decades ago.

Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?

Zakeke has over 7,000 customers across 400 industries spanning fashion, gaming and sports equipment, to name a few. Our client roster includes major fashion houses like Armani and Testoni to multi-million dollar gaming companies like Ubisoft.

We’ve taken multiple steps to build an expansive network of customers:

  • From the beginning, we set out to work with customers spanning multiple industries; any retailer who wants to provide a better customer shopping experience is one that Zakeke is equipped to work with. We listened carefully to our customers a lot, because they’re at the center of all our actions. We are in the customer service industry, after all.
  • Most customization tools on the market are designed specifically for large corporations, which leaves SMBs without much choice. We’ve specifically designed tiered programs so that companies of all sizes can utilize Zakeke and its offerings. We dream of a service, we listen to feedback and we improve, always looking to serve customers in the best possible way.
  • We know eCommerce continues to grow in popularity, however, we founded the company with the notion that companies need to adopt an omnichannel approach in order to be successful. Virtual shopping and customization shouldn’t be pigeonholed to eCommerce, but in order to grow, brick and mortar retailers also need to adopt visualization tools to elevate shopping experiences within the physical stores as well. We designed Zakeke to seamlessly integrate with both eCommerce platforms and brick and mortar retail locations. We want to be the ones who listen to problems and invent solutions that are not there yet to make our clients happy and successful.

What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?

The model adopted for Zakeke is a 14-day free trial, we don’t charge any fee during the trial to allow customers to fully test Zakeke. After that, the customer has four plans to choose from: Starter, Advanced, Unlimited and Unlimited + Configurator. In the Starter and Advanced version, Zakeke offers limited features upon payment of a monthly fee designed according to certain parameters such as eCommerce platform, number of customizable products, storage, add-ons, 3D & AR preview, integrations and more, while in the Unlimited versions, which integrates a series of additional professional features and the 3D Configurator. The difference in options is made by the applicable 3D materials of their offering. In addition to the monthly usage fee — Zakeke charges a transaction fee on each customized product sold by the merchant but this doesn’t apply to the Starter Plan.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SaaS? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. It’s difficult, so you better be prepared.
  2. If you want to go global you must have financial endowments like your competitors. Don’t start if you don’t have them or know how to get them.
  3. Be ready to change. Your monetization models, your processes, at the same speed as the market and competitors do.
  4. Always keep your eye one inch ahead of where the market is, don’t stop dreaming about the future so as not to lose the ability to imagine it.
  5. When a good offer arrives, sell.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to do two things: a movement that puts the journey at the center and not the result of the journey. I would like a cultural movement that has competition and inventiveness at the center, with the values ​​of current capitalism combined with ambition not only to become a billionaire, but to find as many people as possible who can benefit from the success you’re trying to build.

I’ve always loved samurais: they made a commitment to important things, not only to win battles or personal honors, but mainly to protect the idea of ​​a country, a community. I’m scared and amazed that teenagers and young entrepreneurs only think about making money. Money is a metric, I’m not motivated to make money, I want to have fun with a team and see peers become great managers alongside me, and share success with as many people as possible. Too much wealth only leads to vices, as people and as a company, an economy.

I would like entrepreneurs to speak more about how they overcame problems. I would love the less fortunate to have the same opportunities as the privileged when they start dreaming of a company, a service, a product. I would love to use success for a more egalitarian world.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

We routinely share news — from upcoming demos, new projects, customer case studies and sales — across our social platforms. Visit us on Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.

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