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“The value is in our community” | Interview with Fernando Dellepiane, Co-Founder of Vermut

Hitting retirement is an exciting time of life. It’s a time when people can spend more time tying out new hobbies, meeting new people, and beginning a new stage of life that’s defined by enjoyment and taking things at a slower pace, rather than chasing after work and familial obligations and goals. Being retired gives space for people to finally prioritize themselves and their enjoyment. 

However, for many, this stage of life can be categorized by loneliness. No longer seeing work colleagues and friends every day in the office, no longer with kids in the house, and sometimes socially isolated through personal or other extenuating circumstances.

Aiming to address this, empowering retirees with a new lease of life, is an app that provides older people with the chance to join a supportive community – and it’s called Vermut

“Something that always bugged me was that society wasn’t taking the most of my grandparents”

Going for a vermut, or a ‘vermuteo’, is a popular thing to do in Spain – the birthplace of this startup which was founded in 2020. It offers a dedicated platform and very easy-to-use app that retirees can use to sign up for activities that appeal to them and join a community to meet new people and get new friends. Founded by Fernando Dellepiane in Barcelona, with a community there and in Madrid, the startup recently raised €1.5 million after taking part in the Birdhouse accelerator programme in Belgium and opened new headquarters in the US. 

We chatted with Fernando, who previously worked in Glovo, to learn more about the impact-driven community-led platform, and his vision to make the world a better palace for older people, where they are better supported with easy-to-use digital tools. 

What inspired Vermut? 

I’m from Argentina where grandparents are near to gods back there, a lookalike Italian culture. I am the youngest of the family and took the best out of them. 

Something that always bugged me was that society wasn’t taking the most of my grandparents, they were vessels of information, experience and wisdom and yet,  in the eyes of society, they had run out of magic and almost depended on the rest of the “active” population. 

“Age discrimination is accepted in society.” 

We smile at a 2-year-old baby just because is a cute baby, just like a doctor smiles and speaks condescendingly to a 70-year-old lady that has 40 years of experience as a director of a hospital. This makes no sense at all, we should be learning from seniors. Seniors are retiring at 60 avg in Europe and dependency starts at 80, Vermut wants to empower seniors to make the most of these years and erase the fear this ageism brings. 

That is where Enric and I clicked. We hate inefficiency and we are driven by social impact.

Our parents are seniors and society hasn’t changed since 20 years ago when my grandparents had roughly my parent’s age.

How did your professional experience influence you to become a founder?

Enric and I founded Vermut using lots of tools and values we picked up at Glovo. We had the luck to work beside motivating top talent. When you have talent density led by a CEO like Oscar Pierre the motivation drives people to overperform and to raise the bar. 

“Focusing 100% on the user while building our product has been key since the start.” 

Building hacks and MVPs for everything combined with being lean is one of the biggest assets of Glovo and we have stuck to this value. Doing a lot with little is what makes a startup valuable. That said is a given that every team member knows that the job description is half of the job they are going to be doing

What do you want to achieve with Vermut? 

We want to erase the fear of ageing from society. If we empower seniors the impact won’t be only on them. The way people under 50 perceive ageing will change. We as a society worship youth without knowing what being a senior even is. We develop products and services without asking them what they want.

If we change the way we feel about ageing we will change the role seniors have in society and be positive about our own ageing. Basically, we want to change the world into a more efficient one.

The Silver Economy – where does Vermut fit in?

The monetisation strategy

Vermut works on a subscription-based model. 

“The value is our community”

It is the place to be for seniors. We started on a fee-per-transaction model (we have partners and we charge a fee for the cost of activity). We added a subscription when we had a solid app product.

Now Vemuteros pay for a lot of benefits and activities in the marketplace. In the future, we want to have a B2B2C approach and expand to a marketplace of products and services. 

The value is our community, but we want to be super cautious about how we approach revenue streams because trust is the base on our value proposition.

The business model

We are a community marketplace. We have paid activities, user-generated content, and social media. We have an accessible product that seniors love in which they can access a marketplace of activities, create a profile, make real human bonds and express themselves through their own hangouts. Partners have the possibility to reach a target they normally don’t address. They have a saas in an app to manage their customers easily and grow their business inside vermut. 

Brands are getting really interested in entering the platform but we are taking everything step by step.

Community-based approach

How has taking a community-based approach supported Vermut to grow?

The Human connections are what makes Vermut totally different. There is no doubt that the community is going to give Vermut the power to scale globally. 

“Vermuteros make vermut unique, and power the platform with passion, friendship, love and energy.”

How do you see it evolving?

We want Vermuteros to know that when they want to travel they know they have friends in all countries Vermut is present.

Impact-driven startups: an idealistic dream? Can they be profitable and have a social impact?

We think all companies should aspire to have a real impact on society or the ecosystem. Of course, you can be a profitable impact-driven company. Moreover, the only profitable companies in the next 10 years will have an impact because the customers are asking for it.

Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.

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