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Nicholas Panteli: Grass-roots Innovation, Job Creation and Working Towards Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Our vision at Attollo is to eliminate poverty. Our value producing model allows for grass-roots innovation, job creation and working towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, all without ever having to ask for donations. Attollo is a paradigm shift away from the typical Charity model. Due to our approach we have the ability to scale internationally.

We look to make poverty elimination sustainable, whilst being able to provide above market returns to our investors. As a result we operate on a for-profit model, removing the asset lock which typically constrains most for-good businesses.

Value is generated by facilitating the creation and growth of grass-roots projects via a multi-sided platform. Having bootstrapped Attollo since inception, leaving university to do so, Attollo was internationally recognised three times in the first three years; with the third being an invitation to the United Nations (NY).

Domestically Attollo was recognised a further seven times, in the same three year period, with the seventh being an invitation to the House of Lords. Attollo was also asked to join three of Scotland’s leading accelerators, with the third being the internationally recognised Gogarburn Headquarters of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

In addition Attollo was named one of Scotland’s 100 most disruptive start-ups by the Hunter Foundation and invited to attend the Chairman’s Challenge, to discuss how the next generation of entrepreneurs looks to facilitate social change; as well as being recognised by Red Bull as a Change Maker in their Amaphiko Connect competition.

Tell us about yourself?

Having left my home town, in Essex, to travel across the country to study Psychology in Scotland, as an undergraduate degree, with the hope of qualifying as a Clinical Psychologist, I’ve always been motivated by career paths that allow me the privilege of helping others.

I’m driven by opportunities that provide more than just a monthly pay cheque and so I gravitated to Psychology as the prospect of spending my career benefitting the lives of others seemed fulfilling.

Whilst studying Psychology I worked on my interpersonal skills and put myself forward for a role working in the local council’s Economic Development Department, as part of my course.

During this position I realised that the average individual has very little input over how their community is due to be developed. Working tirelessly on a way to position Stirling as a great place for business, we compared the Stirling to other Scottish cities in a hope to attract the attention of businesses looking to relocate.

After my time there had finished I then put myself forward for the opportunity to study aboard, a highly competitive process where only 50 people were selected. I was fortunate enough be accepted into the opportunity and granted a position at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne, USA.

Working throughout the remainder of the summer semester and across the entire summer, at times doing three jobs, I was able to cover the costs for the place in Illinois. One of the jobs I picked up was street fund raising for Charities, where we would travel across Scotland, speaking with between 90-120 people every day trying to gain monthly sign ups for Charities.

Whilst we always got a good response, we always encountered the same objections too; these were that people weren’t happy with the ‘trickle down’ donation based model, the lack of donor involvement after the donation had been placed, the top down organisational structure and stories of abuse and corruption that tarnished the industry reputation. Having heard these same objections across different parts of the country and building upon my experience at the Economic Development Department, I decided there must be a better way to approach community development and poverty elimination.

As the summer began to draw close to an end, and my start date in America came closer, I decided to use the opportunity as a way to improve on myself and explore the foundational thoughts of Attollo further.

Whilst I was engaging in my studies, I received a phone call one morning informing me that my Gran had suffered from a heart attack and, whilst recovering in hospital, had passed away. Flying home that week to spend time with my family, I spent the next year trying to distil my memories of her into a series of lessons and the results have since underpinned the narrative of Attollo.

Transparency, thoughtfulness, a willingness to help others and being genuine. These memories have since provided the motivation for me to focus on working on Attollo full time since inception in 2016.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Perseverance and determination will get you through low points and be the reason that you reach the next milestone. Stay true to your vision and acknowledge your mistakes when you realise they’ve been made.

Your pride and, sometimes, not wanting to ask for help in case you look foolish will only slow you down. You’ve built a great network of people happy to help you improve don’t be shy to ask for their input; before big decisions have to be made.

What problem does your business solve?

We provide a completely free way for anyone in the world, no matter their location, to improve their own socio-economic standing as long as they can access an internet enabled device. Attollo works on improving the social, cultural and environmental aspects of society, building on the most import resource we have available, the thoughts of others.

We put the average person at the forefront of their local community development, giving them a voice and a chance to improve the area in which they live without having to deal with the financial burden that comes with traditional routes for creating opportunity. In their truest sense, platforms exist to reduce friction between stakeholders; Attollo will set a precedent for the next chapter of community development, globally.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Attollo gives any individual the power to improve the area in which they live, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal framework. Our platform relies on the power of grass-roots ideas and a growing community of people who show support for the ideas that are presented via ‘passion pages’.

As our community grows it contributes a vital part of the market research that Attollo uses to validate ‘demand’ for each idea and through that we can leverage access to multi billion dollar industries that will allow Attollo to facilitate growth, innovation and opportunity as well as provide above market returns to investors; all without having to rely on donations from the average user. Simply put, just by scrolling through our free platform, Attollos users can literally change the world and experience how the power of community can be directed to helping eliminate poverty on a global scale.

I’m inspired by the average person, those that work tirelessly every day just to keep a roof over their head, food on the table and their bills paid. People that have a vision for improving their world and the world of others but not knowing where to start or feeling they may not have access to the networks and resources that would allow them to facilitate the change.

Through Attollo the only limits to the projects we can create are the limits of the imagination of our userbase and at scale, this becomes limitless. At scale, I’m confident that Attollo will change the world. I’ve shown through perseverance and hard work, with the help and guidance of others, that an average guy from Essex can make it to the United Nations just by following a dream.

What is your magic sauce?

Our unique approach means that by simply focusing on the quality of each project and building a robust and interactive community, we can achieve great things. Our competition all use approaches that make it difficult for us to be compared against and that is part of our advantage.

Through Attollo we provide all that is necessary to facilitate change; all we need is people to see the value in what we’re looking to achieve and put forward their ideas to change the world in which they live.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Initially our focus is platform development and a successful soft launch, which should total the first year progress.

From there we look to expand across Scotland, proving our model further and adding to a growing portfolio of projects, resulting in critical-mass and product market fit. This should be achieved by the end of the third year. After this we aim to expand across the rest of the UK and then internationally within 5 years.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

The issues seem to differ depending on the stage of the journey we’ve been through. Initially it was articulating exactly how Attollo works and then trying to build momentum behind what started as 2 pages of A4 paper. Our full business plan is now around 30,000 words, has been read by Lords, Directors of large scale investment firms.

I’ve since been fortunate enough to sit down with a global authority in our space, the Impact Industry, responsible for influencing investment over $150 billion used over the last 20 years. Having bootstrapped since incorporation, funding was always the biggest issue we’ve faced. Despite our numerous achievements, raising the necessary funds to get our platform built and tested has always just been slightly out of reach.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

I would welcome a conversation with anyone who sees the potential in what we’re setting out to achieve, anyone who has experience in pre-seed fund raising and business development with multi-sided platforms. We have built a fantastic network of people who are able to add incredible value once we have a tangible active platform.

In the first 7 months of 2021 I was introduced to 5 different multi-billion dollar funds all of whom, we know we meet the remit for once Attollo is launched. We’ve always struggled with getting something to them and this is where the help is needed. Please do reach out to me if you would like a conversation and wish to know more about Attollo. Thank you kindly, Nick Panteli. Founder/CEO

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Image by Bárbara Cascão from Pixabay

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