“The next Coco Chanel will be a programmer" — Federico Marchetti, founder and chairman of YOOX-NET-A-PORTER

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Federico Marchetti is the founder and Chairman of YOOX-Net-a-Porter. He grew up in Ravenna, an ancient town in Northern Italy, which is home to some of the most historically significant mosaics in the world. And Federico describes his career, in fact, like a giant mosaic — a long process of placing building blocks on top of building blocks, slowly working towards a grand design.

After an early career in finance, Federico hit upon the idea of a luxury e-commerce site in 1999, at the height of the Dot Com boom. Most people thought he was crazy for attempting to fuse these two worlds — but after cold calling Italy’s most famous venture capitalist, Federico quickly managed to get the idea off the ground — and the rest, of course, is history. Today, YOOX-Net-a-Porter is one of the biggest e-commerce players in the world, with customers in over 180 countries.

In a fascinating episode, Federico describes how Apple took some of its inspiration from Italian typewriters; why none of us will be using mobile phones in five years time; and how the next Coco Chanel won’t be a designer — but a programmer.

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