#YouMeEntrepreneur meet Hector Hughes, Bella Arcari-Bowler and Andrea Severino

Toni Vicars

By Toni Vicars

January 1, 2021

Meet Hector Hughes

I was burning out from working for someone else and so I needed to be able to “Unplug” — I’m now the co-founder of Unplugged

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Why did you start your own business?

I quit my job to launch a startup just one week after arriving back from a silent retreat in the Himalayas.

I was burnt out at the end of my third year working for a tech startup; at the recommendation of a friend I attended this silent retreat, which in hindsight was truly life-changing.

Nine months later, mid-pandemic, I launched Unplugged with my now co-founder, Ben.

What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

Empowerment.

Prior to launching a business I never quite felt comfortable in myself; always dissatisfied, always concerned with what others would think.

Launching a business unexpectedly helped me find my voice and for the first time in my adult life I feel like I’m living on my own terms.

Any words of wisdom for fellow founders?

In a word? Luck.

On leaving university I reached the final interview stage for four very different jobs:

1. A High-Frequency Trading company

2. Teach First

3. An accountancy firm

4. A tech startup

I came close with all four but ultimately the startup (not my first choice!) was the only one which offered me a job. If I’d taken any of the other paths my life would be wildly different and I likely would not be an entrepreneur today.

When I came back from the silent retreat I felt like I could do anything. The question then became: what did I most want to do? I am fascinated by the way tech and the growth of the digital space have changed our lives and so that’s what I chose to focus on.

Unplugged is my effort to contribute to that conversation and help shape where humanity is headed.

Meet Bella Acrari-Bowler

I worked in venture capital and now I’m the founder of Shiftling

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Why did you start your own business?

I wanted to be in control of my destiny. I was in a male-dominated industry and felt frustrated at the lack of opportunities for growth. I decided that if I failed or succeeded, I wanted it to be on my own merit.

What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

The best thing about being an entrepreneur is the chance to be multi-dimensional every day. You need to constantly solve problems, challenge yourself and acknowledge your weaknesses. It’s a constant journey of personal development and self-awareness. My other favourite thing is growing a culture that I believe in that fits with my values and finding team members, partners and investors that share in that.

Meet Andrea Severino

I wanted to pursue dreams in my own way and with no compromises. I wanted to make sure I could put all of my efforts without wasting them because of the burocratics and politics that normally blocks companies from their potential of growth. I’m now the founder of Healthy Virtuoso

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Why did you start your own business?

When I was 19 years old, I left home with a one-way ticket to London, at that time I spoke only Italian and had no special skills.

I worked as a barman for a few months, until I got my first internship at Betclic (one of the leading European online gambling start-ups at the time) Six months later I was hired as the Marketing Executive, and the following year I was named Affiliate Manager for the Italian market.

At the age of 23, I wasn’t happy, so I quit my first ever job and I moved back to London where I was hired as the General Manager for Antevenio UK (a digital marketing agency).

Two years later (2015, at the age of 25) despite making double the money, I still was unhappy, so I quit my job again and I moved back to my beloved Italy.

Here I joined Filo Diretto to launch DOC24, a leading and thoroughly innovative telemedicine platform which together with Johnson & Johnson OneTouch 24, launched one of the first tele-monitored assistance services for Diabetic patients. A great step ahead in my life.

Money earned was great, and so were the associated benefits (car, food checks, bonuses), but I was still unhappy about the way I was building my future. For this reason, when I turned 27, I quit my job for the third time, and with no money on the side, wage or benefits, I founded Healthy Virtuoso, a fantastic startup that incentivizes and motivates people to live a healthier lifestyle.

Today Virtuoso collaborates with some of the major firms such as KPMG, Zurich, RGA, Intesa Sanpaolo, Pulsee, and Mediolanum. It has reached more than 130.000 downloads, raised more than €750.000 from various strategic investors, and reached an evaluation of € 3,5Millions.

Even if I haven’t been so lucky to be named in Forbes U30, what makes me really happy today, is the opportunity to do the job I love, with an incredible team and in the way in which I believe it must be done. This is the fuel of my life and the secret to pursuing my dream day after day, with the same passion I had 12 years ago when I had just started working.

What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

The freedoms of learning and growing through your own choices and mistakes

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