After BBS, where did your experience lead you? BBS Alumni tell us about their projects. In this issue of BBS Alumni Network we introduce Francesco Campana, Alumnus MBA Part-Time (Evening). His project: TKTLS.
One of the reasons to enrol at a master’s could be to generate new ideas and inputs within a career that has been developing for almost 20 years. This is Francesco’s case, who went (almost) straight from university to CINECA, the consortium of Italian Universities, computer and research centre for institutions and companies. And he added an entrepreneurial idea to his job.
Calculations for life
“I’m a project manager in the healthcare sector. I assess together with the client the pre-requisites to sign a service contract for the supply of a databases”. CINECA has important databases. Data processed since 1969. Many turn to the university consortium to consult their databases, and Francesco works to make the client independent in configuring CINECA systems, whether the client is a public entity or a private business. “From the definition of online controls, to the reports for data analysis at the end of the study. These are technical steps that are necessary to have a complete and guaranteed view, helpful for biomedical trials”. Technological knowledge, things for experts, complex things. In line with Francesco’s studies: “I’m originally from Ferrara, even though with my family we moved to Casalecchio di Reno (near Bologna) when I was 5.” This is where CINECA has its national headquarters. The destiny was just round the corner. “I got my high school diploma, in the computer programming field. Then I moved back to Ferrara, where my grandparents were still living, to attend University.” A context that is suitable for a good living, perfect for Francesco’s needs. He started attending the electronic engineering faculty then he moved on to IT, a faculty that had only been recently established. While studying, he won a competition at CINECA and back he went to Casalecchio finishing his studies shortly later. “My career developed within CINECA, happily slowed down by my priority, i.e. my family and my children. But once they were older, I decided to make up for the time devoted to my loved ones, with the idea of, at last, allowing my working position to achieve its turning point.”
Enter Bologna Business School
For Francesco, attending this master’s was a ‘first time’. BBS because it’s located in Bologna, because he was interested in acquiring managerial skills and to try and grow within his company. He was deeply convinced about his choice since the preliminary stage, the interview. “Starting from the willingness to cooperate shown by the course head. He helped me understand the real motivations that had lead me to enrol, whether my expectations were realistic and the result I could achieve by attending the master’s.” The course head and tutor took constant care of the needs of a very varied class, as per origin, age, education and profession. For a whole year, he focused exclusively on his work and his studies, thanks to his wife, working herself, engaged in managing the family. A willingness to support him that was well placed, according to Francesco: “Everyone I came in contact with was always very helpful and ready to answer my questions. Such a prompt reactivity was something I had never encountered at university, also for that type of information that normally one has to urge. There was top, almost manic, attention to details of all sorts of activities. In previous experiences I’d had, with very large organizations, I noticed that progressively the attention towards people’s needs gets lost. Not so at BBS. I felt I was being taken care of and truly belonged.”
An app happened
The added value, as it were, is the involvement of a whole class, made of strong, supportive relationships, that through the exchange of ideas and experiences can let the entrepreneur, that’s inside you, surface. After 17 years in the same consortium, Francesco found in BBS the spur to put into practice an idea that was buzzing in his head. “It was my first idea of enterprise. BBS cultural context contributed to fuel it and transform it, completely, especially thanks to the marketing course.” Francesco had a problem shared by many: every time he was on holiday with his family, or when he wanted to go out in the evening and was looking for a last time idea, it was so hard to find the event suitable to the family’s needs, adults and children. And an internal journey started there, inside the BBS Master’s, one that, step after step, lecture after lecture, shaped Francesco’s idea, making it real. “Important inspirations to understand how to involve a wider audience. The courses I attended were the proper building blocks to build an idea, that initially was wobbling while at the end of the master’s it was definitely sound. Starting from the business model: how to have a return on the investment? The leverage was there, but the business model needed testing, carefully assessing competition, the mechanisms to earn a profit.” Apps become successful only if they’re free, both for users and advertisers. Francesco understood that his idea could work if it relied on a very precise profiling of those downloading the app. Aggregate information, very helpful to those who deal with advertising. “Analytics, insights are fundamental pieces of information, from this point of view. It’s not just a question of collecting data: I see it as a service to point customers towards something that really interests them. The challenge is actually not to intrude after the first purchase, avoid exaggerating with product exposures in order not to bore, or worse, annoy users.” Thus TKTLS (you say it: ticketless) was born, although it’s still at its alpha stage. “I’ve created an information website on the occasion of the digital fair. Four founding members and three co-founders. It still isn’t registered as a business, and we’re unsure about its legal form. The aim is to create a semi-finished product, appealing enough for a business angel and other possible sponsors.”
The experience at the Digital Fair
“At the Digital Fair I had the chance to exchange ideas, reflections and further inputs, to have a better understanding of a project still at an embryonic state, that got richer in new questions, to define more precisely the parts that were still unclear to me.” Francesco’s colleagues, professors, the jury panel of the Digital Fair contributed to the analysis of the project, highlighting the importance of a given-period revenue hypothesis, the assessment of the trade-off of the number of downloads of the application in the first month and in the following three-to-six months and a whole series of other necessary questions, to put on paper the figures to understand how much to push the application, in which direction, towards which results.
Advice for start-ups
Francesco, as the mature person he is, understands that enterprise means investment but not rashness. Having a family, a steady job aren’t counter-indications for entrepreneurship. An extended team can make up for lack of time, while waiting for encouraging signs. Only, one needs to be able to organize and rule it in the best way. His prudence is, in the end, a careful planning. Here follow the main points for those dealing with a start-up: “Listening, to always structure the business idea at best. Checking whether the project produces value. It must be something that meets a real need. It must grant an economic return, one that allows the project to grow in an important way. Analysing the competition carefully. Finding the flaws in similar applications. Understanding the history of similar projects, mistakes not to repeat and what needs to be replicated. But most of all, structuring the project with the perspective of a fast failure. It’s better to grant oneself less time and become successful in a given period of time, to acquire an important experience, without losing anything. I learnt failure is an experience requirement, it’s not necessarily a sign of ineptitude. Fast failure is a new paradigm we’re learning from abroad.” Learning from other people’s mistakes in a world where start-ups that close down are more than the ones that pop up. Not to fuel false hopes and bitter disappointments.
Read here the other projects published.
Are you a BBS Alumnus? Do you have any project you would like to tell us about? Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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