Interview with Gianluca Segato
Founder of Uniwhere, a mobile app for university students that helps them manage their academic career and shape their future, currently developing its growth strategy. The whole idea behind the setup is having old-school marketing/communication activities, deployed in a performance-optmized fashion.
Gianluca is skilled in machine learning, artificial intelligence and data analysis. His tech skills range from prediction model building to data systems and pipelines development, using Python and several data sources.
The Italian Embassy in Germany and the Committee for Italians Abroad awarded him with the title of Italian of the Year for 2016.
He has been interviewed and featured in by several media outlets (print, web, national TV and radio); among them: SkyNews24, Radio24, The Huffington Post, Il Corriere della Sera, Rai 3, TGCOM24 Mediaset, Il Fatto Quotidiano, Westdeutsche Rundfunk Colonia, Rai Radio 1, Il Deutsche Italia.
His interests go from innovation and politics to economics and data. He lives between Berlin and Venice.
Check out our exclusive Q&A session with Gianluca:
Biggest errors and takeaways?
The biggest error we made was to wait too much before going out and interact, do networking and all these kind of things that are professionally crucial for startups. The Italian system is not particularly great for this, and, anyway, we waited to much to realize we needed to go abroad.
What was your biggest challenge while fundraising?
Fundraising is very tough. Probably the biggest challenge is to understand how the process goes. It has been a long one and it usually takes time: first you have to build a network, then you have to understand how to pitch the idea and what are the weakest sides of your proposition and fix them. It really frustrating and emotionally speaking it quite stressing, so the biggest challenge is to cope with the emotional stress, because it takes more time and effort than you actually expect.
How did you find your Co-Founder?
He actually found me. He has twelve years more than me and we are related, he's my second degree cousin, He taught me how to code when I was still in high school and at the time we work together on small projects. After my startup MVP exploded and got a huge traction, he was the first person I'd speak to. I asked him for help and he said the wanted to join the project and it was great!
How did you come up with the idea of Uniwhere? Are there any competitors?
A friend of mine texted me panicking because he forgot to pay his administrative fees, so he asked me what to do and there was no clear solution at the time. There I got the intuition: why couldn't your smartphone remind you of that? There was not yet such thing as an integration between university systems and students' data on the smartphone. As regard the competitors, the biggest competitor in Italy is Tutored, while there is UniNow in Germany, although they're both not doing the same thing we do. We have a stronger career focus.
Mark Zuckerberg or Evan Spiegel?
I love them both. Professionally I like Mark more but I'm going to say Evan because he's more authentic.
How do you retain your users after they first download the App?
We have a "login" right at the beginning, so after the users logged in it's easier to retain them. In addition, we are using push notifications - as everybody else. I think we are not doing a job good enough and we need to improve this side.
You have some great organic growth - any tips for marketing with 0€ budget?
We grew mainly from word of mouth. We are solving a real problem, not offering an opportunity, so, in order to have this kind of growth with 0 marketing budget, you have to build the greatest product possible and integrate and its app with any tools that are able to drive the growth and the word of mouth.