Today, I am glad to share with the Hashslush audience an inspiring chat that I had with a very inspiring person: Francesco Magagnino. For whom doesn’t know him, he is the CEO and Founder of FlatMateMe, in my opinion one of the most useful and smart startup I have heard of in the last few years.
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Right after 30 seconds he was explaining me the mission of FlatMateMe, the first thing I thought about, has been: “s**t, that’s smart!”.
Last year, I spent more than a month in San Francisco, CA and I heard a lot of people complaining about how hard it is to find a room for sharing. People who rent the apartment or are already living in the apartment and are looking for another roommate, have very strict rules to select the new joiner. They schedule outright interviews, just like the ones you have when looking for a new job. So, how to simplify this process?
An app that put together room seekers and roommate seekers, by matching their interests and relationships.
Let’s find out how Francesco came up with this idea and how he brought it to life..
I came up with this idea when I experienced how difficult it was finding a roommate with same interests and habits to share a flatmate with when I moved to Milan after university. It has been a quite frustrating and time-consuming experience for me. Traveling a lot and meeting people from different countries made me realize that I wasn’t the only that had gone through this stressful search and selection process. That’s when I started thinking about doing something to address this problem young workers and students are experiencing all over the world.
I realized my idea could actually work when I have been to Silicon Valley last year and I shared it with some venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. I collected a lot of precious feedback and I figured out some business model ideas. That’s when I understood that the right market to launch our platform was San Francisco
All the challenges I got from more experienced people I met both in Sillicon Valley and Italy made me improve my initial ideas and built on it. That’s why I wouldn’t say that I ever felt discouraged, but I was rather lucky enough to have continuous constructive conversations with stimulating and challenging people.
Initially we started investing part of our budget immediately also in advertising. After a while we realized that only a great product could make the difference and a great product in our market wouldn’t need ads, but rather relied on a natural worth of mouth publicity. That’s why we then decided to focus our budget, time and effort on the development of the product rather than on advertising.
I am part of the TED community as the orginiser and licencee of a really important event in Italy (TEDxVerona) with a big team and huge community. As soon as I decided to proceed with this idea I shared it with some friends from the community working on the startup and venture capital market to collect their feedback and inputs.
We want to build a great product. We are aware that we still ave tones of things to fix and improve. We love our project, because we want to solve a problem thousand of people are currently facing. That’s our first mission and objective. Clearly we would really love to see one day great companies like AirBnB and Zillow interested in what we are doing.
There are at least 3 reasons:
From my experience I have seen that the Italian ecosystem is still quite immature and complicated for startups. Burocracy, processes and networks are not as startup-mature as the American environment has shown to be. On top of that also the digital landscape and the digital culture are more advanced and developed than in Italy.
Simplicity and user-friendliness is one of the key aspects we continously focus on. We want few pages, few interfaces, that help users finding easily what they are looking for. Keeping things simple is not easy. That’s the reason why we are awere that there still a long way to goto keep the flow short but clearly chomprensibe.
Some angels investors are already part of the adventure. During the next months we need to find someone who loves our same challenge and wants to invest in our platform, on order to allow us to make our plan of growth become real next year.
So what to say…good luck Francesco and all the FlatMateMe crew