Innovation is at the core of everything Gianluca Casati does. “It’s my North Star,” he says.
After graduating with an Executive MBA from MIP Politecnico di Milano, Gianluca and one of his classmates decided to hedge their bets and launch Flatmentor. The e-commerce company is a platform that sells all the necessary services to apartment owners who wish to rent out their properties short-term.
Flatmentor places their properties on short-term letting websites, provides housekeeping services, laundry, and guest check-in/check-out.
“We were both passionate about hospitality,” says Gianluca, “and we asked ourselves: how could we innovate this field?”
After deep market analysis, they finally discovered the gap in the market they were looking for. All the services offered by other companies were not flexible enough—clients were hooked into taking out full-service packages.
Flatmentor provides to its clients on a service by service basis—it’s pay-per-use so you can tailor your contract to each apartment’s individual needs.
And the company is evolving—Gianluca says they are now working with property managers in Milan as well as apartment owners. “Today we are growing at triple digit pace,” he says, “and we plan to launch new services for our guests to make our offer even better—our goal for 2018 is to reach €300,000 revenue.”
In addition to the current services offered, they want to experiment with cross-selling—for example, tour guides of Milan, taxi services for the guests, luggage deposit, and even a personal shopper!
Flatmentor has given Gianluca a breath of fresh air after he ended up choked of innovation in his previous job—he spent 11 years working as the country director for Hypromat Italia, the Italian subsidiary of the Blue Elephant Italian network of self-service car washes.
During his time there, he was responsible for revenue generation of €2.1 million, as well as being the group’s project leader for the development of new services.
But when his engine of innovation began to splutter, he knew it was time to take a jaunt down Executive MBA lane—his choice of MIP Politecnico di Milano was a no-brainer.
“I always cultivated the desire to obtain an MBA from a prestigious school,” Gianluca explains, “and as Politecnico is one of the best, if not the best engineering school [in Italy], it was the most natural decision for me.”
And it was during the MIP Executive MBA when Gianluca initially met his business partner—they worked together on the program’s final project.
The idea they cultivated during that time was, unfortunately, non-performant, but it failed to put the brakes on their business ventures—the project accelerated their working relationship and harnessed the potential for their future project, Flatmentor.
MIP encourages its Executive MBA students to launch themselves into innovation and entrepreneurship projects, opening doors thanks to the Polihub network, and energizing them in their career. For Gianluca, MIP's openness to innovation and a holistic approach to business meant he was able to get a grounding in his favored creative sphere, as well as accounting and finance.
“MIP Politecnico di Milano gives you a 360-degree outlook,” he says, “so you can create every part of a business. You need to understand if your project is good enough, otherwise, you will never sustain growth.”
Currently, Flatmentor is operating solely out of Milan. But Gianluca says they are looking to develop their services in other parts of the Lombardia region of Italy—with a potential focus on the Lake Como area. He plans to launch further afield in early 2018.
“We estimate that there is a very interesting market there,” says Gianluca, “mainly with tourists.”