Do you use your smartphone while watching TV?
According to an Accenture study, 87% of viewers worldwide use a second screen device while in front of the TV, the vast majority of which are smartphones.
Elio Di Fiore, an Italian MBA graduate from MIP Politecnico di Milano, capitalized on this trend when he co-founded Movym, an Apple iOS and Android smartphone app which uses voice recognition technology to let you to buy products that you see on TV.
When BusinessBecause last spoke to Elio, he was about to embark on a pre-launch tour of the US with his three fellow Italian co-founders and MBA colleagues at MIP.
After meetings with Hollywood producers and Silicon Valley investors, the Italian innovators returned home to direct their attention to the European market. Since then, their focus has shifted away from the app itself, to a more lucrative B2B business model, marketing Movym’s pioneering technology as software as a service.
Elio (pictured below) previously worked in product marketing roles at Vodafone and Microsoft in Milan, before going full-time with Movym after his MBA. As the company’s marketing manager, he’s at the forefront of a sweeping era of digital marketing innovation.
How did the idea to start Movym come about?
It started during the last year of my MBA. We had the idea to create voice recognition technology to connect traditional TVs with smartphone and tablet devices.
We commissioned a skilled team of Italian university professors to develop the technology and then left our jobs to found Movym.
What challenges did you face?
After the whole Movym architecture was ready, the big challenge was explaining our innovative product to the old-fashioned, traditional TV broadcasting companies.
What are the plans for the business?
Today, the market is growing fast and our customers’ needs are changing. Our focus is on transforming the Movym technology into a software as a service for our B2B customers who want to create a second screen experience easily and autonomously.
If our B2C business plan gets the funds it needs, we’ll develop a pay-per-lead business model.
What advice do you have for MBAs looking to start their own business?
Too often people jump into a business built around a product or service that they think will be successful, rather than one with a proven market. Focus on whether there is a real need in the market that nobody else is able to satisfy.
And strongly focus on sales and marketing. Create a marketing and sales funnel system that can be easily tested and measured to enable the startup to find a good way to get leads, convert leads into sales, and generate repeat sales.
How will marketing will change over the coming decade?
There could be a major strategic transformation.
Digital platforms and social networks have changed the relationship between brands and customers. Customers have more choice than ever before and the purchasing path is not as linear. With big data, we can collect massive amounts of data in real time that allow us to manage these more complex interactions and prepare multiple approaches.
And thanks to machine learning technology, we’ll be able to make marketing simulations; testing campaigns in simulated environments built from real world data.
Tell us something about working at Microsoft that most people wouldn’t know?
Microsoft is a great place to work if you want a good work-life balance. The office hours are very flexible and thanks to instant messaging software – Microsoft Lync – many employees choose to work from home more than twice a week.
What advice do you have for MBA students looking to work for Microsoft?
Learn how to communicate effectively to a wide variety of audiences and build a solid understanding of Microsoft’s business strategy. HR managers look for flexibility, but for an MBA student, a technical background or previous IT work experience really makes the difference.
Why did you pursue an MBA at MIP?
I’d always been an employee of big multinational companies where it’s difficult to get a 360 degree view of the business. I wanted to better understand how to manage big companies and how to start one.
I was attracted by MIP’s technical background and the flexibility on offer. I won an MBA scholarship and I was given the opportunity to study and work at the same time.
How have you profited from your MBA experience?
I learnt how to start and run a company. And I met many people with similar motivations. Among them, my fellow founders of Movym.