Giovanni Conz (Co-Founder), Gianluca Segato (Co-Founder), and Federico Cian (Co-Founder) © Jasper Kettner
What inspired you to found your startup?
Gianluca, the original founder, was still a student when he first had the idea. A friend of his asked him advice because he missed paying a university fee. Why the smartphone hadn’t notified it? That’s how the intuition came: digitalizing the university experience, because nobody was doing it.
How do you define success for yourself and your company?
For myself, success is building something that can have a sustainable, long-lasting impact. For our company success means being able to help every student to find his or her own professional way, despite all the difficulties that this might imply. We have this long-term vision of easing the transition from studies to work, and to empower students with goals they were not aware of before.
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
Yes, less fear, more action. We waited a lot before stepping up our game and taking this project seriously: we’ve been too cautious and conservative, at the beginning of our experience. If I could give an advice to my former self it would be: be bold.
What problem does your product solve?
University, nowadays, is lagging behind, both in terms of daily data management – that is usually very fragmented – and in terms of actual content, that is too outdated and academic with the respect to what companies are actually looking for. Unfortunately, universities are simply too slow to be able to adapt to the world of the 21st century, and are detached from the needs and the habits of this generation of students.
Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?
Uniwhere in 12 months will be scaling in Europe, and will start to be the main point of reference for European students to manage their university lives. In 5 years, it will be impacting the professional aspirations of students all over the world, in particular where upper education dramatically needs to be levelled up: that’s our dream. In 10 years… too far fetched to even imagine about that.
How are you different?
We’re different because we trust nothing but data. We based all our product on data about students’ careers and performances, and on data about skills and roles sought by companies. This results in a superior product because there’s no opinion in what we suggest: it’s just a quantitative representation of a reality so complex that nobody, so far, has been able to depict it.
How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?
We have around half of our user-base that is using the app at least monthly; students open Uniwhere at least twice a day.
Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?
Upper education desperately needs a complete overhaul. We deeply believe that by using the huge, unexploited data about students careers and students choices we can be able to suggest students new education paths they were not aware of before, improving their skill sets, their preparation and their ability to cope with an ever-changing world. We are 100% sure that this can have a long-lasting positive effect of the society we’re living in as a whole.
How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?
We’re not here since enough time to really judge that, but I think that it went from a strong focus on business model (and in particular e-commerce), towards a stronger emphasis on technology improvement and disruption – both from the side of investors and from the side of actual startups. This is critical to build a world-wide competing startup hub.
What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?
Pros: access to an outstanding network of international talents, of legendary investors, and a great community of people from all over the world. This is critical in trying to build a company that can compete with the kind of behemoth from the Valley and the Nordics.
Cons: it’s still a rather young environment, and it still has to overcome its legacy (mainly tied to an obsession with revenues, to cautiousness and to locality). But it’s a process, and a process headed towards the right direction.
Bonus Question: Anything else that we need to know about you?
We’re Italians and expats, and proud to be as such. Gianluca has even been awarded as Italian of the Year 2016 by the Italian Embassy in Germany. We brand ourselves as truly Europeans, and that’s what we most believe in.
Uniwhere was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.