We talked to Arturo J. Gil R on how Studentfy is an instant boost to student life and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Arturo J. Gil R: We’re doing fine. On and off quarantine during the whole year as Spain’s government (And many others) have been catastrophically tackling this crisis, therefore working from home and spending a lot of time together with family.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Studentfy?
Arturo J. Gil R: I didn’t know what to do with my life until I was 26. Before that, I dabbled between Systems Engineering, Biomedicine, and Translation/Interpretation until I decided to enroll in a Master’s in Management at a top Business School. That’s when I realized I wanted to be an entrepreneur and build stuff. I juggled between my studies and creating a business plan for the venture, and I ended up recruiting my co-founders and starting two businesses in parallel.
How does Studentfy innovate?
Arturo J. Gil R: We want to use technology to improve student life worldwide, the social part of it, which has been so severely disrupted by this pandemic. We want students to meet their classmates as soon as they enroll so that those relationships start to build as soon as possible. Once the school year starts, we want to give student unions, clubs, and associations tools to facilitate organizing events (online or offline depending on restrictions). We are in the last months of this pandemic, and we want to be ready to come out swinging when it’s back to normal. A considerable part of university life is the memories and relationships you build along the way, so we want to make sure we facilitate that.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Arturo J. Gil R: It cut off 90% of our revenue streams from one day to another. However, what started as a problem gave us time to focus on our business model and strategy. Before the pandemic, we were already profitable, but that meant we were spending a lot of time in commercial activities. When you are earning money, your natural tendency is to “not touch things” working. This pause in activity gave us the time to refine our strategy and scrape things that would hinder our growth in the long term even though they were giving us money. Now I’m confident that we have a clear expansion strategy and product that will help us expand to other countries in the years to come.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Arturo J. Gil R: I had to let go of a part of our team and reduce the remaining ones’ salaries (Including a 100% reduction for all co-founders). However, to see how committed our team is to the success of the venture is impressive. The biggest lesson we’ve learned is to be much less dependent on local factors and local business and become much more online, which means increasing a pandemic-proof MRR.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Arturo J. Gil R: I have a very zen approach to life. I’m not in a race for millions but in a marathon to create value. Covid-19 has delayed money-flow coming my way, but I don’t waste time thinking about it since that’s not my main objective. I abide by the habit explained in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of the Highly Effective People: do not waste energy worrying about things that fall outside your influence circle. In other words, why stress about something you can’t change. I could be stressing about the revenue lost, but that won’t make it come back, will it? Instead, I’m focusing on creating value for our customers, so they are willing to pay even during a pandemic.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Arturo J. Gil R: If we split what we do in two, we have: 1) Ticketing platform, 2) Student Club/Associations Management tool.
1) There are dozens of ticketing platforms and tools students use to organize events. Eventbrite would probably be the world’s biggest.
2) As for Club Management, there are also many. The biggest could be CampusGroups.
We plan to stay in the game by keeping it simple and personalized: only for students and only for social student life. The others tackle the entire world or the entire needs of a school; we would be crazy if we wanted to compete.
Your final thoughts?
Arturo J. Gil R: Crisis is a great test for resilience for profitable business models and adaptability to change. I believe those companies that make it out stronger will be real candies for investors looking for bullet-proof companies.
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