We talked to Diego Fanara, founder of Unibuddy, about online recruitment platforms for university students, and this is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Diego Fanara: We’re holding up as best as we can. We transitioned from a mentality of fear in 2020 to a much more hopeful one in 2021, so we’re just trying to look toward the light at the end of the tunnel now. Everyone is healthy and that’s what’s most important.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Unibuddy.
Diego Fanara: I founded Unibuddy straight after college at age 22, and it was my first job. I approached it seeking a solution to the concerns I had personally experienced in my own student journey, like feeling unprepared to make the right decision on where and what to study because I didn’t have access to the information I was after. Once I became a university student, I realized that I had the power to share that information. That’s when I decided to find a way to give all prospective students access to it.
How does Unibuddy innovate?
Diego Fanara: We innovated when we launched Unibuddy by taking a unique approach to decision-making in the higher education space by leveraging the power of community and shared human experiences. We devised a method of connecting students directly that’s both straightforward and personalized. And we continue innovating today by following that same approach and constantly considering how can we apply it to new solutions. We started with peer-to-peer chat, then we launched events, and there’s much more to come.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Diego Fanara: It affected us positively because we went from vitamins to pain-killers. Both universities and students had an even greater need for us as a result of the isolation that COVID-19 imposed, and we were here to reconnect them.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?
Diego Fanara: There are always difficult choices along the way, but I’ve learned that you have to let things happen naturally. Each person will make their contribution to the story we’re writing together as a company, but it’s important to remember that each person is writing their own book too. You have to respect where everyone is at in their individual process.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Diego Fanara: We continue to utilize our partners to drive innovation by staying as close to them as possible because they help us shape the future of our products. Through the years we’ve found that this is increasingly important because they will always know the problem better than we do, especially now in the age of COVID. We use tools to increase the feedback loop, like Intercom and other software that gets us direct commentary from our customers.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Diego Fanara: We did not.
Your final thoughts?
Diego Fanara: We should implement the knowledge we’ve acquired during the pandemic in the post-covid world when it comes to building communities and staying connected in new and different ways, and always keep sharing this knowledge with each other.
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