Back in 2013, three passionate shopper-students of MIP realized that the large e-shopping platforms like Yoox and Selfridges offered a vast catalogue of products, great after-sales services and the possibility to shop off the opening hours, but they lacked several important elements of a pleasant shopping experience: enjoyment, and friendly advices. In their words: “There was nothing in the traditional e-shop experience that could replace the real fun of a group of girls going out for a cool good afternoon of shopping or discussing what to match in front of an open wardrobe”.
Wardroba, an e-shop and social network mix
Their intuition led to the creation of Wardroba, an e-commerce fashion platform that combines elements of an e-shop for emerging brands and unusual designers with elements of social interaction and friendly chatting. Wardroba is now an emerging e-commerce star in the Italian fashion retail, worth about 12 million buyers every year and Fulvio Catalano, Federico Della Bella and Luca Nardone, three students and former MIP alumni are now ready to look back and offer advices. But it was not always like that –theyrecall-. They believed in their idea and they were putting 24-hours effort on that, but pretty soon they realized that a clever idea is not the same as an operating business and least of all a profitable commerce. “We needed contacts, we needed a lot of competences in web-design and in logistics. We needed to manage people and make them passionate about our own dream. But more than anything else, we needed to do a lot of trial-and-errors. The challenge is to replicate the kind of easy-going and playful atmosphere of a friendly face-to-face chat in a digital context”.
Trial and errors are the most important ingredients
Testing –it turns out- is the most important ingredient behind any successful and fast innovation, especially in the digital context. “After years of experimentation and studies we have realized that the trial and error process that is behind a new business ought not be necessarily massy and time-consuming. In fact it could effectively be engineered to become a stable and carefully-planned instrument of systematic business development”, says Dr. Franzoni, the Director of the Master in Innovation and Entrepreneruship of MIP. At a time in which the NASDAQ index could set every day a new all-time record and large companies like General Electric aim to be called 21st Century start ups, the need for managerial education and training is also changing. “At MIP we see a new business development as essentially an act of planned learning in which you have to gain understanding of what customers want, how they want it and how could you earn your share in that process. Although each new business is different, there is a recursive and therefore teachable learning cycle behind designing a new business and this process can be used again and again in different contexts.”
During the latest years –she reports- they have realized that the H.R. managers that rally the campus in search of fresh talents were increasingly demanding professional that can surf the apparent chaos behind the design, testing and launch of a new product or service and execute new projects quite routinely, rather than as an exception. Fabio Ciarapica, a professional head-hunter who works as an associate of Praxi says that most established companies are responding to the challenge of global competition by working to shorten their value and production chains.
“In this scenario” –he says- “customer contact and understanding of the market is seen as crucial. In fact, companies increasingly see their employees as business partners. They go more in search of employees who have outlook and long-term vision of the market, and less in search of specialized professionals that master the specific tasks associated to a specific role”. In its world-famous bestseller “The Lean Startup”, Eric Ryes, a former startupper and resident entrepreneur at Harvard University envisages a near future in which the “Corporate entrepreneur” will be one primary role within the organization chart of every established corporation. As companies job posts change, so is higher education. In fact the segment of specialized masters in Innovation and Entrepreneruship has seen a 2- digit surge in the last 5 years.
“It is not always easy for universities to respond to the job market challenges” –says Dr. Franzoni. “Luckily, in this specific circumstance, the competences and innovative environment that we at MIP in Milan have nurtured for years gave us a head-start. We realized that we owned an enormous potential and should just combine some of the ingredients that have been with us for a long time. The strength of our programs is based on four pillars: a Faculty with a genuine passion for innovation and design-thinking, one of the richest company- university networks of all continental Europe, an action-based learning method and the environment of “techy- campus” that is around us, where students enjoy constant exposure to things like 3D manufacturing, design, startup incubators and seed financing.”