Forbes Italia has released its annual “100 Under 30” list. We are delighted to see among these young disruptors two ESCP Alumni: Matteo Frescobaldi, Brand Manager of Laudemio Frescobaldi, in the Food and Drink category, and Romolo Ganzerli, cofounder of MammaPack, in the Retail category.
The latter has been selected as one of the young leaders who are on the fast track for rethinking our relationship with eCommerce.
29-year-old successful entrepreneur Romolo, Master in Management alumnus, class of 2015, is Global Digital Marketing Director at Coty Inc. and also the co-founder, with Flavio Nappi (MIM, class of 2010), of the fast-growing food retail startup MammaPack.
We chat with him to find out more about this significant accomplishment, his business and the future of eCommerce and food retail.
First of all, congrats on this great achievement. What was the first thing that went through your mind when you heard that you were among the 100 under 30 selected by Forbes Italy?
It definitely came as a surprise. I always looked at the “Forbes Under 30” list with admiration, intrigued by the achievements of this generation of changemakers. At first, I could not believe it. Today, I’m extremely grateful and honored.
What is Mammapack?
MammaPack is a fast growing eCommerce startup based in Italy. We are an online Supermarket for Italians living abroad, with a large selection of +10,000 products from food to personal care, conveniently sold online at Italian prices and shipped anywhere in the European Union within 48/72 hours. We're on a mission to build the biggest distributor of Italian products and the biggest community of Italian expats in the world.
At just 24 you started your own business! How has that changed you?
Starting your own business is the best business course you can possibly attend, as you must manage all aspects of a business from HR to Finance to Operations and Marketing. It changed me in many ways, however the three big lessons I took away from this experience are:
The importance of finding your niche and having a clear value proposition: when we started MammaPack, we were very clear about who our target is , what our mission is and what our brand character is. Having these three elements clear allowed us to build a brand which is now clearly recognizable by hundreds of thousands of Italians Europe-wide, and that is also one of our points of difference from other players operating in the same space.
Managing a company is like managing a sports team: one of the most important ingredients for success is finding a motivated team of talented team players that embrace your mission.
It all starts from (and boils down to) the P&L: every decision in every aspect of your business has an impact on your P&L statement, and the way your Business Model and your P&L is shaped has a long-lasting impact on your operating model.
How did what you learned at ESCP help you to achieve your goals?
ESCP played a key role in giving me the tools and the motivation to start my own business and become a better professional, thanks to what I learned inside and outside the classroom.
Inside the classroom, programs like “Chaire Entrepreneuriat” (now Jean-Baptiste Say Institute) teach you the theory behind Entrepreneurship and allow you to put it to practice by launching your own entrepreneurial project in a multi-cultural, high pressure environment with scarce resources. I also learned a lot from faculty members: I am still in touch with many of our professors, we collaborate on an ongoing basis and I treasure their advice.
Outside the classroom, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and be surrounded by some of the brightest minds I’ve ever met. The beauty of ESCP is that it offers plenty of opportunities to “learn by doing”, as we did in the context of Regatta ESCP. It’s a student-led event and I was part of the organizing team for the 2015 and 2016 editions, I managed everything regarding events and entertainment for more than 500 guests. It is thanks to ESCP Business School and Regatta that I met Flavio Nappi, first and foremost a friend as well as being MammaPack co-founder and Regatta founder.
What is your view on the future of eCommerce and food retail?
The eCommerce landscape was already going through a phase of strong growth across all industries, including food retail. The CoVid-19 crisis has dramatically accelerated this trend and encouraged the shift to eCommerce. Our category has been recording record triple digit monthly growth figures in March/April 2020.
If – as some analysts forecast – the impact of CoVid-19 is due to last for 18-24 months more, we can expect the online food retail and eCommerce business to be fundamentally changed forever in three main ways.
From “marketing excellence” to “marketing + operational excellence”: before CoVid 19 we were focusing most of our efforts on customer acquisition and marketing. Today, the equation has flipped: demand is there, and it’s a matter of being able to fulfill such demand in the quickest and most efficient way.
From “convenience” to “convenience + experience + community”: the competitive landscape will become fiercer, as retailers invest more on their e-commerce platforms in an effort to shift an increasingly higher share of their revenues from brick & mortar to e-commerce. In the medium term, there will therefore be very little differentiation from store to store from a pricing/service level standpoint. It is key to differentiate your eCommerce by providing a distinctive experience across all phases of the purchase journey, by leveraging all touchpoints: Website UX/UI, wording, transactional emails, unboxing experience and marketing activities need to work together to create the purchase experience that will encourage first time shoppers to shop from your e-commerce, and repeat shoppers to buy from you again and again.
Every customer is an influencer: in both my professional careers at Coty and MammaPack we have a mantra: every customer is an influencer. It’s a simple sentence that summarizes our approach to community building and influencer marketing. We strive to provide the best possible experience to our customers, so that they can become our best ambassadors and join our community. I’m a firm believer in the power of 1 to 1 recommendations and I strongly believe that rating & reviews and positive word of mouth are the best possible fuel for growth for any business.
What's next for you?
I am focusing my efforts on driving growth for both Coty Professional Beauty division and for MammaPack. I believe I have found the perfect combination for my professional growth: with Coty Inc., I am leading Digital Marketing activities for some of the most iconic love-brands in the professional beauty industry. Working for a multinational firm allows me to be on top of industry trends and to learn from a diverse, multicultural team of professionals with 15/20+ years of experience in the FCMG space.
On the other hand, MammaPack is teaching me how to manage a company through the phases of startup, scaleup and growth. It is very stimulating and enriching.
I feel fortunate to be able to grow my professional skills both vertically, gaining a deeper knowledge of digital marketing thanks to Coty, and horizontally, by developing the skills you need to manage a company thanks to MammaPack. I always try to get the best of both worlds, and I learn every day.
Do you have any tips for young entrepreneurs out there aiming to make an impact with their startups?
I have two main pieces of advice: First, Just Do It! This is what made the difference for me and Flavio when launching MammaPack. You will try to plan as much as possible but planning to perfection does not exist in the real world. You will do many things right, but also make many mistakes, eventually you will learn by doing – which is the best and most effective way to learn. Secondly, talk to your customers: it seems obvious but it is something that should not be taken for granted. Customers are an inexhaustible source of insights: we talk to them regularly and we learn what works, what does not work, what we could do better, what we could do instead. It also gives us the energy and the motivation to do things better.
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