Startups are a form of scalable business models, which became a trend in the latest years. Someone said: you need three things to create a successful startup: make a start with the right people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. A startup that does all three will probably succeed. Some people create their own startups and some others decide to join already well-functioning ones. Andrea Benzo motivated from the startup philosophy, he joined Airbnb community and this is his story.
Q: When and why did you decide to come to Budapest?
A: Three years ago I wanted to move from my previous residence, which was in Paris. I used to be a social worker, but apart from that I rented my apartment there as well. So I wanted to come to Budapest because I had some contacts and friends here, but before taking my decision I visited Budapest several times. Finally, the people and the city were both really nice so I’ve made my decision.
Q: Why did you decide to leave your country in the first place?
A: It was many years ago and I just wanted to travel to make some experience. See other places, meet other people.
Q: Why did you decide to do a start up in Budapest?
A: I had the same experience in Paris (renting my apartment), it was very nice. I had the possibility to meet new people and I really enjoyed doing that. Budapest was a good choice for me because I had a salary from Paris, which helped me rent a big apartment here with several rooms. I didn’t want to make a lot of money out of that, just enough to spend my days here. I really like meeting new people and sharing experiences. I do that kind of activity for three years now in Budapest and did it for seven years back in Paris.
Q: What do you think is the difference between doing business here and doing business in Italy or in Paris?
A: In this kind of activity, there is not really a big difference. It’s not like opening a shop or asking for a bigger permission. It’s the same thing everywhere. You only need to have a flat, find people from Airbnb and basically do and pay for the same things.
Q: How did the economic crisis affect your business?
A: It didn’t affect me at all. In Paris you have tourists all year long, because of the city. And in Budapest there are only 3 months that my apartment is a little empty.
Q: So you think that this kind of business, renting your flat, is in a better place than others?
A: I don’t know. If you do the correct things and have “a good product”, you will always have people coming, because at this moment they travel a lot, especially around Europe.
Q: How do you describe your clients?
A: In Budapest, mostly young people, friends, couples. It really can be everything.
Q: Can you say that your clients have a different mentality than people who choose to stay at a hotel?
A: I feel that what is interesting about Airbnb is that is a social platform, where you can make your profile and see other people’s profiles and communicate with them before they decide to visit you. In this way you get to know your client, their likes and dislikes, and it’s great for this kind of business. The last three years in Budapest I’ve never faced any problem, because people are kind, they want to visit the town, explore the nightlife, sometimes with me or sometimes alone. They are not people who stay in their rooms, doing business all day in front of a laptop. So, it’s very important to have a connection before visiting a place in order for both parts to trust each other.
Q: So, based on your job, how do you feel about sharing economy?
A: For me it is something normal. Everyone can do it, if there is the possibility. It connects the people.
Q: Is it easy for you to combine your personal life with your business profile? I mean you live in the same apartment with your clients. How can you do it?
A: Yes it’s easy, you give them the key to your apartment so they are free. You know (he laughs), sometimes you may want to take a shower at the same time. You just need to wait 10 minutes and that’s all. It’s not a big problem. For sure it’s more difficult if you have a smaller apartment, but for me it’s not so complicated because my place is big enough (90m2). Plus the tourists don’t stay at home all the time, they want to get to know the city. They get up early, they go out in the night.
Q: Do you feel that at the latest years there are new consumer trends or the world of economy is the same as it used to be?
A: Of course there are. I mean the economic crisis changed everything. For example in my field, nowadays, travelling has become cheaper than it used to be. People move a lot, they can travel with 40€ from one country to another.
Q: I think there is a difference between staying in a hotel and in an apartment. In the first case you’re staying on your own but on the other you get to meet someone, right?
A: Of course it’s totally different. If you share an apartment you have a connection. Now, I go to a hotel only if I don’t have any other choice. If there is someone I can talk and share my experience there, I will stay at their place.
Q: Do you have any plans for the future?
A: For the future? Yes, I want to drink a beer (laughs). Not particularly. I will continue my business and just today I thought that I may want to expand this to my home town, Torino.
Talking with Andrea made us understand that sharing your experiences is one of the greatest feelings you can get. The sharing economy is a socio-economic system built around the sharing of human and physical resources. It includes the shared creation, production, distribution, trade and consumption of goods and services by different people. Let’s engage this mentality, after all it’s the new trend of our generation.
Avagianou Maria, Kardos Bálint, Tsimourtou Pinelopi, Yeo Cherie