How Les Roches made me an entrepreneur

19 Mar 2019 | by editor


Name: Alessandro Tenconi
Graduation year: 2015
Nationality: Italian
Program: BBA in International Hotel Management
Current position: Co-founder Hooklabs and Principal, KaizenVC

Ask a ‘made in Les Roches’ entrepreneur why the school is such a great incubator for entrepreneurial talent and you’ll get many different answers. For Alessandro Tenconi, it’s all about global perspectives.

“One of the things I found really motivating at Les Roches was meeting so many people from different countries,” he says. “I learned quickly that things can be done very differently across nationalities and cultures. That’s the sort of exposure you’d miss if you are surrounded only by people of your own nationality.”

As an example, Alessandro quotes his experience of teaming up with fellow alumnus Akanshu Jain on an Indian FinTech (financial technology) start-up business called Infino.

“Akanshu was born and raised in New Delhi and so he knows the Indian mindset very well. When we talked about a FinTech start-up in that market he was able to point out the local preference for some sort of cashback mechanism in order to attract customers,” he says.

Spreading the entrepreneurship message in Les Roches

Alessandro and Akanshu are already seasoned hands at entrepreneurship. They were the driving force behind Les Roches’ entrepreneurship club, known as Startup Mountain. And, together with Devina Singh and Vanessa Cova, they co-founded the Future of Hospitality Summit (FHS) at the school back in 2015.

Alessandro says, “We came up with the idea, the concept and everything from the budget to running it together with a group of student volunteers.”

“FHS is not a typical conference. Because it is student organized it takes on a different character each year. As one of the people who started FHS I was delighted to be asked back to be a guest speaker at the most recent event.”

Read more about the 2018 edition of FHS.

Spotting the next travel industry disruptors

Today, much of Alessandro’s focus is on his experimental advisory and investment firm Hooklabs as well as his venture capital studio KaizenVC. In both of these initiatives he’s working again with Akanshu, while KaizenVC also enjoys the considerable presence of Jan Valentin, who helped make travel metasearch site Kayak a household name across Europe and is now a serial investor in start-ups utilizing AI and blockchain technology.

“Technology is driving a lot of start-ups; but the really big opportunities are in targeting under-served parts of the hospitality industry,” Alessandro says.

“For instance, one of the fastest-growing start-ups in travel right now is Oyo Rooms, which became established in India and is now bridging into Europe. Oyo’s model is to offer a strong brand, plus marketing and online booking firepower to smaller independent operators who don’t have the scale to handle this in-house.”

Alessandro also sees great potential at the intersection of AI and travel. “Although travel planning has moved online there’s very little personalization or loyalty generation coming through,” he says. “People use metasearch sites to compare flights and prices but very often they don’t even book on that website. This is not leaving much data to sell against.”

The future, Alessandro argues, may well belong to platforms that can combine the ease of metasearch with content curation and personalization. He cites start-up ventures such as Mapify and Nezasa as two examples of businesses leading this trend.

“AI and machine learning have real potential to offer tailored travel experiences, from the pre-planning stage through to booking and between booking and the actual travel. There are technologies coming into play throughout this journey, and this is hugely exciting from an investor point of view,” he concludes.


Discover more Les Roches Alumni entrepreneurial stories:

Maria Ines Coma Cobar and Gabriela Gonzalez Rubio – Business to tackle poor customer service
Alessandro Mazzone – Dream restaurant in Milan
Philip Kuchelmeister – Unique data analytics company



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