"It's like we were taking small exams every day"
Institutional Communication Service
Just like a business firm, a non-profit organisation is also an entrepreneurial initiative: it requires identifying the service being offered, a target audience, a development plan, processes and infrastructures, and goals to be achieved, though they might not be financial. And here too, the business idea often comes up in a completely spontaneous way. This is the case of Match Strategies, created by a group of students who, after enrolling in the USI Bachelor programmes in COM and ECO a few years back “on a small terrace in Lugano while having a cup of coffee”, thought of creating a non-profit association to build connections between the world of university students and the corporate world.
The model proposed by Match is peculiar in a way that it offers its members – especially USI students – a chance to put into practice what they learned in class, by carrying out real business cases to broaden their knowledge and ease their transition to the business world. The “Match Model” soon gained popularity also outside Southern Switzerland. In 2017, the project was awarded at the 15th Prize for Young Entrepreneurs (Prix du Jeune Entrepreneur) organised by the Swiss chapter of the French Foreign Trade Councilors (CCEF). Currently, Match has found a home at USI CP Start-Up as a start-up in its pre-incubation phase. Giorgia Pati, Bachelor student of Communication and President of Match Strategies, and co-founder with Andrea Padoan, Calogero Amato, Chiara Citterio and Simone Sciancalepore answered a few questions regarding their project.
Is founding a non-profit organisation the same as preparing for the corporate world? Is it like “studying” to become an entrepreneur?
I believe that coming up with an idea and create something, regardless of its nature and purpose, makes each one of us an entrepreneur. Thanks to Match, we were able to discover a new approach to “studying”, and we aim at offering the same experience to our fellow students: an innovative approach that requires great initiative in coming up with answers that have not yet been given. In a way, it’s like we were taking small exams every day, and this is also part of the business world.
Tell us about your experience and the one of your classmates, in creating an association in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, a region you were not familiar with until a few years ago.
Discovering the opportunities offered by this small region is exciting. My classmates and I are proud of the support we are receiving by our mentors, who have helped us since the very beginning of the project: Umberto Bondi (USI CP Start-Up), Umberto Giovine (entrepreneur) and Prof. Gianluca Colombo (USI Faculty of Economics). These people listened to us with enthusiasm and were there for us all the way. Our work has also allowed us to explore this region more, both in geographical terms (by collaborating with local entrepreneurs), and in political and economic terms, thanks to the interaction with different bodies and other actors in the region.
How important do you think it is for academic education to include elements to prepare future graduates for the world of work? What is the right balance between theoretical and practical training for an academic institution?
I think it is crucial to integrate a practical approach with a theoretical one. The business world is changing: it is vital to acquire transversal competences in order to be ready once outside university’s walls. Students from different Faculties collaborate in Match: this way we can learn from our peers. In addition, students follow classes with greater enthusiasm because they have a practical feedback of what they are being taught. I believe that the right balance between theory and practice needs to be different for every student. Our members must try to manage, from the very beginning, meeting with clients, and difficult tasks. We do not ask for high grades, but transparency, boldness and perseverance. They discover first-hand what their soft skills are, their fields of interest and in what they are best at.
Do you have a dream set aside for after graduation?
I would like to continue along this path as a young entrepreneur. The experience at Match has allowed me to discover the beauty of a completely self-managed job, which requires facing new challenges every day and turns the fear of responsibility into great determination. I cannot deny that it really excites me to be able to close a successful project, and make the client happy: entrepreneurs, inventors, people who need our support more than any large corporation does. My dream is to cherish this passion, and most of all, to keep working with my current partners. They are my best friends, with whom I share tears and joy in this exciting adventure.