"USI inspired me to start a business that wants to change the world"
Institutional Communication Service
29 October 2018
“Bringing power to the people and letting companies compete for our hard-earned money” - is what 29-year-old Lithuanian entrepreneur Paulius Vegele says about his innovative online shopping platform www.rvlhub.com, which he launched in the wake of his exchange semester spent at Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) in the fall of 2017.
Although Paulius chose to study at the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, Switzerland was his original choice, as he was dreaming about a banking career. “What caught my attention is the international aspect of USI and attending the best courses that were otherwise hard to find at my university in Denmark”, says Paulius about his motivation for coming to USI.
But how did this young and ‘hungry’ student come up with the idea for his business initiative? According to Paulius, “Switzerland was not cheap and I started thinking that there must be a better way how to spend our hard-earned money. We talked a lot with other students at USI on how the 1% get richer and the poor get even poorer. Subjects about economics and finance were common. I remember how Professor Francesco Franzoni from the Financial Modelling course mentioned FX trading and how big banks bid for customers to win more business. This was where I got the idea about RVLhub (which stands for ‘rival hub’). So, I started thinking that if the largest and strongest banks in the world bid for customers, why can’t companies do the same for retail products and consumers? We should feel special and respected, just like in the old days, let companies do the hard work. Then, the Structured Products course – with lecturer Nicola Carcano – provided me with a deep understanding on how a completely new market of financial instruments was developed (it was because there was a demand for it). That is how I realized that if there were enough of people asking for products on RVLhub, companies would eventually try to meet that demand and join the platform, thus creating a completely new market and changing our online shopping behaviours. I then shared this concept with a number of friends, because I believed that there is this power of getting what you ask for and the price that you want, and people must realize that they are in control to decide it and start asking it from companies”.
The concept behind RVLhub was inspired also by other learnings acquired at USI, as Paulius explains: “During my exchange semester I attended the course Multimodal Rhetoric with Prof. Andrea Rocci and Dr. Chiara Pollaroli who showed me how important is to have the right message: words and pictures telling your story to others. So I decided to focus on a “change the world plan” in my dorm at USI Home, putting ideas on a piece of paper and turning them into reality. I soon realized however that this couldn’t be done alone and that I would need a little help from students around the globe, especially the ones that I had related to the most at USI and CBS, to help me spread this word and let companies know that we are here to get the bargaining power back!”
The overall impression on Paulius’ experience at USI is summarised in a single sentence: “I returned to Copenhagen feeling I had become a different person, ready to make a change and have an impact on society with the knowledge acquired.”
How RVLhub.com works
Customers create a profile on RVLhub where they can make requests for products, which companies can make an offer on. An example: I want a new phone, I enter the specifications I want my phone to have – even a certain price I want to pay, if I know exactly what phone I want, I can upload a picture too and maybe ask for 20 percent discount – then, I tag the request with relevant tags, e.g. consumer electronics. At that point, companies selling consumer electronics will receive a notification about the request, and will have 24 hours to come up with a customized deal. A customer can receive a total of five offers, and they are valid for 24 hours. If I like one of the offers, I can accept it. The company then receives my email and contacts me about the deal and where to ship it. If I don’t like any of the offers, I can reject them all and start over.