Executive MBA start up
The entrepreneur born on the benches of the MIP: the history of TMI and Stefano Urbani
For many of our students, the graduation ceremony is not just the launch pad for a new adventure. This was the case for Stefano Urbani, who laid the foundations for Medical Tourism Italy with the MIP Executive MBA. A project that has now become concrete.
As is appears from the name of your company, today you deal with medical tourism. How was the interest in this sector born?
It all started in 2012: at that time I was employed in the automotive sector and I was in Turkey for work. By chance, during that trip, I came into contact with a well-known ophthalmologist Azerbaijani, who introduced me to another aspect of Turkey, that of medical tourism.
Several patients from Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, from the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the area of the Commonwealth of Independent States, were choosing Turkey to treat diseases and undertake various types of health or cosmetic treatments.
In fact, when we talk about medical tourism, we refer to those people who go to foreign countries for improving their health or physical condition, for example, cosmetic surgery procedures, dentistry, cardiac surgery, oncology, transplants…
In Italy, this type of market was not yet developed – except for in an unstructured way. So, as I was interested above all in the social value that is the basis of medical tourism, or to offer to a patient the possibility of finding a solution to his problem not only in his country of origin but also abroad, I started to wonder if Italy too could be competitive in this market.
TMI is a project that has become reality thanks to the Executive MBA. How?
I am an Alumnus of Management Engineering at the Polytechnic of Milan and I chose the Executive MBA of MIP, the Business School dell’Ateneo, as a tool to deepen my idea.
In fact, since 2013, I started participating in B2B events and trade shows in Europe, Arab countries, Asia and the United States.
In this way I was able to increase my network and explore the ground with both foreign facilitators – who asked me for information about Italy as a possible destination – and with Italian hospitals – interested in understanding what medical tourism was.
It was during the EMBA that I laid the foundations for my project – TMI Incoming – which was also awarded as the best project work of my course at the time of graduation.
Moreover, this allowed me to meet some of the people who are now an active part of the project, then considerably enlarging the network leading to establishing contact with Dr. Cristian Ferraris of Assolombarda. Thanks to this contact, today TMI has produced the website “healthlombardy.eu”, with the objective of presenting in an institutional manner the Lombard health excellence in the global health tourism market. This work was for TMI the opportunity to develop a Minimum Viable Product – just like they taught me in the classroom! – For our current Italian virtual hospital project on which we are working thanks to the newly established capital of Medical Truism Italy Ltd (Turismo Medico Italia Srl ).
The search for the investor was a fundamental step for TMI. What were the challenges you faced and how did Cav. Lav. Nardo Filippetti influencing the development of the project?
I have to be honest, the search was not long. In fact, we came into contact with Cav. Filippetti shortly after the end of the journey with Innovits, an innovation laboratory in which we were accelerated at the conclusion of the EMBA and which allowed us to start the project on the benches of the MIP to be marketed.
This short research time, however, has allowed us to deal with some interesting challenges, above all the paradox that every startupper must face: the numbers!
In fact, investors often support an idea only when the business is considered “reasonable”, without considering, however, that an investment is necessary for the startup to reach that level, especially in sectors where the activities of Compliance & Legal, Cyber Security, Marketing and Communication have high costs.
Moreover, it was also an opportunity to understand who the right investor for TMI was. Therefore, when we contacted Cav. Filippetti in 2017, a visionary and successful entrepreneur in the hospitality sector who had been cultivating the idea of entering this market for years, he was ready to confidently communicate the vision, strategy and service of TMI.
In fact, respect for work and for people, creativity and intuition are the values that have characterized Cav. Filippetti during his entrepreneurial career and who are part of the project TMI.
Our investor, as well as President Lindbergh Hotels Srl (Ltd.), is also President of ASTOI Confindustria Viaggi and Vice President of Federturismo Confindustria. Those are prestigious institutional positions that give us the authority we needed, in addition to daily comparison that allows us to use his skills acquired over the years for the benefit of the project. Finally, I want to emphasize that his approach has been an industrial and non-financial investor, an extremely important element that allows us to think about the long term.
How do you feel as an entrepreneur? What are the things you have learned of the EMBA that guide you today?
My personal feelings changed following the establishment with Cav. Filippetti of Medical Truism Italy Ltd (Turismo Medico Italia Srl ) at the end of 2018.
If at the beginning I was moved by the enthusiasm and the desire to communicate my project to the world, today I am comforted by the trust the investor has given me, which has become a traveling companion in hard daily work.
However, sometimes, and as I believe it is natural, the right expectations of the investor can generate fear of not making it, but we must find the right balance without creating organizational stress.
For this I have elaborated the AI-KI-DO factor: thanks to the right balance between (Ai), Harmony, (Ki) Conjunction and (Do) Union, I try every day to guide TMI towards the achievement of the set objectives, eliminating the fear of failure , which I believe is human, with the gratitude of having had an opportunity!
The awareness of the present moment and the responsibility for my actions towards the project, and the people involved, myself included, allows me to manage the economic activity by assuming the so-called business risk with the right serenity.
All this is, evidently, built on the foundations of the EMBA, first of all those on organizational behavior, strategy, project management, decision making, marketing, communication and finance. These allowed me respectively to give structure to awareness, make long-term choices, manage individual development projects, make daily choices, sell, develop brand awareness, and finally take care of the ordinary administration.
Without forgetting the people who have characterized my journey, the professors I have met and the colleagues I have known.
Now our challenge will be to be able to industrialize the product, creating efficiency but keeping the quality and service levels extremely high, with a tailor-made approach for every single request. To do this, we are adopting a lean startup methodology with the aim of avoiding waste of resources, building a sustainable business and experimenting ideas with the creative process “Creation – Measurement – Learning” (Creazione – Misurazione – Apprendimento). This methodology is being taught during the master’s, too.
What advice would you give to those who want to launch a startup today?
To begin with I would recommend being honest with yourself, asking yourself questions so as not to get hurt later. Such as how innovative you are, if it’s the right time to launch it and if you have a good team. But also how to finance yourself and where to establish it.
Another tip is to talk about your idea to as many people as possible: it’s a good way to test the interest. Often, when I talk about medical tourism, I get several questions about it. This curiosity is a good sign.
Once received a positive feedback, it is good then to take the marguerite in hand and concentrate only on a few petals, focusing time and energy.
Launching a startup is an act of great responsibility towards others, towards those who believe in the project, so I can only encourage people to do what they love. Besides being a great sacrifice, which can only lead to success with passion and dedication.
At the end I advise you to bind yourself to the vision, not to the product or service.
The factors that influence a startup’s growth path are countless and sometimes not controllable; only by leaving the ego aside of the ownership of its own idea and putting the “own creature” in the conditions of going alone can one truly show that vision which is the flame that burns inside!