Key Visual - Alumni

Niccolò Lapini

Forbes 30 Under 30 // Italy 2020: Food & Drink

Niccolò Lapini is the Co-Founder and CEO of the delivery service Bella&Bona. Bella&Bona believes in healthy and balanced dishes from the Mediterranean cuisine.

EBS Alumnus Niccolò Lapini, Co-Founder and CEO of Bella&Bona

What has been the biggest challenge in your business career so far?

By far, one of the most significant challenges has been dealing with the unknown. Developing ideas had been a keen interest of mine from an early age. My third and current venture, a B2B food delivery project called Bella&Bona, is a result of my desire to take positive risks and grow ideas. When working on a new project, you are forcing to make hundreds of decisions a day. Sometimes I have to make decisions without any experience, but with a personal assurance that I have done my best to better the company. Dealing with uncertainty is one of the hardest and most exciting parts for me.

What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?

Surround yourself with top people! Already in school, it is paramount to create a network of “A” players. The people you spend time with will affect your attitudes and behaviour. Stay closely surrounded by positive, supportive people who contribute to your mental toughness.

Which mistake would you have liked to avoid?

We cannot change the past, but we can learn from it. There are tons of mistakes that I have made in my personal and professional career. What is essential is to understand the reason behind the mistake. It is important to learn fast and ensure mistakes will not reoccur. It is okay to fail, but it is an invaluable characteristic to grow from those failures. My main mistake was about my management style: when I started my first venture – may be given by my very early age – I was often micromanaging my direct reports. Micromanagement led to lack of trust and good colleagues to leave the company. By a structured feedback process, I got to know the reason why competent professionals were going, and I could change my management style.

What brought you to EBS Universität back then?

My decision to study at EBS was driven by its unparalleled reputation as one of the top 20 business schools, according to Financial Times. I was also drawn to the semester abroad programme, internship opportunities, and the international context.

To what extent did your studies at EBS Universität provide you with added value for your work?

The focus of the EBS programme is about applying lectures to real work life. Almost every course incorporated a project with a company. I remember the fantastic L’Oréal competition where, with a team of three students, we had to design the go-to-market approach for the launch of a new product. Besides, I did my first internship at Unicredit in the finance department during the summer break. Last but not least, the EBS Alumni has a commanding presence in Europe; one of the earliest Bella&Bona investors is a former EBS student!

Your best memory of EBS Universität? There are many. One of the best is the EBS Symposium. I still find it remarkable that a group of students could organise a three-day congress with such attention to detail, from the companies invited (Facebook, Mckinsey, Google and so forth) to the fantastic workshops. The event connected global business leaders with students and created a tremendous networking opportunity.

What does the alumni network offer you?

As mentioned before, the alumni network has a strong presence in Europe. I try to participate once a quarter at a gathering of EBS alumni in Berlin: it is always an excellent opportunity to see leaders from different industries coming from EBS.

Do you have a (daily) routine you always keep to?

I don’t have a rigorous routine, honestly. What I always try to have is enough sleep. I force myself to sleep at least seven hours a day which helps me to prepare for the following day with a fresh mind. Good sleep helps in concentration, productivity, and overall performance.

Who is your great role model?

It is tough to answer this question. I would say that one of my role models is my grandfather. At 85 he still overlooks a construction company he established when he was 20. Although he doesn’t cover a specific position in the company, he never misses a single day where he visits his former company, from Monday to Sunday. He has been an active role model for me because I could understand the importance of finding a passion for driving your work. Only by loving what we do, we can overcome stress and the many hours in the office. I am lucky enough to have found my passion in company development and connecting strong teams.

What are your goals for 2020?

I’m a planner by nature. I need to have everything organised and scheduled. There is no exception when it comes to setting goals. Of course, with the current COVID-19 situation, goal setting can be challenging. In terms of private life, I am planning to stay closer to my family – especially since my sister is due to give birth in August. I am so excited to meet my future nephew Gaia! From a professional standpoint, I want to work hard to validate our new fully recurring model and, by the end of the year, to accrue the same monthly revenue gained before the pandemic.

What role does the corona crisis have in the start-up phase?

It’s a paradigm shift from growth at all costs towards a more profitably driven business. The idea that you can grow at any costs and only once reached a particular business size focus on profitability works well in a “winner takes all” market, but not in any other market as can be seen in the ridesharing failures and the works of the world. Our strong focus on unit economics has let us quickly make changes to our business to adapt to the new standard, lowering costs with the ability to scale up at a moment’s notice.

How do you deal with the requirements created by the coronavirus?

When working in the food industry, hygiene regulations are #1 priority. We ensure minimal exposure through secure and contactless bulk deliveries. Our individually packaged dishes are the best way to individually distribute, reduce cash exchanges and numerous contact points during the lunch break. Besides, we apply strict controls during the preparation and portioning of the food and during delivery.

What positive things did you learn/take away from the crisis?

We have always had a very lean approach that allows us to readjust our business model in less than two weeks. This approach has allowed us to launch two pilots (a grocery box and a B2C delivery), reduce all high costs and take this time to review and develop sides of the business that were not yet at full capacity. In the same way, we saw that our strategy of maximising the runway without incurring unnecessary costs was successful and allowed us to continue to operate.

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