As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Alessandro Seina, CEO of Radical Storage.
Serial entrepreneur and expert in brand design strategy, Alessandro Seina is the CEO of Radical Storage, a leading luggage storage network. Alessandro is an Airbnb superhost, contributing to his experience in the travel & hospitality industry and giving him direct observations of many aspects of the sector.
Formerly BAGBNB, Alessandro rebranded the company to the all-new Radical Storage, bringing travelers safe, secure, and convenient resources as they explore cities across the globe in a new age of travel. The new RadicalStorage.com and Radical app allows travelers to locate a business-based luggage storage location in thousands of cities, pre-book their luggage drop off, and seamlessly check in and out when dropping off or picking up their luggage. Through the new contactless procedures, travelers can safely drop off and pick-up their luggage by quickly scanning their user-specific QR code from their devices, giving travelers even more free time to explore the city they’re visiting.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Before I started Radical Storage, I was an entrepreneur and founded a graphic design studio based in Rome and Berlin. It was really natural for me to start this adventure. There were 2 key moments in my life that have led me to where I am today.
I had an apartment for rent on Airbnb and I met hundreds of travelers every year. More and more renters began asking me to keep their luggage before checking in or after checking out. Some of them had started offering me money, which helped me to realize that this was a problem for travelers and there wasn’t a solution available.
I was returning home from traveling and I was putting my luggage away in the closet when I instantly thought to myself: How is it possible that in a shared economy market, the luggage storage is still such an outdated experience?
I knew something needed to change and my personal formula was a right mix of direct experience and a proactive approach for new ideas — hence, the creation of Radical Storage.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting out in the business? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that moment?
We often hear about the trial and error approach to life. I don’t totally agree, however, it is certain that failures and mistakes can help us to learn new things. An example of a personal mistake of my own when I was first starting out in the luggage storage industry, was that I was wasting too much time on trying to scale back and being hesitant on geographically expanding our services instead of growing globally immediately.
Now, Radical Storage services 40 countries all over the world with 3,000 luggage storage places and 2million+ bags stored in the last three years. If I had the opportunity to go back in time to my first year of business, I would have definitely moved into new international cities faster, instead of waiting to over-validate our business model.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
I think one of the most important values for a company, especially for a startup company, is the Culture. I constantly try to improve, as a person, as a partner and as an entrepreneur to benefit our internal culture.
The book titled “Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility” by Patty McCord helped me to understand the research and strategic approach of being agile while continuing your company’s growth and distinguishing your culture.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
When I started Radical Storage, my purpose and vision was to create a smooth journey for consumer travel. Our goal is to offer services for travelers to make their lives easier and to make their trips more enjoyable when arriving and departing in new cities.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
Metrics guide me through running a business. As a startup company, it’s important that we analyze data and key metrics before making decisions or changes to our services. There is no room to make assumptions, which is why we always analyze key data points when weighing out our options or making any changes within our business.
However, if you’re not one to focus on data too much — my suggestion would be to still remain true to your overall vision and purpose. That will ultimately guide you through the ups and downs of running a business.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers any personal or family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
Radical Storage is based in Italy and as we know, we were one of the first countries to be affected by COVID-19 and the second to brace for lockdown after China. Our life has completely changed since then. We have a daughter of 3 years old and at the beginning, it was extremely difficult to balance family life with our daughter at home and while working remote. I appreciate my wife’s resiliency and hard work throughout the lockdown. She was able to make sacrifices for our family and I’ll forever be grateful for that.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
As a travel company, the pandemic was devastating for business and for the hospitality industry as a whole. We had to continue working hard to improve our product and we organized daily meetings to make sure our employees felt confident and encouraged for the future of our business.
We even hosted contests and offered awards for things like “Best At-Home Lunch” where the winner would receive an online gift card for grocery shopping. We wanted to continue enhancing our company culture and also help with keeping the team moral alive.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. What are a few ideas that you have used to offer support to your family and loved ones who were feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I’ve always been a positive person. For entrepreneurs, having a positive attitude is in your DNA.
However, a pandemic is something that changes your life and we must remember that we will return to normalcy again. We will be reunited with our friends and family that we’ve had to distance ourselves from in lockdown.
I encouraged my loved ones throughout this period of uncertainty to continue hoping and believing that everything will pass and we will adapt and adjust to our “new normal.” It will take time — but we will all get through this together.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like, but we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time, the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy for Radical Storage?
At Radical Storage, we’re seeing an opportunity to offer an even more convenient and successful user experience. Consumers will be searching for new travel opportunities across the globe and we will continue to improve our contacts and communication so customers can take advantage of the better times ahead.
We’ve also introduced contactless procedures for new check in and check out processes when storing your luggage so consumers can feel safe and secure when using our services.
We anticipate more opportunities in the Post-COVID world — as we continue to adapt to our consumer’s preferences and requests.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
The COVID-19 pandemic has launched us into the future and the reality of contactless procedures and new safety restrictions.
For the travel industry specifically, we can expect more options for transportation — so consumers aren’t feeling jam-packed into a commercial flight or squeezed in on a train as they head to a popular city or specific event.
Contactless check-in and check-out options are here to stay, along with apps and new technology that will help to make these processes even easier.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, how do you plan to rebuild and grow Radical Storage in the Post-Covid Economy?
Before we rebranded to Radical Storage, we were BAGBNB. During the COVID-19 lockdown, we wanted to change and accelerate our new company branding. We created the largest luggage storage network in the past three years, and now we want to continue that growth and following our vision as Radical Storage. It is just the beginning for our company.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I’d encourage business leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, etc., to review and work on your key data points. This is a crucial time to collect and analyze data and consumer behavior, and potentially improve your Business Intelligence. Data will help you to prepare for what’s next and can contribute to pivoting with new tactics in strategies for the next year and beyond.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Always find opportunities to make someone smile, and to offer random acts of kindness in everyday life.”
We won’t know who each person is that’s sitting around us, or what that person has experienced in their life. Regardless, it’s important to be kind to others — whether you’re leading a large meeting, networking with new people, or in your everyday personal lives.
How can our readers further follow your work?