Since it’s establishment in 2008, LISA has steadily grown as an Alumni network. However, Alumni networks and Associations promoting and maintaining their relationship with their Alma matter , is not as a strong culture in the United Kingdom as it is in the United States.
Guiseppe Belpiede, an LSE graduate of the Department of Management in 2011, realized the weakness in the alumni network and decided to do something about it. He decided to launch Stellup, a mobile app startup that connects alumni around the world to each other. In a Facebook fashion, they started with LSE and are growing their network to Alumni of Universities worldwide.
Charles (ADMIS’07) sat down with Guiseppe and asked him about Stellup
LISA: How did you come up with the idea to start Stellup?
We came up with the idea for Stellup after we graduated from university and experienced first-hand how challenging it can be to make new friends when relocating or travelling a lot. Before we founded Stellup, and in our first jobs after graduation, we lived in over 15 different countries. Whenever we arrived in a new place, we always try to connect with other alumni from LSE, CEMS, Bocconi or people who have worked at the same places as us, but we found that there was no easy way to find the right people to meet.
After we built the alumni networking piece, we realized that university fundraising needs even more help to go to mobile and to adopt an approach more similar to crowdfunding campaigns where supporters are helping towards a specific goal, in a social way and receiving perks however small they might be
LISA: What does Stellup do?
We help universities and high schools bring alumni networking and fundraising to mobile. Networking events, seminars and Public Speaker events are definitely great ways to bring Alumni together, but its mostly advertised through university websites or through social networks. People today look at their mobile phones as their main source of information. Websites and networks need to come to you now, when the “old” alumni networks still expect people to come to them , by visiting their website or their group.
Our app helps alumni and students meet new inspiring people, whether it is to find a local connection when travelling or to grow their professional network.
Similarly we help universities and associations get their communities more engaged on mobile and then let them fundraising for specific campaigns on our app. We see this as an enabler tool for universities to reach their community after they walk off the campus and into their professional lives.
LISA: So how can Alumni use Stellup?
How many times you moved to a new city for work or holidays and wanted to connect with local people like you? Stellup is now the fastest way to get in touch with other LSE Alumni nearby. It’s a simple app that uses your current location to show you alumni near by, in a “tinder” fashion, where you can propose to connect with alumni from your School network .
Stellup takes your interests into account when connecting you with new people, which could lead to multiple opportunities: a new job, friendship, an interesting talk or precious tips and support. It also gives you the ability to fine tune who you want to connect, instead of going into an alumni network (if there is one) and working your way through people who may or may not have shared interests. It’s also great for shy people who are not as good with crowded rooms which can often be daunting.
By signing up with their Facebook (and soon Linkedin) account, users will be able to connect with and chat other LSE alumni nearby and/or with common interests.
Also, networks are invite-only, so only “genuine” alumni from the same university networks can connect to each other.
LISA: Tell us about the Stellup team, and how is the startup doing
We are a group of 10 core team members spread between San Francisco, London and Belgrade. We’re three founders, one marketing person and the rest are software developers. We got our first seed capital (in total 280k USD) from angels and seed funds in San Francisco, Rome and Mexico City.
We were selected by 2 incubators programs for 2 equity free grants of 40k USD, namely Start-Up Chile and Parallel 18.
LISA: How did your LSE experience influence your career path? Do you still leverage what you learned during your LSE year today?
A lot as through the LSE and my CEMS exchange in Brazil, I learnt Portuguese and then got my first job at Rocket Internet there. I still fully leverage the LSE network when I travel to new cities to meet other alumni and currently with Stellup I am trying to make this even better for LSE alumni. As they say , I actually drink my own Koolaid.
LISA: What do you see as the future of your business? Any major plans you’d like to share?
Our major plans rely around university fundraising since it very much needs to evolve.
While US institutions are very good and aggressive in fundraising, building what is a huge $37bn fundraising market, they are not on mobile at all yet and that is a huge opportunity for Stellup.
At the same time we want to bring US culture and learnings about fundraising back to Europe and Latin America to grow the markets there and leapfrog straight to mobile.
LISA: So how can we download the App???