The entrepreneurial adventure begins
My name is Luca Sabbatini, CEO of Elchim, a historic company in the field of professional hairdressing supplies, founded in Milan by Riccardo and Egle Chiminello, brother and sister respectively, my grandmother and my great-uncle, who had this brilliant innovative idea to make in Italy the first hair dryer for exclusive professional use. Professional for performance and durations, made and designed for the professional.
Imagine 1945, Italy emerges from the Second World War, a huge disaster, a scarcity of any kind of good for the entire population and in those years’ Italian entrepreneurship is born and everyone is placed in its own sphere. My uncle had a great knowledge of the professional hairdressing sector, my grandmother had a great commercial and technological ability, in the design and development of motors and resistors for small appliances. Elchim was born from the union of the two minds and over time the company developed to expand its product types and markets.
By market types, of course, I mean what later happened: the entry of Elchim in many European countries, the entry of Elchim in the 1970s into the Arab world, the entry of Elchim into the world and into the North American market, where today Elchim is undoubtedly a leading company. And types of products, because today Elchim, with an entirely Italian manufacture, produces in Italy a selective range of products for the hairdresser or even for the private customer who looks for professional services such as for example the hair dryer, the plate, the iron, therefore, the brush all the necessaire to make women and even the most beautiful men today.
Today Elchim is a company that has 18 employees in Italy, our factory is located near Milan, we are present in over 48 countries, including the American market which for us is a source of great pride and where the company, from about seven years, has his own branch with other collaborators resident in America and who preside over all the states of the United States.
The money to start
I feel I belong to that generation of young entrepreneurs who have been literally kissed by luck. This is because the real sacrifices were made by my grandmother and my uncle when they started the business of Elchim.
Imagine, as I said, everything was missing in Italy in 1945 and the situation was really terrible. My grandmother, my uncle made great sacrifices, initially even giving up the house they owned, moving from Veneto to Milan, away from relatives. From there it all started and in those years so prosperous for the Country of Italy they really began to create the first capital for the future developments of Elchim.
In 2007 I decided quite suddenly to enter the family business. My parents basically wanted me away from the family business and after the University I decided to enter other financial and administrative fields, working for a multinational telecommunications company. I decide to participate in the family business, I go to my father: “Dad what would you say if I would start helping you and developing new products, new markets, to make the family business prosper?” My father was very upset, but with extreme tenderness he told me: “I want to support your dreams and make available, if more family resources are needed, and help you develop new products and give an even more contemporary image to Elchim.”
A negative and a positive event
I believe that a very important aspect of doing business is trust. It is a value in which my family and I enormously believe and I always try to give confidence to my collaborators, to my partners, because only through trust does the business really prosper and with trust does it also create a favorable and fun climate even in what you do. At times, however, trust is repaid badly, especially when it is lent to those who are not worthy and so, even in my experience as a young entrepreneur, I happened to trust partners who later proved to be unreliable and painfully disregarded my expectations. However, these are things that pass and run and the fact instead of having met other people and other partners who then really gave the fruits we hoped to achieve together, gives me great pride.
In my almost 13 years of history here in the family business, the most positive experience and the most positive thing I remember, is right after my father decided to support and support my dreams, it was finding myself around a table with all the closest collaborators and say: “Now what do we do? The company has almost 60 years of history, can we still express great results? Let’s start with new products, new design, a team of young people to be included in the team of experts who are already present in the company, how to make a more exciting and contemporary image that really reflects what I as an entrepreneur am and the characteristics of our team? ”
And from there it all started, because together with our architect friend Casini, we redesigned a whole line of beautiful and innovative products, our engineers got their hands on it, thinking about which innovative motors to insert, what resistances to give greater results to the hair , what technology, we have even included electronics, then we have involved our youngest of the team to understand how to convey our passion in the catalog, on the website, how to best organize the team, how to organize the sales team as well that can assure the company that presence in the capillary territory that all companies hope to have.
Doing business in Italy
Doing business in Italy is a real challenge!
We young people have absolutely no incentive to put ourselves on the line except in fortunate cases, like mine, where the family already had a business in progress, there is certainly no room for meritocracy and a sense of entrepreneurship, and as we all often say and as the media tell us almost daily, all the processes are long, there is too much bureaucracy, the system should be streamlined.
However, it is not, it is not impossible anyway and I see in Italy an enormous resource and that resource is us, it is the people. I travel around the world a lot and I can really say that the creativity, intelligence and sense of adaptation that we Italians really have is a hidden treasure of this Country. Maybe we are not specialists, maybe we create sometimes great confusion, but it is above all in the difficulties that the Italian people gives the best, plays his game the best.
The key traits of an entrepreneur
What features must an entrepreneur have?
I have read many books on the subject and I would like to trash almost all of them. In my opinion, it is only a matter of common sense and the entrepreneur must have essentially two characteristics: that of knowing how to choose well and carefully his own collaborators, giving confidence and delegation to those who truly deserve it.
According to the ability to resist in difficulties: resilience. This is because very often we are overwhelmed by a flood of events and things that we had not foreseen, that we did not expect and that do not please us, but the entrepreneur must know how to adapt, change his organization, change his business, sometimes, even change the object of one’s business, adapting to events, this is the characteristic of the true entrepreneur, in my opinion.
The future for the new generations
Not everyone has the characteristics to be able to become an entrepreneur, not for this reason those who want to cultivate and develop their own business in the future must never throw in the towel and above all must never abandon themselves to the thought that in Italy one cannot do business. So the message I address to many young people, like me or even younger ones, who will become entrepreneurs in the future, stay in Italy, because there is a lot of talent, there is a lot of spirit of adaptation and it is a wonderful Country, where people still knows how to make extraordinary objects and products with their own hands and where there is great creativity, a great spirit of creation and creativity.