Interview with Alessandro Florio, Italian Entrepreneur & Co-founder of iDROwash
In 2013, Alessandro and Marco Florio, two brothers in their thirties from Verona, started iDROwash, a company that deals with urban regeneration. Alessandro and Marco found a way to create innovation in construction industry that allows to refurbish what probably would be destroyed. They imported from abroad and improved technology that uses water pressure to regenerate buildings in an environmentally friendly way.
Magazine MN caught up with Alessandro Florio to find out more about iDROwash and its innovative solution.
Magazine MN: How did iDROwash get started? What inspired the idea of creating iDROwash?
Alessandro: The idea came when we had to restore an old house inherited from our grandfather, who was a building craftsman.
The building was built of stone and we wanted to recover and preserve the original structure. The budget was limited and we did not have enough money to pay a construction company. So we decided to do the work ourselves.
Here's how iDROwash was born. We left our jobs and our family helped us by funding part of the work. We googled "cleaning stones", two key words, first in Italian and then in English. We found videos and photos of some craftsmen from the UK and even the United States that used a technology that we have never seen here in Italy. We decided to invest in technology and import only the best components. Some parts are made in Germany, other in England, but the most important - the pump - is made in Italy.
After assembling the machine, we started to test the functioning. The results were very promising, but we wanted the machine to be environmentally sustainable. We wanted to reduce or eliminate the chemical that is normally used. It was not easy, but we did it by changing some components of the machine.
After testing the machine, the result was really amazing. The stones of the house of our grandfather looked new. We came up with the idea to start distributing the service.
At first, we advertised on Facebook, because many people spend their free time and even work time using this famous social network, and we didn’t have a big budget to advertise in a traditional way. There some entrepreneurs noticed us, among them also a sponsor of a football team of Serie A who became our first customer.
Today, we work with such clients as shopping centers, amusement parks, large hotels that need to take care of the aesthetic image of their buildings to attract customers, and also with the government to rehabilitate the outlying areas and the tourist areas of a city.
Buildings are like cars: why scrap if they are still fully functional?
Taking care of existing buildings should not be seen as a cost, but an investment: keeping them efficient, safe and beautiful preserves the economic value and beauty over time. This creates jobs and wealth.
The periodic review of buildings is an investment in safety and prevention of mechanical failures or accidents, whose economic and social price is much higher. I mean, why scrap a machine still in use?
We realized that the construction industry is very focused on the construction and expansion of urban areas. A very little attention is paid to maintenance and upgrading.
In particular, we take care of the exterior side of the buildings, and also squares and streets. These places are often overlooked or are provided with an inadequate maintenance.
We appeal to building owners who want to improve appearance of the buildings. Also we turn to government that works with a focus on quality of life of citizens and the reception of tourists.
What is the first thing your customers, citizens or tourists see when looking at your building or visiting a city? The facade of a building or a public square.
Much of the value of a building or a city is constituted precisely of the exterior side. We take care of planning and executing these interventions.
Magazine MN: Tell us more about the solution you’ve created. What problems are you trying to solve?
Alessandro: We are trying to solve the problem of maintenance of buildings and cities, while reducing the use of chemical. Often the buildings are demolished or part of the material, even if it is still functional, is being replaced. This produces a lot of waste that ends up in the landfill.
So we started a company with the aim of developing technologies and systems for reducing the environmental impact of the maintenance of buildings and cities.
We thought that technology just was not enough. So we also started the maintenance service.
Magazine MN: What makes iDROwash unique?
Alessandro: Our technology allows to obtain a good result by reducing or eliminating the use of chemicals hazardous to the environment and people, because we often work near the trees, or where there are children and pets.
We use only cold water (not drinking water), so that we can avoid thermal shock to the materials we handle. It’s an advantage that allows to work on such delicate and precious materials as marble.
This video shows how it works.
Magazine MN: How is your solution going to impact the world in a few years?
Alessandro: We want to help thousands of cities around the world to improve the quality of life of citizens and tourists. We will make a positive impact on more than one billion people. There are many side effects of solving a huge global problem such as urban regeneration. We want to increase the quality of life in a city by reducing the use of chemical products and lengthen the life of a building.
Alessandro: What markets do you target?
Alessandro: Today we work with the industrial, commercial and residential construction market. In Italy and in the rest of Europe, we work for large structures with more than 1,000 square meters surface.
Magazine MN: Has iDROwash already received any awards or prizes?
Alessandro: Here in Italy we have just ended the world exhibition held in Milan. Our company has been selected by the Italian government and presented to the world as an example of innovation and environmental sustainability.
We also won some important awards for young entrepreneurs here in Italy. Among these are "Gamma Donna" (an association that supports young entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs) and "Confindustria" (Italian Association of Industrialists).
Magazine MN: Is iDROwash completely self-funded?
Alessandro: Our family funded part of the work. We didn’t take any money from banks or investors. We also received help from a start-up program organized by Confindustria (Italian Association of Industrialists). The program allowed us to meet entrepreneurs who gave us many tips and have supported us during a start-up phase. In addition, some of these entrepreneurs have become our customers or business partners.
Magazine MN: How big is the team of iDROwash?
Alessandro: We started as a team of two. We have received and are receiving many requests from construction and service companies from all over Europe. In Italy we have already established business partnerships that are working very well.
We hope to repeat this with other European countries. At the moment, we have already met some entrepreneurs from different European countries, such as Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany.
Magazine MN: How can our readers get in touch with you?
Alessandro: It is very easy to stay in touch with our company, and there are several possibilities: via our website iDROwash , or through the major social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, Linkedin, Google+.
Alessandro Florio was interviewed by Natalie Myhalnytska
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