“Honing data has made my business more efficient - and more profitable.”

Santiago Maestri

Tech entrepreneur and CEO of RepuestoLibre

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Having spent over 15 years in the tech retail sector, Covid-19 led to new challenges for Argentinian marketer and entrepreneur Santiago Maestri. He decided to rethink how he did business, starting again from scratch and honing his data analysis skills to boost sales. Here, Santiago explains how the Data Science for Business Intelligence (DSBI) programme helped him to bolster his knowledge, and in turn his business.

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Prior to the pandemic, I spent several years in the tech retail industry. I specialised in phone accessories and gadgets. My business had grown to around 50 branches with 300 employees. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, I decided to change tactics and I sold my business, as I had identified a gap in the market. People were increasingly moving online when it came to repairing their phones, looking for DIY solutions and cheaper fixes that they could implement at home. Today my business has gone digital; I operate online, with a handful of full-time staff, and outsourcing other roles as required.

Starting over meant thinking tactically. I knew I needed to focus on the figures and analyse product data more closely to allow sales to surge. I saw this in practice very early on, when I analysed some data on my competitors and decided to sell some cheaper, more entry level products based on what I’d seen. I knew that data was a key part of what I needed to harness if I wanted to thrive as an online-only business, stand out from the crowd, and build a standalone brand online, without relying on platforms like Amazon or its Latin American equivalent Mercado Libre.

“Everything I’ve learned at London Business School has shown me just how crucial data is to my business.”

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The Data Science for Business Intelligence course was, for me, a way to work out how I could best extract and use data to stay ahead in a crowded online marketplace. People ultimately want to buy an item for the best price possible, so it was important that I stayed on top not only of my own company’s pricing but also that of my competitors. As an example, when the crypto mining business was big at the beginning of 2022, PC graphics cards were selling three or four times the price they are now. If you don’t keep an eye on the data, you could end up with a lot of stock you then can’t sell as the prices come down. With online businesses, you have to understand your competitors and your margins very closely. As an entrepreneur you’re getting a lot of information, but what you need to do is focus on data, and the variables that are the most important for turning a profit. I had previously studied the Strategic Branding: From Behavioural Insights to Business Growth programme at London Business School; I had a great experience and was keen to return to the school.

Learning experience

Through the data analysis tools taught on this course, I now feel much more comfortable with figures. I was able to build my understanding considerably despite never having used these specific tools. During the course I refreshed my knowledge on statistics and agile modelling, too. We were fortunate to have guest speakers from leading technology companies such as Oracle to bring data science to life. The need for data science is becoming more essential in the next five to ten years as organisations become more data focused, and I began to understand that concentrating more in this area – and not so much on, say, my day to day operations – could have a big impact on my sales.

I also saw the importance of algorithms through the course. In my kind of business, I show customers recommendations of products they might want to purchase together, which in turn drives sales. Without getting too far into complex mathematics, I was able to see how I might be able to drive more engagement and offer customers a more personalised experience through the data. It’s something you can’t do in a brick and mortar setting, where every salesperson has to remember to offer this and that to every customer, and might forget. Online you can use that data to boost sales, harnessing popups and discounts as you do so.

“Within two months of finishing the programme, I turned a bigger profit.”

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Everything I’ve learned at London Business School has shown me just how crucial data is to my business. Being at London Business School was fantastic. I’ve come away with new knowledge on how to approach data, how to implement algorithms, and how to make my business more efficient. Moreover, within two months of finishing the course, I turned a bigger profit - it has all happened super fast. I believe it’s because of my time at London Business School and learning not only from the faculty but also my diverse cohort. 

The next stage for me is looking further into sales trends and projections. There are a lot of variables, like the time of year, which affects sales. I hope to use the data I have to dig further into this and see where the business might grow. The course has given me so much and allowed me to understand what is truly important when it comes to growing a business – it’s not necessarily about spending a lot of money on publicity or social media. It’s ultimately about utilising the figures to make a profit.

Data Science for Business Intelligence

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