Interview with Andrea Incondi

8th September 2019  

Managing Director Italy at Flixbus

Andrea Incondi studied at Bocconi University in Milan and worked in several multinational companies operating in the chemical and consumer goods sector. In 2015 Andrea Incondi discovers the German mobility operator FlixBus and his passion for travelling led him to introduce this innovative business model in Italy too. By offering new travel and mobility opportunities to all Italians, in just three years FlixBus has revolutionized the mobility sector in Italy and continues to grow exponentially moving millions of passengers throughout Europe.

Flixbus was born a few years ago but has already changed the travel habits of millions of European people. Which was the idea behind the company’s creation?

FlixBus was born mainly to fill a gap. When we entered the German market in 2013, most of the cities we reach today were suffering a lack of efficient connections with other parts of the country: there was a gap between the big cities served by the railway and small towns which were isolated. We have thought that a network of intercity buses which gives people the opportunity to move all around Europe was the best solution to fill the discrepancy.

Which is the business model of FlixBus and what are its strengths?

Flixbus is based on a unique business model based on the collaboration with a network of road haulage companies, often SMEs in the family-owned area, with a few years' experience in the sector. According to this model, partner companies make available buses and drivers, while FlixBus takes care of planning, marketing, pricing, communication and quality control. In this way, FlixBus brings together the typical digital skills of a tech start-up and the traditional ones of the bus industry, providing a secure and reliable service that combines the best of both worlds.

What are the most important performance indicators for your company?

As a mobility operator, we look with satisfaction at the goals that we have reached in Italy since 2015. In just four years, we have connected over 450 Italian cities, developed new mobility even among small towns, moved an increasing number of people in Italy and overseas, and cooperated with more than 70 partner companies spread throughout the country from Lombardy to Sicily, thus created more than 1,500 new job positions. We consider these results to be highly significant, especially if considered in the light of the positive spin-off generated for the whole sector and for the local economies.

You are the Managing Director Italy of the company since January 2015. How did you get there?

I found FlixBus by chance, a few months after the launch on the German market. At that time, I used to go to Germany because my wife was working there, and I often took these green buses directly from Milan to Munich. They were comfortable, equipped with Wi-Fi, electric plugs and toilets, and passengers were all satisfied. Then I thought: why not bring this service to Italy? I got in touch with the company’s founders who asked me to present my business plan for the Italian market. Once convinced, they entrusted me with the task and a few months later, in July 2015, FlixBus landed in Italy with its headquarters in Milan.

What are the values of FlixBus that you like the most?

In FlixBus we strongly believe that anyone should have the right to travel, and this is the main idea that led our work since the beginning. It is a mission to which we fulfill by expanding the number and frequency of our connections across Italy, offering an efficient service also to those who live in isolated areas, and giving the possibility to buy low cost tickets by using a dynamic pricing. Furthermore, sustainability also plays a key role in our corporate values: our passengers travel with zero-impact through a CO2 compensation mechanism and we would like to create, in all the countries in which we are present, an integrated mobility network which replaces private cars, with benefits for the environment and the community.

Which are the most interesting markets, in terms of customers and legislation? And where instead a business like yours meets the main obstacles?

We are currently operating in 28 European countries and in the US. Regarding to customers we initially found a greater response especially among the under-30s (students and young workers) but now the network is becoming more widespread and workers and families are also approaching this new form of mobility. From a regulatory perspective, we are faced with an extremely complex picture: in some markets, such as Spain, transport liberalisation has not yet occurred, and this is a problem for our business. Even in Italy, we dealt with the difficulties of being a new operator with such an innovative model, but, as you can see, this has not slowed our growth.

What are the main features of the Italian mobility market and what are its advantages for a company like FlixBus?

The Italian market is steadily growing: until a few years ago we never thought we could launch this kind of service, and now we are connecting more than 450 cities every day. We believe that a great benefit comes from the availability of making strategic partnerships with other operators, building a network of intercity connections that allows everyone to move easily without using private cars.

How is the mobility market changing and which initiatives do you think are going to benefit from the current dynamics?

The mobility market is growing fast and this often makes processes difficult to understand: in such a context, it is necessary that every actor is able to incorporate all the micro-dynamics in progress into a general framework that takes into account two fundamental factors: the integrated mobility and the development of a user who likes the possibility to use customised services, thus more exigent. Those who will keep their service innovated will benefit from this situation, taking always into account the passengers’ needs.

What is your opinion about the new initiatives of urban micro-mobility that are being developed in many cities in Europe and overseas?

As an operator who has always been oriented towards environmentally friendly mobility, we can only welcome these trends: even these forms of micro-mobility contribute to take away users from the private mobility, and if the increase of these services can bring to improve the environmental quality, then we are happy about this.

Do you think it will be possible to have a phase of market consolidation through external collaborations?

Collaboration with other companies that share with us the attention to users’ needs and quality of service, would certainly allow us to increase our business and to brings more advantages to our users who could more easily benefit from a unique and integrated mobility network at both national and international level. In this context, it is essential to continue to ensure a climate of healthy competition, which leads the major players to constantly improve themselves: competition is a necessary and sufficient condition for keep giving the best.