Andrea Graziani is the co-founder and CMO at DUFL, a travel service that eliminates the need for frequent travelers to pack, do laundry and lug a bag with them through the airport.
What part of Arizona do you call home?
What was your very first entrepreneurial venture?
Primenet, which was located in downtown Phoenix and at the time was the 10th largest ISP in the US and then moved into hosting. Our biggest customers were Yahoo, Netscape and Quote.com.
What is your favorite part about running a business?
Creating something from nothing.
How did you come up with this idea?
My co-founders and I worked together in the software industry and traveled often for business. We were in London on a Friday, after lugging a backpack and a carry-on bag to Europe for 10 days (no checking bags for us), and were dreading the flight back to Arizona. We had to spend the weekend unpacking, washing clothes and dropping and picking up dry cleaning, then packing it all up again to be in New York City on Monday. We thought there had to be a better way. There wasn’t. So we invented DUFL.
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
Changing human behavior. People have been traveling for business by air for about 70 years, yet very little has changed when it comes to packing and carrying around your suitcase. We’ve got technology for booking our own flights, hotels, and cars, but we still pack and move our luggage around like it’s 1950. Asking someone to send their clothes to a remote closet and trusting that everything will arrive on time and in good condition is a big ask. Yet once our customers try the service, they don’t leave. We have an incredible retention rate of 99.9 percent—the only folks who have left did so because they changed jobs and weren’t traveling. We get amazing feedback from our customers and the majority save over three hours of personal time when traveling by using DUFL. You can’t put a value on that.
How did you get started in the tech industry?
My degree was in graphic design, so I have been using a computer to do my job from day one. I had been working at a bank as a designer and animation artist and found a job opening at an Internet startup (Primenet). It was such a stark contrast to corporate America: the energy, industry, culture, environment, etc.. I was immediately hooked.
What sparked an initial interest in tech?
It’s exciting. I have loved being part of shaping the internet as we know it today. I’ve worked for startups that have changed the way we view content on the Internet, delivered email, hosted content, built data centers, sold bandwidth and monetized online video on mobile devices. What I have learned in these tech companies is simply amazing, and it’s incredibly fun to be part of something ground-breaking.
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
I have lived in Arizona for 26 years. I think the tech community here has really grown. There are a lot of smart and talented people in my town.
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
Hard to narrow it down, because I love everything from the endless supply of sunshine to the culture, beauty, architecture, history, our freeways, the restaurants, shopping and all of our professional sports teams.
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
Scorpions. Can’t seem to get used to them.
In what area do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
Technology startups. Arizona is a goldmine for talent. We need more tech startups here and organizations such as [TechAZ] to help foster that growth.
The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What is your favorite place to get breakfast in your city?
T.C. Eggington’s has been a long time favorite of mine and was happy to see them open another restaurant called NCounter in Tempe, where I work.
Image by DowntownTempe.com.
What’s your favorite place to grab lunch?
Probably the Original Chop Shop in Tempe.
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
So hard to pick just one, but Tia Rosa’s is one of my favorites.
What’s your favorite place to work in your city aside from your office?
Since I’m in Tempe so much of the time, I’d have to say Postino.
Best place for a meeting over drinks?
A lot of great ideas have been born at Casey Moore’s Oyster House in Tempe.
What is your favorite memory from Arizona?
Hiking to Havasupai Falls. Definitely a bucket list-worthy item—stunning.
What is something about living in Arizona that only a local would know of?
Probably that while everyone thinks it’s ridiculously hot here, we actually freeze all summer long because every restaurant, store, and office has their air conditioning blasting.
Any tips for new Arizona residents?
Explore Arizona—visit the Grand Canyon, drive to Sedona, go to Jerome and eat at the Haunted Hamburger, see the O.K. Corral and the ruins at Montezuma’s Castle. Go hiking, boating, camping . . . snow ski and water ski in the same day. But most importantly, stay hydrated.
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