Silvio Franceschinelli, AKA DJ Shiru
Silvio Franceschinelli is the founder and CEO of a number of projects, each one different from the others but all complementary and successful.
Istituto Il Mulino
The first company Mr Franceschinelli started, in 2003, was Istituto Il Mulino. This is a language school which specializes in Asian languages, especially Japanese and Korean. Within this language school are a translation agency and a study abroad branch, sending students to Japan, Korea and the United Kingdom for periods between two weeks and two years. As a consequence of the pandemics in the years 2021 and 2022, Il Mulino has moved its language courses online, a successful shift which has allowed the company to grow even in times of crisis. The school has now hundreds of students, and the number keeps on growing.
Mr Franceschinelli is also the founder and President of Ochacaffè Giappone, probably the most active Japanese association in Italy and one of the most known around Europe. With activities ranging from tea ceremony to ikebana demonstrations, from workshops on how to live in Japan to the promotion of tourism, Ochacaffè is a familiar presence in all events related to Japan in Italy and other European countries. As a no profit agency, the main goal of Ochacaffè is culture, so all the profits are reinvested in the promotion of the arts coming from the Country of the Rising Sun, both traditional and modern ones.
K-ble Jungle, another idea by Mr Franceschinelli under his nickname DJ Shiru, is an artistic collective which promotes Japanese and Korean pop arts in Italy. K-ble Jungle organises cosplay exhibitions and K-Pop contests, fashion shows and concerts by Asian and European artists, and has had a strong influence in the way Italians perceive pop art from the Far East. The group includes singers and dancers, illustrators and photographers, and has published music CDs as well as magazines and videos for the TV and YouTube. Besides for the sales of CDs and the earnings from their videos, which are negligible, they can operate thanks to the help of private sponsors who take advantage of the artists to promote products. Going to a show by K-ble Jungle is always a surprise: Kpop dancers, MCs, performers and comic artists, pole dancers, all are on stage and work as a team to entertain the audience. In its smallest form, K-ble Jungle can be just DJ Shiru performing as a DJ, and you can clearly see how much fun he has in doing what he loves.
Communicating to the world
Mr Franceschinelli is also editor-in-chief of a number of websites, including Nanoda.com, cultura-giapponese.it, kblejungle.com and cultura-coreana.it
He admits he doesn’t have much time to post on social networks, so he hired a free-lance social media manager for his companies, and he keeps the posts on his Instagram and YouTube channels to the minimum. But he never declines an interview, because interviews give him the chance to meet other people, or to get in touch with media outlets which could always be useful in future progects.
“I like being caught in a variety of projects, I couldn’t stand living with just one job. It’s very stimulating to be in the morning in a video-meeting to organize a festival in another country, then in the afternoon in a classroom teaching a language to university students, and in the evening on a large stage DJing in front of hundreds of people. It’s like I am living three or four lives in one.”
Just fun? Not exactly
There are of course difficult times and challenges, it’s not all just fun, says Mr Franceschinelli. Among the most difficult challenges he has faced is building a team that works together on the same wavelength, and shares his vision. “I have invested in people who seemed to have the growth of the community in their hearts” he admits, “only to be left when they had reached success”. He admits, nevertheless, that he couldn’t have done what he has without the help of other people, and not only his close team. “I consider the people I share my time with part of my broader team. An illustrator who gives me advice on how to be successful on social media, someone in the audience who suggests a new band to listen to and to be inspired by, a colleague I drink with to release stress, every person I meet gives me something, and everything I absorb from people and experiences is precious”.
Mr Franceschinelli Silvio spends a lot of time with different types of people, and this helps his vision to keep updated and focused. “Every time I am at an event and I talk to young people, I feel I am updating my software because I get new ideas, I get to know what the young like and expect, and that’s very refreshing. On the other hand, when I spend time with entrepreneurs who have more experience than me I listen to their wisdom, I learn from their mistakes, and they warn me on the dangers of being too impulsive”.
He invests in equipment and training as well as in people. He keeps learning, for example in August last year he went to Wales for double training: he studied English in a school in Cardiff to see how schools are run and lessons are taught there, and he volunteered to help a festival in Newport, to see how festivals are organized in Britain and get new ideas for his events in Italy. He is striving all the time to build a network of people and agencies which can promote and help each other.
Equipment is fundamental, too. He spends a lot on audio and video equipment for his companies, because cutting edge technology makes his work go smooth. But he warns those who spend too much, though: the risk of going bankrupt is always around the corner so there must be a balance. In the long term, what you spend must be less than you earn. “It seems like this is some silly piece of advice, but actually all companies go bankrupt because they overestimate their earnings and spend more than they are capable of. A basic rule is that there will always be unforeseen expenses, but very rarely unforeseen earnings.”
Mr Franceschinelli is in charge of entire areas of the largest pop festivals in Italy, such as Comicon in Napoli and Etna Comics in Catania, events with hundreds of thousands of visitors. When he has time, he takes his experience as a successful entrepreneur to schools and agencies, to help others start their own companies and to share tips on how to succeed in business. He works as a producers of emerging talents and artists, and with his large network of media and partners he really can make someone famous in a short time.
He decided to keep his headquarters in the small town of Legnaro, even though his company is now global. Until a couple of decades ago it made sense, he remembers, to relocate in a large metropolis to be in the centre of a network of professional services. But now you can be based in a small town in the Italian countryside, saving a lot on the rental of your office, and have an online meeting with New York or Tokyo on Thursday, cheaply fly to Krakow for a festival on Friday, and be back on time for a lesson on Monday.
When asked what side of his business is more important, he says they all are necessary. “One feeds the other”, he claims. “Without the arts I couldn’t promote the languages, and without the languages I wouldn’t be able to sponsor the arts.” After following him an entire day and night through lessons and festivals, organisational meetings and nightclubbing shows, we couldn’t agree more.