Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mind The Bridge awarded grant from Cariplo Foundation


A great news for celebrating Christmas!

The Centre for Innovation and Life Science Management (CrESIT) of Insubria University (Varese) has successfully received over half a million dollar in funding from Cariplo Foundation. The money is for promoting international entrepreneurship in Italy. The Project actively involves Mind The Bridge as main partner.


The goal of the grant is to provide the most promising start-ups and young tecno- and bio-entrepreneurs from Lombardy and West Piedmont areas with in-depth training and mentoring.
For the 2 most promising start-ups (selected through the 2010 Mind The Bridge Business Plan Competition) the Project will sponsor the participation to the Mind The Bridge Gym in Silicon Valley, while the 2 university and Ph.D. students with the most innovative business ideas will be admitted to an intensive internship program organized by a top university in Silicon Valley.
Roadshows for presenting the Project and the Mind The Bridge Business Plan Competition will be organized in the first quarter of 2010. We target to present in all universities (both scientific and business faculties) and incubators. The target area (for the purpose of the grant) is Lombardy and West Piedmont, but we are obviously open to organize presentations all over Italy.
Please contact us if you are interested to host a Mind The Bridge roadshow (information@mindthebridge.org).
For this Project CrESIT and Mind the Bridge partner with the Foundation of Politecnico of Milan and CIBIE (the Centre for International Business and the International Economy of University of Pavia).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Green Technologies Investment Forum in Milan

IBAN (Italian Business Angels Network), in partnership with the Swedish Business Region Goteborg AB, organizes the first Green Technologies Investment Forum. The Forum takes place on February 11st, in Milan.
The Forum is focused on Clean and Green Technologies.
6 Italian and 6 Swedish startups will have the chance to present their business plans to investors.



To apply for the Elevator Pitch session and to get more information please refer to Iban Web Site.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Memorable quotes from Venture Camp 2009.

The web has seen quite a few testimonials leaving – through blog posts, comments and even personal videos – their valuable opinion about the Venture Camp experience.

So, straight from the camp live experience, here we go:

Jari Ognibeni – blogpost:
The bridge is here and it is real!

Aurora Incardona – blogpost:
Thank you, because – even if we are (still) far from the creation of an Italian entrepreneurial ecosystem that favours investments in innovation and new young ideas… some sort of start, in building this bridge towards the “land of opportunity” (whichever it is), has been accomplished.

Marcello Orizi, Prossima Isola (email)
Mind the Bridge, with the due media coverage, can be an attempt to change and improve our culture, enriching it.

Matteo Pernisa, Echolight (email):
Mind the Bridge: bridge between... dream and reality (and back). Exciting!

Alberto Sangiovanni Vincentelli (during the speech with Severgnini “The Italian Gold in Silicon Valley”):
The only reason I'm in USA is that my professor at Politecnico kicked me, and said "go there and learn!"

Francesco Inguscio (via mail)
I followed the whole event with the video streaming, I stayed up all night to watch it, but it really was worth it! Congratulations!

Beppe Severgnini, greeting the audience at the end of his talk:
My augurio personale (personal wish) is that that the serendipity in the room will travel very far.




UpStart Roma aims to bring together the italian startup scene


On Monday November 23rd, a small group of entrepreneurs, bloggers and web designers is organizing the first UpStart Roma event.
It will be a networking evening where entrepreneurs, developers, investors, bloggers and general startup geeks will be able to meet each other and create a new tech scene from scratch.

If you are in Rome and eager to meet the growing tech scene, please come along! You can register on UpStart Roma official website, where you can also get all the detailed information about the event.

With this event we aim to create a new network of people that can drive innovation and creative disruption of existing business models with the help of one another.
We would love for you to be part of this.

Disclaimer: I am one of the organizers of the event.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Finalists 2009/10





Adant
EchoLight
Fluidmesh Networks
Prossima Isola (Where is Now)
Thounds
TripShake.com
VRmedia

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Venture Camp - Final numbers and videos



It's been just a week since our Venture Camp event. A week to decompress from the overdose of information and work.
However, rather than taking sometime off (the 3/4 years as we mentioned on stage) we

haven't broken our stride.
We have launched a new blog on Corriere.it (siliconvalley.corriere.it), we (in fact we=Gabriele) started loading the event videos on our YouTube channel.
Of all the positive outcome of the last week event, one really struck me:

- number people registered at the event : 475 (had to close the reservations a week prior to the event)
- number of online session, watching the real time video streaming (just Friday): 6398, of which 2566 in English!

To me, that alone gives us goose bumps.
It's a confirmation that what we are doing is relevant.

Remember: next Monday, we'll be announcing here the projects who have been selected.

Last but not least Alberto and me want (again) to pay tribute to everybody who helped in the organization, in particular:
- Gabriele Scoditti
- Massimo Carraro
- Tito Costa
- Jari Ognibeni

If there hasn't been a glitch in the whole event, we really owe it to them!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Two MTB Alumni pitch at CrESIT-Assobiotec Workshop 2009


With the support of MTB, an Elevator Pitch session has been introduced at CrESIT-Assobiotec Workshop 2009. The CrESIT-Assobiotec Workshop 2009 , that will be held on Nov 23 in Varese, is an international Conference on Life Science Industry, focused on business models and managerial issues.
This year we invited to pitch Echolight and Nano4Bio. Echolight is one of the 14 Venture Camp 2009 semi-finalists, while Nano4Bio is one of our first Alumni. Hope they will benefit from the chance of presenting their business model in front of investors specialized in life science and managers and CEOS from biotech and pharma industry. Click here for the full agenda.


The CrESIT-ASSOBIOTEC annual Workshop is the most important event of the year for the Italian Biotech Industry and attract hundreds of academic researchers, senior executives and practitioners in Biotech, Pharma, and Private Equity Industries from all around the world. This year will join the panel – among the others - Gary Pisano from Harvard University, Lisa Conte, CEO of Silicon Valley based Napo Pharma, Marina Del Bue, GM of Molmed. Together with them we will discuss how a life science company can design its own business model and global value architecture and raise funding.
The CrESIT-Assobiotec Workshop is jointly organized by CrESIT and CIBIE (the Centre for International Business and the International Economy of University of Pavia) in partnership with the Italian Biotech Business Association (ASSOBIOTEC) and Blossom&Company, advisory and consulting firm focused on biotech. The event is sponsored by Pricewaterhouse Cooper.
This is a free event, but pre-registration is required. For info www.cresit.it


Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Venture Camp. by Jari Ognibeni


The Mind the Bridge Venture Camp just ended in Milan and after a lot of hand shakes, business card exchanges and hearing a lot of great projects and ideas I got some words in particular in my mind.
OPPORTUNITY.
This is the word that San Giovanni Vincentelli used to explain the economic and social moment we are living worlwide that other called "crisis".
It's amazing how things can be seen differently just thinking a bit different just turning our attention a little right or left in other words to simply believe in our ideas and their accomplishment, to belive we can do it and out there are people that can help you.

STARTUP.
Here there are the protagonist of the Venture Camp: people with ideas! I've been so happy to see and meet startup from all over Italy and different kind of background and industries. What emerged was that startup need a tool, need a direct contact with other people that can help theme to better understand their business, develop their business plan and increase their network.

THE BRIDGE
I like to describe the entire Venture Camp as a bridge from good ideas to their accomplishment; from Italy to Silicon Valley (and back). This bridge is made by people, professionals and off course ideas that strive to move in the same direction: create a new model to develop ideas and bring theme to the world. People out there need this bridge and now they can count on it. The bridge is here and it is real!

These words summarize the experience of beeing for two days with a lot of impressive people, professionals and young entrepreneurs that want to change the world with their ideas.
A big Arrivederci and Grazie to everybody which made this event possible and also a great In bocca al lupo to all the entrepreneurs and startup that have a great project in mind.






Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Venture Camp. By Massimo Carraro.

An attendance that doubled the expectations. A list of attendees where most names had two lines, driving receptionists (us) mad. Jari, Tito and myself guarding the Gala Dinner door with a lady from Corriere with more cojones than all three of us together.



The startup guys with a special light in their eyes. The 'In bocca al lupo!' and the 'Crepi!'. Beppe Severgnini mixing English and Italian with unrivalled elegance. 334 badges done overnight with the invaluable support of my workmates @MonkeyBusiness. A live FriendFeed report of the Sangiovanni Vincentelli - Beppe Severgnini talk. One and a half day as the doorman of Italian technological innovation. Hearing the mentor of dozens of successful Italians in the Valley saying the only way to teach 'how to be available to people is by example'. Tito talking finance and world markets to me while welcoming attendees at the door. Checking in people online, in real time. Realizing that I'd never met some of my MtB teammates untile Venture Camp day (yes it's unbelievable isn't it?). Marco Marinucci calling the Italian team on stage. Meeting a few known faces. Understanding that networking is what it's all about. Understanding that networking is just another name for that age-old activity called 'human talk'.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Venture Camp mode: on.

The Venture Camp started about 5 hours ago.

The Sala Buzzati at Corriere della Sera is filled up, start-ups are having their 5-minute pitches, and a loud applause follows every speaker.

The atmosphere is really exciting, and we had to prepare a waiting list for tomorrow's session.

We'll catch up later with more, for now, enjoy the first pictures from Milano!







Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mind The Bridge Venture Camp 2009: Showtime!

Tomorrow we will go live with our 2009 Venture Camp. For the first time in Milan, thanks to the support of Corriere della Sera and RCS Media Group that will host the event. The workshop looks promising. 14 really cool Italian startups will line up and pitch in front to investors. During the two days you will have the chance to hear from successful Italian entrepreneurs (like Paolo Barberis from Dada, Massimo Colomban, Alessandro Fracassi and Fabio Cannavale) and venture capitalists (such as Randy Mitchell, Massimiliano Magrini, Matteo Fago, Riccardo Donandon and Germano Carganico). Marco Marinucci and Matteo Daste will provide you with insights about Mind The Bridge. On Saturday morning Beppe Sevegnini will interview Alberto Sangiovanni Vincentelli, one of the most appreciated "Italians" in Silicon Valley. We will also give voice to our partners and affiliates such as Italiani di Frontiera, Fulbright-BEST, Telecom Working Capital, Fondazione Politecnico.
The event was entirely sold out in a few days. If you are one of the 340 who were so lucky (and fast) to get admitted, see you there. If you aren’t, you can follow the Camp live, streaming on Corriere.it. Enjoy!




Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mind the Bridge on Corriere.it - first steps


A banner in homepage, a detailed article by Marco Pratellesi as introduction, plus 14 insights, focused on all semi-finalist startups and an interesting map of innovation: the collaboration between Corriere.it and Mind the Bridge is bearing the first fruits.

We expect more actions in the following days (watch for the magazine and Corriere in paper...)





Tuesday, October 27, 2009

20 years to pull Italy back on its feet

I'm still digesting the overdose of information I gathered during the 3-day Pio Manzu conference.
So many are the reflections on the future of our youth (in particular Italian youth) discussed by eminent experts from all corners of the world, that I could write several days of relevant posts.
Here're a few snapshots: (on. Meloni, first picture) "Italy has been living for the first time ever an era where the current generation are in a worst situation than their parents."
"The trust that
Italians place in their media, politicians and future is drastically less than anybody else in Europe (research from La Sapienza university)".

My panel was supposed to play the role of the positive actions facing a situation that is not less than alarming.
Here's my presentation (in Italian).
The general session seemed very similar to a UN summit (or so I can extrapolate). I was sitting in between Renzo Rosso, founder of Diesel (who surprised me when I saw him taking notes on his hand, the part with no tattoos), Gianni Minoli (who seemed to like his blackberry a lot) and Emerson Gattafoni (from whom I watch all series), all recipients of a gold medal from the Italian president.

Sitting behind me, the hilarious Bros (1st italian graffiti), who spent most of his time, taking a graffiti of my back (pretty nice actually).

[more to come]

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) starts in Pisa on Nov 16


This year, the inaugural event of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) in Italy will be held in Pisa on November 16th, at Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna. The event, organized in collaboration with Mind The Bridge, will be focused on "Research in Italy: entrepreneurship which starts from science and technology".
Marco Marinucci, Alberto Onetti and Matteo Daste from Mind The Bridge will join the event through video conferencing.



For the full program and updates see www.sssup.it/gew.
To register please send an email to generazione1@gmail.com

Friday, October 23, 2009

Start up in the spotlight: TargetBet.

Let's meet TargetBet's Luca Pettini, while getting ready for November 6 Venture Camp in Milano.

Q.
Luca, can you tell us briefly what is your company about?

A.
TargetBet is a new internet service to support people to place online sports bets and improve their chances of winning.
Basically we give the opportunity to our users to share their bets, compare with other users and be notified when best users place a new interesting bet.

It’s all about turn sports betting social.

Q.
How did you get in touch with the Mind the Bridge project?

A.
I heard about Mind the Bridge about one year ago, reading an internet site that now I don't recall.
I forgot about it, until one day, in my University, I attended a meeting about this great opportunity. The meeting was led by last years finalist, Augusto Coppola (eris4).
His speech was very interesting and I knew from then on, I had to apply to MTB2009.

Q.
How do you think that the MtB experience can help your company to develop a global presence?

A.
MtB literally helped my company an immense amount.
Targetbet's first business plan was born especially to compete in Mtb Challenge: I entered the startup Italian scene with my participation at MtB, it’s the first important step for me and for TargetBet.

Q.
What about your expectations regarding the time you will eventually spend in Silicon Valley?

A.
I think it will be a terrific opportunity for me and for TargetBet: all the people I met during these years told me incredible things about Silicon Valley, it’s like the heaven of entrepreneurs. I think an opportunity like this can be a big step for me, and a bigger one to TargetBet.

Q.
What are your personal views of the italian startup scene?

A.
I’m new in this territory, I don’t know many people from the Italian scene, but what I can say is, I see an incredible force of will: maybe here is hard to find capital, is hard to contact angel investor, venture capitalists, but I met a lot of people with a lot of intelligent and winning ideas: I’m sure that 15min under the flashlight and investors will understand that also in Italy we have a little Silicon Valley.

Thank you Luca, and good luck then!







Start up in the spotlight: Adant.

Among the 2009 Mind the Bridge semi-finalist, the communication company Adant. We have exchanged a short Q & A session with Daniele Piazza.

Q.
Daniele, can you tell us briefly what is your company about?

A.
Adant develops and markets novel and revolutionary antennas for next generation wireless communications. Our goal is to become world leader in providing antenna solutions that can be used in smartphones, notebooks and wireless access points to deliver unprecedented connectivity.
Our antenna technology is also ideal for RFId systems to enhance its reliability in all main industrial applications.

Q.
How did you get in touch with the Mind the Bridge project?

A.
The first time I’ve heard of Mind the Bridge I was attending a congress on the Italian startup scene in the field of ICT.
Fabrizio Capobianco presented the MtB project. It seemed a great opportunity for us… we started from there.

Q.
How do you think that the MtB experience can help your company to develop a global presence?

A.
We believe that MtB can give us visibility with Venture Capitalists and provide us with feedback on how to develop a company with a global presence.

Q.
What about your expectations regarding the time you will eventually spend in Silicon Valley?

A.
Many of the most successful companies in the world got started in Silicon Valley. Getting to know better this environment will be a valuable experience. I expect to make connections with investors and other entrepreneurs and to receive important feedbacks for better developing our business.

Q.
What are your personal views of the Italian startup scene?

A.
There are more and more opportunities for entrepreneurs eager to start a business from their revolutionary ideas. There is a growing interest to invest in startups… We are going in the right direction!


Best of luck, Daniele and Adant!




Start up in the spotlight: WiTech.

Another semi-finalist company, getting ready for Venture Camp 2009: WiTech. Mind the Bridge has interviewed its CEO and EVP Andrea Calcagno.

Q.
Andrea, can you tell us briefly what is your company about?

A.
WiTech is a solutions company founded in 2003 as a spin-off of the University of Pisa, Italy.
The company has gained quickly a foothold in the NGN/NGS scenario focusing on standard 3G and 4G wireless technologies such as HSxPA, WiMAX and LTE. WiTech is the developer of TEA|WiMAX and TEA|LTE, a family of powerful and unique business case analysis tools; as well as the provider of innovative, BPM-enabled OSS/BSS solutions, with a focus on the delivery of turnkey WiMAX CSNs, that leverage the company’s modular and scalable WROP (access & service management) and TelcoGIS (geographic information system) platforms.

Q.
How did you get in touch with the Mind the Bridge project?

A.
Through some friends of mine that work in Venture Capital Sector.

Q.
How do you think that the MtB experience can help your company to develop a global presence?

A.
At the moment I am involved in fund raising activities for my company in order to support its own international expansion; the Silicon Valley is the best location for VCs in Telco Segment and, particular, for 4G one.
I think the MtB experience could accelerate our process.

Q.
What about your expectations regarding the time you will eventually spend in Silicon Valley?

A.
My expectation is to set out our innovative business idea to VCs in Silicon Valley Arena.


Q.
What are your personal view of the Italian startup scene?

A.
I think there are just few startups with good business idesa and well skilled team because there is not the correct Italian VCs culture to support their financial needs and for Italian Startups is very difficult to work with Italian big companies due to political barriers.
You must consider that WiTech is the only Italian start-up that works internationally in WiMAX /4G Segment with innovative products and solutions in Business Case and NG OSS/BSS Arena.

Thank you Andrea, we wish you all the best for your company!



Start up in the spotlight: Tripshake.

Let's meet another Mind the Bridge semi-finalist 2009: Tripshake's Antonio Bonanno (on the right in the picture, with partner Giorgio Montorsino).

Q.
Antonio, can you tell us briefly what is your company about?

TripShake is a social marketplace for travel. We make it easy for travelers to find personalized offers provided by travel professionals all over the world.

At its core, is a question&answer service where users can obtain answers to their specific questions from expert and trustable sources, as well as from the experiences of other travelers.

Q.
How did you get in touch with the Mind the Bridge project?

Through my network: I met a colleague of one of the organizers at a networking event in Milano.

Q.
How do you think that the MtB experience can help your company to develop a global presence?

A.
The on-line travel market is big in Europe, but it's even bigger in the US: a gateway (or a bridge!) in that direction could be a great opportunity for us.

Q.
What about your expectations regarding the time you will eventually spend in Silicon Valley?

A.
Meet with strategic partners: someone who could help us developing our business overseas, or with whom we could start working with to lay the foundations for our future landing in the US.
And meeting with investors: TripShake could be presented as an investment opportunities to business angels and second-tier VC in the US.
The size of the investment we're looking for weighs about 400.000 €.

Q.
What are your personal view of the italian startup scene?

A.
From what I could see during this year as a startupper, I believe neither the investors nor the enterpreneurs are ready to think on the scale needed to really make the jump and build a relevent start-up scene. Too little money and ideas who are not ready to be invested in are the weak points of a growing start-up scene. I'm sure we'll get there at some point, but I fear it might be too late - other countries, like Spain or Eastern Europe, are moving faster than us!


Thank you Antonio, all the best for your project!





Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Presenting MTB @ Pio Manzu' conferenze


This coming Sunday (Oct 25) I will present the Mind the Bridge dreams and aspirations to a vast audience attending the 35th edition of the Pio Manzu' conference in Rimini.

I have to admit that when I received the invitation, several months ago, I had never heard of Pio Manzu'.
I blamed it to having spent a long time far from the Il Bel Paese.

When I saw that folks like Jovanotti, Vasco Rossi, Mubarack had been invited this year, I started paying attention.
Then I realized that the first conference took place in 1969, when I was still happily wearing diapers. In fact, most of our modern history was partially written at the Pio Manzu', including the cold war, Reagan, Gorbachov, Prince Diana and even Jovannotti had participated to previous editions.

Then I started feeling honored, and humbled to have the opportunity to tell the Mind the Bridge story to such a prestigious, international audience.

This year conference will focus on the values and illusions of the modern (errant) youth.
In particular, the historical challenges that the Italian youth is being facing for decades now, and why, as my friend Richard Boly used to characterize it, there is no fire burning in Italian young people.
That's my favourite topic, and I'm pretty opinionated about that.

So, if you happen to be not too far from Rimini, I strongly recommend to stop by. Entrance is free and a lot of "red-carpet" style people is expected to attend (and just in case you are ill, or something, you can watch it on RAI2 on Sunday morning).


From the "Presentation Skills" seminar in Milano, a famous rule by Guy Kawasaki.

Maybe many of you already know the famous 10-20-30 presentation rule by Guy Kawasaki, but even if you know it, this video - which is being shown during Mind the Bridge "Presentation Skills" seminars is a presentation lesson in itself. Enjoy!







Friday, October 16, 2009

Startup in the spotlight: Adhome.


Leonardo Costa of AdHome - one of the 14 semifinalists of this year's competition - has kindly agreed to answer a few questions about Mind the Bridge and related topics, seen from his perspective.

Q.
Leonardo, can you tell us briefly what your company is about?

A.
AdHome is a startup Internet Company with the aim to empower offline advertising through a web application that supports advertisers and publishers.

Q.
How did you get in touch with the Mind the Bridge project?




Giulio, another AdHome team member read an article about Mind the Bridge foundation and event, we liked the idea and we decided to participate with the project.

Q.
How do you think that the MtB experience can help your company to develop a global presence?

A.
I think that MTB can give to any good business idea the right exposure to the investors world which could help the venture to start and in the end to create value and benefits to the worldwide economic system.

Q.
What about your expectations regarding the time you will eventually spend in Silicon Valley?

A.
I expect the Silicon Valley event to be really productive in particular in terms of networking and I also expect to meet some ex colleagues and friends that still live there.

Q.
What are your personal view of the Italian startup scene?

A.
Honestly I'm relatively new within this world, I think I will have a more clear picture after MTB events; for sure I can say that looking around there are a lot of good business ideas and opportunities for the investors.

Thank you Leonardo, and... buona fortuna!




Internship in Silicon Valley with MTB: interview with Gabriele Scoditti

Gabriele has spent a few months in Redwood City, collaborating with several projects within the Mind the Bridge operations, and - besides enjoying the Californian lifestyle - he has done quite a lot of precious work before returning to his native city, Rome.


His views on our activities reflect the attitude of an Italian young professional who's seen the entrepreneurial system of the Silicon Valley from within.


Q.
Gabriele, can you sum up in three words this particular experience in your cv?

A.
Only three? Well, challenging from a personal point of view, stimulating and extremely useful from a professional point of view.

Q.
How did you arrive at MtB?
Was it in your interest radar already?

A.
I started to be interested in topics such as entrepreneurship and venture capital about a year ago.
While writing my thesis about business angels investing and while working as intern with "Italian Angels for Growth" in Milan, I heard several times about Mind the Bridge, and I became interested in this bridge between Italy and Silicon Valley.
With that being said, when I heard about the possibility of spending some months in the Bay Area, helping out the foundation in some activities related to the business plan competition and the Gymnasium, I thought it could be a dream. Well, sometimes dreams become reality...

Q.
What are your feelings about the Italian start-up community you met while collaborating?


A.
After some months spent working in close contact with the Italian start-ups scene, I have a positive feeling: the scene is moving, the community is growing and becoming more aware of all the opportunities offered by a globalized economy.
Nevertheless what we really need in Italy is to learn how to do business. Several times I met smart engineers with excellent idea in their minds, but without any knowledge of how to build a business from scratch.
In the majority of cases, they give up before starting. In this direction the work that needs to be done is still a lot.

Q.
Do you think that this experience helped you build your professional background? if yes, how?

A.
A work experience abroad is always very important, and, I must say, working in the Silicon Valley is definitely the best abroad-experience you can get.
With 5 years of business-related studies, with a thesis about the startups world, and with a strong interest in these topics, spending few months here has been simply perfect.
In this way, I had the opportunity to learn about this great eco-system and to better understand the importance of the fundamental factors the Silicon Valley is built on, as well as the relationships among these factors.

Q.
Imagine yourself 10 years from now: where do you see yourself: Italy, Silicon Valley or else... ?

A.
This is the hardest question. When you are 24, it's really difficult to make plans for the future. On the one side, I really wish in 10 years I could be satisfied and really passionate about what I'm doing and therefore the issue should not be where I'll live, but what I'll do.
On the other side, if I spend some years abroad (especially in the Silicon Valley), I hope one day I could go back to Italy and do something useful for the Country I really love.

Q.
What's the best and the worst thing that happened to you in this time?

A.
The best thing was being able to know a lot of really interesting people with different backgrounds, as well as increasing my network of contacts.
The worst? Probably, the lost I suffered in the semi-final of the foosball tournament organized with the Funambol guys.

Q.
Your plans for the immediate future?

A.
Don't miss the plane to go back home. Is it a good answer? =)




Startup in the spotlight: Echolight.


For our interviews with 2009 semi-finalist, we have had a chat with Echolight's Matteo Pernisa.

Q.
Matteo, can you tell us briefly what your company is about?

A.
Echolight is a bio-medical start up company pioneering breakthrough solutions for osteoporosis diagnosis and related bone diseases.
"World Healing" is our vision statement and we aim to lead the Compact Revolution in the healthcare scenario, developing non-invasive technologies for widespread clinical use.

Q.
How did you get in touch with the Mind the Bridge project?

A.
It's pretty funny. Several months ago I was on my way to the office and i heard Fabrizio Capobianco talking on the radio.
At the end he left his personal e-mail (so american!!) ... and... it all started.

Q.
How do you think that the MtB experience can help your company to develop a global presence?



A.
MtB gives you the belief and confidence that you can make it!!
This is the main message along with all the practical and educational activities.

Q.
What about your expectations regarding the time you will eventually spend in Silicon Valley?

A.
If you are a young dreaming-big entrepreneur you must visit Silicon Valley one day.
Hope to have a very practical agenda with investor's and entrepreneur's meetings in order to get connections and feedback.

Q.
What are your personal views of the Italian startup scene?

A.
Something is changing and there are more and more opportunities and inititatives to support young entrepreneurs... so keep looking and don't settle !!!


Best of luck for the competition, then, see you soon!



Friday, October 9, 2009

How to present your idea to a venture capitalist. The seminar in Milano, Italy, Oct. 20-21.

It's your chance to learn all techniques, tips and tricks. Don't miss it, apply now!
video


See you in Milano!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Startup in the spotlight: Prossima Isola


Today we start a round of interviews with this year's semi-finalists.

The first entrepreneur we've spoken to, through Facebook first and then in person in our Milan office, is Daniele Idini, co-founder of Prossima Isola.

Their "Whereisnow" project is one of the Mtb 2009 semi-finalists.

Q.
Daniele, can you tell us briefly what is your company about?

A.
WhereIsNow is an innovative Internet service which allows every kind of information to become"self-updatable": it applies to documents, addressbook or web links.
WhereIsNow allows any user, in a quick and easy way, to have the
contacts (email phone number, fax, etc. ..) of friends or colleagues
always updated, to check for the latest version of a price list or a
technical document and to be sure that an article on the web is always
reachable even if the address has been changed.

Q.
How did you get in touch with the Mind the Bridge project?

A.
Thanks to my associate Marcello Orizi, he is much closer than me
finding these opportunities (ah ah ah!)
In fact the first time we heard from "Sardegna Ricerche" during the
entrepreneurial training course shortly before the final of MtB 2008.
Then we had the opportunity to learn more about this project through
the community startupbusiness.it, through BAIA (Business Association
Italy America) and some other channel on the Internet as Twitter.

Q.
How do you think that the MtB experience can help your company to
develop a global presence?

A.
We believe that MtB can give greater emphasis in our project
against a Venture capital and that a Venture Capital can bring his
experience in our company so as to take off our ambitious project in
the global market

Q.
What are your expectations regarding the time you could eventually
spend in Silicon Valley?

A.
First we are ambitious to know and compare with the world elite in
our sector. This will let us know if we are going in the right
direction and will allow us to expand our knowledge and thus to grow
professionally. Then if we could also find an investment from a
venture capital of the Silicon Valley...it would be the top :-)

Q.
What are your personal view of the Italian startup scene?

A.
I think that in Italy there are many good ideas but many of these
remain in drawers for various reasons. First of all, many young people lack the culture
of risk. For example, my associate and I have
given up a safe and a well-paid job to pursue our vision and our
dream. It is true that developing new ideas and create a startup
requires also, in addition to a great business capacity, the help of
someone who has had similar experiences, a good amount of money and a
bit of luck. In Italy is not always easy to find these ingredients

Q.
Best of luck, Daniele, and thank you for your time!

A.
Thank you for your interest in our company and... see you in Milan in November!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Reserve your seat for Venture Camp, Milano nov. 6th - 7th

November 6th - 7th are Venture Camp days.
In the beautiful premises of our host and partner Corriere della Sera, we will listen to an amazing line of speakers, and will be able to hear from the 14 semi-finalists of the competition their elevator pitches to the members of the international venture capital community who will attend.

We have limited capacity, so, reservations are mandatory.
Please do reserve your seat in advance here, and...


...don't forget the Gala Reception on Friday night!
This is your opportunity to get to know all the speakers, investors and to get the best out of your networking skills... while becoming a donor of the Mind the Bridge foundation.
The best part?
We have rented the entire Pinacoteca Brera for this special occasion.
We'll have a truly memorable, intimate guided tour of one of the best museums in the world...while networking!
A pretty good deal.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Why Italy? See Fabrizio Capobianco's convincing answers.



During the Gym presentation in Milano a couple of weeks ago, Fabrizio Capobianco - Funambol's ceo and Mind the Bridge board member - gave the audience a convincing presentation on the venture capitalists' mostly frequent asked question: Why Italy?

Enjoy!


GYM: launch of the 1st Presentation Skills module, Milano



It's official.
Starting in October, we'll be launching the first series of the MTB GYM training modules in Italy.

We start with what we believe is the most underestimated skill for Italian startups: presentation skills.

We'll be flying directly from the Silicon Valley Elisabetta Ghisini, a top notch professional in the field (more info in the attached flier).


We'll run 2 sessions of max 15 participants / class on Oct 20 and 21.
The coaching session is mandatory for the finalists presenting at the Venture Camp event, but open for other participants.
You can apply here. The availability is limited. This is your unique opportunity to greatly improve your chances of success in front of investors or clients.
Don't miss it!




Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Gym in Milano. The Italian start-up scene is moving!



Thursday, September the 17th in Milano, The Gym presentation in Milano have gathered a full auditorium of entrapreneurs, students, journalists.


We have listened to the foreword of Carol Perez, consul general general of the Us government in Italy, we have enjoyed the brilliant visual show of Roberto Bonzio and his fascinating study on the Italians who have made history, and - in the second part of the conference - we've had to chance to learn quite a bit from the presentations of Fabrizio Capobianco (Funambol), Marco Palombi (founder Tipi Inc - Splinder), Leandro Agrò (Wide Tag), Fabio Venturi (Neptuny) and professor Serrazzi of Politecnico di Milano.

The other day, Silicon Valley made us dream, and the testimonials in the room showed us that... the dream may come true!



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Don’t miss the MTB Gym presentation in Milan

On Thursday, September 17th, we will present the MTB Gymnasium. The Gym , in short, is our startup school, where we will help Italian entrepreneurs with global dreams to make them real. Now that we have a team in Italy, we have definitively more bandwidth for supporting people to “mind the bridge”.
The project will be presented at the Auditorium of Politecnico di Milano, starting at 10.30am.


After the introduction, our Fabrizio Capobianco will be explaining what are the rules to participating and what are our medium term expectations on the project.During the Workshop we will announce the affiliation of the Foundation of Politecnico to the MTB Gym. It is an honor for us to partner with the Accelerator of Politecnico, one of the most important incubators in Italy.
Based on this affiliation agreement, Neptuny (the most promising startup coming out from the Poli Accelerator) will be incubated in the MTB GYM and start to benefit from our mentoring and training program. On Thursday morning we will have the chance to hear from Fabio Violante, founder and CEO of Neptuny, about how he is going to exploit this opportunity.
This is the full agenda of the event:

UN PONTE FRA DUE MONDI: MILANO - SILICON VALLEY. IL MIND THE BRIDGE GYMNASIUM E LE AZIENDE DELL'ACCELERATORE D'IMPRESA
Politecnico di Milano, Auditorium - Via Pascoli 53, Milano

Programma:

Ore 10:15: Registrazione dei partecipanti

Ore 10:30: Saluti di benvenuto e cenni introduttivi sull’accordo fra la Fondazione Politecnico di Milano - Acceleratore d’Impresa e la Mind the Bridge Foundation, Giampio Bracchi (Presidente, Fondazione Politecnico di Milano)

Ore 10:45: Il ruolo delle istituzioni americane nel sostegno all’imprenditorialità tecnologica in Italia Carol Z. Perez (Console Generale degli Stati Uniti d’America a Milano)

Ore 11:00: Storie di italiani nella Silicon Valley dalle origini a oggi (filmato)Roberto Bonzio (Reuters, Italiani di Frontiera)

-----
L’ESPERIENZA SILICON VALLEY
Modera: Emil Abirascid (Innov’azione, Il Sole 24Ore)
Il Mind the Bridge Gymnasium e il modello di sviluppo di Funambol, Fabrizio Capobianco (Mind the Bridge Foundation, Fondatore e A.D. Funambol)

Ore 11:40 Il network fra l’Italia e la Silicon Valley: come e perché è nato
Marco Palombi (Fondatore Tipi Inc. -Splinder, First Generation Network)

Ore 11:55 Neptuny e la Silicon Valley: globalizzare il successo
Fabio Violante (Fondatore e A.D., Neptuny)

Ore 12:10 California: miti da sfatare Leandro Agrò (Fondatore e A.D., Wide Tag Inc.)

Ore 12:25 Il progetto dell’Acceleratore e le opportunità per gli incubatori universitari italiani. Lancio della “call” per altre 3 start-up tecnologiche
Giuseppe Serazzi (Delegato del Rettore per l’Acceleratore d’Impresa del Politecnico di Milano e Consigliere PNICube)

Domande del pubblico e dibattito

Ore 13:00 Networking cocktail

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Milan's (and Italy's) first Startup Night


Yesterday night, Mikamai hosted the first ever Startup Night in its Milan offices.
More than 100 people showed up and it turned out to be a really great event.

We drove from Rome just to attend and meet the best and brightest of the newly-built italian tech scene. There where a lot of different participants: students, founders, consultants, investors, journalists, pr and general tech enthusiasts. It definitely was a good mix.

I must say, something is moving in Italy.

We are trying to build a community of passionate and innovative people, one step at a time. This is possible thanks to a lot of great people who see the potential of italian talent, creativity and general business knowledge to succeed in such a new, global, social and all-round strange market.

In october we are going to start with a series of monthly networking events in Rome. We want to bring the vibe, passion and drive that you can feel in London and Silicon Valley. We don't wanna mimic it, we'll do it our way.

And it's gonna rock.

Meanwhile you can check out yesterday night's videos and pictures.




Winners of the first selection for 2009

After spending a few weeks working on it, our selection committee has finally completed its effort. Selecting the best business plans has been a challenge, because the quality of the companies is quite high, better than any other previous Mind the Bridge (which is a great sign).

Below, you find the list of the startup admitted to the Venture Camp in November (in Milan). Congratulations to the winners and also to those that did not make it: tune your business plan and do not give up!


WINNERS OF MTB 2009 FIRST SELECTION
  • Adant
  • EchoLight
  • Ergo2000
  • Fluidmesh Networks
  • GetConnected (Postino)
  • KAEL
  • MoVoLo
  • Pervactive
  • Prossima Isola (Where is Now)
  • Targetbet
  • Thounds
  • TripShake.com
  • VRmedia
  • WiTech
See you in November!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

MtB 2009 - last week for the business plans!!

As you might know, the deadline for submitting your business plan for the 2009 Mind the Bridge competition is August 25th. Very close. Next Tuesday. Time to act!

For those out there still thinking "should I do it, should I do it?", let me add a piece of advice. Even if you are not thinking about moving to Silicon Valley next week, this is a competition you can't miss, if you are thinking global. It is the best opportunity you will have to get in contact with the world outside our beautiful country. If you are thinking big and global, you should put together a business plan and send it before next Tuesday.

And if you are thinking global but you are still very local, let me give you another reason to join the competition: we have assembled a spectacular Selection Committee, that I have the privilege to coordinate. The people listed below represent the best of the best of Italy, both in the financial world and in the industry. Having one of these members read your idea might give you the opportunity you were looking for. Hey, the best time to write a business plan is summer, whether you are two guys with a brilliant idea or an established Italian company with global aspirations.

Here are the members of the MtB 2009 First Selection Committee:

- Alessio Beverina, Sofinnova Partners
- Claudio Giuliano, Innogest
- Davide Gai, CEO BSI Healthcapital SA
- Fausto Boni, 360 Capital Partner
- Gianluca Dettori, Dpixel
- Giuseppe Serazzi, PNCube
- Lorenzo Franchini, IAG
- Luca Ungarelli, Golden Mouse
- Massimiliano Magrini, Country Manager Google Italia
- Maurizio Petitbon, Kreos Capital
- Mauro Pretolani, TLCOM
- Pietro Dova, XG Ventures
- Pietro Strada, Centerboard Partners
- Roberto Bonanzinga, Balderton
- Stefano Peroncini, Quantica

One week to go!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Save the Date: Venture Camp @ Corriere


We do what we do because we genuinely believe that our activity can have a relevant social and economic impact in Italy.

To spread the word and the insights of our outstanding network, we have always been striving to find the right media partner.

Today we are happy to announce that our media partner is il Corriere della sera.
Il Corriere will be hosting the Venture Camp event in November, where, among an amazing line up of speakers (stay tuned for more), you'll be able to witness the pitches from the semi-finalist startups. What a great opportunity to showcase your great project to such a large audience!
As last year, the whole event will be webcasted live.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mind the Bridge Social Club!

I'm glad to announce that Mind the Bridge now has a new Facebook Fan Page (thank you, 49 enthusiasts that joined us in the first 18 hours!) and a LinkedIn group.

If you believe in our mission, you are more than welcome to join and help us to spread the "connecting talent" idea, by talking about us in your blog posts, tweets, friendfeed posts... (just use the hashtag #mindthebridge so it'll be easier to search info about MtB).

We are approaching the social media world guradually, so you won't see any Twitter @mindthebridge for now: we want to make sure to give proper attention to every conversation, so it will be a gradual process.

Also, if you feel like browsing our 14 videos, Mind the Bridge's YouTube videochannel is right here.

Monitoring the online buzz will be one of my tasks, so I look forward to your comments and contributions, and hope to meet you at the next Mind the Bridge Venture Camp, in November.

Until then, see you on the web!

Mind the Bridge Foundation


LinkedinFacebookbloggerTwitterYou Tube


Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Gym starts in Milan (Sep 17)

We announced sometime ago our plan for the MTB Gymnasium.

The Gym, in short, is the space (virtual and physical) in Silicon Valley, where Italian entrepreneurs with global dreams, can build their muscles. The project will be presented in Milan (Sep 17th) by one of our most active partners in Italy, the Politecnico di Milano Accelerator (aka Poli).

The Poli has been working with us in the last few months, defining the best fit for the GYM within their stable of startups. After several iteractions, we finally jointly agreed that Neptuny (arguably the most developed project coming out the Accelerator) would have the honor of being the Poli flagship within the GYM.

To give some deserved visibility to this important new channel for Italian startups, we are co-organizing an event at the Politecnico. Our Fabrizio Capobianco will be explaining what are the rules to participating and what are our medium term expectations on the project.

Another date to add to your agendas...

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Open Source Innovation Backbone for Startups

Guest post by Roberto Galoppini
Open innovation is taking over in many areas, and open source plays an important role especially in software sequential innovation, where each successive invention builds in an essential way on its predecessors. Foremost, for the most of us before anything else software (open source included) is a tool towards a goal.

Guy Kawasaki two years ago explained how he managed to create a new venture aiming at delivering UGC through a social media platform, called Truemors (later renamed NowPublic). Below a small excerpt:

  • 7.5 weeks went by from the time I registered the domaintruemors.com to the site going live. Life is also good because of opensource and Word Press.

  • $4,500. The total software development cost was $4,500. The guy sat Electric Pulp did the work.Honestly, I wasn't a believer in remote teams trying to work together on version 1 of a product, but Electric Pulp changed my mind.


Earlier this winter I had a similar experience. As secretary of an association I have been asked to start a so called web 2.0 portal for the association, and we managed to do it with as less as 3750,00 euros. As a matter of fact, open source is a viable alternative, but there is more than just some dime savings around the corner.

The case for open source innovation.
Open Source innovation is known to be one of the most hyped words: the world split in open source enthusiasts claiming that open source is as much innovative as proprietary software (or even more) and people saying that open source can just mimic.

"Innovation Happens Elsewhere" puts clearly why relying on external sources of innovation make sense:
Innovation happens everywhere, but there is simply more elsewhere than here. Silly as it sounds, this is the brutal truth: Regardless of how smart, creative, and innovative you believe your organization is, there are more smart, creative, and innovative people outside your organization than inside.

Open source can enable innovation, not only in recession times. Companies like Google (probably before anyone else), Facebook or Twitter are all heavily relying upon open source technologies. Beyond standing on giants' shoulders, those companies give also back to the open source community, as seen with Google summer of code and at large with Google code, open source at Facebook as well as open
source at Twitter
.

Clayton Christensen back in 1995 began to talk about "disruptive technology", to later replace disruptive technology with the term disruptive innovation. Reason is that he recognized that few technologies are intrinsically disruptive or sustaining in character: what makes a technology an innovation enabler, is the way it is used to deploy a business
strategy.

Open source plays an important role in this respect, either when we talk of low-end disruption innovation or new market disruption. Look at how open source helps Mind the Bridge members, like in the Funambol case, making business out of commercial open source products, as well as innovating partnering with JAJAH to allow mobile users to call abroad at a fraction of the cost. Think of <your company, if there is some open source tell the story about what you're doing>

Low end disruption innovation - happening when technology advances faster than customers' needs (Oracle in the database space, Microsoft in the office automation arena, Filenet in the ECM world, etc) - it is the very first stop in a maturity model for open source adoption.

Open source adoption has to be managed, if you are going to use open source software you need some education and management. You need to pay more attention if you decide to spend time and effort to get off the best from open source coopetition, see what companies like Day Software do in this respect (yet selling innovative proprietary products).

When in doubt about how to adopt open source technologies, remember Dijstra's words:
[..] elegance requires great care to be achieved and education to be appreciated. In contrast we shall stress that in sophisticated designs, elegance is not a dispensable luxury, but a factor that often decides between success and failure.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Introducing MTB ITALIA

This has been my most important personal objective in the last several months as head of the foundation.
Now, after a long selection process, it's with real pleasure that I announce the launch of our Italy based operations.
Here's the team (from left to right):
 - Alberto Onetti, chair
 - Massimo Carraro, communication
 - Tito Costa, dir. of operations
 - Jari Ognibeni, area manager
 
The team will operate under Alberto's leadership and my supervision. Alberto is also joining Matteo Daste, Fabrizio Capobianco and me on the board of directors.

As a group, they bring and outstanding breath of expertise, enthusiasm  and, most importantly, they share our vision: to promote a new Italian entrepreneurial ecosystem that is ethical, highly professional, internationally focused and excellence driven.


I am particularly proud that our dream project can be infectious  for such a bunch of high quality professionals.
Let's keep the level of contamination to a record high: a new wave is finally coming to Italy!
You'll be hearing from them soon. 
For now, let's give them a huge welcome and let's wish them good luck on the ride!

David H. Thorne, Ambassador-Designate to Italy, speaks.

On July 16th, Mr. David H.Thorne, the ambassador-designate to Italy, gave a speech describing is vision of the relationship between the two countries.

Hi speech covers a variety of topics spanning from his personal history (he lived 20 years in Italy) and his passion for soccer, to more serious issues such as geopolitics and international cooperation.

Of particular interest for the friends of MtB, Mt. Thorne declared that he "will use [his] experience as a businessman to deepen commercial ties between Italy and the United States and will build on Ambassador Spogli’s Partnership for Growth initiative to continue to foster high-growth economic ventures in Italy."

For those interested in reading Mr. Thorne's full speech, it can be found here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Celebrating the european startup community

On July 9th I flew to London to attend the Europas, the awards hosted by TechCrunch Europe.

Let me just say it was a huge success. All of the most important, successful and influencial people in the european tech scene where in the same room exchanging ideas, feedback and (hopefully) capital. I met people from UK, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Romania, Poland. There were quite a few americans too.

It was a really enjoyable event, and I'm gonna share with you what I got from it:
London is the epicenter of Europe's innovation and startup ecosystem. The money is there, the startups are there, the community is there.
That doesn't mean that you can't buid a successful business in other cities (there were a lot of examples in that same room), it just seems easier. This can be caused by many different factors, first one being language.


So what about Italy then? Well, not great news. There were only two other italians attending the event. The italian innovation community is growing but as always it just focuses on its own country, not attending this events is a HUGE mistake. Networking is one of the most important phases when building a truly global (or any kind, for that matter) business.




I really do hope italians will understand that, and start flying all over Europe and US to meet people, share ideas, get feedback from different markets and cultures. Or simply to have fun.

Let's go back at the event, here are the winners.

  • Best Bootstrapped Startup (less than 3 years old) – Soup.io

  • Best Design – Songkick

  • Best Social Innovation (benefits society, EMEA) – Mendeley

  • Best Cleantech / Environmental Startup (EMEA) – Alertme

  • Best European Hardware / Real World Gadget (EMEA) – Poken

  • Best Entertainment App or Service (EMEA) – SoundCloud

  • Best Mobile Startup (EMEA) - Nimbuzz

  • Best Mobile Application (EMEA) – Spinvox

  • Best Web Application Or Service (EMEA) – Spotify

  • Best Enterprise / B2B Startup (EMEA) – Huddle

  • Best Startup Founder(s)Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, jointly for Spotify

  • Best Investor (VC or Angel fund, EMEA) – The Accelerator Group

  • Best Investor Personality (EMEA) – Yossi Vardi

  • Best New Startup, Summer 2008-2009 – Spotify

  • The Europas GRAND PRIX” – Spotify

The european startup community is growing, I urge everyone to be a part of it. Not only will you get to know some amazing peers but you will gain a real competitive advantage for your business.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ready to Crunch?

...and here it comes our TechCrunch time.
It's been sometime (over 4 years) since the Silicon Valley Tech Crunch has become a sort of a bible in specific environments (technology startups and investments)
Its power has been increasing at such a fast pace that today it can create (or destroy) the dreams of most of the startups at any given time.

Its European cousin has followed suit and even though the URL starts with a UK.techcrunch, it's becoming less UK centric.
In fact there are even a couple of coraugeus Italians in their team.

One of them, Stefano Bernardi, is the author of the most recent Startup.EU blog, one of the best Italian based blogs in the subjects.
In fact, we hope to lure Stefano to share some of his insights for this very blog.

Here is the full article.




Sunday, July 19, 2009

MtB on FELLOW

I often thought that it would be cool to have a magazine focused on the bridges between US and Italy.

Well, not too long ago Marco Pratellesi (head of corriere.it) introduced me to the new born FELLOW Magazine, a dual-language magazine on topics of Italian-American interests.

And in their second issue, here's an interview I gave about the activities and prospective of the Mind the Bridge foundation.


When I finally received a physical copy, with a large picture of Obama in the front page, everything looked even more impressive.
Since there's no online version yet, I guess you need to buy the physical version if you are interested in the topics.

I strongly recommend it, they talk about very cool stuff! :-)


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Pitfalls and challenges in business plan writing



This article, appeared on the Wall Street Journal's website, covers some interesting points that anyone writing a business plan should be aware of.



The article begins by describing three core elements of a good business plan:



  • The logical statement of a problem and its solution.

  • Hard evidence supporting the previous.

  • Candor and awareness about the risks, gaps and other assumptions.



The author continues by describing what he considers the five most significant kinds of rejected business plans:

  • "Here I am, nevermind the problem": business plan is technology centric, while underestimating the importance of identifying the problem it solves. Better technoloogy no always wins!
  • "A coke for every kid in China": lack of knowledge about the initial market. Ignore the difficult work of crafting a strategy to gain market awareness, persuade customers, ans set up a distribution.

  • "Just look at our (paper) profits": financial projections based on wrong or weak assumptions.

  • "Our team walks on water": lack of objectiveness in assessing the team's skillset.

  • "All is beautiful": the writer of the business plan can find only good things about his idea, not seeing or aknowledging any potential pitfall associated with the idea.



This article provides precious insight for all perspective participants to Mind The Bridge: read carefully!

Mind The Bridge at Roma III, June 13th

Guest post by Augusto Coppola, ERIS4.

At the University Roma III of Rome there is an interesting and increasing number of initiatives aiming to fill the gap between the Italian academic world and the new emerging industrial eco-system made of a number of national companies no longer interested in making business on the small regional scale, but rather in growing up internationally and provide the global market with high-tech products and services.

In this regard, Roma III is looking at the Mind the Bridge business plan competition as one of the best opportunities for students and researchers to verify their business ideas and collect valuable feedbacks from Silicon Valley experts, market leaders and investors.

In order to prepare its students and researchers to apply for the competition, Roma III is going to set up a number of seminars on how to prepare for the competition and for the Silicon Valley experience. The first seminar will be held on July 13th and the speaker will be MtB veteran Augusto Coppola, from the company ERIS4.

Monday, July 6, 2009

H-Farm, farming humans better than Google

I'm just back from 2 full months in Europe, something that I hadn't done since 2001.
In particular, I spent most of June in Italy.
Of the thousands stereotypes that we hear about Italy, 2 resonated particularly with me in this trip:
1: what happened to the young people? and
2: oh my God, exceptional average food quality really makes a difference.


I had the chance to visit several startups, incubators and corporations.
Among them, my visit to H-Farm was one of the highlights.

Started in Italy less than 4 years ago, H-Farm is already an outstanding success that deserves attention.
Their creativity, starting from the incubator model itself (in fact I'd call them a "company engineering" venture rather the inflated "incubator" term), from the setup of their offices (old farms in the middle of nowhere, renovated hi-tech style, in a technology-farming fusion that includes cow statues and toy-robots) is a notch above everybody else working in the startup creation field these days.
The 2 founders and good friends Riccardo Donadon and Maurizio Rossi have really pushed the envelope of farming talent to streamline new businesses born to be acquired.
The results? 3 important exits under their belt to groups like WPP and RCS (who can claim that in Italy?), a venture that can attract talent from all over the world (several hundreds employees) and the possibility of writing history with the new spur of Italian innovation in the world.

Out of their stable of 17 home-made startups, there's also Zooppa, the mythical winner of our 2008/09 BP competition, nowadays fully US based.

When you walk about their stables, among locally produced fresh organic fruit, video monitors showing international media news-war-room like and panels reminding the visitor what H-Farm stands for, you definitely have the feeling to witness something remarkably fresh in the almost-dead panorama of Italian innovation.

Riccardo and Maurizio will be facing some challenging times to come, a direct result of their success. The expansion in US and India and the steep increase of startups incubated will put undoubtedly some strains on their so-far-successful model.
But risk taking is their bread and butter, and we sincerely root for them.

Chapeau for H-Farm, fellows!