Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 here we come!

It's been a busy year, to say the least...
Here are a few numbers that summarize our 2010:
  • 22 events part of the MTB Italy Tour
  • 9356 members registered community members
  • 1473 members of our Facebook group (in 6 months)
  • 35 startups mentored during our bootcamp, 7 attended the US roadshow, 3 startups moved to San Francisco in our GYM incubator
  • of our alumni, one got acquired (Neptuny), two received more funding (Spreaker, Adant) and a good number of them are experiencing significant commercial development
  • 354 people attended our Venture Camp event, with 12794 live streams (32% from outside Italy) up 64% from an already memorable 2009 event
  • our YouTube channel has been in the top 20 most viewed channels worldwide (in education)

Reflecting back, Italy is a different country from what it was just a year ago.
The world of startups has finally gone mainstream. Blogs, events, business plan competitions are building a lively community now eager to start hatching some success stories.
The activities bridging Italy and Silicon Valley are being developed at such a fast pace that it is difficult to keep track. Try to align them to make the best out of their own competences will be one our common goals ahead.

Last but not least, my last thought goes to all the people that made this possible: our board of directors, our newly created board of advisors and in particular to our growing team of volunteers. They embody the whole spirit of our initiative.

Thank you all. Have a memorable 2011!!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Advisory Board @ MTB

While our 2010 activities are winding down and our board of directors is reflecting back on the successes and challenges ahead, we are getting fit for a memorable 2011.

To that extent, I’m very pleased to announce the set up of a new, outstanding advisory board.

Fabrizio Capobianco, old friend of MTB (and mine), already board member in 2009 and coordinator of our selection committee since 2009, mentor of several MTB startups, and main (and only) organizer of the Capo-startup-baseball night.

Professor Alberto Sangiovanni Vincentelli, an icon of the Silicon Valley Italian community... and any other community that values entrepreneurship! He's been a strong supporter of MTB since its inception. He attended every Venture Camp event we organized since our beginnings and inspired hundreds of young entrepreneurs. His performance with Severgnini in 2009 made history.

Lesa Mitchell, COO of the Kauffman Foundation, the world most relevant entity supporting entrepreneurship. Since our first conversation, not too long ago, Lesa demonstrated her personal strong interest in supporting our bridge, re-instated with her visit to our incubator @ Pier 38 a few weeks after my first visit at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas city.

The support of such exceptional professionals in the entrepreneurship world is a testament of the high-quality work that our foundation has demonstrated since its inception in 2007.

I'm personally honored to have them on board.

If we needed to be re-energized for a new year full of activities, could we have asked for more???

Friday, November 19, 2010

Prizes and Winners

Training, mentoring and being plugged into a world of opportunities have always been at the core of what we do.
However, financial support if not bad either!
Thanks to our partnerships, for the first time, we are happy to distribute some prizes to a few startups.
The prizes consist of a mix of support for your trip expenses.
The details will be communicated directly to the winners.

So, here are the sponsors and the winners!

* Smania

* Risparmio Super
* MopApp

* Xapio

Congrats to all. You'd better start packing your things.
March will be California dreaming.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The WINNERS 2010 are...

... find out in this video clip...

Here is the full list:
-GetConnected MopApp
-Risparmio Super
-Eralos 3
-Porco Vino

In addition to these 7 finalists we also issued a "Popularity Prize".
The MTB Community has voted:
with 457 votes (to-date) the winner is

So, congrats to them, but also congrats to all the participants.
Let's keep working together.

Shortly, we will announce the prizes supported by our sponsors. Right here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Announcing the finalists: Nov 18

MTB People, we are almost there.

Following the presentation during the Venture Camp, the selection committee has deliberated and we did pick the finalists.
Yes, we are done with our selection... but we are not sharing it quite yet!
The full list will be made public just on Thursday (Nov 18). As tradition, we picked one of the main events taking place in Italy during the Global Entrepreneurship Week.
This year, we will show a video during the event: Firenze Crea Impresa (Palazzo Vecchio, Firenze)
If you still don't think that's a good enough reason to spend the day in Florence, fear not!
We will post it on this blog, and, likely, you'll find the news in the mass media...
In addition to the finalists, we'll communicate the several prizes sponsored by our partners (CARIPLO, GHT, TOP-IX)...
one more reason to stay tuned!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Torino, 16 Novembre 2010: UK-Italy Springboard

UK-Italy Springboard is a business plan competition addressed to Italian startup dealing with ICT, Cleantech, E-Health e Advanced Engineering.

To take part in it, a preliminary selection is needed and will be performed by UK Trade & Investment e Jstone according to the following issues:
  • Team and skills
  • International market strategy
  • Innovation / short time to market
  • Sustainable business strategy (unique selling points)

On November 16th, selected projects will be pitched in front of a judging commission composed by members from UKTI, Jstone, SETSquared, un Business Angel UK, Finmeccanica and other expert professionals.

The winner will have the opportunity to test the UK market for 6 months being introduced into one accelerator of the SETsquared Partnership at the University of Bath, Bristol, Southampton or Surrey.

The prize includes:
  • Mentoring by senior entrepreneurs
  • 3 reviews of the business plan
  • Networking and funding events
  • Services
  • Support
If you are interested, send an English version of your business plan to

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I-REALIZE: Lean Startup Hack and Google Site-Clinic

The third episode of I-Realize saga focuses on the new entrepreneurial approach called Lean Startup. It will be on November 17th at the ToolBox Headquarter - Via Agostino da Montefeltro, 2 10134 Torino, Italy.

The background is again the Global Entrepreneurship Week, a special occasion to deal with the entrepreneurship theme.
Google, which will be involved as the main collaborator in the event organization, is probably the best interpreter of "beta release" and therefore there could be no better player to show in practice the Lean approach based on the "build", "measure" and “learn” cycle.

The event consists of a panel to go into the details of Lean Startup and a site-clinic powered in collaboration with Google, the right opportunity to put in practice the lesson learned.
In the panel there will be entrepreneurs, investors, bloggers and experts, which will try to define the picture of Lean Startup and adapt it to the Italian case.
Site-clinic rules: a number of startups will be pre-selected and their web sites will be inspected by Google team in their compatibility with search engine guidelines.
In the afternoon entrepreneurs could have one-to-one meeting with Google Adwords Team in order to understand how to improve the ROI using an appropriate Adwords campaign.

The event is free but you have to register yourself: startups can apply for site-clinic and Adwords one-to-one meetings through the registration form and the dedicated website.

You can find more information here:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Vote for your favorite startup!

The crowd matters.
Venture Camp '10 finalists are now under review by the entire Mind The Bridge Community, not only expert investors and tech gurus as standard, but also all the common people visiting our website.

In the "era of 2.0" people's ratings rule: that's why we introduced and set up a simple mechanism to collect crowd preferences about the 15 startups running the last mile of the Business Plan Competition and taking part in the MtB Venture Camp in Milan.

At the end of the event the startup receiving the higher number of preferences will be assigned the 1st MtB Crowd Prize.
read the short profiles and click the "FB Like" button under the startup profile you prefer to give your vote!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Preparing the Venture Camp - Go early birds!

-16 days to the opening of the MTB Venture Camp 2010. The heat is on!
The agenda is almost final, and it includes an amazing line up of speakers.
The event will unfold around three axis:
  • Policy: removing the roadblocks that are in the way to develop more innovation in Italy
  • Role models: learn from the success stories
  • The new talents: our semifinalist startups
From US we'll have several personalities, starting with Steven Koltai and Richard Boly, both representatives from the Obama administration. Together with Shuly Galili (executive director of the California Israel Chamber of commerce) they will participate to the panel focused on how to learn from other countries that developed successful innovation policies over the last decades.
From the industry, we'll have Vittorio Viarengo, Giacomo Marini as representatives of the Italian Gold in Silicon Valley, Bernardo Hernandez, Head of Consumer Marketing at Google and angel investor, Javier Olivan, head of Facebook international development, Tony Espinoza, serial entrepreneur, super-angel and now head of MTV social gaming.
On the Italian policy front we expect the On. Alessia Mosca (parliament member) and, likely, On. Brunetta, our Minister of Innovation.
And many, many more...
During the evening, we'll have the pleasure to mingle and meet all these amazing guests.

So, you'd better hurry up and get your seat!
Today is THE LAST DAY to enjoy a substantial "early bird" discount.
We also offer a 40% discount per people under 30 (ID required). The discount code to use for this week is: 30less
Last year we got fully booked several days before the event (we have just 250 seats available), so you'd better hurry up if you are serious about getting inspired!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The other Italy

I just received this message from our friend Charles Versaggi that I thought would be interesting to share. It gives a good prospective on how second/third generation Italian-Americans are perceiving what's happening in Italy. It follows a pretty interesting debate raised a few days ago during the BAIA event "Transplanting start-ups in Silicon Valley: does it work?"

Buongiorno Marco,

As I work more closely with the Mind the Bridge Foundation and the Italian business sector, I'm learning more and more about the "other Italy."Underneath the romanticism of Tuscan villas and La Dolce Vita, lies another Italy I'm only now beginning to comprehend and understand. Starting with the enigma of Berlusconi and the 'sclerotic gerontocracy' he oversees, to the mass exodus of its educated youth, I can't help but conclude Italy is undergoing a socio-economic crisis that threatens its future stature as a 21st Century world player — and I'm not talking about the World Cup.

I appreciated the thoughtful comments you and the other panelists provided at last Thursday's BAIA event. Sensing you and others were only scratching the surface of an ongoing dilemma, I dug deeper and read your recent blog and the string of TIME links that gave me an eyeopening overview of Italy's growing dilemma.

I agree with your three points recommending a global view. Indeed, we are all citizens of the world and participants in a global economy. But as an Italian-American who was conceived in Italy and born in the U.S., like a salmon that moves relentlessly upstream to its spawning grounds, I still have an instinctive yearning for my homeland. The dilemma of this first-generation Italian-American is that sometimes I'm not sure where home is. For today's bright Italian youth attempting to embrace a world view, I suspect the conundrum is all the more frustrating.

All the best,

Saturday, October 16, 2010

IAG invests in Spreaker

It's finally official.
We are really glad to report that IAG (Italian Angels for Growth, the main Italian angel investment group) has agreed in investing in Spreaker.
We are talking about a seed investment (250K Euro), but still, I'm sure that Francesco & Co will go a long way with that.

That's a good testament of the impressive work that Francesco has been able to accomplish when still in bootstrapping. During its 3 months at the GYM, Spreaker built up a pretty solid reputation, coming up as one of the most interesting new kids in town.

Congrats kids, that's another important step forward.
I'm sure, we'll see you soon around here...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Interview to Francesco Baschieri

Today we want to introduce our special friend,Francesco Baschieri. He is the founder of Spreaker, the first start up that has joined the Mind The Bridge GYM this summer in San Francisco.
Francesco is a serial entrepreneur, passionate about new technologies and business models and always interested in the next innovation that will change the world.
Spreaker, his last adventure, is a true Web Radio 2.0 where every show is created by the audience itself. Spreaker has shifted the paradigm from creating a complete radio stream to producing a single show. Radio stations are then created by assembling single pieces (one after another) into a continuous stream of audio.
“Creating a show is easy and does not require any technical expertise: all the necessary tools that users might need are available online at The DeeJay Console TM allows users to mix live audio input from their microphone with music tracks and sound effects which are available online as part of a large user-friendly library.

The entire service is free of charge for the user: it is Spreaker that manages the whole infrastructure and pay for music royalties.”

At the well-known Pier 38 Francesco has spent 3 months trying to bring his start up to an international dimension: he has participated to numerous events, business meetings and social happenings and was actively participating to the entrepreneurial life of the city. For this reason we thought to realize the following interview in which he presents his company and tell us his experience in the Silicon Valley.

For those that might join our crew in the future, take into consideration all his suggestions.
Ciao Francesco, It was a pleasure to work with you!

Monday, October 4, 2010

It was a great Boot Camp!

In Varese we welcomed the 32 startups selected from our 2010 MTB Business Plan Competition. We opened them the doors to our Boot Camp, a 3-day training and coaching program, aimed at helping startups to clarify, create, and communicate their entrepreneurial vision into a viable business plan worthy of financial support. During the workshop, we continued our selection process, extracting the short list of 15 semi-finalists that will present @ Corriere della Sera in Milan on November 5th-6th.

The Boot Camp kicked off with a workshop and public forum designed to address the challenges and opportunities of Italian entrepreneurship. It was hosted at the Faculty of Science. During the Open Workshop Alberto Onetti presented some data about Italian startups and highlighted the main issues entrepreneurs face in Italy while starting up a company (here is the link for the slides). Charles Versaggi, the Boot Camp Program Director, explained how to tell your business story. At the end of the workshop Elizabeth Robinson (Co-founder, NicOX), Marco Asquini (Co-owner, General Manager, SUPER/FLUO) and Maurizio Liverani (Baryon Capital) told their own entrepreneurial story. Francesco Baschieri provided some feedbacks from his recent stay at the MtB Gym in San Francisco. You can access the videos from our MindtheBridgeTv channel on You Tube.

The remaining part of theBoot Camp was held in the gorgeous venue of Villa ToepliTz. The Program was run by top notch instructors and included the following topics:

- The Story: Articulating the Value Proposition (by C. Versaggi)
- Business models and strategy — understanding the value chain (by A. Onetti)
- Project, product or company? How to assess and qualify technologies as a basis for starting a company (by A. Onetti)
- Legal considerations in forming a company (by T. Cherubino)
- Financing: the capitalization process and financing strategies (by C. Maifredi)
- The capital raising process - Pre-money/post-money valuation, the term sheet (by M. Liveerani and A. Onetti)
- Anatomy of a Business Plan (by C. Versaggi and A. Onetti)

It was a great Boot Camp as you can perceive from the comments some participants posted on our Facebook Wall. You can feel the energy and passion we experienced during the 3 days we spent with the startups in Varese.

"Hello guys, I'm really happy to attended the Bootcamp, one of my best experiences. I met very smart people, from whom I learned a lot"
"Great BootCamp! All tutors where really top level. Charles was en-lighting. MtB organizers and Onetti have done a terrific job! Thanks all for the great experience and good luck to all partecipants"
"Thanks all for amazing experience. Thanks to MTB team and to Charles, that he sent us the right enthusiasm to take forward our plans well...See you all in Pavia soon"
"Thanks to all of you Folks! Continue in this direction with enthusiasm, passion and a vision to realize your business dreams!"

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Introducing the Italian MtB Team

Together with our activities, the MtB Italian team is growing quickly, with the arrival of 2 new MTB members, Federica and Simona, and the external support of 3 members from the CrESIT reseach centre (Alessia, Marco and Manuela).
Some of you met them in Varese @ the MtB Boot Camp (the pic on the left was taken right there, at Villa ToepliTz). It is now time to introduce them, one by one.

Federica Pepponi has a bachelor’s degree in Economics and Finance from Bocconi University. During this summer, Federica was able to manage the hundreds of business plans and ideas we received and coordinated with the Selection Committee members. "Most of the startups submitted the very last day ... July 31st was quite a day (and night), I needed 3 days to recover".

Simona Bielli graduated in Economic and Management from Insubria University. She spent the summer (without enjoing a single day of sun, but meeting "genial minds and delicious people") in San Francisco and now she's back in Italy as part of our team. She coordinated all the logistics of the Boot Camp, chasing the partecipants one-by-one.

For the main events the MtB team is supported and integrated by 3 members of the CrESIT Research Centre (University of Insubria).

Alessia Pisoni holds a Ph.D. from the University of Insubria in Economics of Production and Developmenic and coordinates the CrESIT Research Unit.

Marco Talaia is member of the CrESIT Research Centre and Ph.D. candidate at University of Pavia. He has been Visitin Scholar at San Francisco State University in 2007.

Manuela Menegotto is member of CrESIT Research Group, where she manages activities in the areas of innovation and international business.

All of them are young people. They bring a fresh breath of enthusiasm and passion, and, most importantly, they share our vision: to promote a new Italian entrepreneurial ecosystem that is ethical, highly professional, internationally focused and excellence driven
Thank you guys for the good work you did and will do!

Living the MtB Social Community

[Published by Leonardo Ratti, MTB Community Manager]

There is something new going on in these last few months within the Mind The Bridge world, beside the terrific success of our summer special events in Torino and Cagliari and the MtB Boot Camp just terminated in Varese.
An entire new wave of friends, fans, followers or people simply interested in the subject are joining our online community bringing enthusiasm and passion but also precious comments and feedback on our activities and future events.

Born with the MtB blog on our website and the Silicon Valley blog , the MtB Social Community has been experiencing in the last two years a tremendous increase in terms of followers and tools used with the introduction of the MtB Facebook page, the MtB LinkedIn group, the Mind The Bridge Tv Channel on Youtube and the Twitter profile.
But there's something more than a simple increase of attention on our social media profiles.
The Foundation has a strong awareness that building a social community is crucial from different perspectives.
On the one hand, being involved in these channels means being part of the social network, the space where, for the most part, our start-ups are promoting their projects.
On the other hand, this allows us to collect "the buzz" on entrepreneurship, new ventures and innovation in Italy and to take advantage of these inputs to leverage our strategy and better help all the stakeholders involved in the process of innovate the Italian eco-system.

We have a dedicated team within the Foundation that will be in charge of exploiting each communication channel in the most effective way. Obviously the most important resource to reach this goal is the contribution from our start-ups, Alumni, followers and friends. In one word YOU!
This movement will really spearhead the backbone of the MtB community. Let's get started! Take a look at the videos just uploaded on our MindTheBridge TV on the latest BootCamp and start posting your comments and feedback.
We expect to have special promotions, prices, etc. for our active online community members.

See you on-line!

Leonardo Ratti, MtB Community Manager.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lost in translation

Charles Versaggi is an interesting man. He's charming, he knows a thing or two about communications and he has a good sense of humor. That whole mix made him the perfect director for our first bootcamp.

And so it was, as I'm learning from the participants feedback. Alas, I couldn't make it to Varese. However, he shared a note with me today that gave me the whole picture of what I missed.

This goes under the category of Italians meet Americans, and vice-versa.
I thought I'd share it with you all.
Here it comes:

"Marco, I thought I'd share a couple of funny moments from the bootcamp.

One of the business plan presentations concerned a web-based business to help people with common sports interests find each other online.

The first slide of his B-plan presentation: "Stop Playing With Yourself!"

The class roared. The class roared again after I said, "Well, there's really no reason why you shouldn't play with yourself. But that's really your business."

It's amazing what a well placed preposition can do for communication.

Another one that got a few laughs. One of the life science participants presented his business plan for a new type of implantable bladder sphincter. His first slide showed a picture of the male anatomy with the sphincter apparatus placed strategically around a massive disproportionately large penis that hung down to the bottom of the slide. The apparatus looked more like a device to treat erectile dysfunction. I swear he got this image from a porn site (now, of course, you're wondering how I knew that...).

There were a few blushed faces on the women in the classroom, although they didn't seem too shocked. You got to love Europeans when it comes to celebrating the human anatomy."

Right Charles, you gotta love "Europeans"...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Startups admitted to 2010 MTB Venture Camp

After collecting the feedback from all the Instructors @ MtB Boot Camp in Varese, our selection committee has finally completed its effort. Below you can find the list of the 15 startups admitted to pitch at the Venture Camp event in November (Milan @ Corriere della Sera). The final ranking merges the original evaluation from the desk analysis and the qualitative analisys we performed during the 3-day Boot Camp.

Congratulation to the winners but also to those that did not make it: tune your business plan and do not give up! That's why we decided to open the Coaching session in Pavia also to the remaining 17 startups. We are confident that they can be the next protagonists!


Stay connected for more details and ... see you in October in Pavia and in November in Milan!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Genefinity: the value of academic research

Today we are proud to introduce our new friend, Stefano Maggiolino, that has recently joined us at Pier 38. Stefano is the co-funder of Genefinity, a spin-off from the University of Trieste. The idea of Genefinity was born in 2005 with the intention of valuing the research developed within the University Labs and using that for business purposes. At that time, the team was composed by Nicola Scuor, Francesca Antoniolli, Stefano Visintin, Vanni Lughi, Luigi Marras, Paolo Gallina and of course Stefano Maggiolino. It was only in 2006, after having won numerous prizes (Start cup, PNI, European Young Entrepreuneurs Adward), that Genefinity was incorporated and became a separate entity. Among the shareholders that joint their vision there were the University of Trieste, DGR consulting and the Local Holding Company, Friulia Spa.
Genefinity has developed an innovative and cost efficient process named GHOST (Genefinity Hi-resolution One Step Transfer) that consists in the deposit of thin films within specific patterns on flexible superficies.
The GHOST process can be applied to the manufacture of numerous products like diagnostic test strips, printed electronics devices (smart card, RFID antennas) and other industrial tools (temperature and pressure sensors).

The target market is mainly composed by companies that are headquartered in Silicon Valley and California, that’s why Stefano Maggiolino came to San Francisco: “we want to meet them, learn from their experience and eventually find out if we can make synergies with them. Here in the Bay Area we have a plethora of potential customers: Abbott Diabetes Care is based in Alameda; LifeScan, owned by J&J Group, is based in Milpitas; Intuity Medical is based in Sunnyvale; other diabetes care leaders are headquartered in US or have North America headquarters: Roche, Bayer, Niprodiagnostic, Nova Biomedical. I can continue the list with numerous potential commercial partners (Parlex, Flextronics, …).”
Stefano looks really committed on his project and want to fully invest his time in the Gym. “My agenda is crowded. Our intention is also to raise capital for investment purposes. We intend to expand our business to the US, but, to do this, we need to build a plant that serves the local market and use the GHOST technology.

Genefinity is an example of how to profit from the research and use it as a competitive advantage. Being a P.h.D graduated student doesn’t necessarily means to spend the entire life in a dark and isolated lab. “We have many ideas: the MAXUN project (an innovative photovoltaic panel), for example, is one of them and we hope that in the next future these ideas will turn in a company like Genefinity", a brave start up that employs 12 brilliant recently graduated engineers.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Selection is completed. And the winners are ...

After spending a full month working on it, our Selection Committee coordinated by Fabrizio Capobianco has finally completed its job. Selecting the best business plans has been quite a challenge, because the number and quality of the proposals we received.
In our selection process we focused on quality, with a particular attention on diversity, including subject matter, geography and gender. We decided to merge the Business Plan Competion and Call for Ideas into a single ranking.
Below, you find the list of the startups admitted to the Mind the Bridge BootCamp (in Varese, from September 23rd through September 25th). It is a 30+ list. During the Bootcamp we will extract the short list of the 15 semi-finalists presenting @ Corriere della Sera in Milan in November.
Congratulations to the selected startups and also to those that did not make it: tune your business plan and do not give up!


The selected startups are admitted - free of charge - to our Bootcamp (that will be held in Varese on Sep 23-25) and to the Coaching session (that is scheduled in Pavia on Oct 14-16). During these two events we provide the startups with tailored training and mentoring and select the 15 semi-finalists to be admitted to pitch at the Venture Camp in November (on Nov 5-6 @ Corriere della Sera in Milan).
More information by email and on our website. See you in Varese!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Introducing HyperFair: Trade fairs get virtual

Even if many of you have already heard about them, today we would like to officially introduce HyperFair, the new stat up that is taking part to the 2010 Gym Program at Pier 38.
HyperFair, thanks to a proprietary web-based 3D platform, revolutionizes the way of making trade fairs, organizing and managing turnkey virtual exhibitions on the web. HyperFair reproduces the trade fair environment just as we all know it: pavilions, booths, workshops and conferences. Inside the virtual fair real people in real time are moving around, interacting through their avatar and communicating via chat and video call. Exhibitors can choose their stand and customize it adding 3D products, brochures, video and any interactive content. Visitors can exchange information, view the products and download documents from the comfort and convenience of their home or office.
HyperFair ( was founded in December 2009 by Marco Campanari (CEO) and Massimiliano Bonfanti (executive VP). The Company holds a qualified technological partnership with the Politecnico of Milan University, and is being hosted by the University incubator managed by the "Politecnico of Milan” Foundation. The operations in the U.S. are carried out by Andrea Ballarini (COO) who is also leading the strategies of the Company.
HyperFair has completed the development of the technology and in November will show up to the market during the Virtual Transpotec. Next appointment will be in December during the Hip Expo, the first online fair dedicated to halal food products. (
We asked Marco how the project started and which are their plans for the future. That’s what he answered: “We officially started up HyperFair in Italy on December 2009, but we have been working on it since the beginning of 2009. Massimiliano and I were looking for a new technology that could significantly impact the business community and we came up with this ground-breaking idea by developing our own innovative technology. We thought to a virtual world focused on business applications where people could interact and do business together as well as socialize and improve their network; everything without moving from the office.
Our product was meant to be at the same time fully 3D-immersive, strongly multimedia oriented, and cool. We first made a technical JV with the Politecnico di Milano-Metid Center and after we entered into Politecnico incubator. The reason why we are at Pier38 with Mind The Bridge is that we want to think global: we'll soon relocate HyperFair headquarters in San Francisco, keeping the technical development in Italy. Our mission? To grow as much as possible, as quickly as possible. To this extent, no other place in the world is better than the Silicon Valley.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Italian Parliament member visiting the GYM

August 26th has been a crowded day here at Pier 38. We had numerous guests intrigued to visit our new location in San Francisco. At 3.00 pm we received a special visit from honorable Alessia Mosca, member of the Italian Parliament along with the Italian Consul in San Francisco, Fabrizio Marcelli.
Alessia Mosca (, is the current secretary at the Labor commission of the Italian Parliament. She has been the protagonist of numerous petitions for women’ equal opportunities and has a special interest for the dynamics that affect the Italian entrepreneurial ecosystem. Alessia was supposed to be in San Francisco on vacation but she carved some time to meet the MtB factory.

“This place is marvelous”, she said once entered our old-navy-style open space, perfectly fitting the in her jeans and T-shirt. After a short tour of the premises, meeting the start ups and incubators that are based in the Pier, we moved to our favorite meeting room (also used for after-hour video games competitions).
Here we met Marco Campanari, CEO and founder of Hyperfair, and Andrea Ballarini, (COO) responsible for leading the strategies and setting up the company operations in the U.S. Hyperfair is the typical example of an Italian Company managed by talented professionals that intend to take all the chances offered by the market at a global level. Marco gave us a brief introduction about the story of the company and the plans for the future, while Andrea showed us a demo on how they organizes and manages virtual trade fairs on the web. “HyperFair reproduces the trade fair environment just as we all know it: pavilions, booths, workshops and conferences. Inside the virtual fair people are moving around and interact through their avatar (virtual alter-ego), communicating in real time via chat and videocall”.
Coming back to reality we discussed about the major drivers of the innovation process and the problems that a young Company have to face in the actual Italian contest. Alessia was particularly interested in the subject as she is working on future reforms that the Italian Parliament should introduce in Italy to promote the Venture Capital industry. It was 5.30 when Alessia left us to spend the rest of the day in a sunny San Francisco.
We thank our guests for the visit and we hope that our experience in Silicon Valley will contribute to produce significant changes in the Italian entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Silicon Valley Study Tour visits Mind the Bridge at Pier 38.

Yesterday a group of about 20 leading students from Italy visited Mind the Bridge office at Pier 38, San Francisco. They are participating to the 6th edition of the Silicon Valley Study Tour, one of the first initiatives aimed at introducing young graduates from Italy to the Silicon Valley, creating useful links with Italian "insiders" working here and giving awareness of the opportunities in the Bay Area.

After meeting Elance and the theme-park-looking headquarters of Yahoo and Facebook, it's time for them to enter Pier 38, the funky place in which more and more fledgling Web 2.0 startups are renting desks to stay plugged into the ecosystem.

It's 6 P.M. and a chaotic and crowded meeting of "Hackers & Founders" has just started in the open space where MtB works. The first impact of the group is a bit unexpected:
"How can people work here with this noise?" asks Roberta Martelli, studying business at the University of Piemonte Orientale and one of the few girls in the group. A hundred geeks and want-to-be entrepreneurs are in fact having a beer and some pretzels and talking about shiny technologies, new projects, sharing ideas and looking for co-founders. Even if during the day people work hard and are mainly silent, it's routine to have some social events in the evening. Everyone enjoys the atmosphere and starts to meet other interesting people, so that it becomes nearly difficult to start presenting our activity.

"Environment and people are so smart here that you immediately would like to join them and create a startup!" says Enrico Cinquini, a student of the University of Genova interested in criptography.
Nonetheless, the visit goes on and sitting on couches we listen to Marco Campanari, CEO and founder of Hyperfair, one of the 2 new startups that will take part in the MtB Gym program. The audience looks very interested: finally an Italian promise in the Silicon Valley!
After that, we invite our Spanish friend Pedro Moneo to present Opinno, an open innovation network of entrepreneurs and investors, working just beside us, in the same "Mediterranean branch" at Pier 38. People continue to interact, exchanging business cards and eating popcorns. We finally ask Roberto Fonti, a smart Italian guy who founded Buzzbox - a web startup developing Android ad iPhone applications to filter news - to tell his experience as Italian in the Silicon Valley.
Even if tired due to the intensity of the day, students are very glad to meet these people really living the American dream.
What if one day they become the next Zuckerberg...?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Introducing Marco & Danilo @ Team MTB

The desks at our new creative space on Pier 38 are getting filled up quickly.
Since the beginning of the summer, the Pier speaks more Italian with the arrival of 2 new MTB members, Danilo and Marco.
Here how they introduce themselves:

Danilo Cardascia is the founder of Human capital (, a Company based in Bari with the mission of promoting entrepreneurship and venture investing in the Apulia Region. Human Capital supports talented young entrepreneur by providing them with funds and other consulting services during the start up phase. In July Danilo moved to San Francisco to collaborates with MTB at Pier 38. After a couple of weeks spent dealing with the airline company that lost his bag, he is ready to discover the reasons that have made the Silicon Valley, the home to many of the world's largest technology companies.

Marco Rizzone is a PhD Student in Technology Management at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa, Italy ( His research is focused on Web X.0 Business Models and startup creation: nothing could be better than getting plugged into the Silicon Valley network! After investing 4 months in a venture capital fund to learn how the world of innovation financing runs, he decided to elaborate a plan to get in touch with a number of web entrepreneurs and collect data for his PhD thesis.
Collaborating with Mind The Bridge, he has the chance to act into the heart of the ecosystem.
At Pier 38 Marco can interact with incredible startups and creative minds: "it's very cool here - he says - I was studing the Hi5 business model and just two desks behind me I meet the founder, a serial entrepreneur who has now started Buzzbox... or you sit on the couch to post something in your Wordpress-made blog and the person in front of you is just writing... Wordpress code!" (Wordpress is also sharing space with us).
Despite his picture here, Marco seems to be enjoying his new life: social networking at day, social dancing at night!

You'll hear more from Marco, Danilo, our startups hosted at the GYM and their (ad)ventures in the next few days...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Business Plan Competition: Selection is ongoing

Deadline for Mind the Bridge Business Plan Competition is over.
This year we received hundreds of Business Plans & Call for Ideas. Really a lot, better than any other previous Mind the Bridge (which is definitively a great sign).
Now it's time for our Selection Committee to start its job (actually they already have). It is quite a challenge given the high number of submissions we received. But we are committed to complete the selection by the end of the first week of September. And we are not going to miss it.
Below you can find the list of the components of 2010 MTB Selection Committee, that is coordinate by our Fabrizio Capobianco, Funambol CEO: they are all top-notch Italian and international venture capitalists, business angels and professionals. Thank you to all them for their continuous help and support!
Their goal is to select the best 30 proposals. The selected top 30 entrepreneurs will be admitted free of charge to our Bootcamp (that will be held in Varese on Sep 23-25) and Coaching (that is scheduled in Pavia on Oct 14-16). During these two events we provide the startups with tailored training and mentoring and select the 15 semi-finalists who will be admitted to present at the Venture Camp in November (on Nov 5-6 @ Corriere della Sera in Milan).
If you are confident that you business plan is good enough, please save all these dates.
Stay tuned to check the list of admitted startups.

MTB Business Plan Competition
2010 Selection Committee

Fabrizio Capobianco, Funambol (coordinator)
Alessio Beverina, Sofinnova Partners
Claudio Giuliano, Innogest
Fausto Boni, 360 Capital Partner
Leonardo Camiciotti, Top-ix
Gianluca Dettori, Dpixel
Pietro Dova, XG Ventures
Lorenzo Franchini, IAG
Ruggero Frezza, M31
Maurizio Liverani, Classfinance
Massimiliano Magrini, Annapurna Ventures
Nicola Nicoletti, Pricewaterhouse Cooper
Stefano Peroncini, Quantica
Maurizio Petitbon, Kreos Capital
Mauro Pretolani, TLCOM
Nicola Redi, Fondamenta
Elisabeth Robinson - NicOx/Fulbright BEST
Carol Sand, The Angels' Forum, The Halo Funds
Giuseppe Serazzi, PNCube
Maria Silva, Genova High Tech
Pietro Strada, Centerboard Partners
Alberto Trombetta, Finlombarda
Davide Turco, Atlante Ventures, Intesa San Paolo
Luca Ungarelli, Golden Mouse
Charles Versaggi, Versaggi Biocommunications

Sunday, August 8, 2010

MTB Summer BBQ 2010 - Pics

It's that time of the year.
San Francisco is getting flooded by ords of turists, in particular Europeans. How can you tell? They are the ones in shorts and flip-flops (Italians have some fancy ones) freezing while walking the San Francisco Fisherman Warf, immersed in the cool thick fog (dudes, ever thought about checking TripAdvisor before leaving??)

And in this time of year around "ferragosto" the MTB BBQ for friends and families has become a tradition.

This year we moved South, to the warm Woodside, where, in fact, there is a summer.
A great gathering for the startups hosted at the MTB Gym, the full MTB team (including the freshly arrived reinforces), mentors, and MTB aficionados that included startups from the 2009 competition (Francesco Inguscio, VRMedia) and even a witness (and finalist) of the 2008 competition (Michele Aiello, Eris 4).
Drinks, burgers and an illegally imported Italian "coppa" made the rest.
From lunch to dinner, it was a real Italian "festa".

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The GYM @ Pier 38

Since the beginning of July, the MTB GYM has a new home: Pier 38, in San Francisco, right at the beginning of the Embarcadero promenade, past the Giant's AT&T Park.

The highly stimulating open space of Pier 38, hosts several incubators (the most famous are The Dogpatch and Opinno) for a total of ~ 60 startups. Among them, some famous success stories such as WordPress and a couple of others recently acquired by Google.

View Larger Map

Or the recently arrived GYM startups that have started populating Pier38.
Starting from Spreaker, Francesco Baschieri's creature, that is quickly gaining popularity in the Bay Area with its web radio broadcasting.
Pier38 is also home of Mashape, the web tool startup founded by Augusto Marietti, Marco Palladino and Michele Zonca and one of the TechCrunch's favorite.
Since the beginning of the month the Gym is also home for Danilo Cardascia and Marco Rizzone, our new entries in the MTB family. You'll hear about them soon...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

-10 days to MTB 2010 Competitions deadline

Dear friends,
this is a reminder that the deadline to submit proposals for the 2010/11 edition of the Mind The Bridge
- Business Plan Competition and
- Call for Ideas
is fast approaching: JULY 31 is the last days for submitting your executives summary!
This year competition is accompanied by a number of highly stimulating prizes, on top of the usual goodies (training, presenting at Venture Camp event @ Corriere della Sera, incubation in Silicon Valley).
We would appreciate if you can give visibility to this opportunity to your network through your highly effective communication tools.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Feedback from ESOF 2010 in Turin: video interviews

We were invited to present last week in Turin at ESOF 2010. We sit in a panel organized by JSTONE.
The goal was to discuss about new models of innovation and ways for effective networking knowledge, finance and entrepreneurship.
Among the speakers: Alberto Onetti (Chairman, Mind the Bridge Foundation , US), Ilana Gross (Program Director Matimop, Israeli Industry Center for R&D , Israel), Reshma Sohoni (CEO, seedcamp, United Kingdom) and Gianluca Dettori (Chair, Dpixel , Italy).
In this video (kindly provided by Top-ix) you can get some insights from the speakers. Enjoy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mind the Bridge Business Plan Competition 2010: deadline is approaching!

July 31st, 12am CET: this is the final deadline for submitting your Executive Summary and Business Plan and try to start your own way to Silicon Valley.
We have a lot of news this year.
Firstly, we have Prizes for the best startups. Not money, but grants to cover the costs the startups have during their period of stay at our Gym in Silicon Valley. Stay tuned for more details. Meanwhile don't miss the deadline for submitting your idea. Late comers are not adimitted.
Secondly, besides our mainstream Business Plan Competition (BPC), we have launched a new program, named Call for Ideas (C4I), dedicated to proto-enterpreneurs with an idea at the very early stage. Check the website to understand which competion does fit best with your idea.
Don't miss the opportunity! Less than 20 days to the final deadline...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cagliari: here we come. This Friday Special Event of the MtB Italy Tour

This week, on Friday (June 25th) we are in Cagliari, with the second of the Special Events of our Mind the Bridge Italy Tour. The venue is the Auditorium of Sardegna Ricerche in Pula (Edificio 2, Località Piscinamanna).

It is a full day program. Startup School in the morning (with Alberto Onetti and Marco Marinucci on the stage) and a session of our MtB Gym in the afternoon. In the evening we organize - with the support of our local sponsor Hosteras - a cocktail event at Villa del Borgo Relais in Santa Margherita di Pula: a dreamplace where to relax and networking. Please remember to reserve your ticket: it is free, but admissions are limited. Here is the link for RSVP (remember you have to register twice, both for the day program and evening event).

As you know, in the afternoon we are going to replicate here in Italy our Gym, i.e. the mentorship activity we regularly do in Silicon Valley with our startpus admitted to the program: companies presenting their business plans in front of a panel of venture capitalists and seasoned entreprenuers. Open discussion, comments, honest feedbacks. Ultimate goal is fine tuning the business idea (what and where it works, where and what doesn't) and making the value proposition more effective.
We got a terific feedback from Sardinia: we received over 20 applications for the Gym session in Cagliari!
Our Selection Committee worked all over the weekend for deciding the short-list of startups admitted to the Gymnasium in Cagliari. Not an easy task since we received a lot of plans, all of them quite interesting.
Anyway here are (in alphabetical order) the startups we selected for the Gym next Friday:

As we always point out, not being in the list above does not mean that there is no potential in your plan. Thus we are looking forward to meeting all the startups (not only the selected ones) in Pula, where to share insights and provide some feedback.
We strongly suggest to take part to the whole event with your entire management team (please register with all the members if you haven't yet done).
Startups admitted to the Gym session have 10 minutes for presenting their idea (we will send you a template for helping you in structuring the presentation). Presentation will be followed by 20/25 minute time of Q&A.
The key word of the Gym is open discussion and honest feedback. Then partecipating to the Gym session is a MUST for all the startups, not only for the ones we selected to present. Everybody can largely benefit from the discussion of all the business ideas as well as the education program in the morning.
See you in Pula!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Here are the startups selected for the Gym in Turin

This Thursday (June 10th) our Mind the Bridge Italy Tour stops in Turin, with the first of our Special Events.
It is a full day program. Startup School in the morning, a session of our MtB Gym in the afternoon.
In the afternoon we are going to reproduce here in Italy what we regularly do in Silicon Valley with the startpus admitted to our mentorship program: startups presenting their business plans in front of a panel of venture capitalists and seasoned entreprenuers. Open discussion, comments, honest feedbacks. Ultimate goal is fine tuning the business idea (what and where it works, where and what doesn't) and improving the presentation.
For the event in Turin we have received a lot of applications and we are really excited about this.
Here are the 5 startups our selection committee admitted to the Gym session in Turin:
- Intervieweb
- Makoo
- Visual Sport
- We-Sport
All the other plans we received do still sound interesting. Time contraints forced us to pick-up only 5 startups. Not being in the list above does not mean that there is no potential in your plan. Then we are looking forward to meeting all the startups (not only the selected ones) in Turin, where to share insights and provide some feedback.

We strongly suggest to take part to the whole event with your entire management team (please register if you haven't yet done).
Startups admitted to the Gym session have 10 minutes for presenting their idea (we will send you a template for structuring your presentation). Presentation will be followed by 20/25 minute time of Q&A.
The key word of the Gym is open discussion. Then partecipating to the Gym session is a must for all the startups, not only for the ones we selected to present. Everybody can largely benefit from the discussion of all the business ideas as well as the education program in the morning.
See you there and stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MTB Italy Tour: Special Events in Torino and Cagliari

We have two special dates this month: on Jun 10th we are in Torino (@I3P - Incubatore Imprese Innovative Politecnico Torino) and, on Jun 25th, in Cagliari (@Sardegna Ricerche, Pula). They are special dates of our MTB Italy Tour 2010: two full-day events that offer terrific opportunities of learning and networking.
Check our website for information about the format of these special events and details about the program. Partecipation is free, pre-reservation is required

Why these special events? We receive every day a lot of requests about how to prepare a business plan, how to talk with a venture capital, and so on. Many of you ask feedback about his/her business idea. The MTB Italy Tour is going to provide some concrete answers to these requests.
The morning session (MtB Start-up School) is aimed at providing education re: entrepreneurship, business planning, venture capital market and Silicon Valley eco-system. Business school style, with a pragmatic approach (we give you the "nuts and bolts"). The modules are provided by Alberto Onetti, Chairman of MTB Foundation, and other top notch experts.
In the afternoon we replicate a session of our MtB Gym, the mentorship program we run in Silicon Valley. A panel of investors and entrepreneurs provide comments and feedbacks to selected start-ups that present their ideas. If you want to be considered for the MTB Gym, please send your executive summary to the following email address: (for Torino) and (for Cagliari).
And, during lunch time and in the evening, plenty of time for Networking.
Don't miss the opportunity. We are looking for seeing you in Torino and/or Cagliari. Check the website for details and reserve your seat.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

2010 Business Plan Competition: the race is open!

Since the beginning of this week, the Mind the Bridge 2010/11 cycle is up and running.
The deadline to submit your business plan is July 31st.

You know the rules of our Business Plan Competition (BPC). We are looking for highly innovative startups, focused on a global market, with high growth potential.
A dozen of the semifinalists will be invited to present during the Venture Camp event on November 5-6th @ Corriere della Sera in Milan. The selected projects will go through several months of mentoring, including a two days Bootcamp (on September 24-25th in Varese) and Coaching (on October 15-16th in Pavia)
Some of the selected projects will be offered to join the MtB Gym, where our proto-entrepreneurs will be able to build their muscles in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
The business plans have to be submitted through our website where you can find the required formats to be used for the application

Starting this year, also thanks to the support of Cariplo Foundation, we launched a new initiative, "Call for Ideas" (CfI), targeted for students, researchers, scientists, Ph.Ds, who have a brilliant business idea, but not yet a structured and articulate business plan. The finalists of this competition will have the chance to present their ideas at Venture Camp 2010. The format for drafting your executive summary is available on the website.
If you have a business idea, even if at the early stage and not yet fully finalized, the MtB Call for Ideas is the competition designed for you. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Monday, May 17, 2010

MtB Italy Tour: this week we are in Milan and Bergamo

This week you can meet Mind the Bridge in Milan and Bergamo.
Tomorrow (May 18th), starting at 6:30pm we are at Università Cattolica. The venue is Aula Luzzati (Largo Gemelli 1).
On Wednesday (May 19th) our Italy Tour stops in Bergamo: we are hosted by the local university. The presentation starts at 10:30am (viale Marconi 5, Dalmine). Meet you there.
Menawhile, if you live in Turin, save the date: we will be there on Jun 10th, for a full day event. Stay tuned for more details.

Monday, May 3, 2010

MtB Italy Tour: next week (May 11th) in Novara

On May 11th, MtB Italy Tour lands in Piedmont, in Novara.
The event is organized jointly with Università del Piemonte Orientale and Incubatore d'Impresa del Polo di Innovazione di Novara.
The venue is the Faculty of Economics (Aula 204, Via Perrone 18, Novara). The event starts at 4pm.
We are looking forward to meeting students, Ph.Ds., reseachers and everyone is interested in understanding how to start-up a new business. See you in Novara!
Yesterday (May 3rd) over 150 students crowded Aula Manzoni (one of the most famous university places thanks to a well-known commercial)at Politecnico in Milan. 10 students stopped us at the door right after the conference for presenting their own ideas. This is the feedback we are looking for. Guys, we wait for you submitting your plans to our Business Plan Competion or Call for Ideas.
A special thank you to Professor Moramarco for the hospitality and for supporting us throghout the presentation.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Post Gran Finale: startup interviews and pics

New York:

From Sausalito, with San Francisco in the background:

Friday, April 9, 2010

MtB Italy Tour: the agenda for the incoming week

Quite intense program for the incoming week.
On Wednesday 13th, 3 presentations are scheduled at Politecnico of Milan, while on Thursday 14th we are at Parco Tecnologico Padano, the agri-food cluster that is located south-east of Milan.
See below for the details.

April 13, 10:15am
Politecnico di Milano
Corso di Impianti Informatici, Prof. Giuseppe Serazzi
Aula EG2, Milano Città Studi,
Via Golgi 39

April 13, 10:15am
Politecnico di Milano
Corso di Sistemi di Elaborazione dell’Informazione, Prof. Paolo Cremonesi
Aula EG3, Milano Città Studi,
Via Golgi 39

April 13, 4:00pm
Politecnico di Milano
Corso di Energie Rinnovabili, Prof. Paolo Silva
Aula CT 38, Milano Bovisa,
Via Lambruschini 4

April 14, 2:30pm
Parco Tecnologico Padano
Sala Convegni, Lodi,
Via Einstein-Loc. Cascina Codazza

Friday, April 2, 2010

MtB Italy Tour: next week dates

The week after Easter we have three additional presentations, all scheduled on Wednesday (Apr 7th). The venue is the Politecnico of Milan, where we will be hosted by Prof. Frattini (Corso di Impianti Industriali, starting at 9:45am, Aula BL 27.0.8, Via Lambruschini 4),Prof. Mainetti (Corso di Tecnologie Applicazioni e Servizi Internet, at 3.15pm, Aula BL 27.1.4, Via Lambruschini 4)and Prof. Colombo (Corso di High Tech Entrepreneurship, at 3.30pm). Thank to all of them for welcoming us (and obviously to our speakers, Giuseppe De Giorgi and Tommaso Minola).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Where you can meet MtB this week

MtB Italy Tour is on the road also this week. 3 presentations are scheduled in Milan. See below for the details

Tuesday, March 30th, 10am
Politecnico di Milano
Ingegneria Energetica
Corso di Impianti industriali (Prof. Chiaroni)

Tuesday, March 30th, 2:30pm
Politecnico di Milano
Ingegneria Gestionale - Corso di Finanza immobiliare (Prof. Colarossi)

Wedesday, March 31st, 4:30pm
Università degli Studi di Milano
Corso di Economia e gestione dell'innovazione (Prof. Ganzaroli)