It all started as the natural extension of what Fabrizio Capobianco was pitching a couple of years ago: let's create the conditions to accelerate the development of hundreds of Funambol...and learn from experience!
A dedicated 1:1 mentor, a set of training modules that help the entrepreneur go straight to core of the practical issues he is facing every day. Particularly in a competitive environment as the Silicon Valley, timing is at the essence.
People don't have time to fool around: more often than not, you have one chance to impress your potential investor, one chance to set up your company with the right legal framework, one chance to mess around with your Visas to come and work in the US.
From every misstep you make, you can be 100% sure that some other similar startup in Silicon Valley has gained more momentum than you.
This is the idea behind the Gymnasium: do not waste energy, focus on what really matters develop the right product!
Take advantage of the knowledge that a network of mentors can provide you (they did learn from the same mistakes!), and use a friendly environment to build your (business) muscles.
You present the key component of your project regularly to a changing group of "experts", that is, people with relevant experience in your area that is willing to give you some constructive feedback.
Hey, better being "killed by friends" multiple times if that means being able to survive in the real world!
That's what the GYM is all about.
We tested it in a condensed version with some of the finalists of the 2008 and 2009 business plan competitions. Passpack had Fabrizio Capobianco as a mentor, Prossima Isola had Matteo Fabiano, and so forth.
Condensed (just a few weeks), but yet impactful (according to the startups!).
We decided to open the incubator to "affiliates" that could sponsor a few months of a limited number of startups. Since 2010 we hosted 4 startups (all from the Politecnico Milano).
The results in their 3 month incubation are remarkable:
- Neptuny: acquired by EMC (large US based corporation)
- Spreaker: additional round of funding
- Genefinity: hired their mentor as their US CEO
- Hyperfair: still incubated, significant commercial breakthroughs
Experiment successful, no doubts. In fact in the last year we have experienced a flourish of this very similar models across the US (500 startups program is the last one the bunch...)
What's the news today? We decided to open the doors to a more significant flow of companies to our space in the one-of-the-kind creative space @ Pier 38, in the (startup) heart of San Francisco.
All you have to do to participate is to sign up here.
We start a new cycle every 3 months (4 intakes per year).
We have a group of 10 startups that will be there until the end of March.
We still have some availability for the sessions of April-June and July-September.
And we'll also have some interesting plans in mind for the second semester...
Once more... stay tuned!