Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, the IID SMEs

Italian pearls, today @ Stanford

The countdown is officially on.
Within the 12 startups that have been preparing this moment for the last month at the MTB GYM and the 9 SMEs that flew from a far-away land, the excitement is palpable.
And we, the organizers, have a night-before-the-exams kind of feeling.
Let's be honest. Putting together such a production, between startups, medium companies, partners and media has not been a walk in the park. Starting from the effort of aligning different organizations, with very different DNAs, but yet, moved by very similar drivers, we wanted to communicate our strong belief that we, together, can make a difference.
And yet, this is a result of a gut feeling. And a pretty strong one.
That we, Italians, have still an opportunity to shine as innovators, even in the land of innovation by definition: the Silicon Valley.
And tomorrow we'll have our opportunity to prove it, providing data (a white paper) and "the beef" (the innovators).
We'll have a pretty full agenda full of stimulating content.
Have a look/download the full brochure here.
I just can't wait...
So people. Let's get this party started!!

IID goes virtual (with Hyperfair)

[guest post by Andrea Ballarini, Hyperfair COO]

Don’t miss the opportunity to attend the Italian Innovation Day from the convenience of your home of office: the Italian Innovation Day goes virtual!

One week after the physical event, on April 7th, 2011 from 8am-11am PDT (17:00-21:00 GMT+1) you will be able to live the event again. Go to
sign up and start enjoying a fully immersive 3D experience. After styling your avatar you will be able to walk in a 3D world and get to know more about the companies by visiting their booths and interacting with their representatives through audio and video chat. You will also get the chance to watch the full recording of the conference by going to the virtual auditorium.

Be innovative yourself and attend the Virtual Italian Innovation Day!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fourth week at Mind the Bridge Gym - Highligths

Ladies and gentlemen, our ten startups are almost at the end of their adventure with the Mind the Bridge Gym. However, they have no time to think about that, they are using every single second of their day to take advantage of their experience here!

This week we run several seminars as part of the Gym Edu program. The following are the most notable:

IP Rights: Vijay Toke, expert in IP rights, talked about patents, trademarks and copyrights - According to its technology a startup needs one more than another, but when a company grows up likely a combination of the three will be necessary to fully protect your intellectual property rights.

Innovation and Human Resouces: Vittorio Viarengo shared with us his meaningful experience with his startup focusing on team building. People is one of the most important ingredient for a startup. Always hire people that are smarter than you are - Class A person hires class A people, class B person hires class C people. Also, are you an entrepreneur-like guy or more a big company-like guy? Consider the 5 Fs principle. In a big company you have more time for Family and more Force; working in a startup is Fun, and has, as potential, Fortune and Fame. Which set of Fs fits you better?

The art of Networking: Evan Nisselson talked about the power of networking. One of the most important asset an entrepreneur might have or build is his/her contacts portfolio, especially in Silicon Valley. Be very smart in using it in a proper manner.

A first great result from one of our startups! Giovanni Venturini, CEO of Agroils, after few days here signed a partnership with Roberto Crea, PhD to start a new company Biosolids Technologies. This is the startup he's going to present at the Italian Innovation Day.

On Friday we had the last session of Gym Fridays' presentations. All three sessions were a big success, with an increasing number of people coming to assist to the presentations providing very useful feedback. This Friday we had some Gym Mentors and people from Microsoft and Guidewire group.

A few but intense days left with the 10 startups getting ready for the Gran Finale at the Italian Innovation Day at Stanford. We look forward to seeing their presentation after a month training at the Gym. Good luck guys!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Third week at Mind the Bridge Gym - Highlights

The third week at Mind the Bridge Gym has been a very intense week for all the MTBers!

Events in Palo Alto and Sunnyvale, meetings in Redwood City, Mountain View and Stanford...our startups are getting the chance to know the Silicon Valley and its vibrant network pretty well!

While working hard to get their pitch ready for the Gran Finale at the Italian Innovation Day at Stanford, this week our 10 startups were invited to participate to a few pitching events in the area and they participated to two seminars within Mind the Bridge Gym Edu program.
VISA issues: On Wednesday 16th, Jim Mayok, expert in immigration Visas, talked about the different typologies of Visas. Having a good law consultant facilitates the possibility to get a Visa tailored to the business you have rather than tailoring your business according to the Visa you can get. Getting a Visa requires a startegy that needs to be taken into account in your business plan if you are planning to move in the US.

Accounting system in the US: Elizabeth Shwiff, talked about some differences between the accounting system in Italy and in the US and she stressed the importance of relying on experts especially if you don't know pretty well the system yet.

VC Task Force: On Thursday 17th Minteos, and Skipso presented their startups at VC Task Force. Marco Brini won the top score with Minteos while and Skipso arrived in the first 5 positions among 11 startups. Good job guys!

Happy birthday Italy: Although in San Francisco, our startups didn't want to miss Italy's 150th anniversary celebration. What else better than a Italian flag - colored pasta? Milan, Turin, Sicily, Bologna, Florence, Brindisi.. no matter what city are you from, nobody can disagre with pasta!

Pitch @ Plug and Play: On Friday 18th, eRalos3, Glossom, Minteos, Mopapp and were invited to present their ideas at Plug and Play in Sunnyvale.

Mind the Beer with Technogym: This week ended with a fantastic Mind the Beer event with Nerio Alessandri, founder and president of Technogym. He shared with us the inspiring story of his company, a story of passion, persistance, and hard work - three the key words that guided him in these years: passion, innovation and execution.
A great and inspiring example of a successful company based in Italy but internationally known, exporting its product everywhere.
Each entrepreneur and his/her own startup have particular conditions that may make more or less difficult or opportune to base or scale the startup in Italy, but examples like that gives some good hopes.

The debate is open..

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Italian Innovation Day, March 31 - Stanford

In the day of its 150th anniversary, our Bel Paese finds itself facing some serious troubling times. Probably the most challenging since several generations.
To be able to see the light at the end of this long tunnel, Italy needs to focus firmly on nurturing its best talent, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.
In one word, it should move Innovation at the top of its priorities.
Nurturing innovation domestically and packaging better its existing excellence to the eyes of rest of the world are the 2 main pillars around which we built the Italian Innovation Day concept.

It's the natural evolution of the "showcases of the best Italian innovation" (focused on our startup business plan competition) that we've been organizing for the last 3 years.

To be able to make a substantial imprint both internally and in international markets, we ought to widen the scope, including young companies as well as the most innovative small and medium companies that are notoriously the backbone of the Italian economy.

This is a very ambitious project that requires the support of multiple operators.
As such, the Italian Innovation Day was born as a joint effort between the Mind the Bridge foundation, Intesa Sanpaolo, sponsor of the Startup Initiative and Booz & Co main supporter of the Fulbright BEST program.

In addition, for every event (Stanford, New York, etc) further local co-organizers will join the organization committee.
Aligning the effort of such diverse entities, is already a clear sign that we are in the right direction (against all odds, one could suggest) adding rather than disaggregating.

Today, Italian Innovation Day is a nascent platform that will inaugurate its first event exactly in 2 weeks, on March 31 @ Stanford University (CA).

The half day event will consist of 3 tracks:
  • a conference: in collaboration with the prestigious Harvard Business School, we'll present the macro economical prospective of what's happening in Italy today, challenges and opportunities. Does Italy still matter to the world? The session will be followed by a stellar panel titled "Does Silicon Valley still matter?". Moderated by Fabrizio Capobianco, we'll have Tim Draper (Skype, Hotmail, Baidu, Overture, etc) , Scott Sandell (Salesforce, WebEx, NetIQ, etc), Jeff Clavier (Mint, Eventbrite, Milo, Ustream, etc), 3 of the world best startup investors.
  • a showcase: a set of selected most innovative SMEs will be showcased throughout the event in the exhibition area. A Scientific Committee, composed of all Italian superstars that made a significant imprint in the Silicon Valley innovation history, will evaluate the projects, interact with them and select the most innovative
  • a pitch session: a dozen startups, after 4 weeks of incubation at the MTB GYM, will have the opportunity to present their elevator pitch to the world best startup investors, chaired by: T. Draper, S. Sandell, J.Clavier and F.Capobianco

We expect to live an epical night, that, hopefully, will get us one step closer to the lofty objectives we posed ourselves.

Your admission can be booked here.
We see you guys all there!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Second week at Mind the Bridge Gym - Highlights

The second week at Mind the Bridge Gym has gone!

Although our 10 startups are sleeping just a few hours every day - they're trying to be aligned both with the Italian and with the Silicon Valley time zones to manage their business operations in the two areas - they seem to have an endless energy!
After a first week of "orientation", their second week was pretty intense and full of meetings with potential partners and customers, networking events and seminars from Mind the Bridge Gym Education program - Presentation skills, Business Development and Corporate Operations in Silicon Valley.

Here the main highlights!

Presentation skills. On Wednesday 9th Elisabetta Ghisini gave our startups useful suggestions on how to make an effective pitch. It's probably true that experience and practice help you a lot, but there are yet some key points that everybody should keep in mind for a good presentation. Share your energy and your passion with the audience is one of those.

Business development. On Thursday 10th Matteo Fabiano shared interesting thoughts on how to develop the business model. Talking about partnerships, when you realize which would be your best partner, even if it's a big company, don't be afraid to negotiate with them deciding to go to the second choice partner instead - there are two reasons: first, the time you will spend to negotiate the partnership it's more or less the same, second, if you go to the second choice your competitor will go the best choice using you as case study!

Corporate operations in SV. On Friday 11th Matteo Daste talked about technology transfer models, exit strategies, cap tables, term sheets and valuation. An important aspect that came out of the discussion is that in Italy the valuation relies mostly on the past and expected revenues probably because having customers is one of the few ways to assure revenues to the investors due to the limited numbers of exits, M&A and IPOs, that occur in Italy.
In SV instead the valuation is determined by several other factors as portfolio of IPs, background and track record of the team, other investors involved etc. - if you have an interesting patent a company may be extremely interested in the acquisition of your startup and investors know that!

MopApp presenting to SFBeta. On Wednesday 9th Alessandro Rizzoli presented his startup at SFBeta, San Francisco's largest and longest running sturtup mixer, at the session Maximize Mobile Apps receiving very good feedbacks.

First session startups presentation. On Friday 11th we had the first session of startups presentations. Risparmiosuper, Xapio and Smania presented their business in front of their mentors and other people within MTB network receiving useful feedbacks to improve their final presentation.

Mind the Golden Gate Bridge! Saturday some of the startups decided to ride on their bike till the Golden Gate Bridge, that was quite an adventure for them - it took five hours to arrive there with a few technical stops during the journey! But they made it and after arriving to the bridge, well the view was breathless!

Stay tuned because the third week seems is going to be even more exciting!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Introducing Giusy Cannone

Americans find her name impossible to pronounce.
The ones that kind of get it, are too embarrassed to say it ("juicy, really??")

It's kind of true. Giusy is part of the new juice @ Mind the Bridge!
Since January, she's been working tirelessly to make sure everything is running smoothly at the Gym, where she's the coordinator.
Giusy's professional experience spans from programs and activities to foster entrepreneurship, research on innovation policies and financing, intellectual property rights and technology management.

Born in Puglia, Giusy is currently doing a Ph.D at Polytechnic University of Turin on Economics and Management of Innovation. Among Giusy's prior professional experience, she spent six months at the Kauffman Foundation working with Kauffman's VP Lesa Mitchell on innovation policies research and on the organizations of programs to advance entrepreneurship in Europe.
In fact, I met her the first time in Kansas City, while visiting The Kauffman Foundation...

Giusy holds a master in Industrial Engineering from the Polytechnic University of Turin, a master in Management Engineering from Polytechnic University of Milan and a diploma from the school of excellence Alta Scuola Politecnica.

Since she moved to California, after a couple of days of assessment she had to make the hardest decision. No more high heals, just flip-flops.
In that cove of hackers as Pier38 is, what else was she supposed to do??

Giusy, welcome to the MTB family!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

First week at Mind the Bridge Gym – Highlights

It seems unbelievable but the first week at MtB Gym has gone!
The 10 startups arrived 7 days ago are giving their first bites to the Silicon Valley entrepreneurial ecosystem. Here the most remarkable activities our startups were involved in this past first week! (full calendar here)

Introduction to the Silicon Valley ecosystem. On Thursday 3rd the 10 startups met Marco Marinucci at Google offices to talk about the main differences between Italy and Silicon Valley. Marco gave them the “first aid kit” for an Italian entrepreneur coming to SV.

Mind the Bridge Welcome party. On Friday 4th more than 70 people landed at Pier38 to welcome our startups. It was a great event that further demonstrated how much the community of Italian entrepreneurs, investors and managers based in the Silicon Valley sharethe objectives and the mission Mind the Bridge is carrying on.

Lunch&Learn about good and bad past decisions. On Monday 7th the startups had a roundtable lunch to share their good and their bad decisions on their businesses. This was a really useful moment to concretely learn from each other.

Meet your mentor. The startups got an introduction to their own mentor. The mentor will guide them through the Gym adventure helping the startup focus on ambitious but yet reachable goals during this month first few weeks in Silicon Valley.

Mind the city! As people say here - work hard, play hard! – Our guys here are very much enjoying the city. Walking all along the Embarcadero? Yes, it’s possible! Get lost in the middle of nowhere with a bike just bought and biking for 5 hours trying to find the way back? Yes, that’s also possible. But our guys love relaxing as well. Just today someone discovered there’s a SPA center at our residence. Do you want to know how many startups we will see at the office starting from tomorrow?
I have a guess but let’s wait for the second week highlights report to know it!