Sunday, July 29, 2012


Dear readers,

this blog has moved to a different home.
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Until soon,


Friday, July 27, 2012

Techcrunch Italia: here are the options for startups

There has been a unanimous high-five-ing in the Italian startup community at the news that Techcrunch is finally landing in Italy.
Think. Of all places, they chose Rome as the one location for hosting the first Techcrunch event in Europe!
Chapeaux to Amanda Lorenzani (from Populis), the real driver behind the coupe.
Don't get fooled by the name. Amanda is NOT Italian, but, rather, a real brit...who happened to be living in Rome at the time.
To cut is short, she made it happened, clearly playing the right cards (way better than how we, Italians, would have been able to...).

The event will take place on Sept 27th at the Globe Theatre, one of the countless unique locations that Rome has to offer (and that, frankly, will be impossible to match in the whole US).
We, as Mind the Bridge, have the honor to be responsible for the coordination of all the startup activities. 
There will be a panel, 4/5 pitches ("the best of") and a demo area, set up on the second story of the Globe theatre.
There are only spots for 40 startups in the demo area, and a ridiculous number of requests, so we'll have to go through a selection.
Here are the rules for the participation:
  • send an email to with your video pitch, or, rather, if you want to increase your chances and provide us with more relevant data, apply at, adding @TechCrunch.Italy to your startup name.
  • deadline is Aug 10th
  • the invited startups will be communicated on Aug 20th 
  • within that date, invited startups will have to have filled out the registration form (299 Euros for a bunch of stuff)
As if it wasn't enough, the day before Startup Roma will launch and there will be another couple of jaw dropping news that a little bird twitted us about (but we can't quite disclose...)
So, bella rega'. Tutti a Roma! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Summer Startup School 2012: this is just the beginning!

The first 2012 Summer Edition of the MTB Startup School is nearly over! 

A few days after landing in San Francisco, our twelve students were welcomed at the MTB GYM incubator in the Steuart Tower @One Market Plaza, a building located right in front of the Ferry Building in one of the most vital areas of the city.

The lessons began with a very charismatic and passionate welcome speech by Charles Versaggi, MTB Startup School Director and leader of our startup school program. Among the lessons that opened the program we had some introductory ones like Introduction to Silicon Valley by Marco Marinucci and Presentation Skills by Charles Versaggi and some really challenging modules like Writing your Value Proposition by Charles Versaggi, and Business Development by Matteo Fabiano
In addition to the Learning Sessions, we had the first of our planned “school trips” at Berkeley Lab, one of the best research programs in the world. After an interesting presentation by our special guide Alessandro Ratti, Project Manager at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and a visit to the Lab, we had a super pleasant walk in the campus in a really warm and sunny day followed by a highly beery dinner.

During the second week we had 10+ super interesting modules held by some of our Mentors, between them The Venture Capital Process by Marco Marinucci, Intellectual Property Rights by Vijay Toke, Drivers of Silicon Valley Success by Gigi Wang and others mostly on legal aspects and marketing strategies. To recover from this challenging week we organised a really relaxing trip to Santa Cruz on Sunday: good food, beach and rollercoaster, such a great day!

We began the third week by watching a baseball game (go Giants!). We are now all really excited to see what’s going to happen these last few days in this San Franciscan experience. In addition to the modules scheduled (a special thanks to Loris Degioanni, Jim Mayock and James Robert) some exciting visits to the “must see” of the Silicon Valley are planned: Microsft BizSpark, Googleplex, Noventi, VWware, LinkedIn, Panasonic… And if that wasn’t enough to make our week the last Gym session will take place followed by the graduation party!

If this video made you curious about what’s going on at the MTB Startup School (BTW the Mangatar Team is doing a great job by video-recording their experience here), follow us on our MTB GYM group on Facebook or on Twitter #MTBStartupSchool. 
This is only the first edition of this Summer 2012. The next one (already sold out) will begin the 6th of August, followed by the September edition (beginning on Monday 3rd). Hurry up, we have the last few spots available! 
If you want to participate, send us your application at

Here you can find more information. If this haven’t convinced you yet, September is supposed to be the warmest month of the year in San Francisco, one more reason to apply!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Welcome Claudine Rollandin

While our super Nicola is sadly going back to Europe, he's been handing on the baton to our new young team member: Claudine Rollandin
Fear not. Despite all,  she’s 100% Italian (although she does pronounce her name with a sharp French accent...).
As Nicola, Claudine got here through the 'Master dei talent neolaureati' program held by the CRT Foundation. That is, a life-changing opportunity for the best graduates.

 She’s currently a student at the Polytechnic University of Turin where she’s doing a Master in Industrial Production and Technological Innovation Engineering. She grew up in Aosta Valley too (!). We figured that being accostumed to the Alps weather makes it easier to survive to the San Franciscan summer! 
In the last few years though, she hasn’t spent much time skiing, since she was in high school she studied in Australia, Barcelona and this last year in Paris (bien sur) where she was following a Double Degree program in Finance (can't get enough). 
She has now started this new adventure in San Francisco where she’ll be helping us for one whole year coordinating the GYM full time (and giving “How to make fonduta” lessons on demand!).
You'll hear more from here on these channels.
Claudine, bienvenue et bonne chance (boy, don't you love French???)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The winner of MTB Italy Tour in Catania is... Flavio Fazio!

Last Friday the Mind the Bridge Italy Tour stopped in one of the most vital cities of Sicily, Catania.
We finally reached the South of Italy, a place we liked a lot not only for the amazing places, the delicious food and the welcoming people we found there (yes, we had fun J), but above all for the enthusiasm and reactive response we had from the local community.

The last stop of the MTB Italy Tour 2012 was organized in partnership with Ethyca Association, Comune di Catania and Principia SGR. The event was hosted at Le Ciminiere di Catania, the ideal location to promote innovation.
We really want to thank all the local actors who actively supported the event: a special mention to our MTB local Alumni, in particular to  Giuseppe Suriani from eRalos3, who devoted his time and passion helping and supporting the startups and dealing (together with Indigeni Digitali) with all the logistics. All that "community-effort', created the right atmosphere and contributed to make it a blast!

After the opening from Francesca Spataro, President of Ethyca, the morning session continued, as usual, with our Startup School. Marco Marinucci (MTB Executive Director) and Alberto Onetti (MTB Chairman) provided the audience with nuts and bolts about business planning and fundraising and introduced the 2012 SeedQuest. Barbara Labate from RisparmioSuper and Giuseppe Suriani from eRalos3 shared with the audience their experiences with MTB. 

In the afternoon, as usual, we run a GYM Session: five locally selected startups presented in front of representatives of the most important funds that invest in Southern Italy.
Thanks to Principia SGR, the best startup of the Gym Session was awarded with a free entry at the MTB Startup School.
The winner is... Flavio Fazio with his project Flazio, a web platform that allows users with no technical skills to create their own personal and customized website in a snapshot.
Flavio in September will fly to San Francisco with his great passion and skills. Good luck!

In the meantime, do not miss Seed Quest 2012! MTB offers an incredible opportunity to startuppers and wanna-be entrepreneurs. Applications are open, deadline is July 31st, 2012. 
Do you wanna become the next Italian success story? Apply now! More information here. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Startup accelerators: do they work? Does MtB work?

Dismal statistics

A recent article on ReadWriteStart raised the issue of whether startup accelerators actually accelerate the path to success or not. All over the world nowadays there are more than 200 of these programs, large and small, known and unknown, all working toward the same goal of helping startups become successful companies.

The article questions whether most of these programs actually work. As supporting evidence, the authors cite a study released last year by Aziz Gilani, a director at Houston-based venture capital firm DFJ Mercury. In a nutshell, Gilani’s study looked at 29 North American accelerators and found that:
  • 45% of the accelerators did not graduate any company able to raise additional funds
  • Only 2 accelerators (Y Combinator and TechStars) graduated companies that went on to have meaningful exits (the full study is not available, so we are unsure what “meaningful” exactly meant in the scope of the study)
  • Many of the accelerators were not at all known by the VC community that should be funding their graduates
Are these accelerators a total debacle? Gilani mostly focuses on what he sees as a quality gap: a few quality accelerators at the top, and then dozens of mostly unknown programs below them.

Given that only a handful of startups are able to get into a top-tier program, the question for entrepreneurs becomes whether second-tier programs are worth a look, and which ones should be on the list. What are the variables to look at to make a decision? Gilani says those startups should ask themselves three main questions:
  1. Will the program help me get additional funding?
  2. Will it help me develop partnership that can promote growth?
  3. Will it connect me with mentors that can truly increase my chances of success?

How do you measure success?

The topic – which is part of a larger discussion on whether or not we’re in the midst of a “startup bubble” – is a hot one and triggered an animated debate in the comments following the article. Many of the readers mentioned some of the limitations that the study seems to suffer from:
  • Exits can take time. Did the study focus on a timeframe that is too short?
  • Exits are not the only parameter for success. A startup that goes on to establish a profitable revenue stream cannot be counted as a failure for the accelerator and its founders.
  • Even if the startup eventually fails, the people involved might have gained experience and skills that will lead to future successes. For-profit investors in the accelerator will certainly not count this as a success, but did the program really fail? An institution like the Kauffman Foundation - which commissioned Gilani’s study and is one of the main MTB supporters- might take a different, broader perspective and see the positive, long-term outcome as a success.
  • Even if the startup eventually fails, without the support of the accelerator the entrepreneurs involved would not have been able to give their idea a try. Here too, for-profit investors in the accelerator will rightfully see the outcome as unsuccessful, but some of the entrepreneurs involved might see it differently, and the overall contribution to society as a whole is hard to gauge (e.g. will those entrepreneurs be more likely to “give back” down the road, if successful?).
All in all, it seems that the perspective of the report was that of an investor in the accelerator. It’s clear, however, that overall success or failure goes beyond short-term financial gains. For some investors in startup accelerators, in fact, a short-term financial return is not the primary driver of the investment. Good reasons can be access to talent and to a relevant deal flow.

Tips to selecting the right accelerator

Dimensions of success aside, there’s no question that startup entrepreneurs need to be careful when evaluating different acceleration programs. Here are some things to keep in mind in the selection process.
  1. Size of the seed funding: are you given enough money to quit your side job and give your idea a full try, at least for several months? The size of the seed also tells you a lot about how serious the accelerator really is about its program. Look for $50,000 in financing or above.
  2. Conditions attached to the seed funding: how much equity are you asked to give up, or what are the conditions attached to the convertible note? Seed funding with too many strings attached might substantially reduce your ability to obtain additional funding. Look for expert advice.
  3. Reputation and references: what’s the word on the street? And what do the alumni say? There’ll always be supporters and detractors, but a substantially negative “sentiment” (or complete lack of it) are a definite red flag. Do your research, from Facebook to alumni interviews.
  4. Mentoring community: can you recognize any of the mentors? Do you see people that have a skill set or industry experience that might be a good match for you? Can you talk to anyone to find out? Contact the accelerator to get a sense of how approachable the mentors really are.
  5. Success stories: in the end, we certainly agree with Mr. Gilani that a complete lack of success stories is a big red flag. What does the accelerator have to show for all the effort and work that it does (or doesn’t do)?

Is Mind The Bridge a successful program?

We certainly can’t write an article about startup accelerators without putting our own efforts at Mind The Bridge under the microscope.

Truthfully, what we’ve done in the first 4 years of the program wasn’t a “fully baked” accelerator program (e.g. no major seed funding), but rather an education initiative with a mentoring program attached to it.
That said, a tremendous amount of time and money has been spent making this program a reality, and – even more importantly – helping create unique success stories.

Our business plan competition is indeed becoming a full-blown accelerator program (see the Seed Quest 2012 announcement).

So, let’s look back at what we’ve done so far, glance at what’s head, and come up with a preliminary score card, based on the 5 points mentioned above.
  1. Size of the seed funding: only a few small investments here and there up to this point, but up to $65,000 of seed funding for the startups selected into the final phase of the 2012-2013 program. Now we’re talking!
  2. Conditions attached to the seed funding: the seed investment will follow the standard terms from the top notch programs in the world (either a convertible note with minimal terms and conditions or a minimum equity take).
  3. Reputation and references: our strong reputation in Italy has definitely helped many of the companies that went through the program raise their profile and obtain additional funding. Outside of Italy there’s certainly work to do, and we’re working on it.
  4. Mentoring community: we’ve got some great mentors, with a wide spectrum of areas of expertise and industry experience. Critics say that we need more non-Italians. Although some of these Italians have been outside of the old country for decades, it’s a fair criticism, and we’re working on that too.
  5. Success stories: well... here actually the track record is not bad at all. Especially considering point (1) above, the fact that many companies that passed through the MtB program went on to receive additional funding is certainly a success. Looking at the data, of the 15 companies we selected last year for the Venture Camp, 12 were able to get fund raising (1 in US and 11 in Italy) Some of the success cases include Timbuktu (admitted into the 500 Startups accelerator program after winning the 2011-12 MtB business plan competition), NextStyler, RisparmioSuper, StereoMood, Beintoo, Agroils Technologies, Mopapp, Arkimedial, Risparmio Super, Spreaker, and many others. 
We look forward to playing a role in the success of many other companies in 2012 and beyond!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Emanuele Guglielmino wins the MTB Startup School!

Last Thursday the MTB Italy Tour stopped in Genoa.
Genova is a home of  the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), the new Technology Park "Erzelli" and a prestigious University:  an enormous but highly unexploited potential for innovation.
Our goal for this second stop of our Tour is Genova was simple:  spread the message, as loud as possible, that building a company, create your own job is cool, heroic even.
A mission fully shared by Francesco Oddone, Assessore Sviluppo Genova, Paola Girdinio, Dean of the Genoa Engineering School, Paolo Marenco (Silicon Valley Study tour), Renato Soru (Tiscali) and, last but not least, Maria Silva from Genova High Tech who successfully promoted and coordinated this event in Genova.
In the morning panel, coordinated by Marco Marinucci, Renato Soru from Tiscali and Marco Salvadori from Cisco Systems shared their invaluable experience with the audience.
In the afternoon, as usual, we run a Gym Session. Five selected startups were invited to present in front of investors and entrepreneurs with the goal of receiving constructive feedback. 
Genova High Tech sponsored a free entry to our Startup School in San Francisco to the most promising project.

And the winner is... Emanuele Guglielmino, a team leader at IIT, with a background of electrical and control engineering and 13-years of research experience in big companies such as Westinghouse (UK) and General Electric and R&D Institutions. 
His project (called microturbine) is a patented coin-size high speed microturbine able to harvest energy exploiting airflow to produce electric energy with applications ranging  from pipeline monitoring to web farm servers power supply back up
We think this idea has the potential to turn into a solid product that can successfully address global markets. MTB is going to give him the tools and skills  to make it happen! 

We are not done yet... Next week we will land in Sicily.
On June 29th MTB will be in Catania for the last date of our Italy Tour 2012. 
Principia SGR will be sponsoring a MTB School to the best presenting startup.

If you are interested to send your business plan or to participate to the event, you are still in time to submit your application or register! More information here
See you at the foot of Etna...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Time to think BIG

<Guest post from Leonardo Camiciotti, Top-IX>

Revolutions are exciting if you realize you are living them.
Recently, we have been spending a lot of time talking and thinking about socio-economic crisis, job losses, frozen GDP and so on.
In the meanwhile, a real gold mine is being built silently through the Internet.
Gazillions of digital data is being created daily: logs, business transaction records, sensor and mobile device data, etc., reproducing digitally the real world in the fields of healthcare, energy, education, public administration, logistics, finance, tourism, etc. not to mention the emotions and life snapshots flowing through the social networks.  
The Internet acts as a mirror, able as it is to interact bidirectionally. On the one hand, it describes reality; on the other, it stimulates and influences it – and much faster than any other social transition previously experienced. A sort of parallel world is growing and this gives an unprecedented opportunity to analyze data, decipher and cross-mine them, finding emerging and recurrent patterns, discovering hidden behaviors. 
This will ignite a new wave of innovation, increased productivity and global growth as long as new professionals are available to dive into this ocean of data in order to extract potential valuable information and turn it into actionable wisdom. 

 The McKinsey Global Institute (McKinsey Global Institute, Big data: The Next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity) estimates that the “The United States alone faces a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts to analyze big data and make decisions based on their findings”
The rest of the world is likely to face similar shortages and, in addition, the next big company will probably emerge in this field. 
Can you hear me? No job losses, no crisis, no gloomy scenarios: a gigantic, concrete, challenging job and business opportunity who might position those who grab it in a leadership position in the years to come, fostering growth and creating socio-economic value.
Therefore, as a first step,  TOP-IX (MTB long time partner) invited top-notch worldwide experts to talk about Big Data during its last conference at the end of 2011. Now Top-Ix gonna move a step forward: in collaboration with Axant , ISI Foundation and ToDo TOP-IX organizes in October a four-week training program called BIG DIVE , in order to boost the technical skills needed to dive into the big data universe. 

The goal is to nurture the growth of a new generation of developers. 
A street-fighting gym where high value datasets are the raw material in the hands of a bunch of ambitious smart geeks, tutored and mentored by experts in three key areas: Development, Visualization Design and Data Science. 
They are looking for brave divers, it's time to think BIG. 
Don't miss this opportunity!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

MTB launches SeedQuest, new accelerator program

Many great things have happened, since our inception 5 years ago. Today, it marks another critical step forward in our quest for the promotion and support of Italian Innovation in the world.
Speaking of quest... today we are unveiling our brand new accelerator program (drum roll)... Seed Quest.
Seed Quest is the natural evolution of our 5-year old business plan competition, now encompassing the sharp developments that have shaped the early startup world since we started: less focus on waterfall business planning more on early traction, more hands-on mentoring and, yes, a little seed funding to cover the expenses of a fully focused product development (that means no need to work on consulting services on the side to pay your bills, folks).

Does that mean that we want to be a different animal then, from the "give back to the community" foundation that you've known?
Not a single bit. Our hearth and soul remain the same. More than ever, we remain fully committed to our mission: providing support, inspiration and guidance for the new generations of Italian entrepreneurs. We are convinced, though, that we can do better to help develop more success stories.
And only success is the real sugar that fuels the entire ecosystem.
We can leverage Silicon Valley to help re-create the success of  Glancee, Cacetech or Timbuktu.
There is no other effective way to support longer term a startup than putting your money into it.
And that's what we are going to do.
We are committed to providing friendly terms to portfolio startups and we are working to line up more follow on investments from later stage investors.

For the record, a good chunk of the potential returns from the investments (plenty!), will go back to support the foundation activities, and help spread more entrepreneur-virus!

It took us sometime to get here, but we are convinced that, with you, we can go a long way.

For details

Friday, June 8, 2012

June 21st: the MTB Italy Tour arrives in Genova!

As tradition, the MTB Italy Tour stops in Genova this summer, one of our favorite city (guess why :). 

When? On June 21st, save the date! 

Held at Camera di Commercio of Genova, this one-day event brings in Liguria a new culture of entrepreneurship, and gives to one startup the possibility to experience the Silicon Valley. 
Indeed, thanks to the partnership with Genova High Tech - one of the more active actors of the local innovation ecosystem -, one of the startups selected to pitch at the afternoon Gym session will win a free seat and attend our Startup School in San Francisco! 

How to participate in the event and fly to Silicon Valley? Send your Business Plan to and fill the Executive Summary on line here by June 17th. You will be considered for our Gym Session and, if selected, you will present in front of a panel of investors and entrepreneurs. The best startup will win the MTB Startup School in San Francisco. 

The event starts at 10am. After the welcome speech, Marco Marinucci (MTB Executive Director) and Alberto Onetti (MTB Chairman) will present the "nuts and bolts" of building a startup and getting funded.
In the afternoon experienced investors and entrepreneurs will give constructive feedback and advices to the startups admitted to present at the Gym Session.

See the full program here and don't miss this opportunity! Participation is free but registration is mandatory (here the link).

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jun 29th, we are in Catania

As you know in Q2 every year Mind the Bridge is on Tour all over Italy. We started from the North (Trento) in April, we decided to end in the far South. On Jun 29th we will be in Catania. As usual it will be a full day program (here you can find the updated 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 where 5 local startups will be selected to pitch in front of a panel of investors such as Marco Magnocavallo (Principia), Davide Turco and Gianni De Caro (Atlante Ventures), Alfonso Riccardi (Vertis)... And an awesome prize is ready for the the best startup presenting in Catania: Principia and Mind the Birdge grants a free spot to the Mind the Bridge Startup School in San Francisco! That's your opportunity to fly to California and be a Silicon Valley startup for 3 weeks. Can't miss it! Learning, open discussion, comments, honest feedbacks. Ultimate goal of the Mind the Bridge Italy Tour is learn about the startups' world, fine tuning your business idea (what and where it works, where and what doesn't) and making your value proposition more effective. If you want to be considered for the MtB GYM Session, please send your Startup Pitch (10-15 slides) to and fill the online document ( June 24. We will select 5 promising startups. The best startup will “Win the Summer in Silicon Valley” and be admitted free of charge at the MtB Startup School in California! If you are just interested to attend to the event, please remember to reserve your ticket: it is free, but admissions are limited. Here is the link for RSVP. The event is hosted by Ehica and the venue is Le Ciminiere di Catania (Viale Africa). Catania, here we come. See you there.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Startups and The Law

When? Jun 27th, 6:30pm Where? Milan What? A special event focused to address the main legal and tax issues startups and founders face in the early stage of their business venture. That's the goal of the event named "Startups and the Law" we organize in Milan in partnership with Cleary Gottlieb and Tavecchio & Associati. In this event, that is part of our Mind the Bridge Italy Tour 2012, we are going to have a sort of "Legal Gym", i.e. a Q&A session where startuppers and entrepreneurs can discuss with legal and tax experts about hot topics such as: - where to incorporate my startup(Italy vs US vs UK vs Luxembourg), pros and cons, - how to deal with investors, - how to manage my IP, - how to deal with convertible notes and stock option plans. The Q&A session will be moderated by Alberto Onetti (Mind the Bridge), Carmelo Fontana (Google Italia) and Roberto Bonsignore (Cleary Gottlieb). We provide high level information about the topics above and answer to some basic questions. Please anticpate on Facebook some topics/questions you would like to be addressed on Jun 27th or in one of the following Legal Gym sessions we plan to organize in the incoming months. The participation is free of charge (yep, free beer, since participants will get pizza&birra), but limited to 50 startups. Registration is mandatory, here is the link. First-come, first-served. The event will be hosted by Cleary Gottlieb (Milan, via San Paolo 7), one of our long-term partners. See you there!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Atooma is the winner of MTB Early Call 2012!

As you know, we launched in March an Early Call in preparation to the Seed Quest 2012 (yep, we are going to rename - and broaden the scope of - our annual Business Plan Competition, stay tuned). In just 45 days we got tens of applications and provided feedbacks to all of them.

But we were also supposed to reward the best application... Suspense, curiosity... Who is the winner of MTB Early Call 2012?
Here we go. The winner is Atooma! And the prize is a free seat at our MTB Startup School in San Francisco!

Atooma is an app that allows smartphones to perform certain actions when certain conditions are fulfilled. Its team is composed by 4 members: Francesca Romano, a young and enterprising UX designer, who serves as Chief Executive Officer; Gioia Pistola responsible for all the communications and marketing operations; Fabrizio Cialdea, CTO, and Andrea Meriggioli a visionary creative director. Thanks to the summer experience at our MTB Startup School these four guys have now the chance to get introduced in the Silicon Valley ecosystem and learn how to improve their product and better address the market.
Do you want to join them? Applications to our Startup School are now open! Spots are limited, then hurry up.

Moreover, we have decided to assign a prize also to other two startups which applied for the Early Call 2012: Surkld and To them a free ticket for participating in Frontiers of Interaction, a super cool event organized by Leandro Agrò!
Another one is available. Interested? 
Check out here how to win.

Hurry up!

Win a free ticket for Frontiers of Interaction!

Mind the Bridge gives you a fast track to Frontiers of Interaction, the unique event dedicated to design, technology and everything interactive held in Rome on June 7th and 8th. 

This interactive show attracts inspiring international speakers and Italian talents. It includes 5 workshops, 4 conference tracks and more than 25 speakers and guests... An opportunity for networking and for plunging in the new technology waves!

Thanks to Massimo Sgrelli, one of our long-term supporter, Mind the Bridge has the possibility to offer 3 free tickets to one of you.   
We reserved 2 tickets to two of the best projects that applied to the MtB Early Call 2012. But we will assign one ticket to one member of our Facebook and Twitter community. 
How can you win?
Tonight we will publish on Twitter and Facebook a post you are invited to share and comment. We will extract the person who gets the free ticket for Frontiers of Interaction among all the community members who will share the post!

Don't miss the opportunity!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Come and meet MTB at MIfaccioIMPRESA!

Today Mind the Bridge is in Milan at MIfaccioIMPRESA, the saloon of new entrepreneurs which aims at gathering all opportunities and new themes regarding entrepreneurship and startup. 

During this two-day event of workshop, conferences and one-to-one meeting, held in Milan at Palazzo Isimbardi, MTB will be presenting together with EUROImpresa, its new activities (Tensostruttura - from 4pm to 5pm). It will be an incredible occasion for you to discover the countless opportunities we can offer you either as a student, as a wanna-be entrepreneur or a startupper.

You will have also the chance to meet the founders of Ploonge, two guys who get to know each other at our Startup School in San Francisco less than one year ago and since that moment started to work together. Isn't it amazing? Take advantage of it to ask them for tips and advices!

Our workshop, "Sviluppa un'idea e costruisci una startup", will be held today at Tensostruttura from 4 pm to 5 pm. 

See you there!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Winds of (very positive) changes

We've been a bit silent on this blog in the last couple of months, but that's no indication of what's actually happening at Mind The Bridge. So far 2012 has been a fantastic year for the Italian startups ecosystem, and it will be remembered as a key turning point for the Mind The Bridge foundation.

So, here's a bit of what's going on

The winner keeps winning
Timbuktu, the innovative publisher of an iPad magazine for kids who won the 2011-2012 Mind The Bridge competition, is currently going through the famous 500 Startups accelerator program here in Silicon Valley, picking up a lot of press both in Italy and in the US, and attracting substantial investor interest.

Dave McClure - founding partner at 500 Startups - a couple of months ago made it clear in an interview that "families" will be a central area of focus for his program: startuppers typically don't have kids and don't tend to focus on that target market, hence the big opportunity. It makes sense, and Timbuktu's timing couldn't have been better.

By the way, here are Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo interviewed by Stefano Bernardi at a recent Mind The Bridge Event.

The finalists keep finalizing
Many of the other MtB competition finalists including D-Orbit, NextStyler, StereoMood, and Vivocha have already finalized or are finalizing their first or second found of investment. It was great to have them in the Mind The Bridge office in February (and some of them stayed for ad additional couple of months) and help them get to the next step.

We'll run startup-specific stories on each of them in upcoming blog posts.

The bridge is growing
In the meantime, at Mind The Bridge we are working on several exciting projects:

  • All Mind The Bridge Web sites are being completely redesigned and consolidated under one roof to better tell the Mind The Bridge story, more effectively showcase the startups that go through our programs, and more prominently highlight the increasing number of mentors that volunteer their efforts to make them grow and thrive. The redesigned Mind The Bridge Web site will be launched in the summer. More on that soon!
  • The mentoring program is expanding: it turns out that mentoring and wine tasting go really well together. The program is growing not just in the number of mentors involved, and also in the type of involvement, and we'll have some big announcements in that area soon too.
  • More and more companies pass through our offices in downtown San Francisco: it's become a hangout place for entrepreneurs with an Italian connection, and we love it.
The wind is blowing strong on the 7th story outdoor terrace at One Market (one of the awesome perks of the MtB office building), and we're feeling it inside the office too. It's a time of big momentum for Italian startups in the Valley (big, official celebration for the Glancee sale to Facebook coming soon on June 6, to be confirmed: stay tuned), and at MtB we'll to our best to make sure the momentum keeps growing.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Charles Versaggi, new director of Startup School

Our Startup School has quickly become a key activity for the MTB Foundation.
Since June 2011, we run 4 intakes, graduating 30 entrepreneurs (or wanna-be entrepreneur, prior to the school).

On Monday this week, the new cycle of our startup school, 2o12 edition, just kicked off.
The school is poised to become a major effort for our foundation: we plan to more than double the total number of graduates and total sessions, establishing an important imprint in Silicon Valley.
I'm really happy to announce that our Charles Versaggi will be running such an effort.

We are truly excited that a seasoned professional of the experience, commitment and sense of humor (we need a lot of that!!) like Charles accepted our offer to lead such a development.
In the past Charles directed several Bootcamps for MTB, so we know he'll do a terrific job stepping up in this new endeavor.

For our Foundation, the Startup School really represents a key opportunity of funding and support for all other programs we run.

Go Charles, can't wait to see the future developments ahead of us!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

And the Winner 2012 is... Timbuktu!

The Latins (and Italians...) called it "par condicio". After 2 years at Stanford, the show-case of the Mind the Bridge startup finalists for 2012 moved to UC Berkeley, kindly hosted by the European Business Association of Haas Business School.
Different side of the bay,
same full house, same temperature (after 4 years, the summer-like conditions for our IID are almost guaranteed).
160 people attended to see what this new wave of Italian innovation has to offer.

They were not disappointed.
After an engaging keynote by Peter Arvai, the founder of the super cool Prezi (he's also a super cool dude), the 11 finalists of the MTB and Intesa Sanpaolo initiatives took the stage.

By design, we want to present a diverse showcase of different technologies, ranging from new media to enterprise software to green tech and bio-med.

Among a wide group of investors, this year's Investor Committee was composed of:
Their role, as usual, was to grill the startups on the critical business aspects after the 5-min presentations (alas, no-one in Prezi yet!).
And to pick the most promising ones.

Solid presentations across the board.
Here's what they finally came up with:

An award-winning Ipad magazine for kids and parents. Engaging the content (they partner with the relevant Reggio Children center), engaging the 2 female c0-founders (creative, energetic and competent)

a revolutionary bandaid proprietary technology, integrating chitin nanofiber. Enhanced healing and minimize scarring (I need it now!) Kick-ass team (HQ in Seattle).

A mind blowing technology (seriously!) to provide simple commands with your thought (a helmet reads your EEG signals). Serious kick-ass stuff.
In gaming or military could be a killing.
Pasquale (CEO), instead, has decided to use it to provide some comfort to folks with multiple sclerosis, ALS, etc. Why? Because that's what drives him!
Chappeau (he didn't get the first place because "marketing matters a lot", investors said...)

To all our startups: a pretty darn good job.
Now it's time to go out and prosper!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Italian Innovation Week in Silicon Valley

Introducing startups from Italy to the sophisticated audience of Silicon Valley has historically been challenging.

Let's face it.

Italian technology? Too exotic, too naive, too remote.

Besides some sporadic fortunate landings, the "road to Silicon Valley" has been a remote possibility for Italian startups.

So, what the heck is going on now?

Just this week a plethora of events is promoting the booming of the Italian startup ecosystem:

- The Italian startup renaissance, a VC prospective: Andrea Baldini (Early Bird VC)

- Welcome party + MTB GYM Open House

- The Connected Vehicle and the Internet of Thing (SVIEC event)

- The Italian Innovation Day (Berkeley, 2/23)

So many events, that we moved from our first timid attempt last year of a day dedicated to Italian innovation, to a resounding Italian Innovation Week in Silicon Valley!


The bubbling up of Italian innovation that is manifesting itself in the last couple of years is now also spilling over outside its national boundaries.

Mind the Bridge has been beating on the startup-made-in-Italy drum for quite sometime.

But we're not alone now.

Qualified parters such as Intesa Sanpaolo, (Fernando Napolitano's) Italian Business & Investment Initiative, BAIA, Top-IX just to mention a few.

We are all pushing in the same direction.

What does it take now to become the next Israel or India for Silicon Valley?

2 words: quality and quantity. We need both.

We need to maintain high standards of startups representing us and constant volumes.

It's clear we've graduated to the major league.

Our track record so far: from ~ 20 companies in the last 2 years more than half have experienced a mind blowing acceleration:

we had

- 2 exits, 1 winner of Le Web, 1 winner of SeedCamp, 1 winner of Microsoft Bizspark, 6 raised (further) VC money

A success rate that is hard to match even by the best in class.

Now we need to harness the potential and start bringing home some big-shot successes.

Italy is ripe. We are too.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Getting ready for the Italian Innovation Day (2/23)

We're getting excited about the upcoming Italian Innovation Day, which will be held on Thursday, February 23, at UC Berkeley, starting at 4:30pm.

The startups are working hard to polish their presentations and wow you with what they have to offer. Come see their new products and services, which this year cover a really wide spectrum, from areospace technology to mood-matching music and an iPad magazine.

And we are really delighted to announce that Peter Arvai, CEO and co-founder of Prezi will be the keynote speaker. Peter knows first-hand what it means to build a bridge between Europe and Silicon Valley, and how to take advantage of it to make a company succeed.

With offices in Budapest, Hungary, and San Francisco, and over $14M of capital raised since its launch in April of 2009, Prezi is one of the best known examples of transatlantic startup.

Peter will share his experience and talk about the do’s and don’t’s of starting and growing a company with offices and talent working many time zones apart.

And of course, it wouldn't be an Italian Innovation Day without some great food and wine, catered by our friends at C'Era Una Volta.

Italian Innovation Day is made possible by the work of a lot of outstanding and committed volunteers, both in Italy and in the United States. A big "thank you" goes to all of them. And another one goes to our sponsors, who are making all of this possible with their support.

Next steps:
We look forward to seeing you at the 2012 Italian Innovation Day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Massimo Arrigoni joins MTB board

I'm excited to report that Massimo Arrigoni (AKA SuperMassi) has joined the MTB Board of Directors.
An entrepreneur at heart, already sitting on the board of BAIA (Business Association Italy America) and now leading the development of MailUp in the US, Massimo is an outstanding addition to the MTB team.
As his nickname suggests, Massi tends to over deliver in everything he does. One example for all: with 4 children under his belt (figuratively speaking), Massi is still the record holder among the (un)famous group of Italian fathers in the Bay Area.
See here for his full (real) bio.

With a 2012 full of exciting new developments ahead of us, I am thrilled to be able to count on the support of a professional and a friend of the caliber of Massi.
Welcome SuperMassi!

Monday, January 9, 2012

We Love OpenHouses!

2011 has definitely been a great year for networking events. With more than 10 openhouse parties, +40 startups have presented their ideas in front of more than 450 people. The perfect occasion for sharing their projects, improving their presentation skills and getting feedbacks. Andrea from Hyperfair, Francesco from Spreaker, Antonio from Beintoo, Lorenzo from Treedom and Elisabetta from Quipu have been among the first to participate, followed then by many others.

Since its start, Openhouse has been a periodic event for startups and our community.

Here a quick 2011's rewind:

Since June, our friends from Istituto de Impresa came twice to visit us during their Silicon Valley Study tour trip. The first time at the beginning of summer and then again last november during the One Market Opening Party organized with SOMAcentral. A great event where we had the pleasure to take part in a firechat with Pierluigi Zappacosta (Founder & exCEO of Logitech, today Venture Partner @ Noventi VC).

If you missed it, here below some highlights:

In July we hosted an outstanding presentation from Fadi Bishara, about "The Startup Genome Project and the Marmer Stages". A group of senior managers visiting the Silicon Valley with the American Chamber of Commerce and some folks from Google Italy also came to enjoy the party.

Below a recap of the event:

In August (after the visit from Le Iene) also RAI TV joined us to record our August Openhouse , interviewing participants and shooting some footage. During this event, we had an inspiring guest speaker: Hartmut Esslinger - Industrial Designer and Inventor and Founder of Frog Design.

We 're pretty sure that all the attendees still remember his presentation "Managing Creativity in Business - Right vs. Left Brain -The ultimate challenge of young entrepreneurs".

If you weren't amongst the lucky ones who were be there you can either have a look of this presentation or watch the following video:

Here you can also find the video that RAI has released.

Again in August, our friends from Silicon Valley Study Tour came to visit Pier 38. Students from Startup School had their great occasion to present their projects.

In September during our "changing time" we had the last, well deserved Goodbye Party in Pier 38, the historical, vibrant icon for startups. Loris Degioanni, founder of Cacetech (acquired by Riverbed) had his introduction speech and we also hosted a photography exhibition from ArtForLove.

Here's Loris' speech:

Last but not the least, in October in the occasion of our move to our new location at One market plaza, we hosted a group of Executives from the industrial associations Confindustria Venezia and Padova. Below are pics taken by our great friend and photographer Paolo Bonaccorsi from B-Crome during the event.

Finally this Friday, January 13th we are hosting our first Openhouse of 2012. A group of Italian entrepreneurs from A.SVI.COM will join us for another great networking opportunity.

We are planning many other events throughout 2012. So.. stay tuned and be ready to meet and mingle with us!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Startup School 2012, a New Adventure Awaits

After the success of the previous editions, Mind the Bridge is now receiving applications for the 2012 Startup School, which will take place in San Francisco from March 5th to March 23rd.

Having a precise business idea is not a requirement; all you need is a strong desire to create a technology startup company and a good English proficiency. The deadline is January 31, 2012.

The startup school program includes theoretic learning lessons taught by Silicon Valley personalities on the typical aspects a startup needs to take into account to scale its business.
Don’t worry, you won’t spend all your day taking notes. Our program also includes a practical learning workshop with team work, visits to Silicon Valley high tech companies, incubators and Universities. A full immersion in the life of a startup.

To learn more about the program, take a look at the Curriculum. And if you’re curious to know what our alumni have experienced, browse through our previous editions.


Send an email to with your CV and business idea (optional) attached. A good level of English proficiency is required. After completing the application, you will be invited to take an English Test which is one of our main criteria for evaluating applicants.


The tuition cost is $1,800. If you are under 30, Mind the Bridge Foundation could support up to 40% of the tuition cost, based on merit. The cost is not refundable and it doesn't include transportation and accommodation.


Mind the Bridge offers the availability of shared corporate apartments starting at $1,800 per month per person. Living with your peers is an important component of the school.


Apply by January 31, 2012. Limited availability.

The program will be only activated with a minimum number of 12 students.

Here you can find more information about the program.

Highlights from 2011