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!