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 firstname.lastname@example.org with your video pitch, or, rather, if you want to increase your chances and provide us with more relevant data, apply at survey.mindthebridge.org, 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...)
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 byMarco 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!
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???)
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
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.
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
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:
Will the program help me get additional funding?
Will it help me develop partnership that can promote growth?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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!