Wanna read 4.000+ business plans from Italian startups? Just askPubblicato: 20 aprile 2013
We’ve launched today the 2013 Edition of Working Capital, the acceleration program of Telecom Italia. Today we opened the Rome incubator, located right in the hart of the city, one block from the Italian Parliament, very busy today at the election of the new President.
I’ve been involved with Working Capital since its launch in 2009. It was quite amazing to look back today at what has happened in the past four years. Around 50.000 young Italians, wannabe entrepreneurs have been reached by the program. We looked at 4.000 business plans and funded more than one hundred projects.
With little funding and some support some of these team have actually turned their ideas in startups. And some of them are actually making it. Ecce Customer, Timbuktu, Iubenda, Smappo, Oilproject just to name a few.
Marco Patuano, CEO of Telecom Italia promised last year that we would have had a home for Working Capital. So this year we will be opening 5 incubators/coworking spaces. Besides Rome, Milano and Catania are opening now and two more will follow. We will fund 30 projects with 25.000 euro grants and have the capacity to host with coworking facilities and mentorship probably something like another 150/200 startup teams.
Patuano also announced what I personally think is simply a brilliant idea that will be implemented this year.
Startups in the program will be able to have access to a special ‘Supplier’s fast registry’ that will enable them to become suppliers of Telecom Italia and on top of that he has retained for himself for a ‘6 zeros’ budget, whereas if Telecom business units will want to adopt products from startups, these projects will get internal funding directly by the CEO! Really smart and cool idea to help startups enter a large corporate and for a big telco to bubble up innovation ideas right to the CEO. I just can’t imagine what could happen in Italy if other companies and public administrations would startup to follow this example. The Rainforest is all about building trust and reducing friction in the ecosystem and this add-on to working capital is fundamentally about that.
The new website core is now what we call ‘Rep’, the big repository of all 4.000 business plans and the ones that will be uploaded in the future. The site has a NEW important feature: it has an access for investors. So this year our challenge will be to connect Rep with the rest of the global innovation ecosystem. We believe that the Italian ecosystem has reached enough scale that it should be looked at more by international investors. And now with the support of the Kauffman Fellows we have lots of amazing colleagues around the globe.
The afternoon was all dedicated to startups, 12 of them pitched in english to a panel of Italian VCs and three international investors: Richard Seewald (Alpha Associates, leading venture firm in the Easter and Russian markets), Ben Hennelly (Axel Johnson, a major private equity firm out of NY) and Abdulaziz Alhargan (Director of BADIR, the Saudi technology innovation program).
We have a huge talent pool in Italy, creative, hungry, strongly educated, largely unemployed and fundamentally underfunded in a big way. Great conditions for venture capital. Our startups have to learn how to be lean and mean when they are very young. They are resilient and being out of the Silicon Valleys of this world, often come up with fresh solutions and lateral ideas.
Check them out.