In San Francisco the creative weave of new startups continues unabated, and the trend of the City itself is increasingly centered on innovation and digital culture.
In this context, Mind The Bridge Foundation plays a key role in supporting those companies offering a Made in Italy that goes beyond food, fashion and tourism. This non-profit organization was founded in 2007 by Italian entrepreneur Marco Marinucci, to create a professional link between the Italian-American community in Silicon Valley and his home country.
L'Italo-Americano talked with the CEO Marinucci, among the first of the Web 2.0 wave of Italian immigrants to arrive in the Bay Area, about the past and the present of the organization, whose focus, today, is the creation of conditions for which startups have the opportunity to grow in the international market.
Since its foundation, how much has Mind The Bridge enhanced the interaction between the Bay Area and Italy?
This organization was born at the end of 2007 as a side project of my Google experience, offered as an engagement to the staff to develop something that you are passionate for, and was focused in making entrepreneurship education for projects originated in Italy supported here from the local community.
Today, seven years later, MDB has grown up with unforeseen impacts initially.
If the first target that we set was to promote the masses education on the startup world, made on the Silicon Valley model, today it's important to go beyond this topic.
This is one of the reasons why, in addition to offering a graduation program with our 'Startup School' in San Francisco to 100-120 projects per year, we are also working on two other themes to develop an ecosystem that can mature successful companies while creating new jobs.
One is to give technical support to the world of investment. As Mind The Bridge foundation we aim to bring the worlds of large corporation and startup together, which as of today are two completely different realities.
We are implementing this through the launch of a new European alliance, the Startup Europe Partnership of which we are the main representatives, and through the "intrapreneurship" school to help understand the logic behind the creation of the product.
The other focus is to assist those who want to make investments and financially support some of these companies, because it's fundamental to understand the logic, dynamics, returns, and what models can be used.
In San Francisco, we observe the creation of new digital businesses almost to infinity. What's your opinion and how many startups come from Italy to attend the Startup School?
The excitement that there is today for startups in the world and in Italy, where we definitely played a big role since 2007/08 with our events on venture capital, derives from several factors. First of all, the fact that now the costs to put on a company or digital product is very little. But going from here to the real production process there is still a gap.
The risk is the creation of a 'bubble' also for the enormous expectations created by policy makers, that are potentially impracticable if the other two important pieces of the scalability of this model are missing.
Currently half of the startups attending our courses come from Italy, at least fifty per year. However, we have people from all over the world: Spain, Greece, India, Russia, Hungary, but we also work with Korea and the Middle East.
Since last year, we have expanded our activity to the whole world, because that's part of our learning program, initially centered on Italy only with the need to create a community of reference. In this process, the more diversity there is, the more potential for innovation is developed. We try to encourage the meeting and exchange between different teams on adjacent areas.
The fifth edition of Italian Innovation Day organized by Mind The Bridge has just successfully concluded, what are other goals for 2014?
The year 2014 for us is the year of scalability at an international level. On one hand, it is very important the coordination of the Startup Europe Partnership project, which includes all the most prominent European startups filtered through European accelerators and investors.
On the other hand, we have to put them together with the CEOs of all the big corporations with up to 50,000 employees. Our goal is also to expand to an international scale our educational support concerning the area of startups and angel investors.