While you surf the net, you will run into many platforms made by Italians for Italians: you won’t find it hard to run into blogs and websites collecting information and stories about Italians moving abroad. But, when we first met Francesco Menghini, an Italian director now in the Silicon Valley, he had no doubts that his platform called “Madre in Italy” is not only different from any other website, but it is also unique for putting together people’s fears, hopes, and desires in the same virtual room.
The added value comes from being a website all in the Italian language, making things easier for those who have never left Italy and/or lived abroad. “Madre In Italy” has been developed by Francesco Menghini and Grazia Pracilio, his partner and co-founder, once they found out how many other Italians had their same feelings about being in a different country: nostalgia, excitement, the will to do great things. The core idea behind the platform is that, once connected, every Italian talent in the world will be promoted and supported: on one side, there are all collaborators and experts who share useful information, on the other side people ready to take off and to explore new opportunities. Francesco came to San Francisco for a month programme with Mind the Bridge, a foundation that runs programs to support all actors in entrepreneurial ecosystems and has been helping Italians develop their ideas and projects since 2008. He told us a bit more about himself and his idea, displaying both his amazing passion and great commitment to make things happen.
Tell us about yourself…
First of all, I have been working as director for some Italian TV shows for twenty years. I travelled to different countries, such as Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Greece, United States, Albania, India. I have also filmed some documentaries and reportages. But at some point I discovered my passion for the internet and, during my stay in London, I realized that I really wanted to invest more on my passions, putting together my experience with some ideas. Everything happened from one day to the other, and that day was December 28, 2013. When did you get the opportunity to come to California? As I said, my project started in 2013 while I was in London.
In January 2014, I got interested in the start up world and started to explore the possibility to get fundings to begin mine. In Italy, I did not have much luck. I moved to Scotland where I got to know about Mind The Bridge. I sent my application and twenty days later, they invited us to California: then, Mind The Bridge and the Polo Tecnologico di Pavia got together, offered us some fundings for a scholarship and help realize our project.
How would you describe “MadreInItaly”?
I would call it “the channel of all Italians in the world”: our value proposition is to help Italians who move abroad and find it hard because of their lack of knowledge of the language. The website uses all the official information coming from consulates and embassies around the world and, through their consultants like lawyers, real estate experts, and work specialists, people get real and official information.
Why is the platform only in Italian?
Italians do not speak much English. Statistics say that only 35% of those living abroad have some knowledge. This project is thought especially for those who want to move abroad but have many difficulties at doing so. But our long-term project is to develop it in English and other relevant languages as well.
Why is this scholarship so important for you?
Mind the Bridge gave me the opportunity to realize the project and hopefully to launch it on the market. Initially, I only thought of a web tv, thanks to this programme we will be able to develop the three parts: a blog; a web TV with twenty different formats and people worldwide sharing useful information; a platform to connect users, a sort of virtual community where everybody has his/her own profile to share with others.
What did you find most beneficial for you?
People at Mind the Bridge teach us about the start up world: they look at the project and analyze it to better understand its potential. I have still two weeks before the end, but I am willing to learn more and more.
Do you want to develop it just in Italy?
My project was born in Italy and will be developed there. I hope it will find some opportunities here in the United States too: in the Silicon Valley, it would be easier to get fundings and also think of an exit strategy, which makes a huge difference for the future.
What’s your next step?
For now we are still working on the blog, but I want to transform it in a real platform with all the sections I talked about earlier as soon as possible.