The BAIA blog hosts an interview with Marco Marinucci, an Italian executive at Google and a BAIA member, who is launching an interesting initiative called Mind the Bridge, a nonprofit program to support a business plan competition for aspiring Italian entrepreneurs wishing to reach Silicon Valley. Marco tells us about the Mind the Bridge initiative in greater detail below.
Marco, tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I’m 39, earned a degree in Engineering from Genova and an MBA from Instituto de Empresa (Spain). My professional experience is made up mostly of entrepreneurial ventures. After an improbable start as an Artificial Intelligence researcher, my career developed around a common theme: launching new technologies (including ticketing, Ecommerce, VoIP, new medias) in different countries (I lived and worked in Italy, Spain, UK, France and US).
In 2002 I landed in California (yes, right in the middle of the bursting bubble). That’s another common theme of my life. Arriving late.
I joined Google in 2005. Again, I was late!
What is Mind the Bridge?
In the nutshell, the idea is to provide a means for the most innovative new ideas coming from Italian entrepreneurs to have links with the Silicon Valley. This will be done with a Business Plan competition. The projects with the most growth potential will be invited to participate in a road show in the Silicon Valley. There, they will have the chance to present their ideas directly to potential investors and corporations who expressed an interest in knowing more. The week will culminate with an event where the finalists will have the opportunity to present their “elevator pitch” to a large audience.
In preparation for the road show, each finalist project will be associated to a senior entrepreneur (for the most part coming from First Generation Network). The mentor will help focus the business idea and provide support to prepare effectively for the presentation in the Silicon Valley.
Why Mind the Bridge?
Mind the Bridge is a dream. It’s a response to a certain feeling that I found common amongst the Italians living abroad -- a frustration seeing that our country is abundant in talent and potentially good ideas, but an apparent lack of channels for developing such talent into something more tangible, such as … a successful new company, focused on growth.
Thus the idea: to build all the necessary bridges to close as many gaps as possible: training on business planning, having access to senior mentors, and having the possibility to tap directly into the resources of the most developed entrepreneurial eco-system in the world, the Silicon Valley.
In one simple metaphor: to have all the resources that people of my generation wished to have had when you thought you had a good idea but didn’t quite know what to do with it.
What do you want to accomplish with it?
The initiative has already had a great success: to have put under the same umbrella, a number of great initiatives that had been developed in the last few years (or months): the US Embassy led Partnership for Growth, SVIEC (the Silicon Valley Italian Executive Council), First Generation network (the network of Italian entrepreneurs of the first generation) and, of course, BAIA. All such associations are part of the organizing committee.
In addition, a stunning number of Italian senior managers/entrepreneurs (Alberto Sangiovanni Vincentelli, Fabrizio Capobianco, Vittorio Viarengo just to name a few) have enthusiastically accepted to get involved with the initiative.
We are all united by one objective and one feeling. The objective is the hope that Italy could regain an edge in entrepreneurship. The feeling is that our help can really matter.
How is BAIA useful in this initiative?
BAIA provides important logistical and organizational support through the efforts of some of its key members and its established infrastructure. It is represented in the Mind the Bridge organizing committee.
But there is more (and I’m not saying that “solely” because you are interviewing me..).
With its transparency, its infrastructure of shared responsibility of volunteers with a common goal, its strong “give back to the community” drive, BAIA has provided such a positive model that would be foolish not to try to replicate.
Many thanks to Marco Marinucci for answering our questions. Do you have some as well for Marco or BAIA? Please leave a comment below and we will be glad to answer.