Couple of Fridays ago Seedcamp accompanied Christian Ahlert to Milan for the 1st Italy Minibar. The London Minibar is a great initiative to bring together developers, web community in a funky setting in the East Side of London where a lot of start-ups are set up. The lure of free beer is powerful too. I guess the Italians have enjoyed Minibar so much, they thought it would be a good idea to take it to Italy. The longer term hope is that attendees will move freely between the 2 locations. I think such initiatives that bring the European community together rather than apart are good for Europe and good for entrepreneurs. Seedcamp certainly aims to do that with our efforts to invest in entrepreneurs from all over Europe.
Some things went as expected but other things came as quite a surprise. The setting was classy (the art museum) and it was a very well organized event with 10 good presentations plus a chance for us to talk about Seedcamp and hear from the sponsors. The ambience was high energy and typically loud which is a great Italian characteristic. I was very pleasantly surprised to see that so much entrepreneurial zeal in Italy. 250+ showed up when around 150 were expected. Also, there were a lot of women both in the audience and in the presentation group. Now that’s something we have to encourage and the Girl Geek dinners certainly provide a good support network for the girls. One thing to note is that everything was in Italian and as surprising as that was for me… I think it came as equal surprise that I gave the presentation in English. One of the critiques I have (and maybe some out there would disagree) is that there needs to be a better way to incorporate international attendees and speakers because an event fully in Italian was difficult to follow. What was interesting to see is that most of the 10 pitches had their presentation in English and delivered it in Italian. That was a great balance that helped me follow along much of the time.
I was also surprised how repeatedly I was asked “whether Italy is seen to be lagging behind the rest of Europe” in technology entrepreneurship. I think the very recognition of this perception shows that the technology community is moving forward in a positive way to address this image and provide more support for entrepreneurs. I think what will help is easier access to funding, more international participation especially by Italian entrepreneurs who have moved out to come back and spend time with other entrepreneurs, coverage of the developments of the companies, infrastructure and mentor support, and leveraging the creative and traditional strengths of Italy.
On the content, there were some cool companies such as Myrl (virtual world) that have cool products and made some good presentations. But some of the presentations were a bit all over the place and I would suggest that if the companies have only 3 minutes to present, that they stick to 1) Problem and why it’s important 2) Solution and how it fits the problem 3) What the company is looking for
All in all, it was a great event where we got to meet some local angels, entrepreneurs, developers, lots of bloggers and see that the Italian technology community is seeking to grow strong and shed its image of being a laggard. That’s good news for Italy and for Europe! Below is a video of the event courtesy of Intruders.tv.