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Startups & Venture Capital in Italy & California, J. C. Roberts III

Why Write This Column?

Blog post del 7/11/2011
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Why This Column?
Why would I write this column? Well, for starters, because I could, thanks to the generosity of

And the second reason: Italians somehow seem insecure about their startup world, especially in comparison to Silicon Valley. Bankers, lawyers, entrepreneurs—many people from many places—regularly talk about Silicon Valley as if it were a Shangri-La or some other mythical place, where entrepreneurs are served mead and honey and venture capital money falls from trees. They apologize for the state of affairs just South of the Alps.

Hmmmm . . .. Silicon Valley is a great place but Italy’s not too shabby. I am seeing world-class entrepreneurs with world-class ideas here. Why this insecurity, coming from comparisons with an imaginary place?

A View from the Airplane
Well, the answer to that rhetorical question is pretty straightforward: Behind the mythology is some pretty good experience and some practices that can benefit Italian startups.

For example, how do US companies use the Lean Startup methodology such that venture capitalists repeatedly invest in such companies? How can term sheets be simplified? Should startups use convertible notes for seed funding?

The lessons should go both ways. Italians can teach the Americans a thing or two about successful startups. Americans are notoriously short-sighted about non-US markets. Italians are most certainly not that myopic. And recent surveys indicate that Italian entrepreneurs are better educated (more degrees) and with more technical/engineering expertise than their US counterparts. This gets interesting.

The view from my airplane seat while “commuting” between Lombardia and California should give me a ringside seat to all this. There is much to write about, back and forth. Or to and fro. Hence the title.

Write for This Column
I’ll write about strategic issues, legal matters, marketing challenges. I will showcase startups and discuss practical tips for pitch decks. I will interview leading luminaries or up and coming unknowns. As my answers might not always be right, there is a place for guest columnists (including any of you reading).

If you would like to contribute to this discussion, post some comments. Moreover, contact me if you want to write an article or be the subject of an interview. You can write your contributions in Italian. If you are a startup and you would like to have it showcased here, then contact me.
James C. Roberts III.

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