Ventures To & Fro
24 Novembre Nov 2011 0357 24 novembre 2011

They're Off to See the Wizard . . .

The Mind the Bridge VentureCamp 2011 results are in and they are great. These are the companies going to San Francisco early in 2012 to work with the MtB team:

Arkimedia (I Like TV) (www.arkimedia.com)
D-Orbit (www.deorbitaldevices.com)
NextStyler (www.nextstyler.com)
Stereomood (www.stereomood.com)
Timbuktu (www.timbuktu.com)
Vinswer (www.vinswer.com)
Vivocha (www.vivocha.com)

(A list of the other VentureCamp presenters is at the end of this column.)

My assessment? MtB and the VentureCamp judges did a stellar job. OK, so I might be a little over-enthusiastic, given that I was involved in the initial selection process as a member of the faculty at the Startup Bootcamp where 15 startups were selected for VentureCamp. (Full disclosure: I was also assigned by MtB to be a mentor to four of the startups, one of which was Timbuktu Labs.) On the other hand, the involvement enabled me to see the presentations and meet all of the startup teams. Can you say “talent pool?”

Diverse, Practical & International Means “Italian”

This list represents the achievement of an enviable goal: Diversity. The six companies are diverse in sectors, stages, gender, location in Italy and revenue models, to name but a few. This was a stated goal of MtB, but the fact they achieved that goal says a fair bit about the Italian startup scene.

Paradoxically, what binds them together in that diversity is, first, that they mirror some of Italy’s strengths: the practical application of technology and expertise in sectors in which the Italian economy already performs well, ranging from aerospace engineering to fashion to Internet radio to digital publishing.

One more element that binds this diverse group: Their international outlook. This, too, is typical Italian (and, for that matter, typical European). Italy has a long history of doing business across borders. These founders differ from that tradition only in their desire to get into non-Italian markets ASAP. One obvious example: They use .com rather than .it.

As examples of such diversity, one of the startups, D-Orbit (www.deorbitaldevices.com) proposes to solve the problem of space debris—not the mess in your apartment but the growing problem of junk spinning through space in orbit around the Earth and threatening not only satellites but also Earth’s inhabitants.
Compare D-Orbit with Arkimedia (www.arkimedia.com), which provides a platform to accelerate interaction with TV programs and to enable real-time social networking about those shows. They are already on the air. Not bad for a startup. That’s practical.

B2B Business Model: Both of these startups have a B2B model (as does Vivocha, at www.vivocha.com) , which implies long sales cycles (because of a small number of potential customers) but large-scale revenue potential (because of the high price tag) with (potentially) lower customer acquisition costs.

B2C Business Model: On the other end, with a B2C model, look at Nextstyler, Stereomood, Timbuktu and Vinswer. Every one of these startups can be found in the market. Most of them are already generating revenue. Not bad at all.

Nextstyler showcases up-and-coming designers. Stereomood—with their service already available—enables users to tailor a playlst to their moods. Timbuktu publishes an iPad-based children’s magazine and will soon publish additional titles. Vinswer enables experts to create videos that can be embedded into their websites. Their revenue models depend on massive market penetration (i.e., many consumers paying small amounts), which implies much higher CAC but large revenue if they scale (which essentially means that they succeed in acquiring many customers at a manageable CAC).

Up Next: What’s Next?

I’ll post some thoughts on what these (and other startups) can do and what investors seek. In the meantime, I hope the champagne has been flowing, not only for these startups but the other ones who presented. They include:

Frestyl (www.frestyl.com)
GoWar (www.gowar.com)
Iubenda (www.iubenda.com)
Mangatar (www.mangatar.net)
Naevi in Silico (www.naeviinsilico.com)
Phlur (www.phlur.com)
Sounday (www.sounday.com)
Treedom (www.co2neutral.it)

See the Mind the Bridge website www.mindthebridge.com. The VentureCamp was sponsored by Corriere della Sera (and its parent, RCS).

P.S.—One thing these startups can do is spend some time and money on SEO because it took me about half an hour to find some of the website addresses. Not good.

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