How a startup accelerator in Italy can make an impact

If you don’t know about TechPeaks you are missing out. Yeah, right, just another startup accelerator. American startuppers are so used to see new accelerators flooding the scene. Like, too many.

TechPeaks is one of the many new European attempts at having the startup scenes flourish. Except not. It comes with a few quirks and perks that make the program stand out, and pose more than a challenge. It’s a six months program, compared to most three months programs out there, and that’s already a challenge on its own because six months visas are not so easy to obtain in Italy.

Oh, right, did I mention that TechPeaks is Italian-based? As an Italian I wouldn’t have expected people coming from all over the world to a country as hostile to entrepreneurship as Italy, to start their own business. A crazy bet, but I think it’s paying off. And the program is funded with government money. In Italy. To be fair it’s money from the Autonomous Province of Trento, one of the few local administrations that has some power over how to spend their own tax money.

The Province is providing equity-free grants to select startups. Startups may already be existing, but what’s happening instead is that teams are forming within the program, and they are pitching brand new ideas. And getting funded. The idea behind the program was to gather talented individuals and let them build something. The vision that drives this craziness is to bridge the gap between education (as provided by governments) and private investment, using public money. As crazy as it sounds, it could work.

As a techpeaker I’m seriously impressed at the effort the TechPeaks team is putting out to overcome the problems a troubled territory such as Italy has. Italian company law requires founders of newly founded companies to pour no less than 10k euros, including mandatory legal expenses. This is putting a lot of young entrepreneurs off, especially considering that in Italy it’s very uncommon to be financially independent at a young age. TechPeaks is trying to cover part of the expenses and provide legal advice, even if Italian laws are changing in these very days. And still taxes and unwinding costs are scaringly high.

Out of this hostile context, techpeakers are not showing discouragement. Sure, some people are worried at the difficulties, but most embrace the opportunities this crazy experiment is trying to create. It’s our (tough!) responsibility to make it work, and to be an example of disruptive change in this environment.

Wish me good luck, as I try to make my experience have an impact. And as I decide the future of my company.