Aldo Agostinelli

The most famous startup accelerator in the world has selected two innovative Italian projects. This is quite an uncommon event: here are the new Italian digital entrepreneurs chosen by YComb and the reasons why their ideas are considered successful

Two Italian entities have made it into the last batch selected by YCombinator, the American startups incubator program financing a selected number new businesses with a potential: we are talking about and Akiflow. It’s big news, actually. First because Ycombinator has launched companies such as Dropbox, Airbnb, Reddit and Stripe, thus creating a unicorn (i.e. a startup worth over 1 billion dollars) every six months. Second because since Ycomb started, back in 2005, it has selected less than 5 startups set up by Italians (Due startup su cui voglio scommettere/Two startups I want to be on).

The best startup accelerator: YCombinator

For those who may not know it, YCombinator is an American startup accelerator, actually one of the best in the US. Headquartered in Palo Alto, in the Silicon Valley, it is run by a team of over 40 very busy people: this team receives about 13 thousand startups presentations per year just via internet. Through a really strict process, they select about 200/240 of them and they invest a fixed amount of 120 thousand dollars into each of them.

The selected startups are invited to show up at the Winter or at the Summer Demo days and introduce themselves in front of 600 potential investors. In case any of the investors are interested, they get in touch directly with the startups: and YCombinator leaves the stage. The minimum investment allowed is 25/50 thousand dollars (Tutto ciò che ho imparato in Y Combinator, e alcune radicali differenze con il venture in Italia/ What I have learnt in YCombinator and some radical differences with Italian venture capitalism).

Strive School, believing in digital skills

Let’s get to know the Italian businesses chosen by YComb better. The first one is called Strive School  and it was founded by Tobia De Angelis, who defined his startup “an online school of digital skills”. The idea stemmed from a careful analysis of the American and European school world. In the United States, colleges are really expensive: for some people this means getting into heavy debts, some others cannot afford them at all. In Europe universities are more affordable, even though students have to pay for their rental fees, books and so on.

However, argued De Angelis, affordable does not mean reliable: European universities are rather weak when it comes to STEM subjects, that is to say all disciplines concerning the digital world, i.e. the ones which will be more and more important for the business world of the future.

Strive School supplies such competencies and skills through 6-month online courses. And what about the price to be paid? Zero, until you find a decent job. This is the winning idea. “We share the risk with the students since we believe that, once they have completed our programme, they will easily find a job and then pay back for the training they received”, concluded De Angelis (Strive School wants to increase the number of job-ready software engineers in Europe).

Akiflow, online work becomes smart and fast

Akiflow, founded by Nunzio Martinello, is an “assistant for corporate apps”, available both for Windows and Mac, that is to say an instrument to create shortcut commands for tools such as e-mail, Google Drive, Slack or Asana. It comes with various utilities to help users save time and increase focus and productivity. Basically, it is meant to speed up browsing in your working space. It allows users to interact with several apps, search for files, contact colleagues, make notes without opening tens of files.

Two really different projects, the former with a broader mission, aiming at improving the quality of European education; the latter more operative, designed to simplify the life of all those people who run their business mainly online. In both cases, we are talking about ideas showing that Italian minds can be worth investing in even in the competitive context of the Silicon Valley.

In your opinion what characterizes the Startups which can stand out and be selected by accelerators such as YCombinator? Tweet @agostinellialdo

If you liked this post, you may also like Digital Transformation: è tempo di e-leader anche nella moda / Digital Transformation: it’s the time of e-leaders also in the fashion world

Aldo Agostinelli