Content marketing community leading digital renaissance


An introduction of a leading community of content marketing in Italy

Rinascita Digitale is a recently born community focus on content marketing.

Let’s meet Stefano Saladino from Rinascita Digitale, one of the main content marketing community in our country!

Stefano Saladino is the CEO of Mashub srl and the Project Leader of “Rinascita Digitale”, creator and coordinator of the Contentware Summit. Through his career path, he explores the world of Marketing, Communication and Digital Innovation.

Entrepreneur, trainer, consultant: different ways to help companies to renovate their presence in the market, supporting teams in the development of innovative projects of marketing and communication. He has always been devoted to the spread of digital culture, which gave him the possibility to realise important events on a global level.

Good morning Stefano, you are a startupper too! You are Founder and CEO of Mashub, a company that was born to simplify the business process of Digital Transformation and Marketing Evolution. It’s a Strategy, Content and Performance Agency and this is exactly what we want to talk about: the widest context in the startup world, Digital Marketing and Digital Transformation. Could you tell us how and when you had this idea and your mission with Mashub?

Nice question! The idea was born many years ago with a different logic. The name Mashub derives from the word mashup, which is the union of different music tracks that can create a completely different music, combined with the word hub, which joins skills and mashup. Therefore, it’s the union of skills with the purpose to produce new strategic and creative tracks for the company to enter the world of marketing and communication.

I have been in the market of communication of digital marketing until five years ago and I left this market to do something different. It was a strategic choice because I decided to change path when digital started to become popular. In the meantime, I coordinated the Contentware and during the events I introduced myself as Mashub, a company that used to do open innovation in the world of marketing and communication. Back then, nobody used to do open innovation in the world of marketing and communication and, in fact, no one could understand what I was saying. Once the experience outside the market finished and the business became a startup, Mashub became a company of digital solutions. Today there are many of them, but our idea was born as a hub to support the businesses in the processes of strategic rethinking of the presence in the market. It wasn’t just execution, but also co-planning to start approaching the market with the right ideas. It was born with this spirit of evolution in the needs of the market that is still latent in many businesses, but will be a growing request. It’s no longer sufficient to handle creativity and communication, it’s necessary to support the customer in the strategic process.

Your story has farther origins, it began in the world of Digital Marketing. We would like to ask you about a very important event on Content Marketing that you organise since 2015, which is the Contentware Summit. Could you tell us more about this event and the importance of Content Marketing today, especially for a startup?

My story began even longer ago, Contentware is part of the project of Digital Festival, which I organised until 2014 and included the whole digital world. When it became too difficult to deal with that, I decided to dedicate myself to content marketing, which is a very developed subject in terms of realisation, but still not very well described and formalized and with few opportunities to enter discussion platforms. This is how Contentware originated. It was born as a platform, an event able to create a community of people interested in content marketing in Italy and to give them the possibility to discuss, meet, exchange, share etc. We decided to temporarily suspend Contentware because with “Rinascita Digitale” we already focused enough on content, but from October/November of this year there will be a new edition. 

Today, to talk about communication we need to talk about content marketing. In this moment, there is a lot of advertising oriented to the creation of a conversation in a short period, the traditional marketing funnel which brings quick acquisition and a closure with little strengthening of the relationship with the costumer, little transmission of the values and little involvement of the audience.

Nowadays, content marketing is a necessary tool to create micro-communities around the business. If I think of the world of startup, startup means audience, which is part of the business, not only because it buys a service but also because the acquisition process is so complex and sometimes onerous that it becomes essential to convert that cost in a strengthening of the relationship over time. I need to make my audience enter my community and the tool to do that is content marketing, which gives me the possibility to talk about myself and involve the audience. You have to create a content-hungry community of stakeholders that wants to participate actively. Making advertising is easy, creating contents of value over time is way more complex! The strengthening of the relationship in the long/medium term has a priceless value.

We know that there are two very important topics for you: Innovation and Education. Therefore, we wanted to ask you how do you live and apply these concepts in your own professional and personal life.

The right answer is that I created “Rinascita Digitale”! The format “Good Morning Doers”, for example, is a tool of education for me. “Rinascita Digitale” is the opportunity to have an open and constant platform that intercepts people than can influence with their visions and contents. It’s my platform in constant upgrade and learning! I live chat with people. To taint myself is a job that I have always done, but today I publish it and, while I do so, I make it available for everyone as an opportunity. In many occasions, I participate in the production of the content and the live because it means learning and spreading. Basically, it’s weird, but I made my training course public!

Let’s take a cue from Albert Einstein – “The crisis is the best blessing that can happen to people and countries, because the crisis brings progress. Creativity is born from the distress, as the day is born from the dark night. It is in crisis that invention, discovery and large strategies are born. Whoever overcomes crisis, outdoes himself without being overcome” – to ask you what do you think of the challenge that you had to throw down to Italy with “Rinascita Digitale”.

First of all, after six months/one year, talking about rebirth has become common for the period we are living. Talking about rebirth on the 8th of March was crazy! The theme of “Rinascita Digitale” had a great vision, allow me to take credit for that, because we immediately understood that it was a period of break compared to the past and, therefore, we put ourselves in a rebirth mode. We were already making evolution, it was the moment to activate a process to understand that nothing would have ever been as before and we had to take advantage of this, reset and learn more skills in an easy way, thanks to digital, to reorganise, take off again and revive. It means thinking. We were coming from an era where time was stolen from the activity we used to do and we couldn’t stop. For me, the challenge was to have the big opportunity to stop and be able to revive.

The past is the past! It’s a necessary skill to look at the future, but overthinking the present is useless and we decided to look directly at the future, preparing ourselves to what would have happened the next day to take advantage of the opportunity of the future.

It hasn’t been announced yet, but we will organise an initiative called ’20-’21-’22, where 2020 was a year of interruption, 2021 is a year of rearrangement and 2022 will be a proper year of departure and prosperity. It’s important to look in perspective, to look with an eye what happens today and with the other one always farther. 

“Rinascita Digitale” is an initiative that was born in March 2020, during the medical and national emergency, whose purpose is to offer free education to rethink the future. A beautiful project! A free online lessons marathon about marketing, finance and business management where you involved professionals, researchers, experts and innovators in favour of entrepreneurs, managers, consultants, students and startuppers and we wanted to ask you what is the value of sharing for you because – thanks to you and those who believe in all of this like you – you could give life to your project.

Since 2005, “sharing” was my main purpose. I have always thought that creating an opportunity for people to share knowledge is a growth for the whole market and not an element of competition. What I did during these years was to create platforms where I could make available the opportunity to share knowledge in an open and free way. The best occasion was the Digital Festival in 2005, which lasted 29 days proving the size of the project. The purpose was to collect the skills and spread them.

“Rinascita Digitale” was born on this path, putting online what we did in a physical way for many years with 135 hours of live session. Sharing was fundamental and the already existing network facilitated the process. Clarity, transparency, clear values and the neutrality of the project were very important. “Rinascita Digitale” was born as a neutral platform with a neutral branding, making it less personal. We created a container where everyone could feel at home, not in the house of someone else. I didn’t open my house, I created a new one for everyone to share their skills. This was an important element of engagement because nobody ever felt inside a system, they were the system. Sharing didn’t make me earn money but helped me to become a better person, talking to so many people and contributing to their growth are more important elements compared to the bank account.

With “Rinascita Digitale” you put at everybody’s disposal skills, strategies and useful tools for a professional and personal growth. Startuppers are among the first ones for their thirst of knowledge and skills, how do you help them? Which hard skills would you suggest them to acquire? And which of them through “Rinascita Digitale”?

There are some projects that were born for startups, such as “Silicon Valley Digital Tour” and we created them to meet that target halfway and the typical needs of that world.

In the meantime, everyone has to make a map of their educational needs and divide them into three areas:

  • an area of technical and functional exploration of the startup,
  • an area of self-growth exploration, which is neglected too many times but it’s an always more important skill,
  • an area of exploration without bonds, which brings us outside the comfort zone and towards new opportunities.

We can say that the project had a huge success! Could you tell us some numbers about the goals that you reached?

I don’t like numbers because they are like a photography, but without soul, emotions, values. I can say that we reached:

  • 1.200/1.300 speakers involved,
  • almost 1.000 hours of live streaming lessons,
  • almost 50.000 people engaged for 250.000/300.000 live sessions,
  • tens of thousands of hours displayed on Youtube.

These are numbers that don’t give a real value, which for me is the way every single element produced influenced the future of people. We didn’t give any recipe. Compared to those who have recipes to solve something, we gave the ingredients to produce many recipes to reach the results. We gave many puzzle pieces that, together with the pieces of our own life, composed a different image. I like to think that these 50.000 people composed 50.000 puzzles or realised 50.000 different recipes.

Michele Saladino participates too and says: “to make this thing bigger, at a certain point, we launched a project called Storie di Rinascitawhere we asked the participants of the community to send us a collection of a rebirth path that was born thanks to us, or more in general that was born in their lives. We wanted to take these puzzles because we wanted them to tell us how different elements of their lives could bring to a phase of rebirth”.

A live streaming marathon thanks to the contribute of highly qualified speakers and moderators, which gave life to a space of digital no-stop confrontation, virtual meetings to support a new community driven by the common desire of creating a digital future together. We would like to focus on this concept for a moment and ask you how important it is to create a community in the first stages of life of a startup and why.

The digital theme is very important for us but it shouldn’t stray, not everything goes through digital. From one side, we used digital but we realised a community without making a community. We did it in a natural way, spontaneously, informally, without following a scheme or a structural paradigm of the concept of community. The value of what we did won, this created the community! The part of the contents is fundamental too, it’s important for the concept of community to be multidimensional. Everyone interested should be present and actively participate because over time they will activate more or less depending on the evolutive phases of the startup project. The community has a sense when it’s active or can be activated, when it makes itself available synergically and in a proactive way towards your startup. It’s about alchemy too, it’s not only marketing strategy! It begins from the premise of the culture of people that compose a startup. If the only thing they care about is money, the community won’t be based on values but on their needs and interests, making a very risky community. When the purpose is achieved, the sense of affection to the community will fail because it was only connected to commercial and financial interests.

We would like to end the interview with one last question: how do you see the future of Italy? Do you think that we will be able to take advantage of this moment to realise a digital transformation and how long will it take? Compared to other European countries with a high level of digitization, how far are we? Do you believe that there are good perspectives for startups to enter this market and why?

I would like to begin with a technical answer. The European community has just approved a European regulation on crowdfunding – equity crowdfunding – that will allow Italian platforms to operate on a European level. It’s a big opportunity that gives space to an even bigger market. However, having a European mentality means being already scaleup, which in turn means to be already multilingual, having a product, going towards some kinds of logics that aren’t alike for every startup.

In my opinion, today we have a big opportunity, we have many investments that should be useful to put on real purposes the already existent infrastructures or to make new ones. If there will be investments, they will need to make sense on practical paths. For me the real sense of the future is to invest and to put in the best conditions the future generations in the labour market, because they will build a real strategy for the future and they will need to do so in the best conditions, understanding the opportunities that innovation can bring today. If we don’t work on the range of people from middle school to university, we risk to digitalise a system that won’t be based on a population capable of generating a real value. The real gap today is the capacity to invest in young people.

If you are interested in Rinascita Digitale, please read more on: Content at the center of a young entrepreneur’s career and Content as focus of a young entrepreneur’s career

If you are interested in Content Marketing, please read more on: Content Marketing: attract, engage, and retain your targetContent Marketing platforms: the best 10 tools for us and Content Marketing, Storytelling and Copywriting