Incubator founded by Massimo Ciaglia with an exit in America


An introduction of Massimo Ciaglia of Grownnectia, a leading incubator in Italy

Incubator led by Massimo Ciaglia achieved success in the Italian scene.

Let’s meet Massimo Ciaglia from the incubator of Grownnectia!

Massimo Ciaglia, serial Startup founder and author of the best seller “The Startup Canvas”, founded Grownnectia, a leading incubator and accelerator on the Italian scene.

What is your story? Are you a serial startup founder? Can you tell us about your first startup, your first exit in America and the startups you founded later?

At 18 I was working for IBM, but I was not satisfied. I wanted to create something on my own. After 2 years I quit and pursued my dream.

They told me that I was reckless because I left an excellent salary and a safe career, but I only listened to my instincts and I founded my first startup with a college mate of mine.

At 27, my first exit in the United States arrived, and at that point, all those, who had criticized my choice, understood what I had envisaged a few years earlier.

From that moment on, I have never stopped. I founded other startups, including in the Cyber security and Poleecy, the instant insurance startup based on blockchain and I became mentor and advisor in many other projects, because my main goal is to share what I have learned over the years by supporting those who face the startups’ dynamic ecosystem.

Grownnectia wants to be the crowning glory of this project. Our vision is to become among the first European players in supporting startups in the pre-seed phase and, with my team, we are working hard to make this happen.

You are also the author of the book “The startup canvas”, how did the idea for the book come about? Can you tell us more about the method?

The book “The startup canvas” came from a real need I had in structuring startups within a single strategic model that addresses all areas impacting the development of a startup. I realized that there was no operational guide to follow and the existing canvases were designed only to cover some aspects, such as the business model or the value proposition.

A link was missing that could support the startup founder from the business idea to the implementation, through a practical and visual method.

So, I created “The startup canvas”, a visual chart that is based on an innovative mindset, on tools and knowledge developed in 12 blocks that analyse every aspect of the build-up and scaleup process, and it is entirely based on real cases.

You are the founder of the incubator of Grownnectia, how did the idea come about? Which sector and how does your company operate in?

Analyzing the Italian market, we saw that there was a lack of structured players able to support startups from the earliest stages of life.

So, with Grownnectia, we focused on supporting startups in the pre-seed phase.

Our task is to help them verify that the business idea is interesting for the market. We accompany them in the phase of validation and set-up of the startup, up to the market launch.

Our goal is to become the leader in Europe for the pre-seed stage within 5 years. We will open a series of innovation hubs in the main Italian and European cities. These will be real centers of excellence, capable of attracting ideas and launching them on the market.

We have already opened some new offices, such as Verona, while others are in the startup phase, such as Milan, Bergamo and Genoa. To complete the scale-up phase in a big way, we plan to land in Barcelona and London, too.

In what stage of life was your startup when you landed in America? Can you tell us a little about how you managed to contact an international investor?

I always say that you must be at the right time, in the right place with the right people. And, when my startup was growing strongly, it just happened to find myself meeting one of my clients with an American investor who was scouting in Italy and from that acquaintance came the opportunity that changed my life.

Is it difficult for an Italian startup to be able to contact a foreign investor? What advice would you give her for looking overseas?

Networking is certainly of fundamental importance for any entrepreneur, even more so, if he is looking for investors. Social networks like Linkedin can really help a lot in this sense. They shorten distances and allow an exchange of knowledge and opinions, even with people who, at first glance, may not seem within our reach.

The advice, therefore, is defining what we are looking for, identifying the right people to interact with and creating a network of contacts, able to connect us in contact with those who might be interested in supporting our project.

How long did exit completion take? Was the documentation to be produced for the investor a stumbling block? What advice do you give to a startup founder who wants to get prepared for this opportunity?

The closing of the deal took about a year. Above all because having to negotiate with a foreign player involves delays due to the choice of lawyers and the forum. In our case the lawyer was in France, and, between travel and various negotiations, we had to wait about twelve months before arriving at the closing.

Surely, I advise a startup founder to always be supported by an experienced lawyer, who has already managed international M&A negotiations successfully.

How can I follow you on social networks? Have you also written a second book available for free online and do you have an academy? How to contact you to be followed as a mentor?

My social Chanels are:

  • Facebook: where every Wednesday from 7 pm I go live with a special guest in the “Un’ora al Massimo” event.
  • Linkedin
  • Instagram
  • YouTube: which hosts the Startup Video Blog and the recordings of “Un’ora al Massimo” live, to review them at any time.

Yes, I also created a free 200 pages E-book “How to create a successful Startup?”. It is a practical guide on how to develop and implement a business idea, but where I also talk about how to structure fundraising strategies and how to scale up. And, above all, there are many important contributions from people such as Luca Barboni, Michele Franzese, Gaetano Romeo, Mario Moroni, Jacopo Mele and many others.

We organize a 4-day event monthly: The startup Academy. The goal of this full immersion is to provide a guide to startup founders, helping them to identify what is important for structuring and growing their startup. It is based on The startup Canvas model. Each time, a high-level speaker participates with me, chosen from among our best mentors, ready to pass on their know-how to startuppers.

All the startups crossing our paths also access a complete and structured training path that accompanies them during their growth. These are lessons that take place online, held by brilliant teachers: nationally recognized professionals, each one specialized in his/her own discipline. It ranges from financial analysis to marketing and fundraising strategies, to making startup founders independent after the end of the path.

Where can we apply to the incubator of Grownnectia for the incubation and acceleration program? And for advisory services?

At this page you can find out about our acceleration programs. 

Can you leave us some links to your articles or videos on the different phases of a Startup, the fundraising process, the search for investors and the exit?

Sure. In the articles we talk above all about the news of the sector and the events not to be missed, as well as we interview experts and important authorities in their field, who give their advice to Startup founders at this page.

On The startup Canvas blog we report the best tips on marketing strategies and more. We also talk about the startup set-up, pitching, fundraising, e-commerce and much more.

On the other hand, is the Grownnectia blog where, every two weeks, our article dedicated to calls for startups is published.

If you are interested in Grownnectia, please read more on: Becoming a Leader in Europe , Incubator helps startup founders for investor day and Startup Events: “The Startup Academy” cannot be missed