Incubator of Massimo Ciaglia: becoming a Leader in Europe
An introduction of Grownnectia, successful incubator the Italian scene
Grownnectia is a recently born incubator in Italy with the mission to land to Europe.
Let’s meet Massimo Ciaglia, founder of the incubator of Grownnectia!
Internalization is the mission of Massimo Ciaglia, Founder of the Grownnectia incubator: from the book “Th Startup Canvas” to the incubation/acceleration company, up to the Equity Crowdfunding campaign.
Why the idea of the book and why the incubator of Grownnectia? What is your mission?
The book “The Startup Canvas” comes from my personal experience, i.e. I could not find a strategic tool that would allow me to visually structure all the processes of a startup. The canvases I used were built to be used for specific vertical needs, such as the definition of the business model, or the value proposition, but none suited the needs of startups, which need a specific analysis of many more processes and with well-defined and measurable goals.
In fact, the startup ecosystem is extremely uncertain and fragile. Currently, the failure rate is around 90%.
To drastically reduce the risk, it is essential to apply validated models based on methodologies such as Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Growth Hacking, Customer Development and many others born overseas, in Silicon Valley, in the cradle of startups.
For this reason, I advise startup founders not to venture alone in an ecosystem that, probably, they don’t know, but to rely on an operational guide to structure solid foundations for their startups and be brought to success.
The Startup Canvas has this same goal. I thought of dividing this innovative framework into 3 quadrants:
- the business idea,
- the strategy,
- the execution.
Within them, I identified 12 blocks to advance step by step and have the opportunity to focus as much as possible on the really important aspects of each process.
The Grownnectia paths, which we have created for startups in the validation phase, pre-seed and seed, are also based on this model.
Our task is to help startup founders to verify that the business idea is interesting for the market. We accompany them from the phase of validation and establishment of the startup to the launch on the market to get to create traction.
Through our Academy, we provide them with all the information and skills necessary to continue on their own once the incubation or acceleration path is completed.
The incubator of Grownnectia was born in Italy looking forward Europe. How do you see the ecosystem of Italian startups compared to the European one? In which countries Grownnectia is more needed and why?
The Italian startup ecosystem has developed a lot in recent years, but some European countries have anticipated us and they look at the future with much more confidence than we do. An example is Estonia, where opening a startup is very simple, not expensive and can be done online.
I am confident that Italy will also reach these levels but, for the moment, a deep knowledge of this sector is somehow precluded to the youngest, who find themselves disoriented and without a guide as soon as they set foot there.
The incubator of Grownnectia was born in Italy for this reason, i.e., to fill that gap and help all those who need to be accompanied from the earliest stages, starting from their idea. We have already opened new offices and soon we will open others in the most important Italian cities, but we intend to arrive soon also in Europe.
Our goal is to set up Innovation Hubs in Barcelona and London too – just to begin – because we have found an extremely fertile situation. We want to spoil the physiological gap in the context of supporting startups in the pre-seed phase, which are those at greatest risk of failure and, for this reason, need specific guidance and training.
What contribution can your incubator make to Italian and European startups in the pre-seed phase? And which one to startups in the acceleration phase?
Grownnectia takes many startups under its wing, each one different from the other and with always different needs. We take every project to heart; we are committed to making it work and we use all our skills.
Our team is made up of over 40 collaborators and each one of them is an expert in different sectors. There is no lack of skills in Grownnectia, even in the most technological and innovative sectors, such as AI and Blockchain.
For this reason, we provide a dedicated team of professionals to each startup that comes to us. We want to surround startup founders and their teams with capable and competent people, who can take them by the hand and guide them on their path in the validation phase, in the search for funds and to reach traction.
And so, from an idea you can easily get a profitable startup.
How do you stand out from other Italian and foreign competitors?
In Italy, from 2014 until today, the sector of consulting for startups and SMEs has experienced a phase of strong growth. The realities that have developed around this world are a lot, but we do not see them as competitors with respect to positioning. Grownnectia is specialized in supporting startups in the very early stages.
Our company is based and works thanks to continuous interaction and comparison. We want to create opportunities and to do that we like to take advantage of every exchange opportunity, both with companies in our own sector and with other subjects, with a know-how that is also very different from ours.
We saw that, in our country, there was a lack of structured players capable of supporting startups from the earliest stages of life.
To respond to the requests made by our customers too, with Grownnectia we have specialized in supporting startups in the pre-seed phase, i.e., since startup founders have nothing but an idea.
We help them to verify that their business idea is interesting for the market by guiding them through the validation, and then we go on until the startup is established and the product or service is launched on the market.
Grownnectia recently closed an Equity Crowdfunding campaign in Italy. How did the campaign go? Have you achieved your goals? How will the story of Grownnectia continue now?
The crowdfunding campaign was a real success. In the pre-commitment phase, we already exceeded the minimum goal of 100k euros that we had set. Over 130 subscribers believed in our project, bringing us to over 450.000€ at the end of the campaign.
Now, with the renewed strength that our members have given us, we are moving forward towards our goals: the opening of new Innovation Hubs throughout Italy, the structuring of a new business line in the training field, the upgrade of the services of Open Innovation for Corporates and the participatory portfolio of high potential startups. We already have 6 investments in the portfolio.
You are also advisors. Among the various services offered there is the consultancy to startups, including the drafting of the pitch and the business plan. Why is it important for startups to get help in drafting these documents professionally before going to an investor? At what stage do you recommend contacting you for these services?
These are fundamental aspects for startups because an effective pitch and a correct and complete business plan can really make a difference in the fundraising phase.
It is about knowing how to sell your idea, on which every startup founder believes completely. But between saying and doing, there is usually an abyss. For this reason, at Grownnectia we studied these services. In addition to an initial analysis and brainstorming activity together with the startup founders, we develop documents that are able to highlight their potential.
Furthermore, we subject our startup founders to the Stress Test, i.e., we put them in the same condition they will find themselves in when they must do the pitch in front of potential investors. We prepare them in the best way and get them ready.
The best startups are invited to participate to the Pitch Day, so they can meet our network.
These are two essential documents for dealing with any fundraising strategy, so my advice is to complete the validation phase to have all the information necessary to develop both the elevator pitch and the business plan.
Grownnectia also offers a pre-money evaluation assistance. Why is it important to have an external opinion before going in front of the investor? Some argue that it is better to drop the pre-money valuation and postpone it to later stages. What do you think about it?
The pre-money evaluation is used to determine the amount of shares to be sold in the context of an investment by an external investor.
Its role is essential to arrive prepared at fundraising and provide important information to the potential investor, so he/she will have an additional parameter to evaluate the potential of the project and decide whether to support it or not.
Then there are other services offered on your site, such as ICT, web and media or marketing for startups with a multi-channel approach, growth, metrics and traction, can you tell us something more? When should these services be used?
These are services that we offer in support of our incubation and acceleration paths because we consider them fundamental for the structuring and growth of each startup, declining them according to the type of business.
ICT, Web and Media services are mainly designed for the validation phase, the product development and the market launch. Instead, the Traction services are for startups that already have metrics and certainly have already validated the product and intend to scale.
Would you like to leave us some links for your blog articles or videos on pre-money evaluation, pitch, business plan, marketing strategy, growth and traction?
Here you can find some articles on pre-money evaluation:
Here on pitch:
Here on business plan:
Here on marketing strategy, growth and traction:
These are just some of the free resources that startup founders can access from my three websites Grownnectia, Startup Canvas and Massimo Ciaglia.me. In fact, I wanted to give access to a free video course in 3 episodes lasting almost 3 hours: click here.
Do you want to recommend some books to neophytes to be prepared for the startup world? Which ones to start with and why?
Obviously, I recommend my free e-book “Come creare una startup di successo”.
Then, to understand what the steps are to be faced and goals to set, I must mention my book “The Startup Canvas”, best seller on Amazon.
For aspiring startup founders, I think an important reading could be “Starting with Why” by Simon Sinek. In fact, according to him, “it doesn’t matter what you do, but why you do it”.
However, for those who already have an idea in mind, it is better to lay the foundations with the book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. It is essential to understand how to achieve the goal without wasting time and money.
Then, I cannot fail to mention “Traction” by Gabriel Weinberg to learn how to acquire customers and create a close-knit customer base.
Finally, for those who want to grow I recommend “Growth Hacking” by Gerardo Forliano and “Growth Hacking Marketing” by Sean Ellis.
If you are interested in Grownnectia, please read more on: Incubator founded by Massimo Ciaglia with an exit in America, Incubator helps startup founders for investor day and Startup Events: “The Startup Academy” cannot be missed!