Incubator online: the Startup Geeks case


An introduction of a leading incubator in the Italian scene

Startup Geeks is a recently born incubator in Italy and has achieved considerable success.

Let’s meet Giulia and Alessio from Startup Geeks!

Giulia and Alessio are the young founders of Startup Geeks, not only an online incubator but also a successful community for future entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Startup Geeks has been a real success, a community that developed and expanded in a short time, creating a sharing and growth movement of aspiring startup founders. How did this idea come up? Are there other realities like yours in Italy or abroad? Were you inspired by any of these? What are the points of difference compared to the others?

The idea came up during our honeymoon while we were on a bus travelling from Peru to Bolivia. After reading a report from the European Union which ranked Italy as the 25th country out of 28 in terms of digitalization, we wondered what we could do to improve this alarming situation in our own small way. 

At the time we lived and had a job in Germany but once we returned home from our honeymoon, we decided to throw ourselves headlong into this adventure. We wanted to help and support our country, and, for this reason, we decided to return to Italy. Talking to many Italian startup founders we realized that there was no physical or digital place where entrepreneurs could compare each other on their path and this lack impacted to negative Italian situation that sees 90% startups to fail within the first 3 years from their establishment.

Starting from that point and assessment and, after furthermore considerations, arose the need to first create a blog where topics related to business and startup world are disclosed to aspiring ones, and then setup a real digital and protected space, in which startup founders and professionals are introduced, giving them the opportunity to build their project in a more conscious way, making fewer mistakes thanks to continuous interacting and comparison.

For sure there are realities like ours in Italy as well as abroad and we inspired by looking at how they work but we have always tried to create, differentiating from others, something unique. In particular, the main difference compared to many international ones is that our community, being Italian and adopting Italian language, supports in the best way the domestic founders, knowing and being fully accustomed to Italian rules, environment, and fundraising methods. For this reason, it is more suited to the local reality and provides a greater value added and, above all, a greater concreteness in the activities and advices given to the members.

Can you give us some metrics to understand the extent of your phenomenon? What do the community members say about you? How do they show their appreciation to you every day?

Within our community, we now have over 950 founders and 40 active coaches and thanks to our networking activities we interact with them every day. Community members always express their appreciation to us by participating to our activities and events that we organize online, such as webinars, and within the community there is always mutual support, even between founders. The best thing is to have created a solid network of connections between startup founders!

Startup Geeks is also a benefit company, and this is continually attested by a series of activities for informational purposes that you carry out for free. Can you tell us about some of these initiatives that have been most successful and how many resources do you make available to aspiring startup founders for free?

One of the main objectives of Startup Geeks is precisely to create a social impact on the ecosystem and that is why we are committed to providing free materials for entrepreneurial training daily. On our website you can download several guides and e-books we have created over the years on the startup world completely free of charge and read all the interviews with the founders we have known since the beginning of our journey. As for the initiatives that have given us greater satisfaction, they are certainly the Startup Geeks Summer Week and the Startup Geeks Oktoberfest, weeks of free online training on the business world attended by over 4,500 people.

What are the activities and resources dedicated to premium members?

As for the free resources for Premium members, we have set up a section dedicated to training (80+ hours), split by categories. In that section, for premium members only, all our webinars are saved and there are resources that help the startup founder in different stages: validation of the idea, business plan and business model, development of the MVP and much more. 

Then we have a subsection fee where are listed special discounts for some tools (up to € 20,000 in discounts) and a subsection dealing with our service providers, which we have selected and which we would like to recommend for their professionalism, competence, quality of service, with respect to the needs of startups.

Finally, we have a list of premium members, coaches and startups who have joined our community, divided by area of interest (to facilitate contact between members). The subscription fee also includes access to our community on Slack, our communication network with +950 people, where every day members ask for support and feedback, and exchange ideas and opinions. There are also published notices and reminders for all the events we organize within the community, such as Speed ​​date, Stress tests and exclusive webinars.

You are also an online incubator. When and how did that idea come out and why? What does your incubator program consist of?

The Startup Builder, our online incubator, results from the need to create an “ad hoc” and targeted training course for the aspiring entrepreneurs of tomorrow with the support of specialized mentors. The Startup Builder is a need expressed by our community members and we built it on their needs. This is a path aimed to help Italian startup founders to understand if and how to develop an idea to transform it into a business, and what is the potential of their business idea. It is a personalized online accompaniment path aimed at supporting the new generation of Italian entrepreneurs by providing them solid training sessions, based on group and individual mentorship, held by highly experienced entrepreneurs and top managers. It culminates with a “pitch” day in which the aspiring startup founders who have developed the best 15 projects present their pitch in front of our network of investors.

Compared to others you state and underline, with intellectual honesty, that not all ideas can become a startup, but a startup candidate can discover it through your incubator program. Can you tell us more about this? Can you give us some Startup Builder metrics?

The Startup Builder is a personalized online accompanying path that guides and allows you to carry out all necessary analysis in a structured way and within 12 weeks, to understand if the idea you have in your mind has the potential to turn into a business or if it is better abandon it and dedicate to develop a new idea.

The structure of the Startup Builder goes beyond that of a simple online course: through rigid deadlines, daily confrontation and a lot of practice, participants actively live the program and all its activities, reaching a steady work pace needed to complete on time the weekly tasks. In the first four editions, 142 projects participated to the program. Out of first 53 projects which completed the program, 12 established a startup to be launched on the market and 7 startups succeeded to fundraise for a total of 215,000 euros. The level of user satisfaction is 4.5 out of 5.

What are the social channels where you can be followed?

We are highly active on social networks, especially on Instagram and Linkedin. We like to share experiences, advices and updates on Startup Geeks and his team and through our Linkedin profile we have organized several webinars to address topics related to startup world. Social media represent for us a way of interacting and comparing ourselves daily with those who follow and support us.

If you are interested in Startup Geeks, please read more on: Incubator succeeded with a 170,000 euro fundraising  

Digital PR and communication at the heart of the strategy 

Venture builder: from an idea to a rapidly growing business