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Applications are open to anyone (it is not necessary to be a Bocconi student or alumnus/a) anywhere.

Deadline: June 23, 2024.

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March 26, 2024

Why does an international startup choose an Italian pre-acceleration program?

Our Pre-Accelerator is a 3-month training program aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs with early stage business ideas. It focuses on developing an MVP, validating the business, and planning a go-to-market strategy. Held bi-annually, it recently welcomed 16 startups to its ninth batch. Participants vary widely in age, educational, and professional backgrounds, fostering rich peer-to-peer learning.

While many of the selected startups have Italian founders or have been long-time residents, some are based abroad or have international team members. From the second batch to the current ninth, 2,284 startups have applied to enter both our pre-acceleration and acceleration programs. Of these, 15.7% were based abroad, while the remaining 1,925 were Italian teams. In terms of the year with the highest presence of applications from abroad, we have the recently concluded Batch VIII, with as many as 59 foreign teams. 

These data have led us to wonder why teams and startups from or based abroad had decided to apply to an Italian Pre-Acceleration program. Could the reason lie in our country's ecosystem? Or was it dependent on the market? Or perhaps, on the specific industry of each one?

To find an answer to all of these questions and gain insight into how Italy's entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem is perceived internationally, we spoke with teams from AInterior, COLLECTEE, and Re-Candy. They shared their stories, from the inception of their business ideas to their choice of Milan as a launchpad for their ventures, and their expectations around the pre-acceleration program.

Who are you and how did your business idea come about?

Name: AInterior

Industry: AI and Design

Geography: France

Team members: Lucie Cotier Thibault Jankowski, Baptiste Jankowski and Pierre Noel

We are a team of four, with very diverse backgrounds: Thibault is an interior architect, Lucie manages sustainability projects in a real-estate company, Pierre is a Unity developer, and Baptiste is a product designer. 

In all the projects he was working on, Thibault always had to face critical inefficiencies during the schematic design phase. With the advent of generative AI technology, he realized the potential for a specialized tool but found no existing solutions addressing his specific needs. 

That’s how Ainterior was born: a web-based software enabling interior architects to generate photorealistic renderings quickly and from any device, by merging 3D modeling with the power of generative AI. 


Industry: Art and Blockchain

Geography: Italy

Team members: Carla Cisno (Uruguay) and Alberto Scalabrini (United Arab Emirates)

We are Carla and Alberto, co-founders and, respectively, CEO and CFO of COLLECTEE. Alberto has a background in finance, accounting, and law and experience in investment banking. Carla is a former gallery manager in New York City with a double background in art and finance and over a decade of international experience working at the intersection of art, culture, and technology.

The inception of COLLECTEE's business idea originated during our participation in the NFT Talents program. It was during this time that we delved into exploring RWA tokenization, along with innovative token standards and applications.

Name: Re-Candy 

Industry: Foodtech

Geography: Poland

Team members: Magdalena Fabjanowicz, Jan Krakowski and Natalia Jatkowska 

Our team is made up of three people: Magdalena and Natalia, two chemistry PhDs with experience in wine and food analysis, and Jan Krakowski, an experienced marketing specialist. 

Re-Candy is a novel kind of food that serves as both a sweet and healthful snack. The idea came out during the PhD studies of our CEO Magda, when she broadened the knowledge regarding the wine making process. She quickly noticed that there is a big issue with the plant waste generated which is still a valuable source of nutrients that can be successfully transferred to other full value products.

What is the state of the ecosystem of startups and accelerators in the country where these teams reside?

Carla Cisno of COLLECTEE, who soaked up the vibrant startup culture of New York before the pandemic, has recently navigated the promising yet cozier startup scene in Uruguay. Despite being relatively new to this environment, her excitement to dive deeper and share more discoveries is palpable. Over in France, Lucie Cotier from AInterior paints a picture of a richly supported entrepreneurial ecosystem, bustling with incubators like Le Cargo and Station F in Paris. However, she points out the lack of early-stage supportive programs similar to the B4i Pre-accelerator, something they're keenly feeling. Meanwhile, Magdalena Fabjanowicz of Re-Candy watches Poland's entrepreneurial ecosystem flourish, with an ever-growing community of startups and accelerators sparking innovation. Together, their stories weave a narrative of diverse startup landscapes, from the bustling streets of New York and Paris to the emerging markets of Uruguay and Poland, each with its unique set of opportunities and challenges.

How do they perceive the Italian ecosystem? And why did they choose to come to Italy to accelerate their venture?

The first person that answered to this question was Magdalena Fabjanowicz from Re-Candy. She sees the Italian startup ecosystem as a rising force within Europe. The support offered by programs like the B4i one, and the potential for collaboration with Italian wine producers, have been key factors in their decision to accelerate their venture in Italy. As per Carla Cisno of COLLECTEE, she is enchanted by Italy's blend of rich cultural heritage and a burgeoning technological landscape. She views the possibility of accelerating in Italy as an opportunity to merge culture with innovation, creating unique marketable solutions. Milan, with its strategic European location, offers a gateway to diverse markets and the chance to forge connections across the continent, promising for the scaling and international expansion of their startup. Lucie Cotier from AInterior, moreover, was drawn to Milan for the high-caliber education offered by Bocconi University and the program's structure, which caters well to very early-stage projects. The city’s reputation as a global design hub resonates with AInterior's needs, complemented by the vibrant ecosystem and practical resources like mentorship that the city offers.

What do they expect from the Pre-Acceleration program?

Lucie Cotier from AInterior is primarily looking forward to acquiring valuable insights and practical advice from seasoned professionals through the Pre-Acceleration program. She's also excited about the prospect of connecting with other global entrepreneurs, keen on exchanging experiences and forging synergies, thereby enriching the journey for Ainterior with diverse learnings. Similarly, Magdalena Fabjanowicz of Re-Candy anticipates that participation in the program will broaden their horizons and perspectives, especially through interactions with outstanding mentors. Additionally, the program promises new connections and acquaintances, crucial for Re-Candy's aspirations to expand into the European market. Meanwhile, Carla Cisno of COLLECTEE, sought in a Milan-based pre-accelerator the perfect place to nurture their nascent idea. She views this opportunity as an eager scientist would do with a lab – an environment where to conduct experiments and validate numerous hypotheses, from customer discovery to go-to-market strategies, perfectly encapsulating the spirit of exploration that drives the program's participants.