Originally posted October 2011 for Dutiee.com here
StartuParty, a gathering in Milan of Italy’s entrepreneurs, developers, designers, investors and the others interested in entrepreneurship. StartuParty aims to bring Silicon Valley’s optimism to the tech community in Italy and to develop a robust ecosystem for it to flourish. I happened to be in Milan during the second gathering of StartuParty and was excited to checkout the startup scene in Milan, the gathering was quite different from any other startup meet-ups that I’ve ever attended back in Silicon Valley.
StartuParty is a tech entrepreneur meetup, Italian style. It’s a mixture of silicon valley pitch events, a techno dance party, and a garden mixer all in one night, under one roof. Italians love to mingle and socialize around their passions, so it’s not a shock that the StartuParty pitch sessions (5 minutes for 5 pitches/event) had travel apps, collaborative games, and social network ideas.
According to Nicolo Borghi, who has been helping with the event from the start, the event is attracting interest not just in Milan, but from tech-savvy folks all over Italy. The StartuParty in September was the second “party” and attracted over 500 startup enthusiasts and more press such as WIRED Italy.
I sat down with Nicolo Borghi, who is also one of the organizers of StartuParty and the co-founder of HUB Milan (a co-working space for social entrepreneurs), to ask him more about this event and their goals:
Naureen Nayyar (NN): When did you have the first StartuParty?
Nicolo Borghi (NB): The first StartuParty was this past May, and the one in September is our second event.
NN:What caused you to start this event?
NB: People in Italy give a lot of importance to quality of life. People at this point need to read about more aspiring things aside from Italian students demonstrating. Everybody knows about the situation in Italy right now. I’m one of the organizers of this event as I want to help create a better atmosphere for startups.
NN: What was the concept behind StartuParty, why a party, rather than conference?
NB: The idea is to do something that is not boring, approach things more like young people do when it comes to setting up an event. We want to make it easy going and a fun event where people can reflect on the next app while dancing to tracks.
NN: Is the goal to have one StartuParty every month?
NB: No, the goal now is to scale it to more cities. Considering that the startup community is so small we can’t make it once a month. In a given city it will probably be one every 4 months.
NN: How profitable is StartuParty? And as a co-founder of Hub Milan, how does this connect with the goals of working to promote social good in Italy?
NB: We are doing this without a profit, just to help the startup ecosystem. I think Italy has a large ratio of entrepreneurs in the world, and our country is based mostly on small businesses. I feel HUB Milan is a system to promote entrepreneurship and optimism, and StartuParty is part of our goals as it is an event to promote the things we love. We love to create startups and better entrepreneurship.
I became a co-founder of HUB Milan after I was inspired by my time in 2005 studying in India, which is a hot bed of social innovation and also by my visit in 2007 to Silicon Valley. Though the valley is known for tech startups, it was interesting to me that Kiva and Skoll foundation started there too. I wanted to bring some of that optimism to Italy.
Thanks for your time, and sharing your story with us Nicolo.
Many of the people who are involved with StartuParty are also HUB Milan members. Nicolo mingled with friends, and introduced me to a few Italian entrepreneurs, who were graduates of Singularity University, which is based in the San Francisco Bay area. The crowd was a mix of young and old, but more importantly, full of enthusiastic, bright, and optimistic people who are hoping to change the way Italy deals with the economic issues. Although the goal of the event is to promote innovation and entrepreneurship amongst the youth, it is predominately hoping to return optimism and change the mentality to be more open to creating more startups.
As the night progressed, people moved from the main hall to the dance floor or chatted in the garden, which was serving the crowds wine, beer, and mojitos. Some of the attendees said that they felt it was a time for like-minded people to re-connect and also meet new people hoping to see change in the country.
Check out the StartuParty site for more information.
Naureen (Nora) Nayyar is currently traveling and writing for Dutiee about all things social innovation in Europe. You can reach her via Twitter