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By making mistakes you innovate – the Republic

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By making mistakes you innovate – the Republic

«It is not a lack but a fullness. It is not a definitive arrest, but a moment of reflection. It is not an indelible mark, but a distinction. It is not a loss, but a discovery.” Here is the definition of failure for Francesca Corrado, founder of the first failure school in Italy.

90% of startups fail (Startup Genome data), yet it seems that to become great you have to go from there. Lessons Learned is a new format that during the Italian Tech Week will give voice to entrepreneurs who have failed and got back up again. Success stories that start with stumbles.

The Italian Tech Week 2023 event, how to participate in the tech conference which will have guests Sam Altman (OpenAI) and Brian Chesky (Airbnb) by Pier Luigi Pisa 05 September 2023

«It takes courage to make mistakes. I am a courageous person because I have made many mistakes.” Benedetta Arese Lucini is 40 years old and she has already lived quite a few professional lives. Among the first 100 employees of Uber, hired directly by founder Travis Kalanick, she was general manager of Uber in Italy and Southern Europe from 2013 to 2016. For her position, she suffered personal attacks and sexist insults. A digital woman, passionate about numbers and fintech, in 2016 with the dream of making finance accessible to everyone, she founded OvalMoney in London, a startup for automatic savings. Raises capital, hires, does crowdfunding. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, then one day with a post on Linkedin Benedetta writes: my story with Oval ends. Two years pass and now she leaves again. With Otter, a fintech that allows you to invest and obtain funds in advance without a repayment program.

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«My failure has become my value, my lesson learned that I bring to the startups I meet. I made 4 big mistakes. The first: when I raised capital I didn’t look at who the money was coming from. Money should never be separated from people. I didn’t choose all investors’ tastes and I brought non-aligned people on board. Second: in difficult moments, I always said: “I’ll do it”. I felt the weight of responsibility and wanted to carry it all on my shoulders. Alone. I considered asking for help an act of weakness, but asking for help is an act of strength. I did it too late. Third: there was a long period of time in which startups measured themselves in users and not in business models. I made this big mistake too. We need to start with a business model that works from day 1. Fourth: I have always put my face to it, I have never hidden and I believe that every founder must have a “reason why”. But I made a mistake with Uber. I was the country manager, not the founder. I personified myself in the company. In the role. And it has become a gender battle.”

The characters Tech gurus and lessons on failure: this is how Sam Altman (OpenAI) and Brian Chesky (Airbnb) were resurrected by Pier Luigi Pisa 22 September 2023

From London to San Francisco. Paolo Privitera has founded six startups. One after the other. Four exits, investments in 100 companies and 7 funds, he raised 300 million dollars in capital. In 2015 he became co-founder of Evensi, which in one year transformed into the largest events platform in the world. But then 2020 arrives, the year of Covid, the world closes down. Evensi ends up with zero invoicing. «I spent weeks of depression. Then I started writing to everyone. I made 70 acquisition proposals. I got 61 NOs, one after the other, but I kept going. Then came the acquisition offers: 9, 6 not good, but in the end we found the best. Evensi was acquired by Events.com in October 2020. I understand there are no excuses. We have access to everything: technology, knowledge, capital. We have no excuse not to make things happen. Precisely in these days in Silicon Valley, where I have lived for 20 years, I see a new trend emerging. The funds seem more inclined to invest in international founders rather than in local founders. Why? Because they look for those who are hungry, those who have energy, those who make an immense effort to overcome linguistic, geographical and adaptation barriers and leave the comfort zone. We need to move and do it quickly. One of the most beautiful words that America taught me is “speed”. Speed. And this is an immense gap that is still known between the USA and Italy.”

First Round Award The 11 jurors who will choose the startup of the year by Barbara Gasparini 21 September 2023

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From San Francisco to Milan. The theme of speed recurs. She is Chiara Russo, the CEO of Codemotion, a startup founded by two women that initially organized conferences for developers throughout Europe. Today they are a reference platform for the professional growth of developers and for companies that want to hire IT talent.

Theirs is a story of great transformation. Between before and after, there is the crisis. Fear. «We were failing, in mid-April 2020 at the height of the pandemic, after having closed a round 15 days earlier, we understood that we would lose everything. We could no longer organize conferences. That morning I woke up and I couldn’t even breathe out of fear… I started looking at all the mistakes I had made. I wasn’t able to make difficult decisions quickly. I looked at the team as a family, but it’s not. We did not fully use the redundancy fund in a moment of difficulty in which resources had decreased due to the lockdown. I was waiting for things to change, but things don’t change. I’ve learned that you have to look at them from their worst side. And equip yourself to face them. Decisions must be made immediately, not postponed. I must admit: it is not easy to recognize mistakes. There is an important emotional part. This summer I did a summer school at Harvard where we did a lot of introspective work on exactly this. How to start again when defeat stings.” Codemotion raised 8 million euros in February 2023.

At the Italian Tech Week in Turin the first meeting of the Lesson Learned series, the best mistakes of my life is on September 27th: a panel attended by Paolo Privitera (Events.com), Benedetta Arese Lucini (Otter Finance) and Chiara Russo (Codemotion) . We continue on the 28th with Federico Marchetti and Daniela Hamaui: together they wrote The adventures of an innovator (Longanesi), which tells the story, life and mistakes of the founder of Yoox, the first true Italian unicorn from 2000 to today. The third appointment, on September 29, is still a panel, with Massimo Banzi (Arduino), Salvo Mizzi (Kauffman Fellows), Simona Maschi (Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design). The meetings will be held at 7pm in the Sala Duomo and will be moderated by Riccardo Luna.

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