Russian look at Tech Peaks: how to get the opportunity to launch your startup in Trento
If you are interested in the news of the startup world, you may have heard that this year the Italian authorities launched the Tech Peaks accelerator in the alpine town of Trento , whose goal is to grow talent on Italian soil. Talents, of course, in the field of technological and communication projects. The goal of Italians is simple and straightforward: to create in Trento something like their own silicone valley. To do this, they seek and invite people around the world, offering them a grant for the launch of their own projects, free accommodation, food, scholarships "for pocket expenses." Now the program has announced an Eastern European call, people from Eastern Europe, from Russia and the Balkans are waiting. Unlike ordinary business accelerators, the focus of the project is on people, from talent to the team, from team to the startup.
Tech Peaks participants will be able to work as part of international teams, receive expertise from world-class mentors, assess their capabilities in the European business environment and, finally, receive grants to launch their projects. For hundreds of lucky people from Russia and Eastern Europe, this will be an opportunity to make a real breakthrough to a new level. Applications are still being accepted , so I asked the Russian curator of the project Daria Batukhtina (habrayuzer darena ) several questions: is it possible to get into Tech Peaks, what are the pitfalls and who needs all this.
- Hi. Tell me, please, whose initiative is this? What is the idea of the project?
- Tech Peaks as a whole is an initiative of the Trento region, one of the most technologically advanced in Europe. And her main idea is to open access to European and global markets for ICT entrepreneurs from Eastern Europe. The founders of the program are the Trento RISE organization, whose task is to do everything possible to turn the Trento region into an innovative and comfortable environment for business and investors, as well as the FBK Information Technology Center, which brings together more than 350 graduate students and research doctors from all over the educational activities of the world.
Tech Peaks works in close partnership with EIT Labs (European Institute for Innovation and Technology)- the largest professional community organized on the principle of innovation clusters in the leading cities of the EU, under the leadership of the European Commission. They are the ones who promote the idea of the city as a comprehensive laboratory for testing prototypes and business ideas in reality.
- The obvious question: who benefits from this? Is this some kind of business incubator? What are the authors of the project counting on?
- The main goal of the organizers of the program is to increase the interest of the local Italian community in entrepreneurship, through integration with international experience and knowledge. Due to the Tech Peaks program and other activities, Trento should become a center of innovation, a laboratory for testing them. For this, all comfortable conditions are created for the program participants ...
- So what do they get?
- Firstly, a six-month visa to Italy. Secondly, free accommodation for the duration of the entire program, as well as a convenient place to work, covering the cost of food and pocket money in the amount of 500 euros per person per month. A grant for the development of the project from Tech Peaks is also provided, and you do not give away a share in your startup for this money. On the contrary, they will even help you to open a company in Italy to launch a further global business.
- When does it start and how long will the selection for the program go?
- The selection is already underway ... Deadlineends on April 5, so if you want to try and get international experience - it's time to make a decision! To apply, you need to fill out a questionnaire on the Tech Peaks website and send a link to your three-minute video, where you tell us why you decided to apply for the program and why you are the best candidate.
- Do you need to submit an application in English? What are the selection criteria?
Oh sure. Since this is an international project, the competition committee is also mainly from foreigners. For an IT professional and a programmer, it is best to show what tasks he solved and how successfully before. We all perfectly understand that a portfolio can consist of both successful and failed projects, the main thing is to make it clear to the commission that you can think “out of the box” and you have a real passion for entrepreneurship. An important element for designers is an understanding of their own role as an “influence agent”, because it is these people in a startup who help visualize the accumulated experience of potential customers / users. Well, for managers, business developers, the selection criterion is proactivity and the ability to get the necessary data from the market again and again from users ... For trying and failing with a business idea is not scary. Scary if you give up. So these candidates will learn leadership skills and curiosity, tenacity and flexibility at the same time.
- Who is on the commission?
- The commission consists of international experts in the field of technology, design, HR, as well as serial entrepreneurs who have a perfectly developed scent on the “next big thing”. Their names will be available soon on Tech Peaks.
- How many people will be selected? From Russia and in general?
- In total, a hundred people from Eastern Europe and Russia will be selected. Yes, I know that this is a very tough selection, but the opportunities provided by the Tech Peaks program are unique, since everyone is given to participants for comfortable work and work now - office, housing, food, pocket money, infrastructure and a mentoring base. They will take it later, when something comes out of this “seeding”, a team or a startup ... Today in Europe this is a completely new initiative. And if you think and have decided that you are ready for half a year to immerse yourself in the completely unpredictable atmosphere of international entrepreneurship and absorb, study, try to create a startup, then submit an application! If not, then it’s better not to take this opportunity away from someone else more determined and ready for change and personal development.
- What happens after arriving in Italy?
- The adaptation process begins. The first ten days, of course, the participants will meet each other in different networking formats: StartUp Weekend, Lean Start-UP Machine, Teambuilding, etc. Since teamwork is always based on common interests and sympathy, we want the first days to be as creative as possible and the participants to constantly change in teams when performing certain tasks.
Then comes the period of ideas and presentations, when about a month and a half the newly-minted teams will present their projects to the jury. And if a jury of mentors and experts decide that the idea can live and develop, then the team receives a grant of 25 thousand euros without returning a share in the startup. Since the grant is public, the teams will need to create a company in Italy, with the help of the organizers of the Tech Peaks program.
And then the workflow begins, the three remaining months of the team are preparing the product for release. And at the end of November they provide the result of their work on Demo Day.
Therefore, the Tech Peaks program is unique, which takes participants through several stages: team building, creating an idea and testing it in practice, presentation, development and evaluation. All in real time. And if you don’t even succeed in starting a startup, you will get unique entrepreneurial experience, relevant connections in the international startup ecosystem, and most likely will change your vision and thinking ...
- Suppose our candidate has work here, clients. What if he cannot quit them at all?
“Nobody requires you to drop everything and burn bridges, it depends on your desire.” You can reduce the number of orders from Russia to the minimum so that you have enough time both to participate in activities under the program and to work on a startup. But in any case, you must admit, you obviously will not be able to deal with both at the same time equally well. The Tech Peaks program provides participants with everything necessary for 6 months, so you should probably concentrate to get the most out of your results and if you are lucky and have passed the selection ...
- How free will the participant be in choosing the lectures, meetings, events that need to be to visit?
- In the first couple of months, participation in events is almost mandatory, as this is a good chance to find out what is happening in the world and get the first impetus to the development or refinement of a business idea. You know, I very often heard from startups that staying in such an environment gives them much more food for thought than years of work on a project ... So draw conclusions - is it worth it to participate or not if you have already fallen into such an international atmosphere.
In the third month of the program, the active work phase begins, when the emphasis is placed on product development. There will be fewer events and more planning, team work. And in the last month, preparations will be made for a performance and presentation at the global Demo Day in Europe.
- Does the participant have any specific tasks, deadlines? Can they “expel” him?
- Good question. And why is it necessary to have some kind of whip in order to achieve goals or solve problems? I believe that each Tech Peaks program participant should have his own internal discipline, which motivates him to get maximum results from the process. The control of working time is in the hands of entrepreneurs, no one will “expel” them to the league of losers until they give up and stop looking, studying, trying!
This is not a vacation in the Alps, this is work, and if you need something for it, you need to talk and quickly resolve issues so that the resources and time invested by both parties are justified.
- Who will be the mentors? What kind of support, apart from organizational support, is provided?
- Mentors - professional practitionerswho have behind them the experience of creating successful businesses and investing. Among them are the creator of the well-known Lean Start-Up Machine methodology, the author of the bestseller of the same name - Trevor Ounes, the founder of Happify - Andy Parsons, the founder of Bitly - Peter Stern, the veteran of Yahoo - Marvin Liao, the founder of UberVU - Vladimir Oane, the guru of Ruby on Rails - Obi Fernandez and many others. There is also a mentor from Russia - I think many people know Arkady Moreynis. This list is constantly being updated ... Their main task will be to share with participants insiders and visions of the global market, as well as help startups to develop on a daily basis. The list of mentors is constantly expanding, you can also offer your candidacy - and we will try to find a way to convince a person and somehow draw him into this story (: Plus, specialists from partners are involved,
- If the participant failed to receive a grant, what are his further actions?
- Yes, the main goal of the program is to help and stimulate the "conversion of talents into founders of startups." Therefore, if the participant could not prove the vitality of his own idea for the first time, he can try again by making a pivot or changing the strategy. There will be several Pitch Sessions during the program when you can get a grant. He can also join other teams and startups. Or come up with something new, because the program will constantly host Inspiring Days with the participation of professionals from various industries who will share their views on the challenges in Europe and insiders of the market.
- If a grant is received, how should it be reported?
- Yes, there should be a report, but just so that the organizers understand that the money was really spent on developing the business, and not buying real estate or something else irrelevant. This will be the usual accounting of the company, which the startup will need to open in Italy after receiving the grant.
- If a potential participant already has a team, can they go together?
- Yes, both individual specialists and teams are accepted to participate in the Tech Peaks program. Only for the latter it is necessary to show joint work experience, distributed roles in the team and talk about the idea, but it is better to show a prototype or something reminiscent of it in order to understand what is being said.