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August 2016

About me Startups

Giving back to the community: mentoring startups at H-Farm


Why giving back to your community is important

When 4 years I decided to move to London I wouldn’t have expected that things were changing so fast in Italy and of course, I’m very happy to see how things are different now.
There’s still a lot of work to do, but I am positive. That’s why this summer I decided to spend some time working with the community where my passion for digital was born, having had the opportunity to speak at Web Marketing Festival in Rimini, one of the biggest marketing festival in Italy and mentoring startups H-Farm.

My experience mentoring startups at H-Farm

H-Farm is an amazing project, born in 2005 nearby Venice, to help entrepreneurs launching new initiatives. If you think that nobody at that time, in Italy, was talking about startups or building an environment where digital and technology were the king and the queen, now we can say it was an very thought-out vision. It’s an area where you meet smart and motivated people, where you can “smell” innovation and where everyone is working on personal projects aiming to change the reality we live in, and you know, innovation is contagious.

Hello I'm in @hfarm and there's a tiny little self-driving gardener having fun around #tech #startups #robot #hfarm

A post shared by Alessia Camera (@alessiacamera) on

I learned a lot of things mentoring startups H-Farm!

In two days I’ve talked more than ten hours about tech, projects, marketing and strategy, ending up being exhausted but happy. I arrived in the morning at the railway station in Mestre, picked up by a private driver taking me to the Campus. Jessica was waiting for me and helped me arranging the room for the workshop I wanted to give about customer acquisition strategies. After that, I started immediately with 9 one-to-one meetings with the 9 startups involved in the Wellness and Fashion & Retail accelerator. Talking with people, believing in what they were doing was awesome and I felt privileged to have this chance.

I arrived in the morning at the railway station in Mestre, picked up by a private driver taking me to the Campus. Jessica was waiting for me and helped me arranging the room for the workshop I wanted to give about customer acquisition strategies. After that, I started immediately with 9 one-to-one meetings with the 9 startups involved in the Wellness and Fashion & Retail accelerator. Talking with people, believing in what they were doing was awesome and I felt privileged to have this chance.

I also learned that opportunities are not coming alone, you need to create them, and that being surrounded by amazing people makes easier overpassing difficulties.
Giving back to the community is just an amazing idea I recommend to everyone doing it once in life as you’re really feeling well-helping others on something you’ve already faced. And for once, money is not involved, at all.   


Which are the startups I mentored at H-farm?

I met with Bernard, from Loyaly, building a personal assistant to help improving relationships customers and brands in the beauty industry, facing the challenge of building the technology and how to position themselves on the marketing reaching big and established brands. I met with Marcus from Fitsapp, an app to make easier for people looking for trainings to get in touch with personal trainers with a tailored program or a one-to-one premium plan, launching soon in Northern Europe. Indigo Recommendations is creating a mobile tool to help retailers maximising the experience they have while in the shop, I had an awesome chat with Gianluca, helping to understand how reach out to their clients. Xensify wants to help small retailers with information and  tools to optimise customers’ inshore experience, I met with Sergio and Giacomo helping them with the marketing strategy. Rob with Roundstay aims to make easier organising and booking trips for people passionate about fitness, we had a good chat about the concept and the overall idea. Fitssi is a social-training app mainly for women, helping them to gather together and share the cost of a personal trainer in a more fun experience: Danny and I talked mainly about branding and business strategy. InteriorBE is a platform to help users in needs of renovating their spaces with a community of interior designers, and I really enjoyed talking with Federica about their marketing and social media strategy. I met with Cristiano from Train Me creating a platform for gyms to coordinate and better support personal trainers from the gym point of view, with whom I talked about marketing and acquisition strategies. And the last one (but just in order of meetings :D) was Adzuki Mobile, a recommendation/referral platform based on images where with Claus and Veronica we talked a lot about the concept and their business strategy.
What else? If I were you I would follow all of them, they’re doing a great job and I wish them good luck for their demo night in October, I hope I can make it.

But H-Farm is not just an accelerator, in 10 days is launching H-Campus, an educational program based on technology and digital for children and youngers from 3 until 26 years old to prepare the new generations to the challenges of the new century. And it will be awesome, because for once, going to school, especially in Italy, will not just mean passively listening to a teacher but work in groups, solve real problems, interact with each other and technology. ‘Cause in this 21st century we can’t just go to school and university, graduated and wait for a job, we need to invent it, never stop learning and be ready to change our path if there’s not what we’re looking for.
And if you’re not much convinced, here a quote from my most favourite author. 


ps: many thanks to Luca, Laura & Jessica for having made this happen. 

pss:If you’re a startup and you have an awesome idea for a IoT project you should check the IOT-Fintech acceleration program at H-Farm. You have time until the 3rd of October to apply!



Digital-only banks, currency exchange made easy: the Fintech revolution


Startups focusing on the problem

If you like travelling like me, you know that it’s painful being abroad and using your card with a lot of non-sense commissions to pay when you want to use your bank card. And you have to pay those bank commissions, simply because you’re using your card abroad, in shops or because you need to withdraw local currency.
Is it fair?

You’re giving your money to banks for free, without earning any interest (you’re lucky if you’ve not to pay to get some additional services). And, if you need that money while you’re on holiday abroad, you have to pay for it. Maybe 30-40 years ago not everyone was interested in using the card abroad, as only a few of us could go abroad on holiday, but now it’s what everyone is doing. Meaning that those banks are earning a lot of money just because of new people’s behaviours and none is really thinking different, segmenting the audience and understanding their needs.
That’s how a big bunch of startups is offering new services in an industry commonly known as Fintech, disrupting the traditional way banks are operating and getting a lot of interest and funds: in the UK more than $5.5 billion (£3.8bn) of investments were made in the fintech industry between July 2015 and January 2016.

Find a specific (fintech) need and create an amazing service

In the brand new world of fintech startups working to satisfy specific needs, providing effective and efficient services for a niche of people a few of them are very very interesting. And I’m glad to share the ones I think are implementing a very good service.
I’ve already talked about Transferwise, allowing people to transfer money between different countries paying just a little fee compared to what you pay to banks (in my last year’s startup roundup). The technology is based on a peer-to-peer system, so if someone wants to convert their pounds to euros, TransferWise’s technology finds someone who wants to transfer money in the opposite direction (euros into pounds)

Join the Fintech revolution!

A brand new part of fintech startups is represented by digital-only banks, which are going to start operating this year, such as Mondo, Tandem, Starling and Atom. But what does digital-only banks mean?
If high street banks have been using digital technologies to help transform various areas of their business, those new banks have decided to go all digital instead, in order to offer a fully integrated mobile experience in which customers use their smartphones or tablets to do everything from opening a new account and making payments to resolving credit-card billing disputes, all without ever setting foot in a physical branch. Without losing time, having to fill out lots of papers or having to pay hidden fees.
Do you think it’s just a cool idea and high street banks will never disappear? Well, according to this McKinsey report, “in the United Kingdom and Western Europe, there is a potential for 40% or more of new deposits to come from digital sales by 2018
And in terms of digital evolution, we’re ready, as you can see from the graph here below.
And you should read this report by the Deutsche Bank, if you’re keen to understand whether we’re ready or not.

The digital revolution in the financial sector - the fintech revolution

But let’s come back to startups providing specific services in a cheaper and more efficient way.
I personally love Revolut allowing you to use your money abroad without incurring in fees.
I love travelling and I don’t really like paying fees just because I’m using my card to withdraw money abroad or because I’m using it to pay in shops. Revolut, working like a digital wallet, allows you to transfer money from your account to your Revolut account through the app and then use it thanks to a physical MasterCard. Once abroad, you can use the card to make your purchases or withdraw money without incurring in any fees. Isn’t it amazing?
The next one I want to try is Nutmeg an online wealth manager helping you to invest money without having to go to a physical bank. When you register you tell the platform how much you want to invest and the risk you want to take before being presented with a portfolio, chosen by the Nutmeg team. No algorithm. Same concept as the Italian MoneyFarm, I should definitely try both.

Then, there are fintech startups helping SMEs to get money with less hassle, faster and cheaper, but they’re a lot. Better if for today I stop there.
Enjoy your August peeeeps!