Yesterday I had the exciting privilege to visit the premier Entrepreneurship Incubator of Italy, H-Farm Ventures. H-Farm is a hybrid incubator and investor, backed by €20 million fund with international partners like Bertelsmann and Unicredit, and provides startups with the capital and resources required to accelerate their business.
The breathtaking H-Farm property is just a short 10-15 minutes north of the Venice Airport in the countryside. The 1300 hectare (~3200 acre) facility consists of much more than just their Accelerator program, H-Camp. H-Farm provides is a hybrid of incubator and office space and services to alumni of their H-Camp Accelerator as well as local and international companies. They have general administration and human resources offices, and even have dedicated legal and financial consultants on site to help the companies as they grow. They are in the process of building another facility for larger, corporate companies looking to outsource R&D and innovation. Finally, there is a communal dining area in the middle of the H-Farm where founders and staff can re-fuel with a delicious buffet of Italian food, a coffee bar and barista for espresso shots and coffee (the international startup fuel) throughout the day.
With the 13 weeks of the Techstars Boulder program fresh in my mind I couldn’t help but compare and contrast. H-Camp is currently in week 7 of 12 and working towards a Demo Day of their own. Based on looks and geography alone you would think H-Farm/H-Camp and Techstars are wildly different, but in fact I found many aspects that were the same. I started my tour in the accelerator space, just passed Seed Street and Seed Village (Of course made me think of Techstars Boulder conference room names; IPO, Series A and Seed).
Upon entering, I was greeted by the familiar co-working space setup of many desks packed into a large room with Business Model Canvases and sticky notes all over the white walls. In addition there were inspiration quotes all around, just in case the teams needed a bit of inspiration. I had a chance to sit down with a few of the companies and hear what they were up to.
The current H-Camp class consists of 4 new teams (below) and 3 returning teams that are continuing participation:
ANTLOS – The AirBnb of the Sea!
FASHTAGS – A platform that connects established and upcoming “Made in Italy” fashion talents to Asia and other emerging markets.
FIRST HAND – Website that offers experiential touristic activities in the food and wine sector.
PINKTROTTER – An online global community to facilitate the offline connection of business and travel minded women.
In addition to the accelerator class I heard about:
Goodappetito– Create SHOPPING LIST, Prepare WONDERFUL RECIPES and SAVE. Your FAVORITE DISHES at the best PRICE.
XYZE– Measure your body with the first wearable measuring tape and get items from fashion e-shop that really fit you best with XYZE technology.
Desall– Desall is a crowdsourcing design platform that connects companies and private clients with an international community of creative talents.
Speaking of teams, H-Camp shares a core value with Techstars that it is all about the people and puts a big emphasis on the teams in their selection process.
I found out that not only do these teams share a common office space as we did at Techstars but they all live and eat under one single roof in dorm like accommodations a few kilometers away from H-Farm. Although most Techstars teams lived together, especially those from out of state, I can only imagine what it would have been like if all 13 founders were living in the same place!
I learned that H-Camp uses F6S (Co-founded by Techstars MD Jon Bradford) that helps startups navigate the massive amount of accelerators, incubators and resources at their fingertips, “A Global Clearinghouse For Startup Freebies” According to TechCrunch. H-Camp partners with F6S to help with their application process and to find the best ones as candidates for their accelerator.
It is a truly invaluable experience being able to visit accelerators outside of the U.S. and talk with entrepreneurs and founders from all over the world. It was especially valuable to talk with Laura, Operations Manager of H-Camp and hear of her background and experience with her 3rd class at H-Camp. Well, that is all from Italy, for now at least. Next stop, Startup42 in Paris!