The Mediterranean is a land filled with sparking blue seas, rolling olive and grape fields, and ancient ruins. It is not, however, a land filled with successful startups.
Mind the Bridge formed a new seed fund to bring startups from Mediterranean countries to Silicon Valley. The money will support entrepreneurs from distressed economies, focusing on Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, the Balkans, Lebanon, and Turkey, as they establish headquarters in the U.S.
Marco Marinucci founded Mind the Bridge in 2007 as a side project while he was working at Google. He first conceived it as a non-profit accelerator program dedicated to developing Italy’s startup ecosystem. The organization now encompasses a wider geographical scope and also includes a startup school. With this investment arm, Mind the Bridge is able to financially support its startups so they can succeed.
“There are thousands of talented, well educated engineers and potential entrepreneurs living in countries where starting a company is not a feasible option,” Marinucci said in an email interview. “For these people, finding a partner who can appreciate their value, deeply understand their issues, and function as an effective bridge to Silicon Valley is very hard.”
Mind the Bridge also provides strategic support, assisting international entrepreneurs as they secure visas, incorporate in the U.S., learn English, and seek out mentors. Marinucci advocates a “dual-company model,” whereby development stays in the home country but headquarters are in Silicon Valley where the market and the money is. He said this benefits both the countries of origin and the startup scene here, which can benefit from an influx of skilled workers.
The three-month accelerator program will run twice a year and is expected to make 12 to 15 seed investments a year of between $40,000 and $100,000. Investors in the fund include Marinucci himself, CEO of Enel Green Power Franceso Starace, president of the Inter Milan Soccer Club Massimo Moratti, and Fedele Confalonieri, chairman of the Mediaset Group.