Bring Your Own Bologna #1: meeting with the Work Wide Woman team and interview with Aurora Chisté.

Yesterday the first meeting of BYO (Bring Your Own) was held, the first in a series of meetings to learn about the #GranTissimi’s 2014 Bolognese crew, which, in turn, invite guests to hold speeches about #startups and #innovation.

The stars of the day were the WorkWideWomen girls and Aurora Chisté, co-founder of Hack for Big Choices who answered our questions and those received via #AskAurora!

From Bologna to Silicon Valley: can you walk us briefly through your journey?
Silicon Valley made the first move ;) While I was studying at the University of Bologna, I used to integrate texts recommended by our teachers with books from the Berkley's library because they were the most recent and interesting. The curiosity to go and see what was going on in San Francisco was born right there. How was it possible that this information did not arrive in Italy? Thus the love for San Francisco was born. In a few months I realized I was much happier there than in Italy and that marked my point of no return.


Geek Test: sum up @hackbigchoices in 140 characters (almost :))!
H4bc helps each person to discover his superpower to help improving our lives, cities, countries and the world using our talents at their best.


Today, you are at the Bologna's Wcap accelerator: what do you think of Working Capital and Telecom Italia's contribution to innovation?
Wcap has managed to create spaces that have the same key-role as "coffeehouses" in 1800 had, as described by Matt Ridley in "London Coffee Houses": the hub for information sharing. It provides a space where people can meet, talk and work by bringing together activities that would otherwise become wasted opportunities, or get drowned in the "noise" of the city. It's important that there is a space (not just virtual) in which ideas can be born and grow. This is the breeding ground of entrepreneurship. Wcap offers not only the physical space to make this happen but it also supports entrepreneurs. We need more stuff like Wcap to create a wider entrepreneurial ecosystem.


In your opinion, which are the key factors a startup must fulfill in order to be successful?
The flexibility and persistence to re-iterate, the openness to everything and everyone.


As a young woman, currently a guest at Work Wide Women, the #Grantissime, how much would you say pre-defined gender roles and customs affected the open minded world of startups?
The gender difference in the world startups affects its as in all others, especially in countries such as Italy. Differences can become an obstacle when they are in our mind at first. If we do not see these differences as problems and we focus on our goals without being influenced by how we are perceived from the outside, we are able to break down all barriers like gender, age and religion. It does not always happen quickly, but it works. I have never thought of being a woman as a problem. Instead of looking at the finger pointing to the moon, I prefer to look directly to the moon.

The answers of #AskAurora

I miss 2000 Twitter followers :) I do not miss anything. All the things that started during that period have continued to grow and got stronger. I'm still very active on social networks ;)


To me, they could be offensive in the way we look at them. You have to start somewhere. The “gender quotas” can help the inclusion of women in politics, there is nothing wrong so far. The problem is how these women are treated: Are they still judged by the way they dress or what they say and what they do? So ‘yes’ on the gender quotas, and 'no’ to women who represent us in politics and how they are treated.


I want to talk mainly about Guadalajara, 6 million of peole, 2 hours flight from San Francisco. It is a very green area, it rains even 4 hours a day. There, people are starting meetings at 8:00 (if I’m there at 8:03 I'd be late!) and Campus have classes from 7:30 am. It is really exciting to see how it is evolving. The government is spending a lot of money for innovation and education, public facilities are built in a short time and then you can see 50 people who work there. Something I've never seen in Italy. The most beautiful thing I'm seeing is the integration between private and public. Universities, both public and private, co-operate with the Government. There you can find also Cisco, Yahoo, Oracle. They also collaborate with Startup Weekend while in Italy if two parties want to talk to do something constructive it takes ages. There you are creating a good, healthy ecosystem, young people can go even to two hackaton per month or working in coworking similar to WCAP. There are a lot of technological events in the evenings and instead of going out to eat, you can go to hear the speech of 10 startups! [...] Mexico rocks!


This is a great topic and it is a problem many are trying to solve. I do not know the situation here in Italy, but for example, in the United States this year, Hillary Clinton has said that the Clinton Foundation, will give money to those for-profit companies that are trying to have a social impact and to do good. I think that here lies the true challenge. In recent years, again in the United States, they created a C-Corp, a company which lies between being a nonprofit and a for-profit one, [...]. There are constraints to re-invest the money you earn that as well contribute to the company profit. One of the latest startup in San Francisco, Hand App, created to help the homeless, has given an identification code for each homeless person to make specific donations. Within their platform you can get information on who the person is, what his or her needs and passions are, and offer a dining room, a piano lesson or anything else. They're trying to work with companies that want to offer their services [...]. So nonprofit companies are trying to adopt for-proft strategies.. Although honestly I think it's great to be non-profit because I realize that we can create a neutral territory. When they know that we are there not for profit or that our profits are re-invested (no matter if I'm in front of a single person or a company) they feel to be free to expose themselves because they know there will not be pursued interests of one single person, so we can have some good conversations and build great things.

They're both beautiful scenarios and it depends on what the opportunities we see. [...] We often have a sort of “inferiority complex” towards the United States, and we continue to make comparisons such as " the United States will be the number one market.". Instead of looking at what happens outside, why don’t we look at what Italy needs and what the opportunities are that our country offers us? Because a situation can arrise where there is scarse competition in a specific place and we know that we can go further with fewer resources… In my opinion, this is “the face of the coin” that must be look at in a market where there are few opportunities and little competition. While when there is a lot of competition you have to roll up your sleeves and become smarter and smarter and move as soon as possible. So it depends on which battle you want to be in.


It’s missing the history, but you are here and you are writing that history. You are among the first of Working Capital and in 2/3 years, when there will be more spaces like this, startups will be countless, but now they are just 10 and you are among them. It will take time, but Bologna is a beautiful place, there are students from all over the world, a lot of talent, the wine is good and Piazza Maggiore is beautiful. We can do it!


And in the end, a cheers to our #GranTissimi from Aurora :)