The identikit of an italian startupper

Pubblicato il 23 Apr 2013

There has recently been a great focus on the startup topic and for this reason it is very important to understand something more about it. This research project (carried out by Niccolò Meroni, graduate at Bocconi Univerisity in Milan, in collaboration with Startupbusiness community) aims at investigating the main features of the average Italian startupper. The main findings follow.


The average startupper is male (87%), in his thirties (41%), is more likely to come from the northern part of the country (60%) and operates either in the Internet or in the IT sector (50%). Furthermore, he is well educated (in many cases he/she has studied either Economics/Management (35%) or Engineering/Computer Science (40%)), is likely to have spent at least three consecutive months abroad and is the first in his/her family to launch a business. To conclude, nearly 40% of the startuppers are serial entrepreneurs and accumulated a significant work experience before undertaking an entrepreneurial career.

The majority of the startuppers’ projects (42%) are born thanks to brainstorming with friends and colleagues and innovation is more frequent than invention (42% vs. 12%). Initial projects are not subject to big changes and, when they do change, the main modifications concern the product and are due to economic unsustainability. Small teams (2-4 people) are more common than big teams, friendship is the main driver in team-building and team members generally have different specializations. Furthermore, teams seem to be pretty stable.

Startuppers with entrepreneurs in their nuclear family tend to hold a bigger share in their own firms (54% vs. 47%). Bureaucracy, fundraising, finding partners and HR recruiting are the main problems, while the compilation of a business plan seems to be manageable. Institutional funds are significantly linked to the size of the team and family’s funds are significantly linked to the presence of entrepreneurs among the startupper’s close relatives.

Only 30% of Italian startuppers exploit the services offered by incubators. If they do, they think that incubators are particularly useful in the provision of physical spaces and in the business plan consultancy. On the contrary, the majority (53%) of Italian startuppers have taken part in startup competitions, which are mainly useful for networking and to test the real quality of the idea/project.

The average Italian startupper (65%) would sell his/her firm if he/she received an adequate offer and would reinvest the money earned in other startups (84% of the previous 65%). The team is the key success factor in raising institutional funds while high skilled workers are attracted by a challenging work environment. Bureaucracy is the main weakness of the Italian economic system while people’s creativeness and geniality is the main strength.

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