Kevin Donahue
Dwipal Disai
Mashape

The Italian entrepreneur who moved his team and got funded in 19 days

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Italian entrepreneur Marco Palladino is currently 22 years old – but he was only 19 when he first started looking for funding for his startup. For roughly 2 years, he and his cofounders met with every last investor on the Italian Peninsula and without any success. But despite their empty pockets, they weren’t ready to throw in the towel on their startup, an API marketplace for cloud-based services named Mashape.

As of April 2009, the team moved into a garage in Milan where they spend 10 months coding night and day. They still didn’t have the money they were looking to raise but managed to scrape by on a few small grants. Then in September 2009, Marco and his team mates headed to San Francisco, where they were able to demo a simple prototype of their product at TechCrunch50. It was after this experience that the team decided they would pack their bags and move across the Atlantic for good.

Still desperately looking for funding, the team arrived in Silicion Valley in January 2010. Augusto Marietti, one of Marco’s two co-founders (along with Michele Zonca) who is currently CEO of the startup, wrote out all the details of their quest for funding on the company blog; the team went to every last event in Silicon Valley, called every person they knew and asked around for help. But never in their wildest dreams did they think they would get funded in just 19 days.

In all fairness, it’s not a huge sum of money – $101,000 to be exact. However, the investors are original Youtubers Kevin Donahue and Dwipal Disai. Donahue, for the record, is also an investor in car-sharing platform RelayRides. And other business angels have also chimed in since the initial funding.

When I first heard Mashape’s story, I was kind of blown away. Sure, we often hear that it’s more difficult to get funded on this side of the Atlantic than over in the States but European entrepreneurs often idealize and over-simplify the situation in Silicon Valley; just because there are more investors does not necessarily mean that it rains money.

If we ask Marco about the situation, he says it’s entirely cultural. In Italy, the investor community is smaller and has less money than in Silicon Valley. Therefore, they don’t want to take a risk by investing in a new and innovative model – they want to invest in something proven and secure. Thus, they fund models that already exist, which ends up slowing down local innovation as a consequence.

Mashape’s “Etsy for cloud services” launched in private alpha back in November and the public launch is expected shortly. The platform makes it so that any developer can easily distribute their API to all of Mashape’s user-base. Along the lines of startups like Mashery, 3Scale, Webservius and Apigee, Mashape has a number of developments lined up for this year; the starup plans to add an additional 5 people to the team, support additional languages (Ruby, Python) and launch its API billing system.

Despite everything, Marco and his cofounders don’t necessarily think that the US is a business Utopia either. But while the States may have some economic and social problems, he says that at least “the American dream is still up and running.”

  • Dave

    sharemyplaylists.com in the UK got funded this quickly (basically after one meeting)

    http://www.here.org.uk/2010/04/buyat-dream-team-invest-in-sharemyplaylistscom.html

    It doesn’t happen as often as in SF, but it does happen!

  • http://topsy.com/eu.techcrunch.com/2011/01/12/the-italian-entrepreneur-who-moved-his-team-and-got-funded-in-19-days/?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2 Tweets that mention The Italian entrepreneur who moved his team and got funded in 19 days -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TechCrunch Europe, Nacho Vilalta, Roxanne Varza and others. Roxanne Varza said: LOVE this team's story RT @TCEurope The Italian entrepreneur who moved his team and got funded in 19 days http://bit.ly/i57xOs […]

  • Guest

    “the team decided they would pack their bags and move across the Atlantic for good.”

    How did they all get work visa’s to come and live in the US? (honest question).

    • Guest

      Very valid question, the visa situation in the US doesn’t help. Would be great to have some background information which could enable other innovative non US entrepreneurs to get funded.

    • Pari

      Most likely tourist visas.

      • Aleksander Soender

        isn’t that illegal or?

    • Pari

      Most likely tourist visas.

  • http://www.iubenda.com Andrea Giannangelo

    Roxanne, this is one among many stories. Talking personally, I’m 21 and I had a similar experience, trying to be funded here in Italy.

    I’m now closing a seed round with some of the top VCs and Entrepreneurs in our Country. And my business is *very* innovative.

    Things are moving here, and moving fast.
    If you think my story is worth to be told, just ask ;)

    Andrea Giannangelo

    • Roxanne

      You can always send it to me, my email is roxanne (at) techcrunch.com

      • http://www.iubenda.com Andrea Giannangelo

        writing ;)

      • Nick

        Hey Andrea,
        I featured Mashape on StartupLi.st 2 weeks ago, before TechCrunch even knew they existed haha. If you’d like, StartupLi.st would be very pleased to feature your startup and send you a simple interview about your experiences creating your startup. Email me at nick [@] startupli.st if you’re interested. :)

        Thanks a lot!

        Nick

      • http://www.stefanobernardi.com/ stefanobernardi

        Roxie, back off :D

      • http://Infoservi.it/ Alberto D'Ottavi

        Stefano, move on. You’ve plenty of big italian stories to tell if you don’t look to money multipliers alone. What about Blomming.com, a Social Commerce italian startup that started *before* Payvment.com AND Tinypay.me, only slowed down by the economical conditions here? It’s not our will if we’re going slow – and infact we’re running like crazy, but still not enough. Some Techcrunch opinion / feedback should help. Do you manage it or better if I drop an email to Roxanne?

      • http://www.stefanobernardi.com/ stefanobernardi

        AFAIK Blomming still didn’t raise money, didn’t launch and, more importantly, never asked for an article.

      • http://Infoservi.it/ Alberto D'Ottavi

        Heck Ste what are you saying? We founded the company with a micro-seed in Oct, when we met and discussed about it at the speed dating event (and we asked you for the article). Then opened to subscribers immediately afterwards, and now we have people sharing products everywhere. What is “closed” (like maaany other startups) is the public catalogue, that we’re setting up and launching soon, but the platform is up and running. Wanna try? Just log in to https://secure.blomming.com/mm/new using TCRUNCHUS as promocode – everyone’s invited.

      • http://twitter.com/ikoniqueOS ikonique OS

        Here is an even better story.

        Two years ago a new father decided to start a not-for-profit to make software so that his children could use the internet safely and with being spied upon, monitored or tracked; by anyone buy him that is ;)

        He single-handedly raised over 100,000 POUNDS (they were worth a lot more $$ back then) as DONATIONS – ie no ROI from London City bankers. No small feat in anyone’s book.

        Two years later and they have a patent pending for really innovative technology that will be given away for free and have developed a free and open identity system that is far superior to OpenID and webfinger.

        Now they have just released free and open source software that makes distributed social networking and personal cloud servers a reality for everyone.

        Unlike all the other entrepreneurs with a ‘new start-up’ this is NOT about getting rich or famous for any of that team. No self-promotion. No PR. No sucking up tech reporters. You will most likely never know our names…

        So the project is ignored by the tech completely, yet despite this, it is already gathering steam.

        The name of the project? ask Robin Waulters…

    • http://twitter.com/danbec Daniele Beccari

      You want to solve the problem of managing privacy policies. Good. Suggest starting by publishing your terms and conditions in English, and possibly under UK or US jurisdiction because the Italian legal system really scares everyone off.

      • http://www.iubenda.com Andrea Giannangelo

        I completely agree. Give us the time to do it :(

  • http://nofeed.org/ ngw

    I know personally the Mashape guys, and they’re truly great people.
    It’s very unfortunate they haven’t been lucky in Italy, as far as I’m concerned I did all I could eventually do :)

  • http://nofeed.org/ ngw

    I know personally the Mashape guys, and they’re truly great people.
    It’s very unfortunate they haven’t been lucky in Italy, as far as I’m concerned I did all I could eventually do :)

  • http://twitter.com/MarkLittlewood Mark Littlewood

    Not an unusual sort of story.

    The only thing that really puzzles me is that it took them 2 years to talk to all the investors in the ‘Italian Peninsula’.

    • Saverio Mznt

      LOL

    • Vladir

      Italians investors are very slow. You can stay blocked (due diligence “an excuse”) with just one VC for almost 6 months, without any result at the end.

  • http://jetlib.com/news/2011/01/13/italy%e2%80%99s-vcs-are-letting-their-best-startups-go/ Italy’s VCs Are Letting Their Best Startups Go | JetLib News

    […] Read the rest of this entry » […]

  • Nick

    StartupLi.st featured an interview with Mashape’s CEO Augusto Marietti 2 weeks ago. To see the exclusive interview click the following link> http://interviews.startupli.st/post/2513249072/exclusive-interview-mashape

    Please share this with your friends and fellow tech enthusiasts! :)

    Nick

  • Sander Remie

    europe just sucks, period

  • Sander Remie

    europe just sucks, period

    • http://www.studentscircle.net/live/ studentscircle

      true!! europe does suck.. been seeking for funding for 4months now to no avail.!! and such good product i have. wish something can be done.. european vc’s need to get more active

  • bozo

    My parents are from India, and this article is right on target. Here in America the opportunities are absolutely amazing, but most Americans take them for granted. Its only when you go to other nations that you see how much of a privilege it is to live in this great nation.

  • http://www.myweb20.it/2011/01/22-anni-garage-milano-silicon-valley/ My web 2.0 » Blog Archive » 22 anni, da un garage di Milano alla Silicon Valley

    […] però c’è un lieto fine. Anzi, un lieto inizio. Già, perché ora comincia davvero l’avventura di Mashape, startup fondata dal 22enne Marco e da altri due […]

  • guest

    Way to guys!

  • Rven

    anyone knows how much of the company the VCs will own for their $101,000?

    • gius

      Conv. Notes. No equity nor valuation yet

    • Watercolor1996

      Well, it’s a start!

  • http://twitter.com/itandrea Andrea Martinelli

    Way to go Italy…older people’s mentality is ruining that beautiful country.
    That’s the second reason why I left and moved to USA (the first reason? oh yeah, my Californian wife)

  • http://twitter.com/RelayRides RelayRides

    Thanks for fixing our name :)

  • http://paulsparrows.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/cera-una-volta-il-sogno-americano-e-per-fortuna-ce-ancora/ C’era una volta… Il Sogno Americano… (E per fortuna c’è ancora!) « Paolo Passeri's weblog

    […] una delle innumerevoli navigazioni notturne, mi sono imbattuto in questa significativa storia relativa al sogno americano, sogno che non passa mai di moda, e alla tanto acclamata (a parole) […]

  • http://twitter.com/thinkwitty thinkdifferent

    I’m Italian and this is no surprising news

  • Han Solo

    There are the coffee mugs…

    http://bit.ly/dI3hcF

  • http://eu.techcrunch.com/2011/01/20/startupbootcamp-launches-in-madrid-next-up-london-and-berlin/ Startupbootcamp launches in Madrid. Next up: London and Berlin.

    […] if the Y Combinator model would work outside of Silicon Valley, where there is a high density of active business angels and investors. Then again, progams like Seedcamp and TechStars – which behind the […]

  • http://jetlib.com/news/2011/01/20/techstars%e2%80%99-european-affiliate-startupbootcamp-launches-in-madrid-berlin-and-london-to-follow/ TechStars’ European Affiliate Startupbootcamp Launches In Madrid, Berlin And London To Follow | JetLib News

    […] if the Y Combinator model would work outside of Silicon Valley, where there is a high density of active business angels and investors. Then again, progams like Seedcamp and TechStars – […]

  • http://test.andrewsayshello.com/wordpress/?p=40 TechStars’ European Affiliate Startupbootcamp Launches In Madrid, Berlin And London To Follow | ASH Testing

    […] if the Y Combinator model would work outside of Silicon Valley, where there is a high density of active business angels and investors. Then again, progams like Seedcamp and TechStars – which behind the […]

  • http://snipbids.com/blog/?p=54 Today’s Links | SnipBids Blog

    […] if the Y Combinator model would work outside of Silicon Valley, where there is a high density of active business angels and investors. Then again, progams like Seedcamp and TechStars – which behind the […]

  • http://eu.techcrunch.com/2011/01/21/two-25-year-old-american-entrepreneurs-leave-the-states-to-launch-a-groupon-clone-in-france/ Two 25-year-old American entrepreneurs leave the States to launch a Groupon clone…in France?

    […] just because there may be Italians moving to Silicon Valley and getting $101K funding with ex-Youtubers in just 19 days doesn’t mean that 25-year-old […]

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