STARTUP EUROPE Interviewed Mariuccia Teroni (Founder And Chair Of Facilitylive)
Hi, thanks for sharing your time with us. Please introduce yourself and FacilityLive to our readership
With the Macintosh and the new digital technologies for the Desk Top Publishing (DTP), I realised and published the first private university magazine in Italy: Student Magazine Pavia. This first “digital” experience was destined to become the backbone of an entire life dedicated to innovation and experimentation. So I started living the years of the First Digital Revolution, the one that allowed physical forms to be converted to bits and bytes and, after that, to change the perception of time and space by using the Web.
The first industry that started embracing this change was the publishing one and, thanks to my digital skills, I became soon the central character of this historical moment. For 15 years I’ve collaborated with the major Italian publishers (and not only) to the collection, study and formalization of all the know-how of the latest generation of analog professionals in the treatment of information. This huge know-how was transformed in new and formalised methods, processes, methodologies and knowledge of the new digital world. It was a unique and unrepeatable experience.
Since the start, it has been almost 30 years in which I went through, understood and experienced many technologies. In these years I have never forgotten that technologies come and go but the information remains, and to be used again, it must be treated independently of the technology of the day. In these years I have learned to apply the principle that information is created by humans and therefore, it always has a logic. To be able to read and recognise this logic allows to retrieve exactly the information you need. These are the principles on which Gianpiero Lotito and I founded FacilityLive, the Italian high tech startup that is currently known and observed not only for its revolutionary technology for the organisation, management and search of information patented in 44 countries worldwide, but also for its vision.
In recognition of this vision and as a result of my professional commitment, from 2014 I’ve been also appointed Ambassador for E-Skills for Jobs and Digital Icon for Watify: two projects of the Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs of the European Commission for the growth of digital skills and the development of digital entrepreneurship in Europe.
Recently, I’ve been appointed Vice President for Digital Society at ANITEC, the Italian Industrial Association of Digital Companies and partner of DIGITALEUROPE, aiming at contributing to the growth and development in Italy through the application and use of the most innovative digital technologies. And, just recently, I’ve been nominated as one of the four Successful Women Web Entrepreneurs within the WeHubs project of the European Commission for the promotion of women’s entrepreneurship.
Since last year, I’ve been Board Member of Confindustria Pavia and before of all this, I taught at the Master MICSU (Basic Methodologies of Computer Science and Communication for Humanistic Sciences) of the University of Milan and wrote technical manuals on the treatment and management of information for publishing on different media for Apogeo-Feltrinelli, one of the most important Italian publishing brands.
Today we live in an age which is called “Information Society”, but from this information we risk being overwhelmed. What we must not forget is that it is humanly created, and because of this, it has a logic, built according to an intellect criteria, and processed according to consistent rules. That’s why it isn’t correct saying that most of information surrounding us is unstructured and therefore not organised. The reality is: what is not explicit and obvious is anyway always implicit and present.
Knowing how to read the data’s info-architecture and to recognise the information context where it resides, is what allows our semantic search engine to find and return the pertinent and consistently organised information the user is looking for in a dynamic patented interface. Our capability to transfer this “human” principle into a technology is what makes the difference between us and the full-text engines using a statistical-probabilistic approach.
I will give a few examples to better explain myself. When in 2014 we joined the ELITE Programme of the London Stock Exchange, we were the only non-UK company in the history to be admitted to this prestigious project. Today, after a little more than a year, we are no longer the only one, but now we represent “the first” company because we pioneered the admission to the British ELITE Programme for other non-UK startups. When in 2013 we realised that there was more interest to stay in Europe rather than go to America, we were considered a black sheep. Now, many startups are making the same choice.
Another example is our fund raising model: by capital increases with an incremental Company Valuation we manage to preserve the Governance. Today, many companies have understood this model’s benefits and are applying it. Actually, what I mean to say is that it is changing the idea that making a startup means to set-up a brilliant idea and sell it soon after, maximising personal profit and trying to make the deal of a lifetime.
I personally believe that those who have made the same choice as me to drive a professional adventure have a duty and a social responsibility: building something useful and creating wealth for the community. So, they have to contribute to the cultural and entrepreneurial growth of a Country. In short, with their work they have to be a virtuous example and try to create an ecosystem where startups can rise and grow by creating synergies and value, and we are very committed to this.
On January 27th, we were in Amsterdam to represent Italy as the innovative entrepreneurs chosen by our Minister of Economic Development at the “European Council on Competitiveness” organized by the Dutch Presidency of the European Commission together with the European Commissioners responsible for growth and competitiveness. In practice, the Ministers of Economic Development of the 28 European Union Countries, each accompanied by its own selected innovative entrepreneur, were there to discuss the main challenges and opportunities arising from digitisation of industry within Europe and the actions that Europe should take to create a conducive environment for industry, policymakers, and consumers to develop, disseminate, and adopt these innovations.
Your company entered the European Tech Alliance 2015. Can you tell us more about your role contributing to the digital single market?
In this framework, the dream that is inspiring me and all of us in FacilityLive is being able to give our concrete contribution to the creation of a European Technology Industry. I think that our strongest contribution in this direction was to ignore the lure of the Silicon Valley that would have repaid well the value of our intellectual property, and to remain “Italians in Europe.”
In the next few years the European market has the opportunity to become the richest and most important single market of the world. We are all called to play this game and not to miss this opportunity. The European people have always coexisted with an extraordinary dichotomy that became the environment of great change: strong traditions and great innovators. It’s time to return being protagonists.
Facilitylive is not only the brilliant result of two visionary and innovative minds, but it is also the example we use to inspire young people to have the courage and the idea that dreams come true only if you believe in them. If you put limitations, these limitations become a reality. Our corporate culture puts people at the centre of everything. After all, we invented a “human-centric” technology so how else could this culture be.
The great value that we try to transfer to the FacilityLive people is not only made of commitment, passion and pride in building a revolutionary technology that may change many people’s lives. What we try to teach them is also the awareness of the great opportunity that we are living and that we are all called to share a sense of restitution making our adventure a social commitment too. And with this, I would like to think that as Gianpiero and I accumulated this “testimony” from our professional fathers, in the same way we will pass it on to those who will have to borrow and promote this heritage in a virtuous and exponential cycle.
Thanks a lot for your precious insights and good luck for your next steps! Would you please like to leave our readers a piece of advice that guided you while driving your company to scale internationally?
My story and that of FacilityLive want to be the proof that in life you must have the courage to dare and never give up because you don’t have to be afraid to believe in your own passions. It isn’t always easy to keep the route, especially when all people claim the contrary of what you’re saying. Even for us there were difficult times in this sense, especially when we were not understood, but that is precisely the time when you have to give your best because, if you are not understood, perhaps you’re doing true innovation! Nurturing your own talent, having the strength to sustain your own ideas, facing difficulties, not surrendering, is what can make the difference between you and others and it is what allowed us to demonstrate that it is possible to be important players of a global game even playing from a small Italian historical city. So being a role model for young people, an example to inspire them, a generator of energy and enthusiasm are the values which inspire me every day, and that makes me proud and happy of the life I’ve chosen.
- to reinforce the links between people, business and associations who build and scale up the startup ecosystem (e.g. the Web Investors Forum, the Accelerator Assembly, the Crowdfunding Network)
- to inspire entrepreneurs and provide role models (e.g. the Leaders Club and their Startup Manifesto, the Startup Europe Roadshow)
- to celebrate new and innovative startups (with Tech All Stars and Europioneers), help them to expand their business (Startup Europe Partnership, ACE Acceleration Programme), and give them access to funding under Horizon 2020.