If there’s one thing we must not do, is to do nothing

“It is sickening to see thousands of refugees drowning on the doorstep of the world’s wealthiest continent. No one risks the lives of their children in this way except out of utter desperation.” _ Angelina Jolie

On the front pages the images and stories being printed can create a sense of desperation and powerlessness.

Especially from here, 12.000+ km away from the countries where help is needed the most, I have been forced to watch most of the European governments and institutions react in an insane way to the arrival of people who are doing nothing else but seeking safety for themselves and their dear ones.

I won’t talk about my disappointment, and neither about the raising phobias. They scare me. I wished we’d learn enough from history not to commit the same mistakes again.

Instead, I prefer to focus on all those people who feel an inner voice roaring, who have a desire to do something, to act, to contribute to the cause in any possible way. Even through media I can see a lot of us, more than what we imagine, expressing their frustration and constantly asking: how can I help? What can I do?

Chatting with a friend of mine earlier today, I found myself writing:

… The world needs good people to at least try to do the right thing.

And maybe they’ll fail… but they’ll inspire others while trying. Or maybe they will move that boundary a little bit.

Either way… if there’s one thing we must not do, is to do nothing.

Right after writing it, I’ve realised how much I mean it.

As long as I will be able to exercise my freedom to act, I want my energies to be invested in projects which aim to change those things that are wrong and that need to be changed.

I, like anybody else, fear failure.
I, like anybody else, am afraid that whatever I will do will not be enough to change anything.

But I won’t let any of this to get in my way.

In situations like this one, with such complex challenges, what we tend to do is to just look at what we’ve got and to ask what could we bring to the cause, what could be useful.

12.000+ km away from the places where I’d be needed on the ground… all I could think about is that I have technology on my side. Especially, I have a technology that I’ve created with some of the smartest people I know, that we can offer to better coordinate activities, contributions and ideas on how we can make things work better for every single person who is reaching our shores.

After speaking with the rest of my team, we have decided to provide Flythegap to help players on the ground gather projects, ideas and resources to help those in need.

We’ll try to reach out to every single organisation, group or person who is welcoming refugees, and we will also build a database of these players via this form.

Please if you know any organisation or group that is taking action, let us know.

I will be posting updates here, with the links of every flythegap-challenge launched, so that anyone will be able to see where these initiatives are and how we can all provide our knowledge, feedback and any ideas that might be the next groundbreaking solution to this problem.

Thank you, to every single person and organisation who is already taking action.

where are you from? earthall for all 3

#allforall

 – – –

As Flythegap, we know we haven’t launched our latest version of the product yet.

But considering the events, we have decided that there’s no better moment to put your product out than when it could make the difference for something that matters.

And this, to us, matters a lot.

To get in touch, please email us: info@flythegap.com

On Resilience, Entrepreneurship and Volleyball

Before being entrepreneurs, we’re humans.

“You don’t say?”, you’ll think.

Well, the truth is that out there there’s way more stuff written on how to do sales, or gain more users, or on [insert startup topic here] than articles on how to go through the emotional, physical and psychological roller-coaster that defines your life from the day you decide to set up your company and be your own boss.

One of the most touching and open-hearted articles I’ve read on this topic has been written recently by a fellow Italian entrepreneur, Armando Biondi (you can check out his article here). Reading his words, and especially observing the reactions of other people across this sector, made me reflect on how liberating can be to have a space to express this side of the story too.

The side that is not about the product/company and its growth, but about our growth and our evolution while working on our project.

As soon as you get to speak with investors, or any other entity that seeks the diamonds in the rust of the entrepreneurial sector, you’ll hear it right away (and very often from then on): “the number one thing we look at, search for, and care about, is the right team. The talents.”

But talent alone is not enough, is it?

Talent alone won’t make you a success. Neither will being in the right place at the right time, unless you are ready. The most important question is: ‘Are your ready?’

Talent is nothing without hard work, capacity of adaptation and aim to practice — to become better and better everyday. But especially, IMHO, talent is nothing without resilience.

Resilience (n):

1. the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
2. the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.

This made me immediately think about volleyball.

I’ve spent 12 years playing volleyball, also professionally, and I’ve recently discovered how much of what I’ve learned as a volleyball player is a powerful tool for my life as an entrepreneur today.

For example, if you’re a middle blocker (like I was), volleyball teaches you to know very well that the opponent’s attack is your problem first, way before being a problem for everyone else: you’re the one in charge of blocking, in nullifying the “issue” that is coming your way — and your speed, agility and position will be the reference for the defence, to get into position.

In volleyball you have to know your role, because you’ll have specific movements and muscles to train, and specific responsibilities. You never lose coordination with your team, and at the end of every playing action, won or lost, everyone gathers in the middle of the court and join hands. “We are all together in this“.

Sounds a lot like leadership and entrepreneurship, doesn’t it?

Insights like this made me reflect a lot on how much of my resilience comes from my years of volleyball — and it’s about something more than just having determination, or the generic ability to train and work hard for a specific goal.

You learn resilience when you push yourself to do something that is usually not possible or natural for others — like jumping up in the air and, meanwhile, coordinate your entire body to hit a ball with strength, elegance and efficiency.

You learn resilience when you run to catch a ball, throwing yourself to the floor if necessary and, while keeping your eye on the target, you catch the ball, fall, and immediately stand up again — to get back to your position.

You learn resilience when you train to do this without getting injured, without letting pain or fear distract you or block you, without losing focus on the action in game.

“You can’t become a champion until you become an Athlete first”, they say. And I, personally, agree.

So, as former volleyball player and entrepreneur, my two cents advice to you, fellows: do (any) sport. Encourage your team members, friends, children and significant ones to do sport. It’s not just about keeping our bodies in shape.

It’s about training our hearts and minds to go through this challenging journey (being it founding a company or something else) with more strength, tools and abilities than we would have ever imagined.

On Fear, Entrepreneurship and Surfing

The last thing you expect while spending a few days on the coast, working and surfing, is to find yourself in deep fear.

I recently got back to Chile after a months of business trips across Europe: Milan, Barcelona, London – I came back tired but satisfied. Excited about the people and organisations I’ve met, about all the opportunities that are coming by and the interest we’re getting for Flythegap.

Though, less than 24 hours after landing in Santiago I left for Pichilemu, a spot on the coast. I felt like I needed to spend a few days regaining my energies, while surfing and (of course) catching up with emails.

And that’s when I started experiencing one of the weirdest feelings I felt in my life.

A sort of fear mixed with panic, enhanced by being physically tired and further messed up by my rational consciousness, that immediately wanted to regain the control and try to convince me that everything was just OK.

Meanwhile, of course I had to get back to Santiago, to the Startup Chile program and to my team – some of my responsibilities here in Chile.But I was missing the ocean, the waves and especially the surfing.

I know that staying close to the water always enhances my thoughts, and I felt the need to try to reconnect with that state of mind and see if I could use it to try to figure out what was happening.

And that’s how I ended up watching a movie that a friend of mine mentioned me a thousand of times, just telling me that it was based on the true story of a famous surfer: Chasing Mavericks.

You know, I love movies based on true stories, and there were waves and surfing too. Seemed OK to me. Well – it turned out to be quiet something more that just OK.


Chasing Mavericks

There’s this scene in the movie, when Jay and Frosty are diving in the water practicing holding their breath (Jay needs to get to four minutes to even consider surfing the Mavericks) and – as they are about to come up for air, a great white shark swims just above them (mini Spoiler Alert: they make it out).

When they get to the boat, Frosty asks to the upset Jay what happened.

“Why did you panic?
“Fear, I guess…”
“Well, one thing you gotta know: fear, panic. Two separate emotions. Fear’s healthy, panic’s deadly.”
“But if you’re scared to death, how do you not panic?”

“By identifying the fear. And what you’re afraid of. Not just out there, but in life.”

*click*.


Hello, Fear & Panic. Nice to meet you.

I couldn’t help it – I felt like everything was clear again. Or at least understandable.

I think that especially when you have some sort of responsibility in life, or simply if you live by it as a principle, you just can’t avoid fear.

And it doesn’t matter if your fear comes from being afraid of failing as an entrepreneur and “lose everything”, or from the chance of disappointing your parents that are paying for your studies, or the team you work with, your family, your supporters, your friends… You fear to miss the expectations of what or who matters to you.

And that’s just fine.

The important lesson there for me to learn was to not panic about it.

The fear and panic separation and identification, the four pillars of foundation, the importance of being honest in recognising what your inner call is and how to better prepare for it… this movie has several concepts that I couldn’t avoid to relate to my life as entrepreneur.

Finding them all very simple, thought clear and powerful.

Chasing Mavericks to me has been one of those types of messages that just make it to you, precisely when you need them the most.

May this blog post do the same for some of us, out there.

Hang loose

M.

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.

Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

― Steven Pressfield

We are Gatekeepers

Tonight is one of those nights when you walk home and you feel like there are things falling into place, one by one. You can’t say exactly what, nor why – and maybe it doesn’t even really matter.

It’s been one month since I landed in Santiago – a month that’s been dense like 3 months and that passed by quick enough to feel like just couple of weeks.

I’ve been writing already about why I like so much the Startup Chile program and its potential to create change in a unique way, also through the various initiatives that it allows you to set up.

Today for example I was joining for the first time a gathering of some entrepreneurs from Startup Chile Generation 10, whose business are particularly focused on social issues. I was with Luis Bajaña (Cyclemoney), James Shannon (LocalFoodLab) and Christopher Pruijsen (Sterio.me) having an open confrontation on social entrepreneurship in front of a small crew of people, talking about our own projects and also introducing the Hack4Good hackathon that is taking place this weekend in Santiago.

At one point I was impressed by how we were all saying that, no matter how long it’ll take to get some funding or a proper investment – we’re going to bring our projects on anyway. “It’s just needed.”

There was no hesitation in our voices or looks, and it wasn’t the type of situation where you have to try to impress someone. It felt just like the most honest manifestation of the urgency we feel to do what we’re doing. More because of a sense of social justice than a sense of profit.

This made me think of quote that I found a few months ago, thanks to another impactful being I’m honored to know, Davide Casali:

“We have an ethical responsibility to not do things we don’t want into this world. We are gatekeepers.”

Mike Monteiro

I personally think that it’s important to talk more about social entrepreneurship, to explore more its dynamics and its characteristics. But if I take a look beyond the details, I see one single overall principle that silently unifies any business that keeps in mind the consequences that it creates on a social, environmental, economical or cultural level. A principle that Mike Monteiro‘s sentence expresses perfectly:

this world is going to be about what WE will decide it will be about.

Considering what impact our business is going to have on reality is more that a triple-bottom-line trend, and certainly more than just joining a social-impact-centered program for startups.

It’s about choosing to feel the responsibility of manifesting a certain type of values, with every single one of our acts – or not.

It’s about remembering that our life is our message, and that each of our choices creates an impact, and that this same dynamic scales exponentially when you set up a business: because it will create impact on many different levels at the same time.

We ARE gatekeepers.

And if knowing this is not enough to remind us the importance of what we’re doing (and of how we’re doing it), then I don’t know what else could.

End of week #2 – why I think Startup Chile is making the difference

It’s been two weeks now since I landed in Santiago, and exactly 10 days since I’m officially part of the Startup Chile Program.

While the first week was mostly about getting some point of reference and meeting some of those people we’re going to co-work (and have fun) with in the next months, this second week has been about settling down and get our businesses and projects running again.

Despite the intermittent access to the Internet (still no WIFI connection in our apartment, we’re working on it) I had the chance to get in touch with some of the people I and we, as Flythegap, work with back in Europe.

“So how’s Startup Chile? How’s the program?” it’s been a question many of them asked me, and the answer is worth sharing.

First of all, I might be wrong but – this is the only program I know that invests public funds in cross-sector and international private companies, asking social impact activities on the territory in return instead of equity.

Yes, there’s room for improvement (I dare you to name any program or organization that doesn’t need any improvement) but what I see here is a call to action that every four months brings entrepreneurs coming from any country of the globe to the same city, trying to build an environment that is not just made of business plans, pitches and ROI projections but that asks us to think over how we could create value for others – personally and with our businesses.

They ask, and then they require action. Which is something I feel very much needed, here and now just as in many other places in the world.

Maybe this program doesn’t give the woah-amount-of-money we all dream for our projects, and maybe it’s very different from what the Silicon Valley or any other startup environment have to offer, at any level.

But if even just 50% of the entrepreneurs who have been part of the Startup Chile program get away with an enhanced focus on what’s the impact they and their business can create in the world, well…

then I am not only glad to be here. I’m also glad Startup Chile is trying to make this difference.

Make it count.

Santiago, Startup Chile – day #1

This has been the day when being in Santiago met with being part of an international entrepreneurial program.

12K applicants, coming from 115 countries, tried to take part to the Startup Chile program since it has been founded.

Generation 10, our generation, counted alone 1600 application.

And the first thing Startup Chile’s crew told us has been:

“You have a huge responsibility for being here.

We look and stand for values like:

# Neverstop
# Create extraordinary things
# Do it yourself
# Dare not to be squared

But especially: make it count.”

For the very first time in my life I’ve found myself listening to people who are developing a completely different format to create new entrepreneurial culture and real innovation.

An innovation based on exchanges and interactions, and not on competition.

An innovation made of people, aiming to lower defences and unite aims, for a purpose that goes beyond what individual businesses are trying to do.

An innovation that believes in unity in diversity, and in the impact that this can create – at any level. Entrepreneurial, cultural, social, human.

There’s so much to do.

Glad to be here.