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Proxible, a bridge to Italy for 1871 hub startups

We call it Proxible, Spindox’s platform that connects businesses and investors to the startups at 1871, the US’s biggest incubator. We developed a new methodology to select the most effective innovation in three fields: AI, Industry 4.0, and Virtual and Augmented Reality.

With the launch of ProxibleSpindox’s efforts in the US have taken a step further. The goal is simple: be the smart bridge that connects American innovation to European companies. Since last year, we have been working inside the 1871 – the great incubator, “entrepreneurial hub” and “cluster of innovation” in Chicago – with Leonardo Zubalich, our coordinator for American operations. During all of 2019, we have explored the great tech ecosystem bubbling with ideas at 1871, and not just with digital startups but also research centers, universities, SMEs, big corporations, and the US branches of some of our biggest clients.
A pivotal role in this operation was played by the Italian American Chamber of Commerce Midwest in Chicago.

FINDING THE STARTUPS THAT WORK

The road to innovation is paved with good startups. Nevertheless, only a handful of them manage to survive and scale up. It is how the natural selection of businesses works, keeping the ecosystem healthy and thriving. We also know how difficult it is to define a good startup. It is estimated that every year, roughly 5 million startups are funded worldwide but 90% of them fail soon afterwards. That’s more than 120k startups a day.

The goal of Proxible is quite ambitious: to detect, as early as possible, the startups that are likely to succeed.
So, we’re actually more than a bridge between Chicago and the Old Continent at 1871. We’re here to define objective and quantitative criteria that determine remarkable innovation for Spindox.

AI, AR/VR, AND IOT

We focus on three of the most attractive tech trends: artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, and the Internet of Things. Perhaps these may seem like obvious fields to focus on due to the concentration of investments they attract in the US and the rest of the world. However, we focus on them because of the business affinity between the startups’ business proposals and Spindox’s competences with the prospect of integration and mutual growth.

That’s why after having investigated more than 300 companies and counting, we are particularly interested in companies with a business model most compatible with that of a digital company like Spindox. In some cases, we are the liaison between the startups and the executive management of our company, or with our clients.

EVALUATION FRAMEWORK

To identify the most promising startups, at Proxible, we have built a KPI-based framework to rationalize the qualitative aspects of a business: the Customer Value Proposition (CVP, the capability of generating value for the prospective client through a distinctive proposal), the Revenue Factor (RF, the capability of generating a revenue stream consistent with the proposed business plan), and the Key Factors (KF, the value of the team).

Our portal includes the technical reports for each company profiled with their corresponding KPI score. The charts indicate in which stage of Porter’s Value Chain the startups are at and in which fields they can reach their maximum added value. Moreover, the CVP, RF, and KF combined score of a startup positions it in one of four tiers that describe their level of maturity: “Explorer”, “Grower”, “Driver”, and “Star”.

FROM KPI TO THE BACKSTAGE OF BUSINESSES

To determine a CVP score, we analyze a business’s value proposition and the needs they intend to address: the closer the startup is to the so-called “white space”, the better the odds of success. The RF score is important for evaluating their financial performance and for determining whether their revenue stream is consistent with the business plan. The KF score refers to the single members of the team: it assesses the skills and competences of the startup’s members.

It is not always feasible to evaluate the Key Factors of a startup only from their corporate communication (website, white papers, and social media), which is why we meet the team in person to interview them and to thoroughly familiarize ourselves with the people behind the business. In addition, we build future business relations.

Proxible is more than an archive for company technical reports. We are proud to watch our website grow to include increasingly diverse contents, such as videos, podcasts, and articles, to reveal the stories and the faces of those who at 1871 truly innovate.

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