It seems only yesterday when in May of 2013 along with two friends and adventures companions (Paolo Borella and Nicola Mattina) we launched a pilot called AppSpark (a mix between AppCampus and BizSpark) that within a few days would have assigned 190,000€ (in cash without equity) to 5 Startups and in less than 4 months, thanks to the collaboration with my co-worker Soha Hohnecker, would become an international Microsoft program operating in more than 40 countries. The Mobile App Acceleration Camp, MAAC, was born!

The MAAC, as I wrote in this post, is a fast track program to AppCampus provided by a large group of independent and experienced coaches from Microsoft, Nokia and AppCampus.

AppCampus is a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Espoo, Finland. This is an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone. AppCampus operates in two ways: assigns a grant to the team from 20,000 €, 50,000€ or $ 70,000 depending on the complexity of the app and supports selected teams with training and mentorship activities during and after the release of the app!


After only 3 events (two in Rome thanks to Luigi Capello of Luiss Enlabs that since the pilot hosted and supported us and one organized in Turin with Massimiliano Ceaglio and Agnese Vellar from I3P) we were able to help 15 Italian teams to obtain funding for a total of 540,000€; a goal that is not the final point of the project, but rather the starting point for a new international adventure for the teams!

Furthermore, 27% of funded team is led by a woman, while 40% have a woman in the core team!

This experience represents also a very important signal for all young people who have a Startup or are thinking of investing their time and passion in a digital Startup because it proves, once again, that emerging teams, if properly guided, are able to impose themselves in international scenarios and attract foreign investors! Regardless of where they live or work! 
These are some of the Italian teams we have worked together with MAAC: GamePix, InteractiveProject, BadSeed, Paperlit, ShooterAssistant, Mangatar, StereoMood, ArtGuru, ... 


AppSpark/MAAC was born from a very precise requirements: understand why only ONE team from Italy was funded during the first year of operation of AppCampus while other submissions were ALL rejected! Among other things, some of these rejected nominations were made by Startups that I was following personally in BizSpark and they were distinguishing for innovation and execution capacity in Italy and abroad. So, how was it possible that none of these Startups could be financed by AppCampus? This was the situation that drove me to seek answers to these questions!

After analyzing more than 50 rejected cases and after some looong skype calls with Paolo, Nicola and Frangino Lucarini from Nokia, we realized that all these nominations had a common factor : all submissions were drawn slavishly from business plan that startups were used to give to traditional VCs. Unfortunately  AppCampus IS NOT an traditional investment fund focused on growth of Startups but, on the contrary, is a fund fully dedicated to the search for the mobile apps that, in a very short time, can become viral and relevant in the global market. Here is the GAP! What we wanted was a coaching program with the teams who had the best ideas to help them to transform the concept into a concrete global project and feasible in the short term.We had to help teams to interpret the criteria and the spirit of AppCampus…Here is the MAAC!

That’s why the MAAC model excludes traditional training focused on skill transfer and classroom training! On the contrary it gives room for an intensive coaching experience where selected teams and international coaches team up for 2 days to (re)define a concrete strategy to climb fast the global market.

The MAAC program revolves around two simple ideas: best teams plus best coaches! OK, these two ingredients are not so new! So, what makes MAAC so effective? I think the reason can be found in two different aspects. The first is our ability to identify the best subject matter experts in the mobile field for each individual areas of the selected projects while the second is the positive mindset of the teams that are open to rethink everything they have thought up to that time… Anything can happen in 48 hours :-) ...


For those interested, the next Italian MAAC will be held in Rome on April the 15th and 16th.