Bianca Dellepiane is the founder of Bridges to Italy, USA. She generates connections, collaborations and investments between Italy and the U.S. in the fields of technology. She also a columnist at La Voce di New York, writing on startups with a special focus on news and stories about Italian entrepreneurs leveraging innovation and creativity in Italy, USA and beyond.
In this Startup Savant interview, Bianca shares her knowledge on entrepreneurship and the importance of staying up-to-date to cope with the evolving industry she is in. She also opens up that failure is her biggest fear. To her, it relates to a waste of time, money and human effort. Learn more about Bianca in the following paragraphs. Be sure to give her a shout out on Twitter!
What ignited the spark in you to start a business? Where did the idea for Bridges to Italy come from?I come from a family of entrepreneurs dating back to my great grandparents, so I always knew I would eventually start my own business. Bridges to Italy was started because there was a lack of organizations helping Italian startups to expand in Southern California at that time.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?My favorite aspect is the ability to create my own opportunities and having relative control over the destiny of my business.
How do you generate new ideas for Bridges to Italy to keep growing? Is there a secret that you have figured out over the years?I believe it is very important to stay up-to-date with the industry you are in: reading, participating at industry events, networking with industry experts. These are all good ways to keep up with trends and make adjustments when necessary.
I don’t know if there is a secret, what I know is that being an entrepreneur is not easy but as long as you feel the excitement you will be able to do the hard work.
In your experience, what is the best way to build a successful customer base? Are there any mistakes that our readers can learn from?The most important thing is to learn to say 'no' early in the game. Being able to identify customers who will not add value to your business, on the contrary may even bring you grief, is one of the best skills to acquire as soon as possible.
How? There are several elements that can help you do so and they depend on the nature of your business. In mine, I reason like Venture Capitalists: I look at the startup team first and if I consider that they are great entrepreneurs capable of executing, I then assess their idea and determine if there is a market for it here in the US.
As a business owner, what is your greatest fear and how do you keep it under control or harness it?Failure is my biggest fear because it is usually related to a waste of time, money and even human capital. The best way to harness it is to try to do everything my experience has taught me in order to avoid it.
Who has been your greatest influencer along your entrepreneurial journey? How did they shape Bridges to Italy?I know it may sound corny, but like many other people in the startup world, I admire Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk. In fact, besides being successful entrepreneurs they are (have been ) visionaries looking at the present to reshape the future. In addition, what really inspires me about them, is their ability to take their ideas and turning them into successful businesses over and over again.
What do you feel is the major difference between you and other entrepreneurs? Is there something that has guided you along the way?Well, when I started I was among very few women in the startup world. I think this has given me a different prospective on various aspects of this field. What is guiding me is determination, without it I think it is hard to succeed in the entrepreneurial world.
Have you faced any failures with Bridges to Italy? How did you overcome it?Yes, from time to time I faced failures and the best way to overcome has been learning from them.
What was the best piece of advice you have ever gotten from another business owner? The worst?The best piece of advice has been - give your customers solutions to problems.
The worst - get into a price war with your competitors. In fact, customers are willing to pay a fair price if you give them something of value to them.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in California who have a business idea but don’t know where to get started?Start by doing some research to see if there is a market for your idea, who are your competitors, and how much capital you’d need to implement it. If the results of this research points out to an opportunity, create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and start testing it with friends.
If you need other people in order to get started, begin networking to find the right team members who will help you develop and market your product. There are numberless MEETUPs around town where you can find potential team members if you do not know people with the skill set you need.