Do you still think that accelerator programs are only meant for first-time entrepreneurs? Then, you should meet Marco, CEO of Watly, one of our top 10 teams this year. He will prove you wrong. We asked Marco how did he end up in Eindhoven and here comes his story.
“It was just a coincidence. The one day that you receive an e-mail reading that there was a Startupbootcamp selection day in Barcelona. The first time such an organization was interested in hardware rather than software and applications. The one pitch that got us into the big event in Eindhoven. And that big event, which I almost missed.
That day I was on my way to the airport, in a packed, sold-out train from Venice to Bergamo, standing on foot in the corridor next to the toilet, on the verge of giving up this painful trip, when I received a message. It was Eric, Startupbootcamps’ co-founder, saying “Marco, are you coming? I need you here!” – Of course I’m coming. You don’t know where I am now, but I’m coming.”
And so he came. Straight from the airport, dragging behind his little suitcase, Marco stood out with a 3-minute killer pitch which put his Watly team right at the heart of this year’s Startupbootcamp program. It might have been a coincidence, but seemingly, Marco says, “When you have the right attitude, the right things also come to you.”
The men behind the machine
The first thing you will notice about Marco is the intensely orange casual sweater he is wearing. Well, if you thought it was by chance, you got it wrong. The bright color leads you straight to the mate with the bright ideas.
The enthusiasm of a visionary could hardly be kept in the framework of an ordinary job description. Beyond the well-known fact that water is the primary source of life and therefore needs to be used sustainably, Marco has taken on a different angle – its scarcity. He emphasizes on the increasingly bothering reality that water is unevenly distributed. Most of it saline, polluted, or not near to be found, millions of people fall victims to the lack of access to drinking water. If people today are marching on war for resources such as petrol, Marco predicts the next conflict will be held in quest for clean water.
So what if there was a simple solution to enabling immediate access to crystal clear water, regardless of infrastructure? As a serial entrepreneur with a nearly surreal concept of the future, Marco has picked up a developed technology to tackle this global issue. Together with his old-time partner Stefano, Marco starts Watly – a solar water purifier system embedded in a clean-design machine, which has the potential of distilling drinkable water from saline or contaminated one. Shortly after the prototype is ready, a myriad of dedicated and talented electrons are one by one attracted to this dual core. Some of them, like Matteo – the youngest and newest member, join quite on the go, here at the HighTech Campus.
Push-ups and pull-ups at Startupbootcamp or what it is like to be in an accelerator program?
No doubt that the accelerator is hard work. No doubt, too, that Watly as a team have experienced a dramatic change so far and the progress curve is far from exhausted. But it is also true that each team member has gone through their own, personal lift-up differently as they are all in a different stage of their careers. To some the methodological part has played a major role, for others – a field such as marketing, legal aspects, strategy, publicity, etc. Still others have found the mentors coaching quite inspirational. For Marco, the most essential element of being part of such an environment is the network – the open door to a thriving soil where one can seed and reap the fruits of a competitive idea. “We live in an era of access”, he says, “not ownership. We do not need to stick to a land, house, brand or a self; we move forward to experiencing something new instead. Therefore access to the right people gives you the tools, the insights to approach ideas in a new way.”
Startupbootcamp HighTechXL is a top-rated discipline for Watly team. It is not the end, however. What is next? The big pitch for hunting investors on 21 February 2014.