Elio Narciso and Talent Garden are mentioned in Chapter 20 of “Tech and the City“, <<The Discreet Charm of New York – What are the Challenges for Foreign Entrepreneurs?>>.
“The dream of Elio Narciso—Internet entrepreneur and angel investor who, since 2004, shuttles between Italy and the United States after having earned an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of management—is to open the New York location of the Talent Garden (TAG) network of co-working spaces. One of his latest creations, Yoodeal, operates between New York and Milan. Yoodeal is an online personal shopping service created in March 2011 and currently launched in Italy and Spain, but soon to be launched in other markets. New York boasts another startup founded by Narciso in 2009, mobAVE, that does business in the field of mobile advertising. “From New York, I often use resident European talent for my startups,” says Narciso, who in 2012 became a TAG partner. Talent Garden already has a presence in Bergamo, Padua, and Turin, in addition to Brescia, where the company was founded at the end of 2011. “Our dream is to launch a TAG ecosystem in every city in the world, an idea based on the Silicon Valley example,” you can read on their website. “We hope to build a big community of minds, a vast network of shared resources where every single member has the best possible opportunities to develop ideas and projects, independently of where in the world they may be from. Talented people should be able to collaborate with one another and interface with businesses, entrepreneurs and the media anywhere in the world as well as in their own country.”
The dream is getting closer to become reality, as I wrote originally for StartupItalia!
Talent Garden has sowed some very fertile seeds into Lower Manhattan’s soil and very soon they’ll grow to become the first international coworking space in New York. TAG’s founder Davide Dattoli comes back home much richer than when he left for an incredible journey to NYC: he has a $10,000 check in his pocket and a huge network of potential investors in TAG’s U.S. expansion.
Davide and his partner Elio Narciso were one of the 20 finalists at the H.E.L.M. (Hire + Expand in Lower Manhattan) competition, selected among 300 applications from all over the world. Each finalist had to convince the jury that its company would be «an amplifier for the transformation of Lower Manhattan into a hub of tech and creative companies». There were four categories and for each of them there was one winner receiving $250,000 and one runner up receiving $50,000, payable upon occupancy in Lower Manhattan office space as reimbursement for rent payments or working capital grants. The other 12 finalists received $10,000 each, which is what happened to TAG.
«We did not win the top prize but the experience was invaluable», Davide told StartupItalia! that followed the award ceremony on November the 21st Park, close to the new World Trade Center. «I have participated in other competitions in Europe – explained Davide – but they were very different: they were managed by public administrations and totally unconnected from the local business community. There the atmosphere was bureaucratic, here it’s business oriented with the ten judges who were very competent». Among them there were Alicia Glen, Head of the Urban Investment Group at Goldman Sachs Bank; Rachel Haot, Chief Digital Officer of the City of New York; Lawrence Lenihan Jr, Founder and Managing Director of FirstMark Capital; Arthur Levitt, Senior Adviser of Carlyle Group; Alexis Ohanian, Founder of Reddit, Breadpig and Hipmunk; Richard Parsons, Senior Advisor of Providence Equity Partners, Former Chairman of Citigroup, Former Chairman and CEO of Time Warner; and David Tisch, co-founder of TechStars.
«They asked tough questions and they were a little intimidating – recalls Elio, who did the pitch with Davide – For example they wanted to understand why for a non U.S. startup it would be better to settle in a coworking space specializing in international companies, like TAG wants to be, instead of working side-by-side with all kinds of startups and especially with native New Yorkers». Elio explained that foreign startups have specific cultural and practical problems to solve in order to be successful in America and TAG can help them do that faster and thrive in the NYC ecosystem.
Talent Garden was one of the five finalists in the international category. The winner was SiSense from Tel Aviv, Israel: a big data analytics engine with already 500 clients and planning to go public in 2017. It was awarded probably because of its high potential to hire a lot of salesmen for its software: many of them – explained its CEO Amit Bendov – could be traders from Wall Street firms, which are still cutting jobs.
It’s not by chance that Goldman Sachs – the largest independent investment bank in the U.S. – hosted the final selection and award ceremony of the H.E.L.M. competition, which lasted six hours: it’s symbolic of the transformation that Wall Street and Lower Manhattan have been experiencing since the Lehman Brothers’ collapse and the 2008 financial crisis.
«Being in the G.S. headquarters was thrilling – adds Davide – And I also appreciated a lot the rest of the H.E.L.M. program with visits to the previous winners that are now working in this area and the visit to the WTC, where there are available office spaces with amazing views, although quite expensive. These four days I’ve spent in NYC will be extremely useful because of all the networking we’ve been able to build. I’m sure that Talent Garden will flourish in New York too».