The Mediterranean Startup: Towards a "new" paradigm
The Mediterranean countries are populated mostly by small family businesses, as a consequence of the central role played by the family in this area of the world. The family constitutes a fundamental strength point of these companies, which benefit from high internal cohesion. On the other hand, the family affects the potential for growth and innovation of the family businesses: the human resources and financial of a single family are often not enough to achieve and sustain the success in the long run.
Until now, mediterranean small family businesses have survived to internal competition and international in various ways: a) operating in districts (clusters); b) differentiating their products/services (eg., in Italy, with the brand "Made in Italy"); c) selling their products/services in local small markets protected from international competition.
The tremendous acceleration of technological development requires these small family businesses to overcome this financial gap and managerial that does not allow them to exploit their development potential. This does not mean that Mediterranean companies should imitate the anglo-saxon big corporations. Any attempt to imitate the anglo-saxon model would fail because inconsistent with the entrepreneurial culture of the Mediterranean countries. Moreover, these big corporations are facing the fierce competition of startups that introduce innovations that generate discontinuities jeopardizing their business model. The need to standardize processes makes them unwieldy and unsuitable to promote innovation.
In the Internet Era is emerging a new paradigm of entrepreneurial success that is leading to the crisis of the traditional paradigm based on efficiency, standardization and productivity. In the new scenario, the competitive advantage depends on the beauty, creativity and the ability to tune the business model with the changing market and technology. In this new scenario, the Mediterranean will play a fundamental role in the world economy because creativity is the hallmark of the peoples of this area of the world. In the Mediterranean there are valuable resources: the culture, the art, the architecture, the history, the high quality food, the environment, lifestyle, the great beauty. In the Mediterranean, therefore, companies must remain small and agile and, therefore, suitable to promote continued innovation by exploiting the resources of this area of the world. By cooperating, many autonomous small family businesses can successful compete and create value for the customers. This is the collaborative economy; the only effective model in the mediterranean countries.
The Mediterranean Model of New Venture Creation is very different from the Anglo-Saxon Startup Model, underlying the European development policies, which continue to be applied despite their failure in the last 20 years. This Anglo-Saxon model has increased poverty and social inequality, destroyed ecosystems industrial nations of southern Europe. This is because this model is totally inconsistent both with the anthropological characteristics of the people who live where it grows olive trees and the characteristics of the institutions, markets and structure of the industries of the Mediterranean countries.
The Mediterranean Model is based on the development of clusters and cooperation networks of small family businesses (based on the hybrid model of the consortium-industrial district-interoperating firms clusters). It assumes that creativity, beauty, environmental sustainability, art and design, culture, tourism, high quality agro-food, the Lifestyle and fashion, are the fundamental sources of competitive advantage of nations. This should point businesses in the Mediterranean, also (but not only) to take advantage from the "reputation" (brand) of this area of the world. In the new economy, based on the Internet and new technologies, the old paradigm of big corporations, standardization and efficiency is going to die. The variety, not the standardization, will be the source of wealth and the social progress of the nations.
The Mediterranean model don't assume the business plan as the "Book of Dreams" through which select unlikely aspiring entrepreneurs, without any experience, doomed to failure. The business plan is rather a tool that defines the DNA and the RNA of the new firms. It is a tool useful ti prevent genetic defects and inconsistencies of the nascent businesses and to manage their evolution in the search for financial sustainability and the environmental.
Incubators and accelerators should promote the match between established entrepreneurs who want to revitalize their businesses, mentors, and startuppers.
We consider the foreigners a resource.
In December of 2013 I founded the research lab ReTMES - Research Team for Mediterranean Entrepreneurship and Startups at the University Mediterranea of Reggio Calabria (Italy) , which have joined several academics from different Mediterranean countries that share these ideas and who are conducting research together to develop new theoretical models and operational tools can foster the development and competitiveness of small family businesses and startups in the Mediterranean. I strongly believe that the aggregation of the scholars will be able to encourage the creation of new innovative and competitive and thereby overcome poverty and inequality that is increasingly spreading in this area of the world
Prof. Domenico Nicolò
Scientific Coordinator of the ReTMES - Reseach Team for Mediterranean Entrepreneurship and Startups - University of Reggio Calabria, Italy