How do Dutch entrepreneurs work abroad, especially in places you wouldn’t think of? TeddyApp, an app for ’on demand corporate wellness’, is trying to make it in Venice, Italy.
When thinking of startups, one might not scream Italy. The country was struck hard by the financial crisis, and bureaucracy and high taxes for companies make it imperfect for entrepreneurs to flourish.
But CEO Michelle Franke (raised in Italy) thinks change is coming. “Italians might say it’s one of the most startup unfriendly countries in the world. It’s a complex and old-fashioned country with lots of rules. On the other hand, the general feeling here is that things need to happen. And that’s where startups come in.”
Still, there’s a lot of scepticism about changing the country. “But we live in an exciting period and we have lots of energy and the sheer will to try anyway. It feels good just to be part of this”, Franke says.
With TeddyApp, the team wants to prevent work related stress by connecting users immediately to coaches – when and where they want. Advise, counsel, or just a release of thought can be done through text messaging or a phone call. It recently launched a pilot with the University of Padova and is active with coaches from Italy and the Netherlands.
Something like stress management or work-life balance is, sometimes, still considered a taboo. Now imagine saying you don’t feel well due to stress when you’re working in a country which is considered to be conservative and masculine. Compare it to Silicon Valley for instance, where stress related issues are a serious problem and, finally, acknowledged.
Luckily, a programme from Technogym called the Wellness Accelerator in incubator H. Farm (Venice) proved to be the perfect fit for TeddyApp.
“In an accelerator that’s all about wellness and feeling vital, we can really position ourselves as a positive and empowering solution”, says Franke.
“Also, as a big international manufacturer of fitness machines, Technogym can open doors. And of course you can learn how a multinational works.” And the location? “An important and innovative hub in Italy, and by far the most idyllic office space I can imagine.”
Photo by Pieter van Marion (creative commons via Flickr)