European Innovation Academy

"A practical, empathetic and effective mentor"

Thanks Jeff Abbott, VC and founder of the Global Scaling Academy, for this fab recommendation at LinkedIn!

"She’s a practical, empathetic and effective mentor whose broad experience and constructive feedback allow her teams go on to perform in the top tier, while also improving the overall program she is a part of."

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Considering the Arab Innovation Academy in Doha, Qatar

I'm considering joining the Arab Innovation Academy (AIA). It's patterned on the European Innovation Academy, this new extreme accelerator for the Arab world is run by Maher Hakim, the managing director of the Qatar Science & Technology Park. I had the pleasure of working directly with Maher when he was the Chief of Chief Mentors at the European Innovation Academy in Nice in 2016! The AIA program will be delivered for the first time in Doha, Qatar in January 2018 

In the Winner's Circle: 50% of my teams won the 2017 European Innovation Academy, Italy

(To my teams: you are all stars!!)

Giving my Day 7 keynote in Turin, on how to build revenue-producing and meaningful community. "Find why your first users are invested and then deliver on their motivations," was among my recommendations to the participants of Europe's largest extreme accelerator

It was my pleasure to be the chief mentor to six start up teams in the Gaming, Media & Entertainment sector at the European Innovation Academy last month in Turin, Italy.

For ten foundational days, I guided 30 participants through team and business building before additional specialist mentors joined us to take them to pitch their startups to Silicon Valley and global investors. 

Out of 95 total teams, 4 of my teams progressed to the Pitching Carousel of 40 teams which presented to venture capitalists

  • Sympha, a creative exchange for the indie music community
  • aLive, a realtime nightlife promotion platform
  • ARCatalogs, an augmented reality play for restaurants
  • Kumpa, a gamification app that turns exercise into social workouts

3 of my teams then made it into the Top 10 winner's circle. You can read the Italian press on the winners.

So, 5 of my 6 teams made it to the final rounds of the program. That means 83% of our cohort 'showed' in the final rounds of the program.  This is a stupendous achievement, congratulations to all of you!

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This is Kumpa, a sports gamification start-up that transforms your favorite games into fun and social workouts.

Shout out to these international mentors who also worked with my cohort on: marketing (Americans Jesse Leimgruber, PJ Leimgruber, and Italian Francesco Fiume), IT (Polish Bartek Jazwinski), and design (Estonian Tanel Eero), and, team dynamics (Italian Claudia Chiavarino). Also, thanks to Federico Mammano, my fellow chief mentor in the other Gaming, Media, and Entertainment cohort, for his pitching challenges and AR expertise! 

This is ARCatalogs which makes augmented reality menus for restaurants.

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This is aLive, a nightlife platform where users can see and share what's happening around them in real time, leveraging the power of influencers. aLive made it to the Pitching Carousel round.


Here's BidCar, my sixth team, which was building a blind auction for car sales. Chief Business Officer Miguel Valdez delivered a 1 minute story-based pitch on Day 6 in front of another gaming, media, entertainment cohort and our design and IT mentors watching, on the right:

For your accomplishments in team building and business building, congrats to the winners, the carousel pitchers, all the teams of the Gaming, Media, and Entertainment cohorts, and all the teams of EIA Turin 2017. It was fun mentoring you and I look forward to seeing what you do next!


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Love hanging with my fellow mentors, program leads, & university observers!

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Fun dinner with chief mentors, VCs, university observers, life coaches & family from the European @innovationacademy in Turin!! Photos by Radha! #eiamoments #eia2017italy#eia2017turin #accelerator #startups#entrepreneurship #Torino #Turin

Interviewed for a Growth Hacking thesis an Irish entrepreneur from the European Innovation Academy this summer. Here are his questions, and my answers:



    •    What is growth hacking in your opinion?

Accelerating the usual rate of growth of a product or service.


    •    How relevant is growth hacking for start ups?

It’s required for startups to differentiate themselves from lifestyle businesses and other non-scaleable businesses.


    •    In your opinion, has there been a paradigm shift away from traditional sales and marketing? If so, is it here to stay? If not, why not?

Marketers would say no, growth hacking is the same as marketing. What might be different is the time scale.


    •    What are the characteristics required to be a growth hacker?

Knowing where people are, how they can be reached, and what it’s worth costing to do so.


    •    Is an appreciation of marketing and coding needed to growth hack successfully or is a deeper understanding required?

Expert growth hackers would probably say there is a deeper understanding, but I think anyone can be a growth hacker to a basic degree. I like as a resource for newcomers.


    •    What method / methods of growth hacking did you or your organisation employ to gain traction? 

The last startup I worked with was so unfamiliar with growth hacking they refused to consider the San Francisco and Silicon Valley standards I suggested. They are not based in the USA. This would have been a way for them to level the playing field, and I suggest it for startups outside the USA.


    •    Should big data be embraced in the customer acquisition process or is privacy becoming more important?

If you can get access to data, by all means, use it. Also, don’t be a creep, and think of the user. There is plenty of data users don’t mind parting with for real value. It does not have to be a privacy issue.


    •    Are there a set of steps a startup can take in order to optimise the growth hacking process? Is growth hacking an art or a science or a combination of both?

It’s both an art and a science. As I suggested earlier, try tapping into the community of growth hackers at


Chief Mentor At The European Innovation Academy

Honored to be a Chief Mentor at the European Innovation Academy this summer in Nice, France. (That's like Tim Gunn's role on Project Runway, for up to 7 groups of entrepreneurs.)

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500 college student entrepreneurs will take an idea to a tech startup in 15 days in this program that brings together faculty from 75 nations, and education programs developed with universities and organizations like UC Berkeley, Stanford, Google, IBM and Amadeus.

Thanks to Ajda Mustafova for making this connection.