The issues related to fiscal pressure and the perceived lack of rule of law are instead quite real (see every independent ranking about corruption or ease of doing business).
A startup visa program without a serious effort to fix these obvious issues (something that should be done beforehand) is useless.
I've read the summary of the new policies, not enough numbers and details, i hope to find the full document somewhere.
Also, intriguing the fact that you need to show that you have at least 50k in pre-existing founding to partecipate to the program, it make sense to add some filtering criteria but i'm not sure how many new startups will qualify.
I'm Italian too, live in Italy, and I'm really sick of this ill-informed self-disparaging attitude from so many Italians. There are millions of Italians who will say "I haven't personally never been touched by this, I don't even know anybody who was personally touched by it, but I know this, because... well, just because, everybody knows it".
Are there corruption and crime in Italy? Yes, of course. But, except for some areas in the South, they are nowhere as prevalent as so many people seem to think.
The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be
It's a PERCEPTIONS rank.
"Very serious problems with crime" compared to what?
Italy's got a lot of problems. But it's not Brazil, not by a long shot.
Italy's problem is bureaucracy and outright laziness far more than corruption or crime. And the fact that you can't fire anyone.
Please, we've even got members of the Parliament who have been convicted for mafia issues!!
As stated by gruturo the real problems are taxes, inadequate laws, infrastructure (for example cable connection is scarce even in the bigger cities) and finally economic issues.
I was born in Italy and I love my country, but I had to move to a different country to be able to work and being payed for my work.
Corruption, together with bureaucracy, is amongst the most severe problems that Italy has. The fact that now it's almost impossible to tell the difference and there a mixture of bad behaviour at any level of any position of power.
It is a BIG, HUGE issue, but not the main one ruling out housing business in Italy.
The main issue right now is the myopic political view driving the economy.
And btw, "bureaucracy" is not a bad thing per se!
[edit: added link]
And too many idiots thinking that stamps and signatures and certificates have magical powers and prevents the real ill-intentioned people from doing anything (we could say bureaucracy is the DRM for real life). Also people making use of their position as to gain personal power.
You have a point in saying that bureaucracy is not a bad thing per se, in both the original acception of the word and in some places, like in Germany it "mostly" works.
- taxes or regulations in Germany are like OS x
- taxes or regulations in Italy are machine code written by monkeys in the 50s based on 2000 years old Roman code and the last monkey who knew how to read it died 10 years ago.
Now there's more monkeys writing on top of it not even pretending to make it work retroactively.
If you find a bug you must guess what to do and hope for the best.
You can ask for a monkey machine code expert to decipher it for you but not even he knows how to do. He's just better at guessing.
If you make a mistakes due to the bugs they send the Gorillas.
In Italy you say the same thing and you are a hero, someone to admire and imitate.
It actually makes a lot of sense too when you see where taxes go in both countries.
As a proof, here we ended up talking of mafia and corruption, following common stereotypes and therefore giving a distorted idea of Italy. I think most of the people that are saying "run away" are implicitly trying to justify themselves for their decision to go away from their country and family.
Sadly, more than in culture, food and wine, Italians are the first for the most destructive self-criticism in the world. I have rarely heard a non-Italian speaking so low of his own country, as only Italians can do.
Maybe you could start by explaining why Italy comes 56th (between Turkey and Belarus) in the ease of doing business rankings: http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings
I know all rankings can be criticised, but this one confirms everything I have read about things like rule of law and red tape in Italy.
It also ranks Malaysia better than Switzerland. Oh, please.
Luxemburg is part of a giant tax evasion scheme. That's the only reason why some multi-nationals are doing business there. They don't need "ease of doing business" like a startup does.
I really don't know nearly enough about Malaysia to compare it to Switzerland. Apparently you do.
Exactly. And that's why everybody is advising not to start a business there. Do you want extra challenges when you are doing something that is not easy already? Probably you think there is something "heroic" in it, but that's not the case for everybody.
I am an iOS developer. I left a country where I had a job I didn't like (not in iOS, but on Microsoft platforms) for a ridiculous salary, where working for yourself is a suicide. And I was one of the lucky ones. The moment I moved I got triple the salary for a job I liked and later was able to start my own business. Accounting and tax declaration here in NL is really easy, and fiscal pressure is much better. Frankly, since my life got immediately so much better outside of Italy I don't need to implicitly justify my decisions. I have plenty of explicit reason I can list.
You might find it disgusting that Italians throw mud at their own country, I find it sad to see people defending it only because it's their own country, and as such is exempted from criticism. Maybe you are the one trying to implicitly justify your decision to remain.
I tried, I said "I'll stay here, I'll pay taxes, make money and resurrect this country", so they added +10% taxes, reduced the "low income reduction" from people earning 30 000/year (gross) to 15000/year (gross), increased the "retirement fund" costs from 24% to 29% (and will increase up to 33.7% in 3 years they said) so I ended up, in one year, from paying ~30% taxes (plus accountant, required in Italy), to ~45%, increasing to 49% in 3 years.
And NO ONE said here the worst part. I can't believe no one mentioned.
The first year you work (not employed), you have to pay taxes for the first year and THE YEAR AFTER, yes, you have understood it: 90% taxes first year, plus accountant.
Good bye, my beloved country. There are a lot of smart people, but I have no idea how to survive there.
I considered staying. I considered doing exactly what you say: staying, working against the current, trying to change things. And then I decided not to.
Because I fully believe that Italy is doomed beyond any attempt to fix it. You should cut away pretty much 90% of the people holding any position of power in any public office. Trouble is, you can't do it by force. You must do it legally. Legally means asking them - they occupy the very same public office positions who would rule on this.
Would they agree to it?
And with whom would you replace them?
The "new" guys, the fresh blood, very quickly adjust to the state of things - otherwise their career prospects (and in some extreme cases life expectancy) are cut sharply.
I really, really believe it can't be saved and therefore made a rational decision to leave and never look back.
It's a battle that can't be won, I decided not to fight it.
I'm Turkish studying Italian language and literature at uni, and I can assure you that Turks and Italians are competing a trophy in this race of self-bashing. So much so that I sometimes regret having got into studying italian culture.
Also I don't see those who stays there as people willing to overcome a real challenge, but like someone with no guts to move away from his/her place.
It's funny how the same thing can be seen in such different ways. I have been planning since long to go away from Italy and I will eventually go away, but I feel like it's an act of cowardice. You said just the opposite...
To those of you, stop bashing and start being the first change you want to see.
Those who stay are the ones with the real courage, people say. No, I'm really sorry, but those who stay are those who have their shoulders covered (by family, maybe) and may have some long-standing interests that give them enough stability to try what they want.
But, they won't change anything. The system is rigged, you cannot take the power away from those who hold it and who are in charge of the big, important decisions. That is, unless you are ok to play their conservative and self-preserving game, actually becoming part of the skewed systems. Look at what the Movimento 5 Stelle has already become.
Recently we even tried with oligarchy - officially called the government of the professors, it was a government made of the Italian "best minds" and it was appointed directly by the President of the Republic. It may have saved us, but it didn't really kickstarted the economy back. We're now in a triple-dip recession, ask any economist and he would gladly lecture you about our very interesting case.
We're a country where a lot of people saved and still manage to save, and that has naturally turned us into a very conservative country, where every little change is seen as a menace for the status quo.
Long story short, if you want to do something with your life and you have no settled financial interested (or you can manage them from abroad) you flee and put your studies and experience to good use. Otherwise you stay and either get involved in the mess or try to stay out of it and see yourself beaten to the punch by incompetents and people that are just ok with marching aligned with the old and distorted system.
Anyway, I'm not one of those self-deprecating Italian whiners. I don't hate my country. I just think the problem lies with the biggest part of our fellow Italians. It's a problem so hard to entangle and define that giving up is really the only viable solution.
I always thought that the perception of a country in foreign eyes is due to the contact with people of said country.
I try to remember every day that the perception that my friends and collegues abroad have of Italy is due in some small part to my own actions as a representative of that country.
So please, let's try to avoid generalizing. Not all Italians abroad are mercenaries or quitters that shit on they country they were born in.
I would say that most of us aren't.
Be serious, go abroad for 3 months. Start a limited company, be a self-employed person and you'll finally understand the obnoxious bureaucratic process one needs to undergo and what kind of unimaginable amount of things one needs pay to keep his/her business running in Italy.
But if you're going abroad, there are good chances that you're one of those who can make the difference.
And if those who can make the difference go abroad, how do you pretend to change things here?
Let me only say that this: if Italy is a sinking boat, people who leave the country, they don't have guts, they're all so many Schiettino.
In other words: http://i.imgur.com/dA5IUA1.png
Italy has currently a huge problem of smart, young people leaving the country because of this situation. Before trying to attract foreign they should be able to keep their own people.
Not all of us left because we were unhappy, but almost all of us left because we for one reason or other saw more opportunity elsewhere (e.g. in my case I left because getting larger financing for my startup at the time was easier in the UK). We're on average likely to be horrible misrepresentative of our countries as a whole.
"if you become large enough or successful enough, they will come to you"
I wonder how you can back it up with data (see also my comments below regarding stereotypes).
The books of Hernando de Soto have some good background on doing this in Peru. A key element of it is recognising which rules are unenforceable and repealing them, so instead of a thicket of unobeyable, intermittently enforced law you get a small robust core of law that's actually enforced fairly.
Of course, that's a small village in "the dark heart" of southern Italy 60 years ago, which is very, very different from a larger city in the north these days, so take it with a grain of salt: it's not going to be representative of "Italy".
I spent six months working in and around Naples (which, I know, is perhaps not entirely representative of the country, but is the third largest city in Italy) and the food was basically pizza or pasta. Often, not even particularly good pizza or pasta; I suppose when you don't have to compete with a variety of interesting foods from around the world, you can lower your standards.
Locals approved - approved! - of their local councils refusing to allow foreign restaurants. We gave up on getting a decent curry locally and we flew in someone from the UK to cook a curry for us because we just couldn't find anywhere. The attitude to food that wasn't Italian was disconcerting and depressing.
Maybe I'm a bit biased because I'm from Bologna in Emilia-Romagna and I would say that's among the best cuisines in the world. We brought you prosciutto, tagliatelle, ragu', tortellini, lasagna, balsamic vinegar, etc etc. :) And even here there are a lot of differences in food from town to town.
The fact that you still lump pasta all together after living in Italy for some time tells me you did not have the time to experience all the variety and quirks of different types of pasta. Again, I'm very biased but there's more than just "pasta" in a pasta-based cuisine, surprising as it sounds.
Don't listen too much to people who left their first world country and tries to convince themselves it was the right thing to do.
At the moment quite few Italians leave Italy: Only around 80,0000 yearly (~0.1% of the population).
For comparison, Denmark, with 1/11 the population of Italy and usually ranked one of the best places in the world to do business, experiences emigration of 45,000 per year (~1% of the population).
The immigration into Italy dwarfs the migration away from Italy.
This is without adding other systemic diseases. Having a tax check is not a desirable outcome in Italy. One anecdote from a friend: he got a tax inspection in his company (in the construction sector). After two days of checks, nothing was found. But instead of being left alone, the inspectors told him this: "we haven't found anything, but since we have been checking for two days, we have to find something". In the end they agreed on faking some irregularities on the heating system and a 500€ fine.
Yes, this is just one episode, but not really an uncommon one, unfortunately.
I left my country 5 years ago and never looked back. There are so many better places in Europe, I strongly advice not to start a company in Italy.
as crazy as it may sound, this is true and happens all the time. I've got countless similar stories from friends who went through it.
Hmm. Why not go there, write some code for the broader world, start the business somewhere else?
The government pretty much accepts that certain categories (say, dentists) hide a lot of their profits. Instead of fixing this, they decided to just assume you are hiding ~60% of what you declare and tax you accordingly.
A few years later they decided to just create a table of what each professional from each category should earn and if you declare less than that you can expect an extremely unpleasant visit which WILL find something wrong with your business.
Law-abiding people get crushed under this weight, while tax evaders just declare even less (or even operate completely outside of the law). Good people get punished, bad people don't. Going to the authorities to report these people can be successful, or unsuccessful, or frustrating, or very unhealthy. Feel like gambling?
After 10 years of this you start wondering if you're the idiot. You can become one of the "furbi", or keep trying to work in this broken framework, or leave.
Oh and the tax code is so byzantine you need to pay a professional even if you have an extremely small and simple business. And even they make mistakes. And you get to pay for those mistakes.
You all should just reform the Holy Roman Empire... ;-)
In both countries the south has nothing to do with the north.
In both countries the south if sunny, happiness and optimism. But also non serious in all areas of life, including business, and friendship influence and favors economy, also called corruption.
I have a German friend that was so happy when he sold so many products to south Italian customers. I asked if he was sure they were going to pay...sure enough he was lucky to get paid at all(after a way longer time than compromised and after lots of problems).
Italy is a beautiful place to live, but not for work. You could get the same access to industry, business friendliness and employment that you get in North of Italy in Switzerland or Austria, but without the tax of having to continuously subsidize the south.
Have you some serious FACT to show? Something you can COMPARE to French, Spain , Ireland or Germany?
Do you know the thinnest book in the world? Italian heroes...
But as a consequence of the crisis, there is a lot of talent that can be get pretty cheap for European standards, especially now that taxation for newly hired workers has been greatly reduced.
Is it harder here than in some other countries? For sure. Are there issues with taxes, regulations, etc? Hell yes.
It’s not impossible to build great companies in Italy. And you will be amazed to discover there are upsides too. Technical talent is great (because universities are great, despite all the shit people usually throw at them), and REALLY cheap. Also, talent retention is easier: finding good, rewarding jobs is hard here, so if you build a great company, with a compelling vision, people just stay with you.
Quality of life MATTERS: good weather, food, having fun, have an incredible impact on how people work.
Finally, there are opportunities. Since Italy, as a market, is far behind in so many areas, there’s plenty of space for startups to innovate and build businesses that have already been proven successful in other countries/markets.
So, please, stop complaining. It’s hard everywhere. Somewhere it’s harder than somewhere else. But that’s it.
No, of course it isn't. But at the margin, it's more difficult, so if you have the chance, you should go elsewhere: I think Italy should get its own house a bit more in order before trying to attract people from other countries. They'll come naturally if Italy is a decent place to do business. It doesn't have to be perfect, because it has so many other nice things, it just has to suck less: California, for instance, is not the best US state to do business in, in terms of bureaucracy and taxation.
I agree that Italy has a big fiscal pressure, but aside from that, the issue with mafia and corruption that keeps appearing into this topic is misleading, it makes people think that once you have a startup, mafia will come to you, and that's absolutely not true.
I think there are only 2 main elements to keep in main when running a business in italy
1. Fiscal pressure
They are the only blocks people opening a startup here might really need to figure out how to handle.
Culture makes a big difference. Starting a company in other places is easier, this is likely why Italy is resorting to something like this to try to bring in more startups.
Just because someone says the truths about the issues with Italian society, doesn't make them "disgusting". Reality can be harsh.
Which great company was built in Italy in the last 10-20 years?
- There are some absolutely excellent open source developers who can be hired much more cheaply than the US.
- Life is excellent. Italy is a really beautiful country.
- Lots of incredibly low hanging fruits. Italy has a lot of great companies that makes excellent products the entire world wants, but have absolutely pathetic IT departments. This is also true in the public sector - several regions of Italy have amazing touristic attractions with pathetic marketing/web presence. This is probably the best reason.
- As a corollary to the last pro (about low hanging fruits). Public sector contracts are given to people who are completely incompetent but well connected, who then sub contract it out. The technocratic/political class, especially at the local level, is almost always old, and has gotten their positions because of connections.
- Moreso than outright corruption (unless you live in the South), red tape can be a massive issue.
- This does not affect start ups, but once you grow to more than 15 employees, staff hired full time is basically impossible to fire. This is very slowly getting changed.
I don't think it makes sense to move to Italy if you want to work on the next chat/social media application, but if you have a great idea on how to use web to improve tourism/market high end goods, or you have excellent SaaS software for medium-large sized companies, you could probably do very well, and live very well too.
Basically, this is sort of an interesting (but old) summary of an interesting case study: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB121969807244970447 - there were lots of resources, lots of low hanging fruits, and yet due to political squabbling, total ignorance of technology and nepotism the project was a huge waste. Given how low the bar is, it's very possible to do much better.
There is a huge generational gap between the 50+ year olds that run the country, and the kids graduating now from University, in terms of attitude towards technology, meritocracy, and entrepreneurship.
to be fair, I believe this to be the case about everywhere. I.e. the Oregon healthcare site fiasco seems straight out of italian newspapers.
Basically, this kind of thing happens everywhere. It just happens more in some places.
Back to this:
> - There are some absolutely excellent open source developers who can be hired much more cheaply than the US.
I can confirm this. I think a valid strategy would be to open up the main office somewhere else, and do some R&D in Italy. There are good developers who don't cost as much as elsewhere.
> If you have money to spend it's probably better to move everyone to California. Don't you think?
Not really - it's cheaper to hire someone in Italy, so with a given amount of money, you have more runway, or can hire more people. Also, the US immigration stuff sucks pretty badly and is not easy.
> And again, do you think that Portland is like Italy
I lived there a year. It's a nice place in a lot of ways, but not where I want to be. The weather ( http://forecast.io/#/f/45.5118,-122.6756 ) is very, very tiring for someone who likes the sun. You think it's bad in northern Italy... hah! It's a little bit bigger than I happen to care for (I like the size of Padova a lot), but without all things a really big, important city has. De gustibus... though, as they say. It's worth checking out in January to see if you can handle the weather, because it's a lot cheaper than the bay area. Oregon is a beautiful place to visit in August.
Feel free to send me email if you'd like to know more about Oregon!
This has been a myth for a long time now. Unless your business is heavily unionised and full of 50somethings hired back in the '80s, there are umpteen ways to fire people, some of them even paid-for by the State. Not that anyone needs to actually fire anybody: most people nowadays are just contractors from day 1 and never really "hired" in the first place.
Recent changes in employment laws were introduced so that very large firms with a long-established unionised workforce (FIAT etc) will find it easy to break the unions' back for good. They will do nothing for medium and small firms, who will just keep using the contractor model.
(Of course, if you pocketed your workers' pension contributions for years, or did similar shenanigans behind their back counting on them behind happy to just get a paycheck month-in month-out, then you can't fire them, because they will sue you and get a huge payout. But you would never do that, right?)
This just changed a lot from January 1st.
My favorite story was when they were trying to get internet service in Trastevere. They were required to start paying the phone company (TI) as if they had internet service, and then wait. For three months. Then after they called TI wondering where the service was, they were told TI had sent someone out to install the service but he couldn't find their office. TI didn't bother to call them. So they were then required to go to the back of the queue and wait for another three months, all the while paying, followed by another excuse. This went on for the better part of a year. Meanwhile they ran the whole company off of cellular data plans.
And they're still there, and why? Because Trastevere is one of the most wonderful places in the world. It's worth it to them. But it's not surprising they're in the minority: Italy has a very, very serious brain drain problem.
"I think that I close already 2 business in Italy due to the economic crisis, the fiscal pressure when I left Italy was about 65% (not it is more) and in the first year I went there the 30% of the shop in my city have closed (now it would much more)
Even without reading I can tell you that opening a business there now is a suicide. "
Also, there are a few interesting tax incentives that are finally available. For example, a law passed last month introduced 25% and 50% tax credits (depending on the expense category) on R&D investments, including labour costs for "highly trained" (MSc or PhD) workers.
Sure, Italian bureaucracy is not straightforward for a foreigner and you'll need to speak the language, but generalisations like that quoted above are misleading exaggerations.
Italians, especially expats (I am one), tend to victimise themselves and to reason with stereotypes. The "even without reading" part sounds like that.
There's no good reason to open in Italy, especially when in EU you can open in many other places which are much cheaper and easier to deal with.
now, think all the good engineers you can hire for cheap and churn out products for the US market.
I can't remember the details exactly but apparently the visa troubles and business registration red tape made the whole program something of a joke
There is a reason why a lot of italians preferred to create a ltd based in the UK instead of a srl in italy. There is a reason why a lot of italian entreprenuers are moving to Switzerland. There is a reason why a lot of italians base their business in Tenerife (even if i don't accept this fiscal-escamotage, i can't blame them too much).
As an example of the business complications here in italy, even if i own a computer engineer consultancy VAT type, i can't send invoices to Google to get money from GoogleAds: i need to add another VAT specification (paying money) and register my self to the chamber of commerce (again paying) and having a more complicated fiscal management (for my business consultant's joy!) just because at that point, i'm in the advertising business (really? small GoogleAds income is an advertising business?!).
In italy you can go with the same invoices (incomes and expenses) to two different business consultant and they will produce two different tax declarations! And in the case of a fiscal check, you will find that maybe none of them was right! This is ridiculous, but this is the reality of Italy because fiscal law and bureaucracy are a real mess!
Talking about startup: if you read well you will find that there are a lot of obstacles in the opening of a startup in italy: an an example you must set at least 15% of the bigger between income or expenses for R&D, you must have at least a third of the workforce as Ph. D. and you must own a patent...and they call it "innovative startup in italy"...do you find it easy and comfortable? Please, if you understand italian language, go and see Report Startup Stories 
Last, it is true that Italy is a beautiful country and that if you own a small business located in the north, maybe you won't have too much problems with criminality, but remember that it is true that mafia has people and hands on the most important political chairs and in the richest businesses. Just think about the recent scandal regarding Rome or the mafia and 'ndrangheta penetration in milan.
Italy environment is toxic for a startup.
Italy is a MandarinCracy.
It is a country, not ruled by politicians, but by self serving high level officials. They oversee 4 million strong public workforce, and have created the most complex set of rules & regulations and to justify they own existence along with the highest taxation (80%) on the world to pay for them.
Italy Freelance workforce is great for a startup.
They have a huge freelancers Workforce, (designers and Developers) with the same talent found in the Silicon Valley at the fraction of the cost. ($28K to $40K year salary). They are called "popolo delle partite iva" and are de facto a second level citizen. They do not have the same privileges as the rest of the 50+ workforce. Still.. they will work hard and passion for any project with great critical thinking.
My final advice:
Create a business somewhere else (UK or US) and setup a small R&D development team in Italy
As a freelance I pay 5% until I reach an higher level of income and I'll be able to pay more taxes. On top of this there's 21% for retirement contributions.
Is there any other country where a lower amount of taxes is paid?
"Regime dei minimi" is a taxation level available only if you bill not more than 30'000 €/year. Note this is not net income, but gross income.
So you go down to 22'000€ after taxes (21% + 5%) and then you have to take away your own costs, and then you can keep some money for yourself. Also, if you live in a big city (let's say Rome or Milan) that is definitely not going to be enough to live a peaceful life and raise a family.
Oh, but that's a secondary problem: the first one is finding clients that are actually going to pay you in full.
If anything goes wrong laws take ages and the cost of lawyers and time spent in court vastly overcomes what you're losing.
If you are a company in Italy you pay high taxes and you are less competitive.
If you are a freelancer in Italy you are more competitive
than other countries
That's the point of my post:
Incorporate your startup elsewhere and hire in Italy
There are plenty of them.
I've have co-founded a couple of startups here (one http://www.eidosmedia.com has had a very good success worldwide; another one http://catflow.it is gaining momentum) and I continue to have a great optimism for what can be done in this country, maintaining a good lifestyle.
Fiscal pressure, crazy laws? Yes.
Is it a suicide working here? Absolutely not.
If you're in the US, your ecosystem is so much more startup-friendly, there is no point moving anywhere else -- opening a cheap R&D is probably the only reason I can think of, but if you're going for costs savings in that area, wouldn't you get a better deal in Eastern Europe?
If you are in Europe, you don't need a VISA to move to Italy.
The only people who would lust after this, IMHO, are:
1. South-Americans who can't or won't get into the United States;
2. Middle-Easters who can't or won't get into Gulf countries or Israel;
3. the kids of first-generation immigrants in Italy who can't get citizenship (because Italian immigration laws are stupid).
Are these constituencies large enough to create a significant ecosystem? I don't know. They will certainly face huge problems with casual racism in the business sector, if they try to sell in the Italian market. And venture finance for unconnected businesses in Italy is non-existent; the culture is very risk-averse, and capital is too sparsely distributed to make venturing palatable to the average investor.
But hey, good luck. At least they're trying something, I guess.
Don't forget you need to pay 4x (or more) for rent of any office space (or housing space) in Switzerland compared to the other side of the border.
This explains why lots of businesses that migrated from italy to switzerland in search of an "el dorado" closed shop after a short timespan, realizing business is hard everywhere.
But there's something that really kills it. It's us Italians.
We just love to complain. Yes It's a shit, they are stealing our money and tying our hands, but it's sufficient to ready these comments to understand that the problem is us.
Winners find solutions.
Losers find excuses.
I'm proud of being Italian. We are people of love, not people of freedom. I have almost married an american girl and lived and worked there on and off for two years. We have to fight for our country and for our Europe.
Besides that, everything we know will be disrupted and what will be left is just our memories.
I work at an accelerator (registered incubator) I'll be happy to chat with you who want to know more about here.
Come on, no mention of the superior quality of coffee we enjoy here? And you call yourselves hackers?
Picture me disappointed.
Startups in Italy. Yeah sure. Go on. Lol.
My experience is that Italy is not a fertile place for both employers and employees because of tax pressure, corruption, lack of skilled workers and low salaries.
There's no reason for an EU citizen to choose Italy as there's more chances to succeed in other countries.
Popular companies have moved or planning to move away (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/11...).
My advice is to rake up as many talented folks as possible (we have no shortage of them) and bring them somewhere else with a decent pay (something that is just impossible to get here).
Dutch American Friendship Treaty (if you can self-employ and are from the US this could be your best option)
Blue Card (If you can get a job in Germany)
Irish Startup Visa (http://www.pond-crosser.com/uk-and-ireland/republic-ireland/...)
Disclaimer - I put up pond-crosser a while ago to keep track of some of these things.
Switzerland is lovely but their population recently voted to restrict free movement of workers with the EU so maybe not ideal.
No we haven't :) What was voted on was that the gov. should be able to cap the number of immigrants per year if necessary.
That has neither been done yet, nor will anything change in practice because the EU puts too much pressure on this.
(2) Couldn't you get an Italian passport? (As an EU-citizen, you can work in Switzerland without hassle).
(2) I'm in France and yes, in another year I can get a French passport and work there without hassle.
Italy is a wonderful place, but not a very well run country. Food, geography, history... it's fractally beautiful in that the big, amazing things are worth seeing, but you can also go to some small town and find something fascinating. It's just bursting with great places. The people are mostly a plus too, I have good friends here, and know a lot of smart hackers. When I moved here from San Francisco a number of years ago, I still had plenty of people to talk tech with. Here in northern Italy, people work fairly hard (and I'm sure there are people in the south who do as well), and don't command high salaries for their efforts. In some parts of Italy, corruption is a big problem, but it's not something I have seen much of on a day-to-day level. Of course I don't work in a field where I would, either.
The down side: bureaucracy is a nightmare, taxes are high, and a lot of people are leaving, because they can get more money elsewhere. It's no longer as cheap to live here as it once was, either. The long and the short of it is: no, I would not really consider opening a business here a good idea, although I would consider opening an R&D center to benefit from high quality workers at relatively cheap prices.
Italy is ranked quite badly here for a reason: http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings
Italians: it is possible to change, if you work at it. I was able to help accomplish a small change myself, despite not being from here, and not having money or connections: http://www.governo.it/Notizie/Presidenza/dettaglio.asp?d=690... . So, things are not good, but if you're willing to invest some time and effort, they can be improved, a little bit at a time.
Part of the problem, IMO, is the idea that the government should 'guide' things. "Startups are good!" right? So they create a government definition of what an "innovative startup" is, and give those companies some benefits. This means more public employees to look after it, more hoops to jump through, more people trying to make a company that the bureaucrats have incentivized, rather than a company that simply does what it does. Even my own small contribution got watered down in that way: rather than simplifying SRL's (the Italian equivalent of an LLC) for everyone, they created a new category.
That's the wrong approach: what they absolutely need to do is simplify the bureaucracy, and secondly, lower taxes. First and foremost, the number and complexity of them. Paying a lot of taxes is not so bad if it's simple, straightforward, and does not take a lot of time, and you receive something for them. But all the little one-off taxes and the complexity of dealing with others is terrible.
This is all stuff economists and others have been saying for years.
As I mentioned elsewhere: Italy doesn't need to be the best place to do business. It's got lots of good things going for it. It just has to start sucking less.
If you're interested in more of 'my take on things', I write about life in Italy here: http://blog.therealitaly.com/
I'm yet another italian (expat to London) and let me state a few things which are not listed on that landing page but that you should consider before applying:
I've worked for a few months in a "startup" inside a major italian incubator (Working Capital). I was developer #1 of the company, and here are a few things I want to tell you about incubators in Italy: 1) The level of mentorship provided is close to zero. Their main role is "office" surveillance. They will contribute with ZERO competence to your startup as they have no valuable experience. 2) There are two kind of companies inside incubators: those "with connections" and those without. Companies without connections were accepted just so that the incubator has some numbers to show off. Those with connections (which is most likely due to the parents of the founders being friend with some excutive in the incubator partners) will receive enough support, will behave without a code of conduct, will make it through the whole process without a flaw while If your company will be on the "no connections" side expect (and I will state this again) to be simply abandoned. 3) Investors, pitches and demo days: they mostly are a bunch of executives from partnering companies who have close to zero experience in investing and who gives zero shit about startups. Again, they will just hangout events because of political connections with incubators and as soon as pitches are over they will leave the presentation flying. Execting any kind of feedback nor real investment is just nonsense. I never saw ANY company in an incubator getting anything from official investors. This is still true if you are a random startup without connection. If you are one with connections, you won't attend demo-day, you won't be doing spitches and you'll be funded anyway. 4) In general the startups level is mediocre to say the best. As the selection process is quite random (remember: you are there so that they can say they are an incubator and get money from the public administration) most of the ideas are just completely random and founder have ZERO technical background. In the incubator I used to work, I was the only developer (and we are talking about 40+ people in the room). Believe it or not. 5) Getting investments won't be easy. Which doesn't mean that if you work hard enough you can still achieve results. It means that nobody wants to invest, there's no investments culture on the investor side and no support from so-called incubators. I saw probably 1-2 companies getting any sort of funding and they took years of "working for free" to get a 250k investment.
So, this is pretty much what you should expect when bootstrapping a company in Italy inside an incubator. Of course this is bureaucratic and tax-related problems aside (which are quite difficult to sort: you should expect to throw tens of thousands of euros to get your company officially started and keep your books in order. These costs will probably exceed any funding you'll get).
A few more things to consider:
1) The italian culture is business-adverse. Average People aim in life is to find a stable job in a big-size company/public administration until pension. As a startupper you'll be mostly seen as a young unemployed wasting his time.
2) If you are REALLY talented and lucky, you build up the "right connections", get yourself funded and open a profitable company you will likely have to deal with mafia (as someone already mentioned). First hand experience: my uncle bootstrapped a profitable fish-import company. Mafia knocked, asked them to acquire the business paying close-to-zero. At the beginning my uncle refused: His car and house catched fire. Of course institutions did nothing about this. He sold the company and left the country. No jokes here.
So, I could probably go on but I hope you got the point :) Should you apply? It depends I guess from where you are right now. If you want to launch a business in Europe and don't know where to start: then maybe you could apply to be accepted in Italy BUT then you need to have a plan to move either to London or to Berlin. If you think to move to Italy and find a healthy business-oriented environment: you are SO wrong.
I don't think that throwing shit (true or not) and scaring international talents from coming to Italy opening their own startup is a good way to help.
Disclaimer: I'm Italian, living and running my company in NL since 3 years.
Mostly there are very few investors locally, visas are difficult to obtain, the laws aren't really business friendly at all and not suitable for investors etc.
And FIAT was/is big and competent enough to handle all of the sh*t italian laws impose.
Also: ever heard of russian/chinese/japanese/american mafias? "People with connections" have more chances everywhere.
Other countries beware of italians with the mindset shown here. I've met them abroad and they all tell the same story which they don't know anything about.
Italy doesn't have the best weather, doesn't have the best food, doesn't have the best people, and so on. It has some good things and some bad things like everywhere else. _DO_ something about the bad things instead of lamenting that you can't get the good things after you left.
Italy is just entrepreneurs hell on earth, and it's a very practical statement.
1) Open a company: minimum of 4k spent on papers (of course, thanks to notars and accountants)
2) First year: face insane taxes. Pay for your pension, pay for your IRAP/IRPEF. Anticipate 50% of what is dued next year due to "projections" the gov do on how much you'll make.
3) iterate first year
On a 30k eurs revenue, with the "Young entrepreneurs formula" (where you are supposed to pay much less than usual limited companies) you'll end up paying up to 17k in taxes. I let you doing the math. And this happened to ME, not to some random friend of a friend.
I don't really want to get into this debate, but I've been running Balsamiq from Italy since 2008, and it's been just fine. Then again, YMMV...we're just a little mom-and-pop software shop, not a "startup" in the paulg sense of the word.
I've watched and read so much of your stuff I can't even find which one it was in.
(I think there is a dispensation for that as of a couple years ago if the founders are below 35 years)
The worst part is you can't even hate them for this, because they're so friendly and likeable!
Other than that, it's a lovely country. Make your wealth elsewhere and go enjoy what Italy has to offer.
To put this in terms of time and assuming you're a workaholic who doesn't take vacations, in a year you work 8 months for the state and 4 months for yourself.
And then there's the problem of the state being a jerk and making you pay VAT one year in advance or taxing you based on estimates done with market studies instead of the much smaller revenue you declare.
Something like: "the average company/self-employed individual in your business made €30K this year while you declare only €10K. We're gonna assume you're lying to us and tax you for the market average, mkay? Oh, and we'll need the 22% VAT on the €30K we think you'll do next year right now."
Many people dream of living in Italy but jobs being short, this may be an alternative where you make your own job --and of course, the expectation if you create more jobs and value for Italians.
[addendum]Besides, most likely Italy would be your 'base' and Europe, NAmerica, etc your market --so the poor state of the Italian economy may not enter much into the equation about viability due to local economic climate.
Disclaimer: I'm Italian, and I'm from Naples.
The difference between northern and southern Italy is staggering, it's like they're two entirely different countries...
Having said that, I agree with many others saying that it's not a great idea to go to Italy for startups.. things are moving and are improving compared to 5 or 10 years ago but in no way comparable to other places in UE (let's compare for example Berlin, London or Paris with Milan or Rome...)
You know how much the state takes from your (revenue - expenses)? At least 66%.
It's not State XOR Mafia. It's state AND Mafia. As if state alone was not enough.