"I was working at a summer camp when I discovered not only a new passion but the inspiration that could turn my dream of becoming an entrepreneur into a reality.”
Up until that point Giulia had worked in a very corporate world. She graduated from the University of Economics in Turin with a robotics degree. She then worked in the sector for a number of years, but never felt truly fulfilled. Giulia dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur, so to give herself the space to think about it, quit her job and moved to the Italian coast to work with kids. It was here she discovered windsurfing, the sport became her new passion and she wanted to open it up to more people.
“I started speaking to the children in the camp about how they found new sports to try. They said whilst there were plenty of sporting clubs around, the rigid and limited packages made it hard to give it a go. Parents confirmed this, they complained they often had to pay a yearly fee regardless for how long the children enjoyed or actually played the sport.”
Giulia saw a business opportunity straight away - she would create an organisation that gave children a taster of various sports and parents the possibility to pay short term only. This is how Sport Grand Tour was born. The priority would be getting children playing sport, finding their passion and developing their talent.
Initially, Giulia started her business on her own and found the process of setting up very challenging, she needed support, so a friend told her about MicroLab, Youth Business International's member in Italy, in partnership with the Citi Foundation. At the first appointment, Microlab introduced Giulia to the kind of support she could get and proposed a support structure to suit her needs. The first thing she wanted to get was training on entrepreneurship, to make sure she built the best possible business plan. Giulia was also keen to expand her business network.
“I wanted to get in touch with other start-ups and connect with many different entrepreneurs. I felt this would be important, I would have people to exchange ideas with and try and get solutions for the challenges I may encounter.”
However, what truly made the difference was Microlab’s mentoring programme.
“The mentoring was very customisable, allowing me to access what I specifically required to run my business. This was very valuable as although I had business experience from my degree and previous employment, in areas where I was not confident, my mentor was able to improve this.”
Giulia also wanted to make sure her business had a social impact as well as being profitable. Her mentor helped her create four key areas to focus on:
“All of these social targets can be addressed by introducing a child to a sport as early as possible, the younger they are to discover a sport the more likely they are to stick at it. Additionally studies have shown an active and athletic hobby can have innumerable benefits to a person’s mental wellbeing.”
Starting a business can be a daunting process and even someone well versed in business can struggle. From her own experience launching Sport Grand Tour, Giulia has learnt a lot. She believes that having some work and office experience was a definite plus and she believes every young entrepreneur needs it.
Additionally Giulia stresses the importance of organisation and understanding. “Learn how to organise yourself” she advises and more importantly “learn people.” Efficiency, empathy and knowledge of how to make a team work were all major factors in Giulia’s success.
Giulia’s awareness of an opportunity in the market allowed her to successfully make her own business. But more than anything brought a shift in her life which she finds to have come “at the right time, in the best possible shape”. YBI members work across the world to support young aspiring entrepreneurs like Giulia to make their business ideas into reality. And, as Giulia did, change their lives for the better.
MicroLab is part of the Youth Business Europe programme, a regional initiative supported by the Citi Foundation to help young entrepreneurs to start or grow a business.