On the occasion of the restart scheduled in Rimini on 15, 16 and 17 July of Web Marketing Festival 2021, we asked Cosmano Lombardo, creator of the event, what are his emotions and what he expects from this new edition.
I would start by asking you, in general, how the idea of the Web Marketing Festival was born
The idea was built together with other people, a bit like the Festival which is a process of constant co-construction. When together with Giorgio Taverniti and Andrea Pernici we started the free training course in 2007 around Italy, year after year, people asked us to create a moment of union since we had many stages planned. So, one year we decided to carry out this stage which was actually called Web Revolution, which had the aim of exploiting the evolution of the web to improve society. And after this first stage we said “Ok, let’s turn it into a Festival” and then, year after year, the Web Marketing Festival. It has been possible to improve it thanks also to the companies that have worked with us year after year.
Did you ever expect the resonance that this event has had over the years?
Look, this is a question I can’t answer. In the sense that I would like to tell you no and actually no. After that, the issues have always been revealing, not because we deal with them, but the issue of fighting the mafia rather than the importance of digitization have always been important. So, beyond the work we have done, this “resonance” is mainly dictated by the relevance that these arguments have.
This year, finally, after last year’s double online edition, we are back in attendance. Are you excited? What do you expect from this restart?
Look yes, I’m very excited. I do not deny that what we did in 2020 was useful for the people who took part and for the territories, even that was exciting, I remember in June that being in the plenary hall of the Festival alone, with the drums was exciting and very strong, even if sad at the same time. But the emotion of returning to the presence and being in contact, albeit with a number of people that may not be the usual one, gives a very very strong emotion. Seeing people, working in contact with them and being able to think about certain issues together, I think it will be an augmented experience.
I do not deny that even internally, the team, the guys, until a few months ago did not think they could come back in attendance. So let’s say that the effort is now quadruple compared to the previous one, there is a beautiful emotion. I can’t wait to get there and understand how we will feel.
I know there are many and that it is difficult to answer, but what is the most important event for you this year on the Main Stage or do you care the most?
Look, one in particular probably isn’t. I’ll give you three, if they aren’t too many.
Sure tell me.
The first will be the moment in which we will have Pasqualino, Saverio and Serena on the Mainstage of the Festival. It is a story that we have been following for some time, from September 2020, we started supporting this story of a five-year-old child who had ischemia at the tenth day of age, since then his life has changed and that of his parents too, they have been with us on the Mainstage in November in connection and will be with us in attendance in July and I think it will be a very exciting time for everyone. So that’s one of those moments I care about most from a personal point of view.
Then there are two other very interesting moments. One is related to the world of Startups and Scaleups. we have created this World Startup Fest within the WMF which contains several moments. In addition to the final of the competition for the Startups of which the projects are all very interesting, there will also be a moment dedicated to Scaleups, we called it Scaleup tutor: we will have 5 international Scaleups, then there will be the round table and it will be very interesting to understand the world of the evolution of Scaleups from an international point of view and make a comparison with our Italian situation.
The third concerns the PNRR, the national plan on which the restart of the country and also of Europe will be based, we will have a series of institutional presences and also work tables in which the participants will be divided into groups to present projects. So among the many moments, now, I would like to mention these three.
Right now I wanted to resume one of the most anticipated moments of the WMF, the start up competion. First of all, how would you explain this contest to those unfamiliar with the digital world?
It is a moment that is the result of a call that saw the participation of over 500 innovative projects and companies, both Italian and international. Basically, the Startups present their idea and innovative enterprise in three minutes. They compete on the Mainstage, there will be the jurors who will ask questions, the investors and then there is also the audience who will be able to ask questions to the participants, they can also vote. So it is a competition between innovative companies.
Is there a startup that over the years has remained more close to your heart than the others?
Yup, (laughs, ed). I laugh because I always mention this Startup called TOMMI which he won in 2017. It is a Startup that has made virtual reality a game for children, for cancer patients who, while they are doing chemo and treatment in the hospital, through these viewers, transform therapy into a game. It was very nice to see them on the Festival Mainstage in an embryonic stage and it was nice to see them grow up and go to various hospitals and support so many children. So, among the many Startups, all very interesting and very beautiful, this is the one that struck me the most and remained in my heart the most.
It is very exciting to see that in digital there is also a part of social inclusion and more complicated issues, but also highlight in events like these.
The competition is a real springboard for young digital entrepreneurs, what would you recommend to those who want to pursue this career?
So for those who want to become a digital entrepreneur, I definitely recommend getting books related to the theme of the digital strategist. It is one of those aspects that is probably little studied, and this is the point that concerns the studies part.
The second point is to approach any type of work trying to find something interesting in it that will certainly be useful in more advanced stages. In the sense that we often find ourselves doing jobs that one thinks are useless and inappropriate, we always tend to overestimate ourselves. Then when you become an entrepreneur and approach the entrepreneurial career, especially the digital one, you realize how it is the convergence between different aspects, different skills and knowledge that makes the difference.
Three: to be more and more curious, because curiosity fuels ingenuity, doing business and also because doing business means taking on activities that have an impact, even before the economic one, an impact that must be positive for society. . Curiosity, study and turning up one’s sleeves doing any type of work and finding positive things even in jobs that can initially be complex helps a lot to understand how useful it can be for others.
How would you encourage someone to participate in the next edition of the Startup Competition?
Look I would encourage them to look at the evolution of the Startups that have applied over the years and that have been on the WMF stage. Surely it is a moment, beyond the launch pad part, in which to question one’s ideas in front of an audience of investors and participants. I think this is the most suitable stage to question oneself and ideas must be questioned to turn them into winners.
Instead, what do you think of female digital entrepreneurship? How would you encourage a young woman to pursue this complex yet fascinating career.
Look we have launched this call which is called Woman in Tech. It’s been a few years already, this year there will be a room where we will see a little bit of the path and how much these women in the technological field are changing things. So listening to their stories every time makes me understand how important it is to emphasize that women must undertake and approach paths that for us, for example, are taken for granted; within our reality the majority is made up of women. But for what is a bit the cultural heritage of society today, many women stop both to approach the technological part and often and willingly to the entrepreneurial part and I believe that women have ten more gears than us men, I also say that if I am often attacked on this (laughs, ed).
As a female, thank you.
(Laughs, ed). There are a whole part of soft skills that are inevitably more positively accentuated in women, there is a clarity at certain times and on certain types of issues that makes the difference, in the digital and entrepreneurial fields, therefore, I think it is it is useless to stop on rocks that absolutely do not exist and are only in the mind of a backward cultural heritage that we must absolutely get rid of.
Are there any female figures in the world of digital entrepreneurship that you esteem and that you would dream of hosting in the next editions of the WMF?
Look, then I’ll quote you Chiara Cocchiara which actually refers to the world of innovation rather than the digital part. She is a researcher who is the testimonial of many projects also abroad. She is an Italian, among other things, who is working abroad and has done this research on life on Mars and has been a speaker at the Festival for three years now, she is a really important model for all people, not just women because approaching the aerospace world is something that inevitably implies an imported complexity and I really think she is a model for everyone.
The other is a guest that we will have again this year, she was also in connection in November and is Anna Grassellino she too, like Chiara Cocchiara, is Sicilian and works on this project in America and is a flagship of our country in the world of research and innovation, she was also awarded by Obama a few years ago.
I feel like mentioning the two of them. I know you asked me to mention someone I would like as a guest, but I preferred to focus on the two of them because I believe they must have, pass me the deadline, the right visibility of the case even outside our event.
Also this year the WMF will host many faces and many personalities of a certain depth. To stay on the subject of inclusion, there will also be The Jackal in this edition. After what happened at Aurora Leone’s favorite match, do you think it could be an opportunity for redemption for the comedian and what do you expect from their participation?
Look, we are all very curious about their participation because they are wonderful and I Sansoni are just as wonderful. She, frankly, doesn’t think she needs so much praise because she’s really great, the work that The Jackal do, including her, is extraordinary.
It was sad to see that kind of attitude that still in Italy is the result of the cultural heritage, but I am very curious to ask you a little something about this and we, on issues such as inclusion, equality and so on, have been fighting for years, you know. So I’m sure his and their speech will be super interesting, I think and I hope that will also be an opportunity to underline how important it is to work on inclusion as others, not just us, have been doing for years.
Well, we will expect great things from them too.
Let’s see, I’m very curious.