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Withinne, a sustainable and circular women's fashion brand, wins as best startup in RBS4Entrepreneurship program

  • Concludes the second edition of RBS4Entrepreneurship, Rome Business School’s business incubator, after six months of workshops, roundtables with successful entrepreneurs and international founders, and landed mentorship sessions;
  • Since the launch of the RBS4Entrepreneurship project in April 2021, more than 90 startup projects submitted by students from 51 different countries, 62% of them women, have applied to join the incubation hub;
  • At the Pitch Day, the top 5 startups selected by a panel of experts presented their projects to Italian and international business angels and venture capitalists to receive initial feedback from investors and potentially initiate the first round of investment;
  • 21% of Rome Business School students and alumni are now entrepreneurs.

Rome Business School closed the third edition of the RBS4Entrepreneurship program, RBS’s business incubator that has already supported the development of more than 90 innovative start-ups in the past 16 months

During the second edition of the Pitch Day, the top 5 selected startups in the program presented their idea in front of a panel of Italian and international business angels and venture capitalists, being able to receive initial feedback and meet potential investors. The winning project is Withinne, a 100 percent sustainable women’s clothing brand that focuses on a circular business model, conceived by a team of three female Master’s in Fashion & Design Management students. The project will now embark on an acceleration process of an additional five weeks before being launched on the market.

This brings to a close the second edition of RBS4Entrepreneurship, the RBS business incubation program that accompanies students to develop innovative ideas to be launched on the market, giving them the opportunity to engage with experts, founders and successful startuppers along a path full of workshops, startup talks, digital hackathons and training meetings.

The projects that debuted at Pitch Day 2022 were selected from more than 30 startup ideas proposed by students in the areas of fashion, foodtech, e-health, tourism, supply chain, social dating, ITC, luxury branding and media & entertainment. The students participating in the program came from 51 different countries and 62% of them were women.

The criteria taken into consideration by the expert panel of judges are the innovativeness of the idea, the sustainability of the business in terms of scalability, the ability to present a business model with a high impact from the economic, social and environmental point of view, and the skills of the proposing resources.  During each edition, members of the program’s evaluation board carry out two main project selections in two key phases: first, during the pre-incubation phase, they are responsible for identifying, evaluating, and selecting the business ideas that have the greatest qualitative potential to enter the incubation hub so that they can consolidate these projects over the next six months through meetings with founders, entrepreneurs, startuppers, and investors with whom students interact during interactive talks, workshops, and Q&A sessions. Second, during the culminating incubation phase, the jury is dedicated to selecting the winning project to be further promoted in the final business acceleration service.

With this program, you discover aspects you initially don’t think about when you dream of becoming an entrepreneur, you learn a lot from one-on-one meetings with already established and successful entrepreneurs. The incubator really gives you the motivation and guidance to go in the right direction with the project you love,” says Nils Wilhem, Master in Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Selected start-ups

The projects judged most deserving for social impact, team, innovativeness and sustainability of the idea this year were:

  • Adapp, an innovative and unique digital platform created to connect people with disabilities with fashion brands and tailors across Europe, making them accessible to all.
  • Backstage Members, a membership club offering an effortless luxury dining experience, creating a personalized and complete customer journey with the opportunity for crypto and NFT payments.
  • CO2NVERT, technology that can convert carbon dioxide into green ethanol, a valuable industrial resource that can be used in the production of beverages, cosmetics, disinfectants and fuels.
  • The UNIverse, an educational service built on the blockchain that provides trainers with a new way to convey information through gamification of the metaverse
  • Withinne, a fashion brand that creates 100 percent sustainable women’s clothing, operating through a circular business model in collaboration with resources from fragile groups, such as abused women, thus creating a positive impact at all stages.

The latter won the award for best startup. “We are incredibly happy and believe we can really make a positive impact on society,” says Eleni Petridi, team leader of Withinne. Merit awards, on the other hand, went to Backstage Members and Adapp, which win the chance to take a specialized course provided by Rome Business School in their choice of finance, project management and digital marketing in order to further enhance those areas of the business plan.

Since its launch, RBS4Entrepreneurship has supported the launch of project ideas of nearly 500 students from 57 countries and 22 master’s degree programs, who have had the opportunity to meet with more than 50 founders of startups, venture capitalists and business angels. The impact was significant: 21 percent of RBS alumni are now entrepreneurs, and of the six startups developed through the program last year, three are already on the market (50 percent compared to the startups incubated in 2021).

We were always very passionate about our idea, but we needed the guidance that RBS provided. The most valuable lesson we learned is to start accepting ‘no’s’ and learn to be resilient,” says Ana Marinkovic, a Master’s student in Fashion and Design Management.

In October 2022, the third RBS4Entrepreneurship incubation was launched and in November the fourth pre-incubation edition of the program will begin, Florinda Orsini Head of Career Services at RBS and RBS4Entrepreneurship program director says:

“The RBS4Entrepreneurship project has a noble character: in addition to providing equity-free educational and entrepreneurial development opportunities open also to entrepreneurs not enrolled in Rome Business School, participants can benefit from a dimension of diversity that is rare compared to usual national incubation contexts – this diversity, quantifiable in the involvement of students from more than 57 countries worldwide, represents a fundamental asset for all stakeholders: we have brought to Italy more than 500 young international entrepreneurs generating startup projects in more than 21 market segments on a global scale.

A very important observatory also for the analysis and detection of post-pandemic entrepreneurial development trends – between 2021 and 2022 we witnessed a 70 percent increase in the development of projects in previously crippled sectors such as tourism and agritourism. In cultural startup ideas we note a decline in blockchain components and an increase in the physicality of services and products. The themes of circular economy, social impact, and sustainability, to date the accumulating characters of 85 percent of the projects developed in RBS since 2021, remain nice and firm.”