On the occasion of the fourth birthday of BionIT Labs, it is a great pleasure for me to share what our team has learned on their skin in these few years, hoping that our story will help those who fight every day to carry on their vision.
A company can be considered a “living being” because it evolves continuously, mainly through the growth of the people who are part of it.
It is always the people who make the difference, from small startups to large multinational companies, and for this reason it’s important that the company always pays enormous attention to its members’ needs, modeling itself on them and putting everyone in the best work conditions possible.
I don’t think there is a “magic formula” to achieve this, but I can share with you what I am convinced has worked in our experience.
The following text is extracted from a letter shared with the BionIT Labs team in mid-2021, before the last investment round closed last September, and I think it well expresses what BionIT Labs has become today thanks to its members.
What has made the difference so far
Do you remember when, as soon as we received the Tecnonidi funds, we joked saying:
“We started with € 30k of the PIN funds, we now get Tecnonidi for € 300k. Our next goal is € 3M!”?
Actually, that moment has come. We are facing a € 3.5M Seed round with two important Italian funds, and it happened only thanks to the tireless work that each of us has done in these 3-4 years.
With the aim of improving things day by day, I often find myself thinking about what actually allowed us to achieve the results reached so far, and the first answers that come to mind are: determination, dedication and innate desire to improve and do better and better.
In this regard, how is it possible to build an environment where these features arise and develop in such a natural way, until they become concretely evident for anyone who comes into contact with us even for a short time?
In my opinion, behind everything we do, there is a fundamental feature: Transparency
Since joining BionIT Labs, it is clarified what a startup is, what are the logic behind it and what level of risk, inherent in the concept of startup itself, you choose to face.
Over time, the actual state of the company situation is reported with extreme transparency, both in the case of positive and negative events / situations, so that everyone can consciously choose how to change their actions / work to ensure that things get better, or what could make them worse.
Knowledge of dynamics and best practices spread around the world, as well as the stage of development of our reality and how it is positioned with respect to global reference points, is therefore essential to structure a project that has concrete foundations and global aspirations.
In the same way, the exchange of feedback with colleagues is encouraged, as well as a behavior based on the certainty of always having all the best ideas / answers / reasons is pushed aside.
However, to achieve this result, excellent communication skills are required, because they are essential for quickly understanding each other without giving rise to disagreements.
To sum up, I believe that only through Knowledge (the starting point) and good Communication (the instrument), both managed with Transparency, can each of us improve and grow professionally and personally (the main goal).
For this reason, in my opinion, it is essential that Team’s members develop excellent communication skills and an excellent knowledge of our reality from all points of view – even those not strictly related to their role in the company – in order to pursue continual improvement, and this it is only possible by applying maximum transparency to all our relationships.
A solid relationship is based on Trust
Starting from the Trust of Matteo and Federico, when they joined a project that was just an idea and a patent application, getting later the same Trust from Duilio and Dario, convinced by those few, small results obtained up to the foundation. Gradually arriving at the Trust shown by each of you from the moment of your entry into BionIT Labs.
Trust is the basis for creating a safe work environment , in which everyone can feel protected, respected and free to express opinions, and therefore able to focus on the personal growth achieving the results desired (without worrying about psychotic ‘bosses’ unable to listen, who consider them only numbers, or ‘colleagues’ who are always ready to unload their responsibilities on someone else in order to make a career). This can clearly only happen if the Trust is bidirectional, and the parties involved are able to give trust and receive it in equal measure.
In my view, the fundamental ingredients for creating Trust are Sense of responsibility and Self-sacrifice:
- An accentuated Sense of Responsibility is essential both to maintain a high degree of consistency between one’s own affirmations and one’s own work – demonstrating to others that each of us will do our utmost so that what we declare becomes reality (building Trust) – and to demonstrate that, especially in moments when not everything goes as we hope, we are able to recognize mistakes and to manage the consequences, without freeing ourselves from responsibilities (avoiding to undermine the Trust built over time).
- On the other hand, the Self-sacrifice is fundamental to make others sure that each of us will always do the maximum for the good of the Company, even without obtaining an immediate direct personal advantage. We all experienced this when we decided to aim for the future of the company by working at incredible working rates – giving up our free time – and / or accepting to be paid in equity instead of cash – postponing an immediate economic benefit – and it is clear that up to now this choice has proved to be a winner strategy. A ‘healthy Team’, for me, is a team where everyone can afford to make choices that do not go to their immediate advantage, certain that the others will do the same, eventually obtaining a common advantage – and consequently also for the single – even greater.
When everyone feels protected and free to express opinions, “Creativity” is generated, which is for me the ability to obtain many results with few resources.
We have been really good in this so far: with only 1.5M € and in 4 years of R&D activities, we have obtained results that our competitors achieved in 5-10 years of activity by spending between 3 and 20-30 M €. In this we have certainly been helped by the self-sacrifice that each of us put into the field, but above all by the creativity we have shown in always finding the most intelligent solutions. This attitude allowed us to take the necessary steps forward to obtain new results and new motivation – in a virtuous circle that got us where we are today.
I therefore consider it essential that everyone strive to always express the maximum sense of responsibility and demonstrate self-sacrifice, necessary to carry out a cause that goes beyond his/her direct advantage. In this way one is worthy of the trust of all members of our Team, thus contributing to the creative process of BionIT Labs.
Transparency generates Trust (and vice versa), and together these two features constitute the Integrity that must characterize the members of our Team and through which BionIT Labs must relate to the outside world.
The team, customers, suppliers, investors and stakeholders who recognize our value will be more likely to collaborate with us for the achievement of a common goal: the improvement of the quality of life of thousands of people.
With Integrity as a solid foundation, Continual improvement as the engine of our growth and Creativity as fuel, BionIT Labs generates radical innovation.
The importance of a shared values’ system
It is clear it is ambitious and hard, if not impossible, that all the members of a team adhere perfectly to the value system of the company they are part of, someone will be closer to some of these values, someone else to others, but it is the task of each of us to behave appropriately so that all our interactions are aimed at strengthening this system of values, for the benefit of the group and of the individual as a consequence.
When a member of the Team does not adhere to this system, it is easy to notice – it is often perceived even on an unconscious level – and it is impossible for a worthy integration to take place.
I would like to specify that the value system of a company cannot be ‘imposed from above’: just as the alignment of each member of the Team to the corporate Mission can only be achieved if it touches those uncovered “strings”, those motivations, those “why” that move and inspire each of us.
Similarly, the corporate value system makes sense only if it is created and based on the value system of the individuals who are part of it, which depends exclusively on the experiences lived by each of us. Only if the values of each member of the team are aligned can it be reflected in a corporate value system that lasts over time.
Over time, in such a natural way that we don’t even realize it, we have built the BionIT Labs Value System and, to reply to the initial question, I am convinced that this is what made the difference up to now.
Integrity, Continual Improvement, Creativity, Radical Innovation: to keep performing, this set of values that we breathe every day must be perceived and embraced by anyone who is part of – or in the future will join – BionIT Labs.
Lear more about our growth in the last years articles.