Connect US: linking American entrepreneurs and Tuscan businesses
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Connect US: linking American entrepreneurs and Tuscan businesses

The US Consul General, Ragini Gupta, has introduced a scheme to connect Florence’s finest American business minds with the city’s businesses.

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Mon 14 Feb 2022 11:01 AM

The US Consul General, Ragini Gupta, has introduced a scheme to connect Florence’s finest American business minds with the city’s businesses.

Ragini Gupta, US Consul General in Florence

US Consul General Ragini Gupta recently met at Confindustria’s headquarters with the president of Confindustria, Maurizio Bigazzi, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Leonardo Bassilichi and the president of Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, Luigi Salvadori, to formulate a partnership centered on creating an international business network, connecting Florence-based American business minds who donate their time to mentoring local individuals and start-ups, in addition to building relationships between Florence and the US.

“I have been incredibly impressed by the background and caliber of my fellow citizens, who have chosen to live here and what they bring with them,” explains Consul General Gupta.  “Whether they are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies or they launched businesses and grown them, there’s such a diverse range of individuals and experiences, consequently a diverse range of what they can offer young entrepreneurs, start-ups and the business community to create real value in Florence. What has also been incredibly striking to me is the generosity of these individuals: the desire is there to take their experience and contribute to the local community, having Florence become even more prosperous and helping the city to develop a knowledge economy. It’s also beneficial for our bilateral relationship.”

Participating members of the project include Mandy Ginsberg, who spent 14 years at the $31B Match Group public company, ultimately becoming CEO and overseeing brands such as Tinder, Match, Hinge, OKCupid, Meetic and Plenty of Fish. Today, she serves on several public boards, including Uber and ThredUp, having moved to Florence in August 2021. Commenting on the upcoming collaboration scheme, Ginsburg says, “The natural beauty and the rich culture brought me here, but what I have found most engaging is the community. I have been blown away by the caliber of people and their wealth of experience. Connect US is an exciting proposition since it marries experienced executives from a myriad of industries including tech, media, fashion and CPG with entrepreneurs who are the next generation of innovators.”

“I was thrilled to hear about Consul General Gupta’s vision in connecting the unique and diverse American community with local businesses and talented entrepreneurs,” adds Morgan Fiumi, who decided to move back from Los Angeles to his father’s hometown of Florence on selling his tech business to the likes of Google and Amazon. “Many of us are grateful to be here and share a desire to give back and make a positive impact. I am hopeful that my experience in the technology and startup space can contribute to Florence’s vibrancy as an international hub for innovation and continued creativity.”

Moving to Florence from New York after selling his business, Urnex Brands, a global leader in cleaning products for coffee machines, to a private equity firm, Joshua Dick has since written Grow Like a Lobster, a playbook on how to prepare a business for long-term growth. “Being in the coffee industry gave me many friends and connections in the European market and particularly in Italy and Switzerland, where we worked closely with manufacturers of coffee machines. I enjoy the opportunity to help enthusiastic entrepreneurs focus and grow their businesses. When the Consul General Gupta shared the Connect US initiative, I recognized it as a great opportunity to support the local business community by being in a position to offer both my American and global perspective on things that might be happening here.”

A US fashion and retail professional who has been the CEO of several noted brands and retailers including the Frye Company and Ann Taylor, Adrienne Lazarus commented, “I had a team and offices located in Italy for production and importing textiles from Tuscany, so I have a history of working in the region. Today, I work directly with companies and investors, using my 30 years of experience to help companies grow successfully. I am committed to supporting the local economy and to help create opportunities for growth that will stop the brain drain and build on the culture of creativity and artisanship that exists in Tuscany.”

If you are interested in mentoring or being involved in the Connect US scheme, reach out to the US Consulate General in Florence: CGFIProtocol@state.gov

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