Davide Dattoli is CEO and co-founder of Talent Garden (TAG), Europe’s leading innovation platform and coworking network for digital innovation. Featured on 2019’s Forbes 30 Under 30, Davide raised $60 million dollars and established TAG in 23 locations, with 3,500 members across 8 European countries. In this interview, Davide shows us how Talent Garden is nurturing more innovation opportunities for Europe.
1. What lead you to the idea of Talent Garden? How does it stand out from other coworking spaces?
“Talent Garden was born from a simple idea: to create a place that brings together digital innovators. To create a physical platform that helps them grow and develop. “Empower Tech Innovators” is our motto and it really sums up the concept and philosophy behind Talent Garden. Valuing people, talents and making sure that they can find the space that best suits them in order to fully express their potential, and connect with like-minded people, that is what makes Talent Garden special.”
2. We are transitioning into a digital economy. How relevant is the creation of physical networking hubs, especially in Europe?
“The coworking model is basically a physical hub for networking and it’s becoming increasingly popular and more and more people are understanding the benefits and positive effects that it is able to create. I don’t know if it will take the place of traditional offices, but it is certainly making these traditional models reflect on its future. Several studies, for example, those of CBRE, confirm that in the future more and more offices will be in coworking. Interconnection is one of the essential elements of doing business, it is where winning ideas are born. And a company that wants to be successful wants to have winning ideas. It’s still and will always be important to meet face to face in order to understand each other on a personal level. Sure, digital meetings will become more prevalent in the future and you can be very productive working with people online, but you cannot have a great personal relationship.”
3. To establish a good community, it is important to build engagement for and within members. How do you see TAG’s role as a community builder, locally and globally?
“The interconnection of people is the plus that Talent Garden offers. Being able to come into contact with companies, professionals, startups, entrepreneurs in their sector can help create synergies and new ideas. My advice is to try not to isolate yourself in pursuit of your business but to do everything to get in touch with other people because it is only from sharing and confrontation that the best and successful ideas are born. Talent Garden is currently present and operating across 8 different countries in 23 active campuses and with one membership we open the doors to our entire network of 3,500 digital talents and we give you a physical place to meet them in cities across Europe.”
4. Tell us about TAG’s Innovation School. What motivated this venture and for whom is it intended?
“In 2015 we launched the Innovation School. We train students, professionals, and companies in the digital skills that are most in demand and help participants evolve and become leaders in a constantly evolving digital world. The programs offered include full-time Masters courses for young graduates, part-time Masters for professionals who want to update their skills, and Masterclasses and digital transformation programs for companies. The courses are based on innovative training models and, right now, focus on coding, data, marketing, design, and business strategies and transformation.
In 2018 the Talent Garden Innovation School trained 2,300 students and 1,200 children. More than 700 people attended free courses. In Italy, 93% of students trained by Talent Garden Innovation School now have a long term contract.”
5. There is a rise of innovation districts in main metropolitan areas all around Europe. How does TAG plan to support innovation in small- and medium-sized cities?
“While other big coworking companies are focusing on America and major European cities, we believe that Innovation doesn’t only grow in San Francisco or London for example. Talent Garden is bringing coworking and education to Spain, Italy, Denmark, Austria, and many more European countries. Because we want to support the people that are building and developing new technologies in Europe and to give them an ecosystem in their countries of origin where they can grow and still be connected with the rest of Europe.”
6. Can you identify the main challenge European entrepreneurs face when trying to collaborate and innovate?
“The main challenge in Europe is the fragmented market. Compared to the USA or China, Europe has 28 countries with different languages, cultures, and bureaucracy. At Talent Garden, we try to create a common platform where professionals can move around quickly and efficiently, knowing that they are part of our European family.”
7. What are your thoughts on the future of work? How to leverage talent in a fast-paced digital world?
“The world of work is constantly evolving, digital innovation is now transversal to all sectors of production and services, and it is constantly in progress. So there is the need for continuous and constant training, which enables us to update and develop our skills to respond and adapt to changes day after day. It’s necessary to think of training, not as a previous period and separate from the world of work, but as an element that accompanies your profession. It needs to be integrated as much as possible to support people on the basis of needs and demands of the labour market.”
8. What is next for Talent Garden?
“We have a plan to open 20 additional international coworking campuses within the next 5 years, also bringing the Talent Garden Innovation School to these campuses and to expand in new areas of digital training. We are mixing big summit organisation, innovative coworking and education to create a unique model that will accelerate the “Second Tech European Ecosystems” that live outside of major cities such as London, Paris and Berlin.”
9. Your life’s mission is…?
“I love to connect people and create an ecosystem that empowers them. I love this job because you meet smart, inspiring people every day – I really believe that there is no better job than this!”
Innovation in Europe is challenged by fragmented markets.
Great talent and innovation opportunities are also outside the major tech hubs.
Training of digital skills needs to be an intrinsic component at work.
Interconnection of people is the seed to grow winning ideas.
Coworking spaces can foster new entrepreneurial ecosystems able to not only connect but also educate people, empowering digital innovators.