Nicoletta is a dynamic entrepreneur, who will probably never be completely satisfied with the status quo and will always drive for change. Her latest venture, FEMTOprint, develops an innovative and compact platform for the production of micro-devices out of glass with features down to the nanoscale. Her role is primarily that of making single great persons a great team. And whilst supporting everybody behind the scenes, she is also the person at the forefront.

Nicoletta entered “the ring”, a conference room set up with real boxing gloves, with no intention to build a firm, rather to sell her technology. Two hours later, leaving the “ring”, she was an entrepreneur. Photo by Giacomo Cattaneo.

Nicoletta entered “the ring”, a conference room set up with real boxing gloves, with no intention to build a firm, rather to sell her technology. Two hours later, leaving the “ring”, she was an entrepreneur. Photo by Giacomo Cattaneo.

When and with what did your entrepreneurial journey start?

Out of the lab at EPFL came a technology that my colleague and I thought had the potential to be sold to a major company out in the field. The partner we identified reacted differently than we expected – there was no real fit with his market. Hence he would not buy the technology but would support its production if we, the two researchers, set up a company for it. Two hours later, we exited the “ring” and were ready. Smartec, my first venture, was born, and would be successfully sold to a Global group 15 years later. Now, eager to start something new and to get that “feeling” again, I left what became through our success a corporate position at Smartec and started up FEMTOprint, my new venture.

What were the main challenges you faced early on?

Understand that now it is up to you to make decisions, nobody else will take that responsibility away from you. Also forecast yourself over 3 to 5 years – it is not an easy task, but a key one.

What job title would you give yourself? In which areas are you an expert?

On paper I am the CEO – in reality, I do not believe to have all the characteristics of the typical and charismatic CEOs, rather I believe to be good at making a group of talented people a great team. I would say I create the matrix in which everybody fits in, and can contribute to his/her best.

What motivates you?

“It’s about the journey, not the destination”. Not so cliché if it’s true, and what gives you everyday that passion that moves you forward, that makes you act, and grants you energy and enthusiasm.

What advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?

It’s all about passion. Find and share that, and the rest will come.

If one day you could write your autobiography, what would be the title of it?

Rationality & Irrationality.

 What are your hobbies?

Flying, in any way. I love paragliding and soar with a glider.

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