Matteo Broccolo, fusing design and possibilities

young man in a hooded sweatshirt

Some people have always dreamed of entrepreneurship. Business-savvy and competitive, they might have grown up selling lemonade at stands, trying to raise the most money during fundraisers, or marketing their crafts and business. Starting their own company or turning their passions into a product has always been their goal, and seeing their ideas turn into reality is what has always fueled their drive.

For others, entrepreneurship may not have always been a lifelong goal or something they’ve always worked towards. Rather, it might have been the path towards creating a product or service almost stumbled upon, and a realization that entrepreneurship is not just for those studying business but for everyone who has an idea and works to actualize it.

Matteo Broccolo, a third-year student in the Industrial and Interaction Design program at the College of Visual and Performing Arts, is an example of an individual whose passion for entrepreneurship was only recently discovered in an unconventional way. As part of his design major and an Information Technology, Design, and Startups minor In the ISchool, he took a class on technological innovation and entrepreneurship. As an assignment for the class, students were required to innovate a product that solved a technological problem. However, Broccolo didn’t just stop at a classroom assignment but turned his product into a venture called Spazio.

After interviewing students across campus, Broccolo realized a common problem for students was the unreliability of external hard drives. As students saved their work, often hard drives would disconnect from the computer, losing crucial projects and assignments students had worked hours on. Broccolo, with a team of two other students, designed a hard drive to better fit on a computer. Unlike regular hard drives, which connect to computers through cords that can easily become disconnected, Spazio’s hard drives clip into the computer, minimizing the possibility of disconnecting and losing valuable data.  

As an individual who thrives on the mechanics of creating functional things, it’s natural that Spazio became a worthwhile project for Broccolo. “I had a lot of passions growing up, but for me it was always the gear behind it. I always wanted to make things so that they could be better. I was always thinking about product design.” He has always had a talent for designing and even had a business in high school designing and printing t-shirts for clubs and local businesses. Spazio speaks to Broccolo’s passion for perfecting functionality.

The name for Spazio is an inspiration from Broccolo’s heritage. An Italian word meaning “space,” it references not only the significant role of hard drives in the space they hold to store important data, but it also alludes to Broccolo’s Italian roots. Broccolo’s family is from Italy and he grew up spending summers there and speaking Italian at home. Spazio is not only a technology that solves a frustrating problem, but it’s also a creative project that combines Broccolo’s ingenuity with his valued experiences.

Through his classes, Broccolo also was introduced to the Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars at SU Libraries and saw the ways it aids in starting and developing ventures. He began to dive into the world of entrepreneurship and went on to enter and win in a business pitch competition at Syracuse University.  He hopes to continue developing Spazio and plans to utilize his future coursework for his minor to provide time and resources for his work on Spazio.

Through creating Spazio, Broccolo discovered his own love for entrepreneurship. “I like the open-endedness of it —you can be an entrepreneur in such different fields. It gives you an opportunity to be creative.” For him, entrepreneurship combines his talent for design with his excitement for trying new things and exploring possibilities. It’s not simply a business field but a field where anyone with ideas can create products that benefit other people.

Broccolo’s story of someone who had initially not explored business or entrepreneurship but moved forward to create a venture product should inspire individuals to take their own skills, whatever field they may be in, and use them to innovate their solutions to problems that matter to them, their friends and families, and the world.

Story by Blackstone LaunchPad Global Media Fellow Claire Howard Photo supplied