Among the young talents recognised by Forbes Italy in its annual "100 Under 30" list, we are thrilled to see a MIM alumna: Annamaria Barbaro, class of 2018. 

In the vibrant landscape of young innovators and entrepreneurs recognised by Forbes Italy in its prestigious "100 Under 30" list, the ESCP Business School community is filled with pride for our Alumna Annamaria Barbaro. Not only has she been included in this esteemed list, but she has also left a significant impact in the realm of social entrepreneurship.

Together with her co-founder Lorenza Silvestri, Annamaria has launched Empethy, a groundbreaking startup with the noble mission of transforming the pet adoption landscape.
Empethy's success lies in its unique approach to creating value by connecting those looking to adopt pets with shelters and rescue organisations in need of support. The platform's collaborations with animal welfare groups and backing from various sponsor companies further underscore its impact and potential for growth.

We spoke to Annamaria, one of the best young Italian talents according to Forbes Italia, to discuss her entrepreneurial journey, the milestones achieved by Empethy, and the vision that propels her forward. Stay tuned for an inspiring glimpse into the future of impact entrepreneurship through the lens of an ESCP alumna who is making waves in her field.

Congratulations on being recognised by Forbes Italy as one of the top 100 talents under 30! What's it like to be honoured by Forbes? 

Being recognised by Forbes Italy as one of the top 100 talents is a true honour, not just for myself but for the entire Empethy team. It serves as a tangible validation of the dedication we put into our work, reflecting the appreciation of our users and customers. This recognition also signifies our ability to overcome the myriad challenges encountered along this journey. 

As co-founder and CEO of Empethy, what was the initial spark that inspired you and led to its creation? What drove you to create this platform and how has it evolved to make a tangible impact on the communities it serves? 

The idea of creating Empethy was born from the desire to address the challenges presenting the pet adoption process. Recognising a gap between the demand for pet adoption and the resources available to facilitate it, my co-founder, Lorenza Silvestri, and I saw an opportunity to make a difference. We observed the frustrations faced by potential pet owners navigating the complexities of adoption and the limited visibility of animals in shelters. Recognising this, Empethy emerged as a solution to bridge this gap, connecting potential pet adopters with shelters and rescues in need of assistance. As Empethy has evolved over time, it has become more than just a platform for adoption; it has become a force for positive change within communities, enriching the lives of both pets and their new families. 

Annamaria Barbaro and Lorenza Silvestri, Empethy co-founders

Empethy's innovative technology aims to streamline the pet adoption process while addressing the issue of stray animals. Could you explain how Empethy facilitates this process and what milestones the platform has reached since its launch? 

Empethy's innovative technology aims to simplify the pet adoption process and tackle the issue of stray animals in Italy. The platform provides a user-friendly interface where potential adopters can easily browse through profiles of animals available for adoption. With various filtering options, Empethy effectively matches adopters with pets that suit their preferences and lifestyle, increasing the likelihood of successful adoptions. Moreover, Empethy acts as a central hub for shelters and rescue organisations to showcase their animals and streamline adoption procedures. Since its launch, Empethy has achieved significant milestones: it has facilitated over 3,000 pet adoptions and formed partnerships with more than 800 animal shelters and rescue organisations. Additionally, Empethy has received support from numerous sponsor companies, such as Italo, BNP Paribas, Hills Pet Nutrition, reinforcing its mission. These achievements underscore the significant progress Empethy is making in streamlining the pet adoption process and addressing the issue of stray animal overpopulation. 

Starting a business in Italy's social sector is fraught with challenges. Could you share some of the hurdles you've faced in your entrepreneurial journey and the strategies you've used to overcome them? 

Starting a business in Italy's social sector poses numerous challenges. Navigating regulations, securing funding, building partnerships, and measuring impact have been hurdles in our journey. To overcome regulatory issues, we sought legal guidance and built relationships with regulators. Diversifying funding sources and partnering with mission-aligned investors helped address financial obstacles. Networking and trust-building efforts were crucial for meaningful partnerships. Creating frameworks to measure impact and adopting transparent communication strategies helped us quantify our impact effectively. By recognising and strategically addressing these challenges, we navigated the complexities of starting a social enterprise in Italy and advanced our mission of creating positive change. 

Reflecting on your educational journey, how did ESCP Business School equip you with the tools to achieve your goals? 

Looking back on my educational journey, ESCP Business School provided me with the essential tools to achieve my goals. Engaging with experienced faculty, participating in practical projects, and being part of a diverse international environment equipped me with critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills. Moreover, networking opportunities, internships and industry exposure facilitated the application of knowledge in real-world settings. Overall, the full support and resources of ESCP Business School allowed me to pursue and attain my career aspirations with confidence. 

What was your most memorable experience during your time at ESCP? 

From my experience, the best part of studying at ESCP was the chance to learn from amazing guest speakers and supportive teachers. They really helped shape my career path. What I learned there, like teamwork and setting goals, has been super useful in my job. And the best memory? Definitely meeting people from all over the world, sharing ideas, and making friends that I still keep in touch with today. 

Annamaria Barbaro

Looking ahead, what exciting developments can we expect from Empethy? 

Empethy is on a mission to revolutionise the pet adoption industry, making the adoption experience more accessible and rewarding for both pets and their owners. Our primary goal this year is to substantially increase the number of pet adoptions from 3,000 to an impressive 12,000 through strategic marketing efforts and valuable partnerships. In addition, to improve the adoption experience for our adopters, we will soon launch a pre- and post-adoption consulting service. These consultations will provide a personalised guide to potential pet owners, helping them choose the perfect pet for their lifestyle and prepare for their new addition. Looking to the future, Empethy is committed to expanding its offering with a variety of services and tailor-made products designed to meet the evolving needs of pet owners, but also entering new markets with similar challenges, such as France and Spain. 

Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs who want to make a positive difference in the world through their start-up projects? 

For young entrepreneurs aspiring to make a positive impact through their start-up projects, to begin with a clear vision is essential. Define what you aim to achieve and why it's meaningful to you; this vision will serve as your guiding light through the entrepreneurial journey. Additionally, embrace creativity and innovation to stand out in a competitive market, while remaining flexible and adaptable when facing inevitable challenges. Seek mentorship from experienced advisors and be open to adjusting your product and service based on customer needs. Lastly, empower your team to take ownership and lead by example, fostering a culture of accountability and leadership within your organisation. 

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