The week in Italian startups - Issue #30
Letsell [cb], an e-commerce service that allows anyone to open an online shop by creating a store out of the catalog of suppliers available on the platform, 🇮🇹raised €1M from LIFTT [cb] and a syndicate of private investors.
FLEEP Technologies [cb], a deep-tech startup developing flexible integrated circuits, completed a €900K round with the investment of Eureka! Venture [cb]. The company had raised the first €800K (out of 900K) back in May (I covered it in issue #8).
Insight [cb], a travel-tech company developing InReception and InDestination, 🇮🇹 raised €300K in a round led by CDP Venture Capital [cb] with the participation of existing investors, including Primomiglio [cb] and H-Farm [cb, FARM.MI].
This is a story of invention and social inclusion: a team of young inventors and entrepreneurs led by Arianna Ortelli (24) is creating a special gaming console for blind and visually impaired users. Their prototype is a virtual environment accessible from a smartphone, coupled with a special joystick and standard headphones. The games are based on sound and touch, and can be played by anybody. The team will launch the console in 2021. More on their story 🇮🇹 in this article.
An Italian Unicorn (?)
To be fair, the definition of "unicorn" is a bit stretched in this case, as Telepass is definitely not a "startup". Nonetheless Atlantia [ATL.MI], the owner of Telepass, agreed to sell a 49% stake in the company to Partners Group [PGHN.S], for €1,06 billion. Telepass started out as a toll-road payment provider, but it is rapidly pivoting to a multi-service platform in the international transportation market.
Italy on the international press
Sifted published an article about the digitalization of businesses in Italy. It is a bit of a hotpot of different topics that would require much deeper (and better) analysis, but it includes quotes from several Italian entrepreneurs and investors.
The Economist offers a much bleaker view of corporate Italy (paywall).
CDP goes beyond finance
If you have been following this newsletter, by now you are aware of what Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) is (according to Wikipedia, the third largest investment bank in Italy, founded by the Italian government in 1850). You also know from issue #15 that the Italian government sponsored a €1Bn investment program aimed at the Italian startup ecosystem, by creating a new venture arm within CDP: CDP Venture Capital. It has currently 7 different funds under management, with different but adjacent investment theses, ranging from a VC fund-of-funds to "series A/B matching" funds, to acceleration funds ...
Now, CDP has decided to move beyond its traditional "financial" operations and launched two different acceleration projects aimed at supporting SMEs and startups with mentoring, networking, and support services.
In my personal opinion, it looks like the institution is entering an uncharted territory under pressure from the Italian government about sending positive signals to the economy. I am all in favor of it being a financial engine for a restart of the innovation economy, but I am a bit more skeptical about it also taking a leading education / mentoring / networking role. As always, time will tell.
Europe's startup ecosystem
McKinsey published a study comparing the European startup ecosystem to the US and other geographies, identifying some of the gaps between the EU and our friends on the other side of the Atlantic. Interesting reading if you are into these macro analyses.
Looking for a VC database?
Andre Retterath from Earlybird published his research comparing the various startup/VC databases on the market. In his Medium post, you will find links to the research paper - and you will also find the best picks 😉
Thank you to all the readers who took the time to send links and news this week. 🙏🏻
Stay safe, wash your hands, wear masks and see you next week!