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The week in Italian startups - Issue #40
Cortilia, an e-grocery startup, closed a €34m Series C investment in a round led by Red Circle Investments, with participation from existing investors Five Seasons Ventures, Indaco Ventures, P101, and Primomiglio (disclaimer note: I work for Primomiglio).
Leaf space, a ground services-as-a-service startup for space missions, raised €5m in a round led by Primomiglio (through its Primo Space fund) and Whysol Investments. RedSeed, an existing investor, joined the round.
Talent Garden, a co-working and education ecosystem, 🇮🇹 raised a €9m round from CDP Venture Capital and Gaetano Marzotto (paywall). The company has raised €56m so far, but the pandemic has not been kind to its core business.
CDP Venture Capital also 🇮🇹 announced seed investments in 10 different startups in partnership with LVG, a Rome-based startup accelerator and seed investor, and other angel investors. The startups raised a total of €6.56m.
Barilla, a major Italian maker of pasta, acquired Pasta Evangelists, a UK startup delivering boxes of fresh pasta directly to consumers.
🇮🇹 The Italian Ministry for Economic Development allocated €20m a year for 2021 and 2022 to support the creation and growth of women-led enterprises. The funds will take the form of grants, zero-interest loans, equity investments, and education schemes.
Don’t be evil
Google was involved 🇮🇹 in a case of bribery in Leonardo, a major Italian enterprise operating in the defense, aerospace, and cybersecurity markets. The investigators believe Google Pay was used to launder money. According to them, the way the payment platform works made it difficult to identify the criminal source of money, allowing criminals to operate unscathed for quite some time.
The Netflix of Italian culture
Crowdfunding and access
Everybody loves investing in successful startups, I guess. But small retail investors are usually excluded from high potential deals: investments in startups tend to be exclusive to well-connected angels and deep-pocketed VCs.
Equity crowdfunding partially solves this problem: startups can now open up their capital to fearless retail investors, and fearless retail investors can access the deals that would otherwise be off-limits to them, investing as much or as little as they like.
An obstacle still stands: what if you, a fearless retail investor, want to invest in a high potential startup that does not resort to crowdfunding? A startup that is still private, either very early or close to an IPO, such as Coursera, Bird, Convoy? You would be out of luck: there are not many retail financial products selling this type of access, and the amount of money you could be willing to invest might not be "material" to them.
Well, crowdfunding can again help you, if you invest in a crowdfunded investment vehicle whose managers can get you these deals. Global Tech Ventures is marketing itself as such an investor and the financial product it is selling is access.
GTV is not the first vehicle raising money through crowdfunding in Italy, and each one of them offers different investment strategies. Numbers are still small: altogether they raised a tad more than €8m, not even close to a VC or to a late-stage fund in terms of size.
Nonetheless, it appears there is a certain retail appetite for this asset class, and some people that can "sell" access have noticed: Azimut, a leading asset manager in Italy, launched in 2020 a €40m VC fund, Italia500 (managed by P101), and marketed it to retail investors with minimum tickets of €5k (compared to >€100K for traditional funds - that cannot raise from these investors).
According to several 🇮🇹 sources, liquidity parked in bank accounts has increased due to the pandemic (+€126b in Italy alone), and we might see more proposals tapping into the crowd as a source of early-stage capital - not just by entrepreneurs, but also by GPs and asset managers trying to extend their product portfolios with something exciting and new.
A new market is dawning. Will it stand the test of time, retail investors' patience, and regulators?
This week I introduced a new experiment, a short essay about a topic or news that I found interesting. I expect to publish one every once in a while.
As always, any feedback or comments are more than welcome.
Have a great week!