• Impressive growth trajectory over the decade in terms of volumes, investments, the establishment of innovative companies, and its impact on the economy.
  • Approximately 8 billion euros invested in Italian startups over the past 10 years, reflecting a valuation of 67 billion euros in 2023.
  • Italian startups and innovative SMEs collectively generated a turnover exceeding 9.3 billion euros in 2023.
  • Investments in Italian startups reached €1.1 billion in 2023, with a notable increase in the prevalence of Growth Stage rounds.
  • In the last 5 years, VC fundraising activity in Europe totalled EUR 108.7 billion; although 2023 witnessed a decline (-32% YoY), Italy defies the trend with a notable increase (+88% YoY).

P101 has delved into the evolution of its sector over the past decade, scrutinizing specific trends and aligning them with the broader European landscape.

The report, titled “State of Italian VC,” shines a light on the impressive growth of Italian Venture Capital (“VC”) in the last 10 years, acting as a catalyst for the nation’s innovation ecosystem. From 2013 to 2023, Italian VC has injected a substantial 8 billion euros into startups, witnessing a remarkable surge from 152.1 million euros in 2013 to a staggering 1.1 billion euros in 2023. This growth, averaging an impressive 644%, outpaces the European average of 492.5%.

Over the same period, the number of completed transactions has risen from 294 to 387, marking a 31% increase, compared to Europe’s 80%. This hints at a notable upswing in the average size of Italian deals. Despite 2023 macroeconomic uncertainties causing a dip in investments (-55% YoY) and in number of rounds (-30% YoY) in 2023, in line with European trends (-43% and -21% in France and -37% and -19% in Spain), the overall growth trajectory of the Italian ecosystem (+644% over the decade) remains robust.

The burgeoning investment pace has also contributed to the growth of over 13,000 startups and around 2,000 SMEs in Italy. In 2023 alone, these entities generated a turnover of over 9.3 billion euros, employing approximately 62,000 people. The valuation of the Italian Startup ecosystem, standing at around 67 billion euros (Enterprise Value), has increased 25 times over the past 10 years, more than double the European average, with accelerated growth in 2023 recording a 27% YoY increase (7% in Europe). This growth underscores the scalability of business models and the emergence of entities with further development potential, particularly in the technology sector.

While the value of Italian startups in 2023 is comparable to Spain in 2020, France in 2016, and Germany in 2015, indicating a temporal gap in development, the surge in the number of VC-backed companies in Italy (from 726 in 2013 to 2,983 in 2023, a +271% increase) sets the stage for accelerated development. The average valuation of Italian startups in 2023 surpassed 22 million euros, recording the highest compound annual growth rate (+19%) of the decade. Countries like Germany and France still showcase average valuations nearly twice as high as those in Italy, which is still in the early stages of development. However, the data highlights an ongoing maturation process within the Italian ecosystem.

In the last 5 years, European VC funds have raised approximately 109 billion euros, experiencing a 32% decline in 2023 (YoY). However, Italy stands out with an 88% year-on-year increase, with 3.6 billion euros raised by new VC funds. In addition to that, 2023 also witnessed a notable 71% increase in the average size of Italian funds. Despite being in a growth phase, the Italian market lags behind more mature ecosystems. Nevertheless, the consistent increase in the number of new VC funds (from 3 in 2019 to 11 in 2023) and their increasing average size signal a deepening and diversifying market, reflecting growing investor confidence and a broader range of investment opportunities in the country.

We aim to conduct a comprehensive analysis to spotlight the remarkable journey undertaken by Italian Venture Capital and shed light on its potential for further growth,” remarked Andrea Di Camillo, Founder and Managing Partner of P101. “The overall growth trajectory over the past decade has been substantial, encompassing volumes, investments, the creation of innovative enterprises, and a significant impact on the economy. In 2023 alone, the 52 companies in which P101 has invested generated approximately 1.7 billion euros in revenue – contributing to a total of 5 billion over the decade – while providing employment to over 5,000 people. Industry insights affirm that the groundwork for the Italian Venture Capital ecosystem is now complete. We must look forward to the next decade, furtherly bridging the gap with leading European countries. More importantly, we must brace ourselves for the challenges the ecosystem will encounter as it evolves into a new phase of maturity, ushering in changing rules of the game. Opportunities and competition will escalate, with international players showing a growing interest in our country. Emerging drivers, such as Artificial Intelligence, will reshape investment trends, increasingly honing in on services for businesses. We expect an upswing in the sizes of funds, investments, and startups: companies that have thrived in the past decade now showcase the scalability of their business and stand poised for a dimensional leap that will frequently extend beyond borders. As Venture Capital players, our role is not just to navigate but to lead this transformative shift towards new business models, keeping in mind the core objective of the sector: contributing to the development of the Italian innovation ecosystem.”

The key trends on the evolution of Italian Venture Capital outlined in the “State of Italian VC” report by P101 with the support of Dealroom are summarised as follows:

Evolution of Rounds

Italian Venture Capital injected 3.7 billion euros into Early Stage rounds during the past decade, experiencing a fivefold increase from 102.4 million euros in 2013 to 515.5 million euros in 2023. Despite a 28% year-on-year dip in Early Stage investments in 2023, they continue to serve as the cornerstone of Italian VC, constituting 94% of total rounds in 2023 compared to Europe’s 88%. However, their prevalence is gradually diminishing, aligning more closely with the European average of 88%.

Similarly, the investment in Growth Stage rounds witnessed a 26% year-on-year decrease in 2023. Nonetheless, over the decade, approximately 2.2 billion euros were invested in Growth Stage, showcasing the highest growth rate (+720%) but remaining relatively marginal in Italy, accounting for 5.6% of total rounds in 2023 compared to 3% in 2019.

Late Stage rounds remain infrequent in Italy, with the invested amount progressing from zero in 2013 to 205 million euros in 2023. Only 12 operations were completed in this category over the decade, with a concentration in the last 5 years, where the total investment reached approximately 2 billion euros

Sectors

In 2023 there was a shift in investments from sectors with explosive growth during the pandemic, such as Fintech (127,5 million euros invested in 23 vs 732,8 million euros in 22) and HealthTech (122,8 million euros invested in 23 vs 324,3 million euros in 22), towards emerging and sustainable technologies like Space and Energy (127,5 million and 147 million euros invested in 23 respectively). Enterprise Software, traditionally a focal point for investors, claimed the top spot in the Italian ranking in 2023 (217,7 million euros in 23). Investments in startups related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) reached 120 million euros in 2023, growing 1.6 times compared to 2019, yet remaining below the peak of 2022.

In 2023, investments in B2B startups saw a substantial increase, constituting 82% of the total (compared to 54% in 2021). This growth aligns seamlessly with the ongoing trend of business digitalization. Investment concentration remains high, with the top 5 sectors attracting investments in Italy representing over 50% of the total funding, and the top 10 sectors accounting for more than 80%.

Exit

Exits increased significantly over the decade, particularly through M&A, with a 16-fold increase in acquisitions and a historic peak of 234 in 2023 (+47% YoY), and buyouts, increased 10 times over the same timeframe. On the other hand, Italian IPOs remained modest and fluctuating, contrasting with a more dynamic European landscape. The VC IPO market in Italy is even more static, as digital-centric VC-backed companies going public amount to a mere 3 IPOs in 2023.

Investors

Italian investors continue to dominate the domestic VC landscape (69% of total VC investors in 2023). Yet, the presence of European and North American investors has increased, accounting for 19% and 8%, respectively in 2023, compared to 10% and 5% in 2020. Asian and other global investors have had minimal and fluctuating involvement. The data confirms a positive correlation between the size of funding rounds and the involvement of foreign investors, partly attributed to the relatively modest average sizes of Italian venture capital funds and the limited number of Italian funds focused on the late-stage phase.

Ecosystem Evolution

The Italian innovation ecosystem is experiencing strong development: over the last five years, the value of Italian university spin-offs (incubators, accelerators, and venture capital networks) has quadrupled, reaching approximately 2 billion euros in 2023 with 907 registered spin-offs. European programs such as Horizon 2020 and Horizon Europe have been significant sources of subsidies for Italian universities, contributing to the growth of the ecosystem. From 2014 to 2023, around 7,500 Italian university projects have received a total of 2.83 billion euros. This trend is expected to continue, contributing significantly to the country’s economic growth and technological advancement.

State of Italian VC

Tracing Evolution and Market Opportunities

Mundimoto is a Spanish digital startup focused on selling and buying motorbikes. It offers an online, fast and guaranteed service. Mundimoto was created in 2019, And since then it has become the largest motorcycle marketplace in Europe with 60M euros turnover in 2022. The company is located in Barcelona, Madrid, has recently opened in Milan and over the years has reached 250 employees.

What is the added value that tells Mundimoto apart from its competitors?

“There are quite a few differences between the service offered by Mundimoto and the ones offered by other players that might look a bit like us. First, we have the largest stock of second-hand motorcycles in Europe, so users can find the motorcycle of their dreams among many. In addition, at Mundimoto we always offer the best service and individual attention to each of our users”, said Josep Talavera, co-founder and CEO of Mundimoto.

In fact, Mundimoto not only offers the best service, but also expands and adapts its products and services whenever it detects new trends or market needs. For example, this year Mundimoto has launched a pay-per-use or renting service that allows people to enjoy the motorcycle of their dreams for as long as they need it. To make all this possible, Mundimoto has developed one of the best technological equipments, in this way it can make sure that its platform always works in the best way and provides the quality service that Mundimoto’s users and customers deserve.

The technology behind Mundimoto

Mundimoto has developed proprietary algorithms to price used motorbikes in real time and to source vehicles at scale. The platform’s infrastructure allows to manage large quantities of inventory in different countries and to overlook the entire lifecycle of the motorbikes from when Mundimoto purchases them until the moment they are sold.  In addition to that, Mundimoto has built an e-commerce platform to sell motorbikes autonomously and cross-selling services on top such as financing, insurance, warranties and refurbishment.

How did Mundimoto meet P101?

We met P101 through Stefano Guidotti who was referenced to us by a friend.

Mundimoto’s business model and top customers

Mundimoto buys and sells motorbikes online offering services on top such as consumer financing, insurance, warranties and refurbishment. More recently, the company has launched a subscription service where customers can pay a monthly fee that includes the vehicle and all the services that are needed to ride it (insurance, maintenance, etc.).

Mundimoto’s future goals

By the end of 2023 Mundimoto expects to be sell 25,000 vehicles and to consolidate its position in the countries where it operates –  Spain and Italy – as well as to carry out a sustainable growth strategy that will allow the company to become a European leader in this market.

 

Casavo is a technological platform for the real estate and residential markets that aims to redesign and change the ways people buy and sell houses in Europe by providing an integrated experience. The startup was founded in Milan by Giorgio Tinacci at the end of 2017. “From the beginning, our goal was to build a tech platform that could offer a simpler, more convenient user experience, one that would be more in line with the needs of new generations. The project was born at the end of 2017 in Italy as the southern European market was interesting from the point of view of market fundamentals, but it also showed certain inefficiencies that we could solve”, stated Giorgio Tinacci. Over the years, Casavo has expanded overall Europe, in particular to Spain and France.

Casavo started by focusing on sellers, since usually the real estate transaction starts from a person’s need to sell their property. The biggest problem is that selling is a very long process: on average, in the main metropolitan areas, it takes about 200 days to close a real estate transaction. It’s a very complex process grounded on a high degree of uncertainty, due to information asymmetry that generates a lot of stress in customers.

Casavo has solved this problem by removing a step in the buying and selling process, initially positioning itself as a direct buyer through an “instant buy” service, purchasing a property and then finding a final buyer. “Over time, we have expandedour offer, and today sellers can either decide to sell directly to us or ask us to be connected to another buyer. Besides, we have also worked on the end-to-end experience on the buyer’s side: we don’t  just stop at publishing an online catalogue, as typically happens, but we follow the customer through the whole process, from their mortgage request to the notary process, including all connected integrated services”, explained Tinacci. Casavo is a completely new service that shortens buying and selling time and bureaucracy.

Casavo’s encounter with P101

Casavo met P101 between 2020 and 2021, but the two companies had already been in contact for some time in the past. “As one of the main players in the venture capital market in Italy, we looked a lot at P101 even before our official partnership” – explained Tinacci, – “They have always looked with interest at the development of Casavo over the years, also because they have a particular inclination for the proptech market. Therefore, they decided to make an investment at the beginning of 2021, that was consolidated over time with other investments. In addition to this role of investor, P101 constantly participates in all strategic discussions for the development of the company and in the development of specific new projects.

Casavo’s competitors

Casavo does not have real competitors, especially in Italy, but there are players in the proptech sector who cover or try to cover assistance during the buying and selling phase with different or comparable solutions. In France, for example, there are some digital real estate agencies that try to simplify processes, or legacy players, such as real estate portals, with which Casavo has a relationship of coexistence instead of competition. Casavo is essentially unique, and the aspects that differentiate it from its competitors are various. For example, compared to a real estate agency, Casavo can directly buy properties and therefore offer an integrated platform that allows anybody to easily and transparently follow all the phases of the transaction. In the very long term, Casavo could be defined as a sort of “house e-commerce” that can assist customers in buying and selling, being able to provide all the ancillary services that may typically be needed during the sale, such as, for example, assistance in choosing the best mortgage offer on the market.

Casavo technology

Casavo’s ecosystem of products is based on specific elements that intertwine data analysis with technology and as asuch it makes the buying and selling process simpler and less stressful.

Casavo operates in a sector that is characterized by poor information transparency, where there is no single qualified and visible repository of all real estate transactions, therefore it is necessary to know how to read the data in order to correctly evaluate the properties and offer the best economic proposal. However, Casavo also aims to provide “educational contents” to facilitate the process of buying and selling properties through the correct information of all the parties involved.

The technological aspect is linked to everything that lies behind buying and selling operations, because buying a house is a very complex and articulated transaction, with processes that must necessarily take place live and others that can be managed from the platform. Over time, Casavo has built an integrated software architecture to ensure maximum scalability and efficiency of each activity in the value chain, which is reflected in an efficient, convenient and transparent buying and selling experience for customers.

Casavo’s User Experience

Casavo entered the market by providing a service that was tailored to the needs of property sellers, and then evolved by implementing its offer with other services on the buyer side. Using Casavo, sellers can follow all phases of the real estate transaction directly from the platform, via website or app. Each phase, from the evaluation of the property – and the specifications relating to the parameters of the the economic proposal – up to the sales agreement. Sellers can decide to accept Casavo’s offer , but they also have total visibility of buyers that might be interested in buying that type of property.

On the buyer’s side, through the platform users have access to a complete catalogue of properties and to a series of tools for an improved user experience. For example, thanks to a “real tour” technology, customers can view and visit the property directly from the platform, and this allows them to operate a sort of preliminary screening to evaluate which properties they’d like to visit. It is also possible to book a visit in just a few clicks.

Casavo also offers a series of auxiliary services to both parties, ranging from document management to mortgage consultancy  up to after-sales assistance.

Casavo’s future

The company has 3 priorities for the near future: the first is to accelerate profitability and efficiency of operations according to a series of technological developments. The second is to accelerate the development of the marketplace, and therefore of the entire user experience on both the seller’s and buyer’s side. The third priority is to continue its integration in France, a market where Casavo entered last summer through the acquisition of another player. France represents the main real estate market in Europe and therefore, at the moment, the priority for the company is to focus on integrating its commercial offer in this country before entering new European markets.

A fundamental step for Casavo has been its long-term strategic partnership with Unicredit, signed at the end of 2022, after receiving a 10 million investment by the credit institution. This agreement consists of three features: to offer integrated services for Unicredit customers, to develop further innovations in the real estate sector, and to offer new solutions from a capital market perspective in the real estate sector.

Unguess is the first crowdsourcing platform for in-depth testing and research in the tech world in Italy. Founded in 2015 and initially named “AppQuality”, the start-up was born within the Cremona Centre of the Politecnico di Milano University, from the idea of three founders. Today Unguess is the first company in Italy that is based on the model of crowdsourcing, i.e., engaging communities of users and experts to test products on functional, quality, and security levels.

Currently, Unguess can reach a very large community of about 160 million testers around the world, who are hired to carry out in-depth research that results in different and more in-depth findings than those produced by typical market surveys.

The Evolution of Unguess

The purpose of Unguess “has always been to import and emphasize the value of quality of a digital product by reducing defects or bugs,” says Luca Manara, & CEO Co-founder of Unguess.

For this reason, they have launched the first crowdtesting community in Italy, based on millions of potential testers who are in charge of testing and directly reporting any problems they might encounter during use.

In the beginning, the platform only tested the functional side, as it grew, however, they started focusing on user experience and cybersecurity.

Currently, Unguess  has three specific vertical department:

  • Quality
  • User Experience
  • Cybersecurity

The role of P101

Unguess’s journey started in 2015 when the founders met Andrea Di Camillo and had the opportunity to describe the project idea they were working on. In P101, they found willingness to listen and a lot of advice to carry out their business strategy. The path evolved over the years, and in 2019 the founders got in touch with P101 again, laying the foundation for the growth of the project. “Close to the first round, the Covid pandemic exploded, but this did not stop their fundraising. In fact, in June 2020, we managed to close the first round entirely remotely,” says Luca Manara. In January 2023, again thanks to the support of P101, Unguess closed a 10 million euros second round.

Saas technology

The technology on which Unguess is based is more of a process. The platform has a SaaS approach, and its innovation lies in the engagement and gamification logics that allow it to engage many users in a short period of time and, therefore, to provide answers quickly. The SaaS logic also makes it possible to quickly implement all the insights we gather through the integration with third-party platforms (that customers already use), to which they integrate specific modules that are used to solve bugs swiftly. This type of technology allows for a highly profiled community, that responds in a very fast way and makes deep and articulated research, and it also allows Unguess to observe customers’ sentiment.

Target markets and differences with competitors

Unguess is the only solution of its kind in Italy. Iin Europe, there are others, but their offer is different from that of the Italian start-up. In fact, Unguess differs from competitors due to its horizontal approach to the various solutions: communities are developed in three vertical areas (Security, UX, and Functionality), but compared to competitors, Unguess manages to engage different types of communities per area, not only one-to-one vertically, but also transversally, obtaining deeper and more complete results and answers.

Unguess’s future

Currently, Unguess has 80 employees throughout the country and Europe.  In the short term, they plan to enter important European markets, particularly France and Spain. Another goal in the short term is to keep developing their tech platform, in order to offer more and more tools to engage and extract insights from crowdtesting communities, to launch tests autonomously, and to increase integrations with bridging management tools.

Some specific facts about Unguess

One of the features of Unguess is its very remote-friendly policy, which allows anyone to work from wherever they want. Unguess also carries out hundreds of tests every month, and thanks to this philosophy, combined with its community of more than 160 million testers worldwide, it has reached approximately 300 enterprise customers globally, working in a variety of industries.

Cyber Guru is a company that offers cybersecurity awareness services, i.e., services to train end users who are not experts on the subject. The company aims to change the behaviour of end users so that they won’t become ‘allies of attackers’.

Cyber Guru’s growth over the years

The company was founded in 2017 because of a market need. On the one hand, 90% of cyber-attacks origins from a mistake that the end user unwittingly makes. On the other, the offers on the market at the time were largely unsatisfactory since they were very traditional learning courses, which were typically considered boring, too technical, unattractive, and complicated.

Cyber Guru was initially born within DaMan, a company owned by Gianni Baroni (who is now CEO of Cyberguru) that played the role of incubator for the first two years. They later realised that the investments needed to make a quantum leap were not within DaMan’s reach and turned to investors, in particular, to P101 and its partner Giuseppe Donvito.

Hence, in June 2021, the company closed its first investment round of € 3.6 mln thanks to which its turnover grew by 170% every 12 months for 2 years.

A second investment round is on its way.

To date, Cyber Guru has an ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) of € 5 mln and 300 customers in 62 different countries.

Cyberguru’s unique technology

Cyber Guru’s technology is the result of a combination of two elements:

  • The way content is developed: using the latest technology in e-learning and structural design so that content is highly engaging and effective for the end user;
  • A highly automated platform that is based on machine learning and supports end-users by distributing various levels of informative content. Content is based on the level of knowledge each end-user demonstrates to have according to a specific risk: hard-skilled users will receive more sophisticated content, while low-skilled users will receive content that is more suitable to their background.

Cyber Guru’s competitors

In Italy, Cyber Guru has no competitors, it is in fact the largest centre of expertise in cybersecurity awareness, also thanks to the fact that it was the first to develop and use this type of technology. For this reason, it is also a partner of many big players such as Accenture, Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, and Leonardo.

Approach with customers

Cyber Guru has managed to win customers of various kinds, from the largest Italian bank to small companies. Thus, it has an extremely diversified approach concerning the market both in terms of company size and market sector.

Plans for the future

Cyber Guru plans to expand in Europe, particularly in France, Spain, England, and Germany

WeSchool is an Ed-tech company that was born at the end of 2016. Their aim is to redesign teaching at schools, universities, and companies to make it more effective and engaging. During the Covid pandemic, when WeSchool was still very young, the awareness of their teaching model grew, and the company reached a community of over two million users. Now, post-Covid, the growth phase is in terms of turnover and head-count.

What is the value added that distinguishes WeSchool from its competitors?

Our value added is ‘Redesigning education’. It could mean a million things, but in our view, it implies a change of framework that is based on four specific pillars: what, who, how and when.

When we think of “what” we are teaching, we are comparing an old model to a new one. In the old model – which is still predominant today – online teaching means using a series of training materials and assessment methods via Web or App.

We believe this concept is rather boring. Our model is based on cooperative teaching, where browsing content makes up for only 30%-40% of the experience. The other part consists of research, discussion, and teamwork with other learners to solve problems, teach each other things, or put what you learned in previous classes into practice.

In short: at no point can learners turn their brain off, since they need to actively keep “doing”.

One very distinctive aspect of our model has to do with people: it’s the “who” pillar. In the old model, a class is made of one or more teachers and some students. In our model, there’s a teaching team made up of instructional designers, teaching assistants who help with tutoring and group work, community moderators who engage and manage day-by-day learning communities, and a creative team that consists of motion & graphic designers, copywriters and videomakers. This requires working in mixed teams, which might be more expensive, but the results are unbeatable when compared to the old model.

Let’s now move to the “how”: in the old model, when people are in a live class (in person), they

are in a group and usually don’t use any technology. On the other hand, when people are working remotely or e-learning, they are “alone,” but using technology. In WeSchool, we believe in an alternative: technology must be used both in person and remotely with a single goal, no matter the context: fostering interaction and collaboration. We offer a whole series of features to use technology in a useful way. Whether users are face-to-face or remote, they are always part of a community and won’t feel that they are working or studying by themselves.

Finally, “when”: In the old e-learning model, you can connect whenever you want and

take lessons whenever you want. However, a model with no common timetable and deadlines does not foster collaboration and participation, resulting in poor retention rates. Our approach, developed back in 2018 and which has increasingly been known as the “bootcamp” or “cohort based” model, is different: we work in “classes,” and there are deadlines to each social learning activity.

What is the technology behind WeSchool?

From a technological point of view, WeSchool is the opposite of an LMS: instead of a platform   that   delivers   content   with   social   features,   WeSchool   is   a   community management and collaboration platform with learning management and content delivery features. Social learning is not a frill: it’s the substance. That’s because WeSchool is a synthesis of two souls: a combination which makes us much different from other EdTech companies. Half of our team has a background in humanities – and they are the people working in teaching and instructional design – and the other half have a tech background.

How did WeSchool meet P101?

I have known Andrea Di Camillo for many years, since the Italian startup scene was as big as my grandmother’s living room. During the Covid years, we were lucky enough to get to choose who we wanted to let into our capital, and we chose P101 for their professionalism, as well as the “feeling” we had, which I believe is a very important factor in the VC-entrepreneur relationship. We collected €6.4 million in our “Series A” round, which was led by P101 and joined by TIM, CDP Ventures, Club Italia Investimenti and Club Digitale.

Further info about WeSchool

Since its first round, WeSchool has doubled its growth year after year, achieving a revenue of €700,000 in 2020, €1.8 million in 2021, and €3 million in 2022. Currently, WeSchool employs 68 people across Europe, mainly in Italy, Spain, and Greece. Their next focus is to increase international turnover in order to grow even faster.

What is WeSchool’s business model and who are its top customers?

WeSchool’s turnover is mostly generated in two ways: the first is selling the use of its platform, and the second is selling Educational Projects and our teaching model, both to   companies   and   schools.   Top   customers   are   both   small   companies   and   large corporations,   including     Amazon,   IKEA,   Intesa   Sanpaolo,   JP   Morgan, Luxottica, NIKE, Qualcomm, and Vodafone.

What are WeSchool future goals?

Conquer the world, always! And then, as my colleague Luca would say: ‘make it to Christmas in one piece’.

Velasca is an Italian company that has been progressively establishing itself as a reference point for those who look for high-quality handcrafted footwear and clothes.

Its history started in 2013 from the idea of two Italian entrepreneurs, Enrico Casati and Jacopo Sebastio.

They developed their project focusing on “Made in Italy” and “creating a modern company and brand that could combine the Italian artisan tradition and an innovative direct sale model”.

We wanted to differentiate our company from competitors by becoming the architects of a full craftsmanship rebirth“, the two founders explained. “In the past, this activity was one of the centres of the Italian industry. Recently, it has been considerably penalised by the spreading of industrial production“.

The first step Casati and Sebastio took to build their business was to travel across Italy, looking for the perfect shoemaking district. They found it in Montegranaro, a town in Marche, famous for shoe production.

From then on, they have kept working with those local realities. Furthermore, Velasca constantly exchanges views with those artisans to develop their models. And those professionals provide their expertise on various matters, from the sketches for new models to the selection of materials.

The evolution of Velasca

In the beginning, Velasca was a little e-commerce reality. Their first order only comprehended 125 pairs of moccasins.

However, they soon managed to open their first store in Milan. Nowadays, they count 18 shops, “Le Botteghe”. Fifteen stores are in Italy (Milano, Bologna, Roma, Firenze, Brescia, Napoli, and Palermo), while other three are in New York City, Paris, and London.

In addition, Velasca put a great effort into consolidating its position in the international market. Nowadays, its business consists of international deliveries for 40%. Their primary markets are France, the USA, the UK, Germany, and Denmark.

Together with this international expansion, there have been other substantial changes.

In 2021, the company released its first women’s footwear collection, “Velasca Woman”, which was always produced by the same artisans from Marche. Over the same year, they opened their first Velasca Woman store, and by the end of 2022, they had two further shops in Rome and Torino.

Furthermore, in October 2022, they launched their first menswear collection.

Since its early stage, Velasca has been attracting the interest of several investors. In 2014, the company joined the startup accelerator “Boox”. Between 2018 and 2019, they secured two substantial investment rounds of 2,5 and 4,5 million euros. The first one had P101 as lead investor, while the second had Milano Investment Partner (MIP).

Clients always come first

Velasca has always prioritised direct contact with clients and avoided all the intermediaries of the classical supply chain. This makes it easier to provide competitive prices and high-quality products. It also allows the company to get fast and constant feedback. Finally, this work modality results in a more efficient customer experience.

Attention to the client also means that, since the beginning, the company has been focusing on logistics. Furthermore, they have always provided free returns for orders made from the EU and North America.

Technology

Since its foundation, Velasca has been looking for and employing the latest technologies for its digital communication (online presence, CRM system, social media, and interactions with customers) and its e-commerce system.

For what concerns the latter, they have always aimed to reach a full automation of their process. Furthermore, the company employs business analytics tools like “Domo”.

Velasca sometimes develops new technologies, as well. For instance, they built a high-precision software that tracks packages during the entire delivery process. This tool directly provides Velasca with updates. Then, the company notifies the client. Velasca was one of the first companies to use a similar system.

Velasca’s future

Velasca aims to reach a revenue of 70 million dollars by 2025. Moreover, they want to increase the number of physical stores to 30 by the same year. They are planning to open the majority of them outside Italy.

In addition, Velasca is monitoring what is happening with augmented reality. They are particularly interested in the developing technologies that will allow to see a pair of shoes on your feet while shopping in a virtual store. Potentially, that image will come along also with advice for the size. These tools will be fully functional over the next few years.

Finally, during the pandemic, the balance between offline and online sales had a huge shift in favour of the latter. In 2022, Velasca managed to re-establish that equilibrium. However, they are working so that the ratio becomes 60 to 40 for online sales.

Multiply Labs is a company that aims to accelerate the production of individualised and advanced medicines and transform it into an industrial process. To achieve that, they are focusing on robotic technologies and automation.

The company was founded in 2016.

It all started with Alice Melocchi, who, at that time, was a researcher in the field of advanced drugs production. She was looking for a way to accelerate and scale the entire process. She was also considering technologies from different realms, from engineering to chemistry.

One day she contacted a friend of hers – Fred Parietti, soon-to-be co-founder and CEO of Multiply Labs – to go and see his laboratory. Parietti was a mechanical engineering student at MIT. He was working on a robot, a project for which he was employing innovative technologies like 3D printing.

Alice was interested in my work because I could create prototypes swiftly, which is something unusual for the pharmaceutical industry“, said Parietti.

Soon the two future entrepreneurs fully understood the potential of robotic technology: it can improve the medicine production process. In addition, it allows to manufacture individualised products.

Parietti explained: “In that moment, the idea behind Multiply Labs was born. We decided to create robotic technologies for pharmaceutical companies that enabled them to produce advanced drugs more efficiently and on a vast scale. Until then, that process was fully handmade, especially in the case of biological or cellular therapies“.

A substantial growth

Over the last few years, Multiply Labs has obtained significant revenues, even while the company was still growing, which is something quite unusual in the pharmaceutical industry . They have also managed to build a great network of co-workers that has reached, today, almost 40 employees.

In April 2021, the company was the protagonist of a significant investment. They raised $20 million in a Series A financing round led by Casdin Capital.

Multiply Labs’s clients

Multiply Labs’s business is not addressed at start-ups or SMEs but at big companies. Among its clients are some of the most prominent realities in the pharmaceutical industry, like Thermo Fisher Scientific.

These companies already employ robots which are compatible with Multiply Labs’s features. And this is what makes these work relationships successful.

Over the years, Multiply Labs has evolved into an international company, with employees in the east and west coasts of the United States and in China, in the city of Shanghai.

Indeed, Multiply Labs has developed partnerships with American and Chinese companies.

Multiply Labs’s technology

The most important and appealing aspect of Multiply Labs’s technology is the approach with which is developed. It is also what makes the company stand out from its competitors.

Multiply Labs has built features that can be easily integrated with companies’ tools and processes that, therefore, do not need to be modified.

We use robotic systems. We also train robots to deal with pre-existing tools. Instruments that, nowadays, are used manually (for example, incubators). Therefore, we add automation to existing processes. We do not replace them. We are the only ones to do it”, underlined Parietti.

Almost all their competitors operate differently. They build machines and tools that work with new systems. Therefore, clients need to adopt new working methods to use them. This can be very challenging, expensive and time-consuming. And it can bring about several technical issues, especially for pharmaceutical companies. For instance, introducing a new environment or nutrient alters the entire process if cells are involved. 

Next steps

Last December, Multiply Labs secured a partnership with a leader company in the Chinese pharmaceutical industry. Then, they took some of their robots to a factory in Shanghai. These robots will produce drugs (capsules) following FDA‘s regulations.

Moreover, Multiply Labs has built a new generation of robots that cultivate cellular therapies. They are carrying on this programme at the University of California in San Francisco.

These advanced robots are also at the centre of a new project. Multiply Labs wants to use them to produce cellular therapies at a commercial level. The company is working to finalise these robots, which are currently in their prototype stage.

Soplaya is an Italian company that has been working on optimizing and speeding up the supply chain of the restaurant industry.

The start-up was born in 2017 in Friuli Venezia Giulia (in the northeast of Italy).

Over its first four years of activity, the company has created a network of clients in ten different cities across the northeast of Italy. Then, in 2022, they further expanded their business in the north and centre of the country.

All this happened with the support by P101, that helped Soplaya secure new investors and keep investing. P101 also offered its support for complex business choices and work management.

Everything began by examining the main problems in the restaurant industry

Soplaya founders – Mauro Germani, Gian Carlo Cesarin, Ivan Litsvinenka and Davide Marchesi – started developing their business by analysing their previous experiences. Indeed, at that time, they had already worked in various areas of the restaurant industry.

Thanks to our network of restaurants, we had already understood a lot about the sector. For instance, we knew that supply management was very complicated and not always transparent and efficient. And this problem involved every aspect of this process, from looking for new manufacturers and suppliers to delivery“, Germani said.

The four entrepreneurs wanted a deeper understanding of the field. Therefore, they talked with hundreds of other restaurants from all over Italy and other countries. This allowed them to “really discover what happens on the other side of the production chain”.

This search highlighted a few relevant problems. In January, vendors need to establish a fixed price for their products. A price that, later on, can turn out to be insufficient to cover all their costs.

Another relevant issue is the length of the distribution chain. It can bring about difficulties for both restaurateurs and manufacturers. In fact, because of this system, Manufacturers’ revenues become more and more narrow. Furthermore, they often receive their payments after a long time (60, 90 days, or even more). On the other hand, restaurateurs do not find suppliers easily. In addition, it can be difficult for them to figure out the actual price of what they want to purchase. Indeed, it is not uncommon to find massive differences in the cost of a product.

Recently, the situation has become even more complex as raw materials have become increasingly expensive. Also, the food service sector has lost 150-200 thousand employees since the beginning of the Covid pandemic. Thus, restaurants find it more and more arduous to keep up with their schedule. Also, energy is getting pricier than ever.

To face this situation, manufacturers and restaurateurs have two choices: lowering the quality of their products or shortening their supply chain. Therefore, manufacturers are often starting their sales or distribution networks. While restaurateurs are directly addressing manufacturers for their purchases. Nevertheless, becoming independent means more costs in terms of time and money for both of them.

Soplaya is born to sort all these problems out”, Germani explained. “We shorten the distance between manufacturers and restaurateurs. We create direct connections and support these connections with a full automation of the production chain and a very efficient logistic system”.

Soplaya’s technological tools

In 2021, Soplaya created an essential element of its technological apparatus: an app that allows restaurateurs to manage the provisions of their restaurants.

On this platform, users can:

  1. find new products with the help of machine learning, that can show products that match a client’s needs in a short amount of time.
  2. accelerate the management of provisions to up to 2 hours every day. Indee, the app and several other tools allow unified payment and BNPL. There is also an additional tool that speeds up the request for samples.

Furthermore, Soplaya has created a system that allows to notify the delivery time to the minute. And, 99,5% of the time, their courier abide to the 2 hours’ time window that the client chooses. The company has also developed features that will allow a complete automation of the production chain, from the delivery process to the management of vendors and prices.

Thanks to all this, the company is playing a role in making the restaurant industry more sustainable: the operations managed with Soplaya’s tools result in low food waste (0.1%). In addition, since they group more deliveries together and employ reusable packaging, they cut CO2 emissions by 50%.

Soplaya and its future

Soplaya aspires to reach a complete automation of the production chain. To do this, they need to introduce machine learning in warehouse operations. Thanks to this, it would be possible to automatically handle demand (restaurants) and supply (manufacturers) and connect the best matches. This would also allow the company to deal with more products and, at the same time, to keep food waste low. Finally, deliveries would remain extremely fast and precise.

The company also desires to strengthen its business presence in the north and centre of Italy. Furthermore, they are planning to work on their BNPL solution to allow automated payments within 30 days.

Finally, Soplaya aims to make restaurant operations fully automatic. They are developing a “premium service” that will comprehend several logistic features and technological tools.

Milkman is a provider of home delivery services. It was founded in 2015 and from the beginning, it has stood apart from its competitors by highly prioritising its customers. Its clients can easily choose among various day and time options for their delivery, and they can also choose the delivery price. The broader the selected time range, the cheaper the delivery.

Milkman was the first to introduce this new dynamics between couriers and clients, which also made the company appealing to the most important Italian retailers. Retailers even overlooked that, in the very beginning, Milkman did not have a national network and only delivered in Milan, Rome, and Turin.

Retailers understood that a great delivery experience makes the difference”, stated Antonio Perini, Founder and CEO of Milkman. “If the delivery options are not ideal, customers will switch to another platform or won’t proceed with the purchase”.

A fundamental role during the early days of Milkman was played by P101. The two companies started their partnership in 2016. “P101 courageously invested in our idea an idea”, told Perini. “As at the time there were no operations or clients yet”.

Since then, Milkman has built a strong business, and P101 has always been on its side. The latter has also been of great help thanks to its contacts in the Italian market. For instance, this element has been essential to secure a deal between Milkman and Coop.

2020: a new era for Milkman

The year 2020 marked a turning point for the company. Poste Italiane, the most important Italian company for home delivery services, came forward with an offer to buy Milkman. The scale-up decided to supply Poste Italiane with the operative part of its proprietary technology and to keep the intellectual ownership. P101 also helped during the negotiations of this deal.

For Milkman, a service provider, this was the first step to become a tech company. From then on, Milkman began selling its solutions to other companies instead of dealing directly with deliveries.

We transformed our technology into a product, explained Perini. “Essentially, our IT department became a source of income”.

This change also brought a new type of clientele: couriers and retailers that cannot use commercial couriers. The latest group includes two main categories: grocery and Big & Bulky (voluminous items).

We found out that customers are very demanding and that businesses present similar characteristics“, declared Perini. “They need responsiveness (fast delivery processes), flexibility, reliability, transparency and sustainability“.

Nowadays, Milkman has stipulated deals with the most important European retail companies. These deals have allowed the company to launch a “pilot project”. It is a trial programme that entails the use of Milkman’s features in specific European areas. In this way, Milkman acquire data related to the added value of its tools.

The technology behind Milkman

The primary technological tool that Milkman has developed is a platform that includes a group of mobile and web apps. Furthermore, the company deals with the technology behind the interactions with clients. Milkman also allows its clients to offer a series of choices for real-time delivery. These options are generated by taking into account the recipient’s address, the density of the urban area, and the package volume and weight. Besides, this process also includes a predictive analysis of future orders. All this becomes increasingly accurate as the amount of data collected from previous deliveries grows.

In addition, each element we have just mentioned translates into operative guidelines for the supply chain. Guidelines that regulate in detail the entire workday in advance. They include, for example, when and where to move items from a warehouse or instructions for a courier.

Finally, Milkman has to consider that several companies need to smoothly work together to successfully complete a delivery. It is an elaborate and complex process that involves softwares, machine learning and AI.

Our added value comprehends three factors”, as pointed out by Perini. “Firstly, automation: our software manages everything autonomously. Secondly, customer satisfaction is way higher than it has ever been. Finally, we help reduce expenses because our technology is based on intelligent algorithms that manage the available resources and maximise productivity. Therefore, fleets become more efficient, which means less expensive deliveries“.

What will the future bring?

In the foreseeable future, Milkman wants to keep strengthening its presence in Europe. The idea is to create more partnerships with technological service providers.

Sap, the most important company in the world when it comes to technology for enterprises, has recently started working with Milkman to improve its last-mile distribution. They have also inserted Milkman in their app store for enterprise agents. Since Sap counts more than 400,000 customers all over the world, it is a massive business expansion opportunity for Milkman.

Civitfun Hospitality was born in 2014 with the aim of innovating the interaction between hotel owners and guests in a digital way, starting from check-in and check-out processes. Processes that had not seen any major change in the context of a travel sector that was evolving digitally in many other ways. Mariano de Oleza, Germán March, Javier Gómez, and Massimo de Faveri are the creators of this project.

Just two years after its foundation, the company had already become one of the rising start-ups in its field. It won a Business Travel IBTA 2016 award (“start-up” category) in 2016. Then, in 2021, it became one of the finalists of the South Summit 2021 (“travel” category).

Choosing to work in this business turned out to be a successful move for the four founders. Moreover, the Covid pandemic gave a further impulse to this field, as the tourist industry saw new behavioural patterns emerge. And some of these changes are secular trends that will last for the long run.

Covid brought about a pressing need for digitalisation. Consequently, companies like Civitfun became increasingly relevant. For instance, in 2020, Civitfun registered a +180% in its turnover.

In March 2022, the start-up closed a 2-million-euro round, with P101 as lead investor. P101 was supported by Fabio Zecchini, Operating Advisor at the firm, and Claudio Bellinzona, co-founders of TUI-Musement, a company operating in the traveltech field. Thanks to these new funds, Civitfun managed to strengthen its team, its position in Spain, and explore new markets.

Nowadays, the company has clients in 25 different countries, even if it’s primary market is Spain, its country of origin. The start-up has a significant business presence also in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Columbia, Jamaica, the USA, Finland, Italy, Greece, and the Czech Republic.

What does Civitfun offer?

Civitfun creates services for companies operating in the hospitality industry. Its clients are travel operators, online agencies (Booking.com has chosen the company, for instance), hotels, and tour operators.

As mentioned, the start-up was born as a provider of digital check-in and check-out solutions.

Check-ins are delicate procedures. They involve the collection of guests’ data, which are to be handed to competent authorities. In every country, specific regulations guide the entire process. The digitalisation of check-ins makes  the collection of data easier and faster, and  reduces the risk to commit errors.

Civitfun created a system that integrates its solutions with the Property Management Systems (PMS) of hotels. Through PMS, hotels manage activities and processes that are connected to their business, like reception services, invoices, and housekeeping.

Thanks to Civitfun’s system, each feature can be singularly included in a client’s PMS. Consequently, over time, Civitfun has introduced several new functionalities.

For example, it is now possible to digitally sign a contract of permanence. Furthermore, the company has released an online system to process payments, also when they are made by guests during their stay in a hotel. Indeed, guests can do all operations from their smartphones.

Finally, Civitfun has developed a fully-digital room selection procedure. The company also provides tools to create and submit surveys to customers and for identity verification.

The technology underpinning Civitfun

Civitfun relies on the complete automatization of its systems.

The core aspect of its technology is a proprietary API (application programming interface). This tool allows Civitfun to link its check-in and check-out solutions with PMS. Furthermore, PMS are interconnected, and they work altogether in real time.

Another essential element is the dashboard, Civitfun Hub, a virtual space that the company provides to its clients. After a simple configuration, this platform allows to manage all the above-mentioned services from just one interface. Moreover, the platform allows guests to interact with the online features that hotels offer.

Next plans

Civitfun is now working to reinforce its technology. They aim to make their services compatible with 100 different PMS, as now, their tools can be incorporated into 50 PMS.

The company also wants to increase the number of proprieties that use its solutions. Nowadays, they are 850. The goal is to reach 2000 clients by the end of 2023.