The recently released Sixth Venture Capital Monitor showed that 66 new investments in startups by venture capital firms were made in Italy in 2013, +16% compared to 2012.
Having a look at the figures in the report, some other meaningful data emerge: for example, 31 investors were active making at least an investment, an average operation amount of €800k with an average 25% stake taken (less than 30% in 2012 and 40% in 2011).
Business angels sometimes participate in the rounds, especially at the seed stage.
Lombardia, Campania, and Emilia Romagna were the regions with more investments made, while ICT, manufacturing, food, leisure and healthcare were the industries attracting more capital. In 2014, the framework looks similar to recent years but some meaningful investments have been made anyways. Among the largest, we sourced the following:
– in March, Cloud4Wi, a Cascina (Pisa)-based provider of a cloud platform that allows venues to monetize their provision of Wi-Fi services by leveraging a marketplace to deliver special offers to customers, marketing tools to retain and develop customer base, capture customer data via analytics tools and spread their brand via social Wi-Fi, raised $4m in Series A funding from United Ventures.
– In April, the same firm invested $1.5m in AppsBuilder, a mobile publishing and distribution platform which had raised $2m in previous rounds.
– In March, CellPly, a Bologna-based innovative startup which specializes in molecular disgnostics, raised €2m in seed funding.
In this case, a pool of backers including Italian Angels for Growth (IAG), Zernike META Ventures via its Fondo Ingenium Emilia Romagna II, and Atlante Seed (led by IMI Fondi Chiusi – Intesa Sanpaolo Group), team members and other angels participated in the round.
– in May, BeMyEye, a Milan-based market research startup that allows brands and retailers to measure key performance indicators inside stores via a network of on-demand workers, who – using a mobile app – perform audits, mystery shopping interviews and get sales leads, raised €2m in funding from vc firm 360 Capital Partners, which partnered with RedSeed Investments, Capital B! and a pool of business angels led by Pietro De Nardis (read here).
– in January, PrivateGriffe, a Milan-based social fashion marketplace, raised €1.2m in a round led by VAM Investments, with participation from a club of private investors selected by Banca Esperia, who invested €500k.
They joined AngeLab, Angelo Moratti’s investment fund, which had acquired a 12% stake in 2013.
Hard to learn lessons. The above mentioned deals well represent what happens in the Italian scene, which is still too fragmented.
Following the seed stage, a real vc ecosystem is still to be created. Difficult to see a Series A, almost impossible to see successive larger rounds with firms teaming up.
Tax incentives and a new fund of funds (managed by Fondo Italiano d’Investimento) can help improve the figures of 2013: money raised should continue to increase, equity stakes taken by VCs should continue to decrease. And this is what startups should mainly look for along with the capacity of their investors to really provide business services and knowledge, create real participative models according to expert-led approaches.