This is the newsletter that Mauro Del Rio sent at the aim to update every b-ventures‘ supporter with the latest news of the accelerator and its startups.
- Announcing the formation of a new investment fund established by a number of Italian entrepreneurs, which will be initially focusing on the startups that have been accepted into the b-ventures program.
- B-ventures and the University of Parma have applied for a lease on a prestigious public building in Parma, a potential new location for Buongiorno and b-ventures.
- The next b-ventures Pitch Day will be held on March 18th in Parma.
- Our startups: AeroDron, Caffeina, P-Commerce, Wisocial and Bestiacce — a recap of their progress so far and a summary of their current status
1) Borealis Tech Ventures
: Borealis Tech Ventures, a new investment fund focused on startups and innovative businesses, has chosen b-ventures as a strategic partner.
Vittorio Bertazzoni (Smeg), Giampaolo Cagnin (Campus), Alessandro Chiesi, Francesco Mutti, Pietro Negra (Pinko) and Andrea Casalini, the former CEO of Buongiorno, with the support of Studio AGFM Commercialisti Associati, have founded Borealis Tech Ventures, a new financial vehicle created to invest in startups and innovative businesses. The group was formed first and foremost to assist in funding the startups accepted into the b-ventures program.
Making the most of this opportunity, b-ventures signed an agreement with Studio AGFM and Studio Notarile Canali to provide legal, accounting and company management services to the startups accepted into b-venture’s accelerator and incubator programs to support their creation, development and early stage growth.
2) Palazzo del Governatore (Parma): Buongiorno, in partnership with the University of Parma, has issued a public statement of intent to bid for a lease on the Palazzo del Governatore. The partners have agreed to work together to create a detailed proposal when and if the City of Parma announces a call for proposals.
The proposal will consist of a plan to use the two floors that are open to the public (the first and second floors) for a variety of purposes including entrepreneurial programs for young people, such as b-ventures and analogous activities, educational seminars and workshops, cultural events, like conferences and presentations and, of course, exhibits and installations. More details are available here (in Italian): http://b-ventures.it/buongiorno-per-il-palazzo-del-governatore-con-luniversita-di-parma
3) Next Pitch Day: the ongoing process of registering new startup proposals on our website continues apace. We screen them carefully in order to select the most deserving projects, creating a short list of startups to be invited to present their business concepts at our next ‘Pitch Day’ on 18 March 2014. The best of these will be chosen to join the b-ventures program. The Pitch Day will be held at Parma University with details to follow in our next newsletter.
4) Our startups: Here’s a roundup of the latest developments at the five startups currently enrolled at b-ventures:
: This startup was the recipient of the first investment made by the newly created Borealis Tech Ventures. They just closed the second tranche of their first round, bringing the total investment to 400,000 Euro. The first tranche was underwritten by CGR (the worldwide leader in the production and processing of aerial information from remote sensing aircraft) and Capital B! (the investment vehicle under the control of Mauro Del Rio, Founder and President of Buongiorno).
The second round of investment, 290,000 Euro, will be underwritten by angel investors Emilio Attolini (Medel) and Pietro De Nardis (co-founder of Buongiorno), together with Borealis Tech Ventures.
: The first three months of participation in the accelerator program revealed the need to significantly redefine and reposition the product to better meet the real needs of its target customers and to make it easier to sell by making the product’s benefits more intuitively comprehensible.
The positioning was changed to: “a suite of hardware and software marketing tools designed to help businesses automate and optimize their customer management activities.”
The sales strategy was also changed. Media agencies and IT consultancies that operate in the HORECA
sector will become the primary sales channel, as opposed to selling directly to retail operations.
Naturally, such a fundamental change in positioning necessitates new developments in the product itself, some of which have already been planned and begun. Wisocial’s roadmap envisions three product releases during the next 12 months and, in parallel, a new business plan that will allow the company to find new investors beginning in April 2014.
: The main issues addressed in the first three months of incubation were clarifying the startup’s product positioning, defining its mission and identifying the most realistic revenue sources.
In addition, the alpha version of Bestiacce’s website was launched and the first 20 kennels have been signed up, convinced that this web project could help them empty their cages in the best possible way, by finding new homes for their orphaned pets.
Currently, the team is working on the business plan so that a company can be established by March, making them eligible to be accepted into the Accelerator program with a credible and sustainable business model. At the same time, the Bestiacce team is working on a video presentation to promote a crowdfunding campaign. As soon as the website is ready for the official launch, a series of promotional campaigns will be conducted on Twitter, Instagram and on relevant blogs.
: The first three months in the Accelerator program were used by P-Commerce primarily to fine-tune the product positioning, originally conceived as a group of vertically distinct e-commerce businesses. A new branding strategy with which to approach the market was agreed upon, both for the whole group as well as for some of the vertical channels.
At the same time, additional sales and marketing channels were tested to supplement the social network marketing tools that had been used in the past. These included advertisements on Google AdWords and purchasing ad units on thematically related websites. This experiment resulted in the tripling of revenues in January 2014 with respect to the same month in 2013.
The main goal for the next three months will be to consolidate the marketing strategy so that P-Commerce can present a business case built on solid economics to support a first round of investment.
: Caffeina met its projected revenue targets for 2013 with a total turnover of €400K and a gross profit of €60K (+300% YoY). During this period the team has added 7 new hires, increasing the headcount to 13 full time employees.
There were other important consolidations made in 2013. On the technological side, both the platform and infrastructure were fortified, and there was also a strong focus on developing new strategic competencies and marketing activities. These results were obtained by the introduction of internal processes that heightened the brand’s positioning allowing Caffeina to get closer to large clients such as FAI, RCS, Parma FC and Mondadori.
Caffeina kicked off this plan with a “breaking news” presence at the IAB Forum (the most important digital marketing event in Italy) and the simultaneous release of their new website: www.caffeinalab.com
2014 will be a crucial year to complete the scalability of Caffeina’s technology, optimize its processes, develop a sales strategy and to do R&D on the latest emerging technologies (iBeacon, wearable technologies, and the Internet of things, for example) — all to assure strong growth in this year’s turnover. The budget targets are aggressive, but a few large deals have already been confirmed and a number of other significant prospects with important clients are well along the way to being signed. #NeverSleep
– – –
As usual, our radar is fully operational, scanning the horizon for any and all interesting opportunities that we come across.
Before signing off, we want to remind you that any contribution, suggestion or introduction that you can make to b-ventures is more than welcome.