15 startups worth over 1m. The hit parade of investments in Italy

Over 33.5mln in financing for Italian startups in 2013, with 3 major investors. But in Great Britain the same amount is raised in only 15 days

Finanza Startup_0

Out of pure curiosity or as an attempt at analysis there are questions that are often asked: which are the venture capital deals at the top of the list in Italy? Who invests the most? Who collects the most?

We will try to offer some answers, at least for the current year. By using FinSMEs and other sources, we have created a classification, with the warning, however, that some rounds – which might even be higher amounts – could not be revealed. As well, the euro/dollar exchange must always be considered.

The Podium

1) Jusp, the Milanese startup that has created a system capable of transforming a Smartphone into POS, collected $6 million in April. The round (Series A, given that it had already raised 500k euro in the Seed Round) was headed by Principia (Principia II) and Vertis (Vertis Venture), with the participation of Bruno Spadoni, Giulio Valiante and Simone Ranucci Brandimarte. Founded in November 2011 by Giuseppe Saponaro and Jacopo Vanetti, Stefano Calderano (CEO) and Paolo Guida (CFO), Jusp offers a card reader capable of being connected with a mini jack to any smartphone (applications for iOs and Android already developed) and accepts all credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express), relative prepaid cards, international circuits (V-Pay, Visa Electron, Maestro/Cirrus) and the national debit circuit Pagobancomat.

2) MusixMatch, the startup from Bologna by Max Ciociola that has developed a music player with a catalog of over 7 million titles and 20 million users collected 3.7m euros last JanuaryMicheli Associati and Paolo Barberis, the founder of Dada, invested in the round.

3) DoveConviene, the startup from Bologna and Cagliari that has developed a digital platform of catalogs and flyers and offers products and prices of the major brands in georeferencing mode, collected 3.5m euros. The round was concluded in April and was headed by Principia II.

Over two million

4) Simplicissimus, a digital solutions supplier for digital publishers, grabbed €2.5m. The round was headed again by Principia II (which invested €2m), with the participation of the co-founder who added €500 thousand. Founded by Antonio Tombolini in June 2006, Simplicissimus operates platforms for the distribution and creation of ebooks.

5) PersonalFactory, the startup of Vibo Valentia which creates systems for the self-production of malts, glues, and chemical products for the construction sector, recently collected €2m from Atlante Ventures Mezzogiorno, Vertis and Fondamenta SGR in its second round (the Calabrian company had already collected €1.3m in the first round in 2009).

Over one million

6) DShare, another company operating in digital publishing with headquarters in Milan and Bari, collected €1.8m from Principia II. The round took place in March. Created in 2010 by Alessandro Vento, the company is also active in the United States.

7) BangBite, which develops soccer manager games, received €1.5m from Principia in a round announced in AprilOFootball registers about 1 million players.

8) ChefDovunque, the startup that offers organic food kits to create typical Italian dishes, recently received an investment of €1.2m. Led by Vertis Sgr, which invested €800k via Vertis Venture, there was also participation by three angel investors in the round. The company headed by Antonio Ranaldo intends to use the resources to expand in Europe, the United States, Australia, China, and Japan.

9) AffareDelGiorno, an aggregator of discounts and coupons for food products, collected €1.1m. Principia and dpixel were the investors of the round.

One million

A series of investments hover around one million euros:

Wise, with investors Atlante Seeds, b-to-v Partners, and High-Tech Gründerfonds;

Kikkapromo, from Bincot, Gianluca Andena (Andena Holding), Marco Pittini and Guido Carissimo (Vela Imprese), and from investor angels Alessandro Fracassi and Marco Pescarmona;

Rysto, from Principia

Tacatì, from Principia;

LoveTheSign, from United Venture, Novus Ventures and some members of the Barberis Canonico family.


From the investing side, a strong presence has been registered by Principia (with il Fondo di Principia II), and Vertis (Vertis Venture) in many of the deals. In effect, together with Atlante Ventures Mezzogiorno, managed by Imi Fondi Chiusi Sgr, they have used the resources (at this point depleted) from the competition of the Italian Department of Innovation through the Office of the Prime Minister in July 2007. As has been previously noted, there are many investors who are operative or taking off. There are also numerous business angels who have participated in various rounds with their own personal patrimonies.

At the sector level, we note a particular interest for platforms for the distribution of web and mobile contents (Simplicissimus, Book Farm and D-Share), for connecting between who’s requesting and who’s offering work (Rysto), for deals and discounts (KikkaPromo, DoveConviene and Affaredelgiorno.it), for food and Made in Italy (Chef Dovunque, Tacatì, LoveTheSign).

Further along, both Musixmatch, which offers not only a music app (used all over the world) but also a platform that enters into the realm of home entertainment, and Jusp, which launched itself in the global arena of credit card reader apps for Smartphones competing with – among others –the German companies SumUp and Payleven.

The classification did not include Decisyon, which received a venture loan of $5m in March 2013 after having received $15m in 2012.

Launched in Latina by Franco Petrucci, and now located in Stamford, CT, the company offers (to over 300 clients worldwide) a collaborative business platform that, by developing an analysis of company data, integrates analysis, planning and execution in a single group.

Over the past two years, early stage Italian growth in absolute terms has been registered. However, comparing our investments with those of the most advanced countries, there is still a substantial difference. The total of our top three deals (Jusp, Musixmatch, and DoveConviene) reaches €11.7m. In the past fifteen days alone, in Germany $30m (€22m) were raised by 6Wunderkinder in its second institutional round; THE Football App added €5.2m to its €10m collected in April 2013. In the same period, in Great Britain, Betable raised €13.8m during its first institutional round; Funding Circle completed its third round at $37m to expand in the U.S.. They are the enormous sums that serve to finance the global expansion stage that they are in. 

In general, it seems agreed upon that for who thinks at a system level it is necessary to exert ourselves to improve the quality of projects, push innovation, without crushing the already existing models, in order to both allow startups to reach the phase of international expansion in which the second/third rounds become plausible, as well as to begin creating an environment more favorable for the creation of a market of buyers in order to generate exits.

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