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The week in Italian startups - Issue #40

The week in Italian startups - Issue #40
By Niccolò Sanarico • Issue #40 • View online
My name is Niccolò and this is my weekly digest of the main news from the Italian startup ecosystem.
In this issue: Cortilia raises a series C, Leaf Space completes its series A, Talent Garden raises a bridge round, and more - what a week for fundraising! In other news, Barilla shops for fresh pasta in the UK, female entrepreneurs get government support, an experimental essay on selling “access to startups” to retail investors.
See you on the other end,

The Money
New funds
Female entrepreneurship
🇮🇹 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
Remember it from issue 36? It is coming.
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?
Ending notes
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!
Supported by VC Hub Italia
Supported by VC Hub Italia
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Niccolò Sanarico

The week in Italian startups is a weekly collection of the most interesting news in the Italian startup ecosystem, with a focus on funding rounds, milestones, major partnerships, and innovation news. The weekly email will be in your inbox on Monday morning(-ish).

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