growth & sustainability
Q1 2021 has been an all-time record quarter for venture capital investment in European startups, with $21.4 billion raised - close to double over the last quarter of 2020 - and consistent activity seen at every funding stage. As we emerge from the pandemic, tech entrepreneurs are in the midst of a very delicate, yet promising moment.
Capital is flowing at different levels and massive structural changes are underway in the startup and VC ecosystem. Having built strong foundations in the last decade, we are ready and excited to enter this new phase, right by our founders’ side.
At the same time, we are well aware that these changes require an increased effort towards a more sustainable ecosystem, and we are focusing on how to accelerate sustainability as a strategic objective within our internal operations, portfolio and dealflow.
There is a long way to go, but one thing is certain: to create enduring value and impactful returns, growth must be pursued in a responsible manner.
Read on for a selection of news, announcements and milestones from around our portfolio and team. You will also find a curated list of good readings we have made lately and a selection of tech insights and reports.
The United Ventures Team
BOOM made a few strategic hirings - Ludovico Mastrocinque Garcia (ex LinkedIn and Slack) as COO, Marco Gadaleta (ex Yoox and Facile.it) as Head of Product, and Valentina Bruno (ex Verizon) as Senior Backend Engineer. Furthermore, the Sales team grew with the addition of 6 people, and the signature of 30 new logos. A strong entrance into the US market with three new clients and the opening of BOOM’s US operations.
brumbrum, on its mission to build the reference consumer retail brand and experience in the automotive category, is keeping a close eye on the changes in the Italian car market online through the data collected by its observatory. The vitality of the long-term rental trend leads to predictions of future automotive scenarios, increasingly marked by agile, smart and digital commercial formulas, capable of responding promptly to new needs with seamless processes and tech.
Cloud4Wi was named a Top 5 Marketing Vendor in the OnCon Icon Awards - voters chose vendors that they felt had a good mix of great products/services, have contributed to the marketing community with thought leadership, and who have been exceptionally innovative. Also, Cloud4Wi recently joined forces with Tanaza, the WiFi cloud management platform, to deliver an enterprise-grade guest WiFi solution with unprecedented hardware flexibility.
Credimi launched two new financing products - Credimi Subito and Credimi Commerce - to further support the growth of small and very small Italian companies, making access to credit easier and faster. The team is growing at a fast pace with the entrance of 16 new professionals since November; among them Valentina Cabianca and Giacomo Ghersi, joining Credimi’s leadership team as Chief People Officer and Chief Risk Officer respectively.
FinScience comparatively analyzed, for Il Sole 24 Ore, Twitter and the Wallstreetbets subreddit, to identify the most important financial influencers and the correlations between social media discussions and financial volumes. Full report here.
3rdPlace is focusing on the collection, analysis and activation of first-party data, which has become critical in light of the cookie-less revolution underway. They have a series of webinars underway with Fieg (Italian Federation of Newspaper Publishers) and recently they organized an online breakfast with slides that can be downloaded here.
Deliveristo is building a digital market where restaurateurs can find everything they need and order in the simplest and fastest possible way. In this interview with Ilaria Cavalleri on ScaleupItaly, the co-founder and CEO Ivan Aimo explains the company’s business model, the results achieved so far, and the future developments. Besides being selected by EU-Startups among the 10 most promising Italian startups to watch out for in 2021, Deliveristo has been featured among Forward Fooding’s FoodTech 500 and in the AgFunder 2021 Global AgriFoodTech Report.
Equalum was selected as one of the Top 10 Change Data Capture Tools to consider in 2021 by Solutions Review, as it offers an enterprise-class data ingestion platform for collecting, transforming, manipulating, and synchronizing data with an intuitive, user-friendly interface that enables users to build and deploy data pipelines via a no-coding approach.
Fiscozen and Exein (with its product Exein Core reaching 20.000 users in just 3 months since the launch of its beta program) have gained access to Elevator, Endeavor Italy's program for high-potential future entrepreneurs. The program has a duration of 6 months and its purpose is to help entrepreneurs to grow their companies and activate international contacts, to eventually undertake the selection process of Endeavor globally.
FACEIT just launched a new free platform for TF2 where players, content creators, tournament organizers and communities will engage with new and rewarding play experiences, innovative community tools, and a closer social network. Interested in how data integrates with gaming and esports business strategy? Listen to FACEIT's co-founder and Chief Business Officer Michele Attisani and Tiffany Monahan chatting all things gaming economy on the Grow by SAP podcast.
InSilicoTrials recently won 3 projects (SimCardioTest, Brainteaser, In SilicoWorld) out of 9 submitted to Horizon 2020, EU’s most important funding program for research and innovation: an amazing result since usually the acceptance rate is 5%. To learn more about how to accelerate the uptake of simulation in healthcare you can read the interviews of Startup.info and Digital Health Buzz! to the founder Luca Emili, while to stay updated on all the news you can check out InSilicoTrials’ great blog here.
Loop AI Group is organizing the 2nd edition of Loop Q PRIZE student contest, an AI/ML/ Data Science competition for university students across Europe. The deadline is April 25th, and the registration form along with all further information is on www.loopqprize.ai. Loop AI has been shortlisted among hundreds of entries as a Finalist in the Banking Tech of the Year 2021 Award: here is a link to register and stream the event on April 27th.
MainStreaming has grown and strengthened the team with new members, all working towards new AI-powered technologies to deliver video content more intelligently. Among them is former Vevo CEO Erik Huggers, who formally joined the company as Advisor to provide strategic guidance to advance Mainstreaming business growth to the next level. To learn more about online video delivery, watch and read these interviews (by IABM and Startup.info) with CEO and founder Antonio Corrado.
MishiPay announced in March launches with Flying Tiger Copenhagen and Paradies Lagardère. The partnership with Flying Tiger now extends across 30 stores in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, enabling shoppers to use their own phones to shop; while Paradies Lagardère has become the first concessionaire to introduce MishiPay’s innovative solution in the U.S. airport market. If you want to learn more on the Scan, Pay & Go technology, take a look at Mishipay’s latest case study, detailing the recent deployment with leading Japanese homewares retailer MUJI in their UK stores.
Moneyfarm turned 10 years old! 🎂In this video message featured on La7’s Madeinitaly Paolo Galvani, president and co-founder, shares the convictions guiding Moneyfarm’s growth over the years: the fact that is possible to work differently in the world of finance, offering simple, transparent, and low-cost investment solutions; and that technology can make available on large scale opportunities that for a long time have always been reserved for a few investors. If you missed Moneyfarm’s annual Investment Outlook event for 2021, you can watch it on YouTube [IT-EN] or get your own copy of the Strategic Asset Allocation document for this year [IT-EN].
Musixmatch had one great start of the year with +15 new professionals who have joined the crew, on a mission to enhance the experience of listening to music. But the quest for talent is ongoing - check their open positions at the bottom of this newsletter. In the meanwhile take a look at this super interesting article aimed at understanding the positioning of women in music through AI technology and lyrics-based music metadata.
xFarm has exceeded 500k hectares registered on the app and is on its way to reach 50k users! The adoption of xFarm-branded agricultural technology is ever-growing, as more and more farmers decide to digitize their activity. For them, and for all those interested in learning more about digital farming, xFarm has been producing a lot of great content: check out this interview by Talent Garden on the latest agtech trends (spoiler: Predictive Analytics, Automation e Supply Chain) and their series xFarmers Stories.
News from the Team
Talking Growth with United Ventures
“We are approaching a perfect storm where 5G is poised to be a real driver for innovation. Because it will enable a variety of applications for the Enterprise and within Industry 4.0 thanks to key features like Ultra-low latency, which will enable IoT applications that were not possible before. There are thousands of players in hundreds of industries that can and will benefit from modernizing and digitizing their production, maintenance, and distribution systems through secure private networks. Which will in turn drive the enhancement and development of parallel sectors like Cloud & Edge Computing as well as AI/ML. Never before in connectivity has there been such awareness or coordinated effort across different verticals and stakeholders to deliver and capture value.”
As our new fund UV T-Growth starts operations, we asked our growth partners Damiano and Fabio a few questions about Italy and Europe’s tech ecosystem, the peculiarities of late-stage investing, and where they see innovation coming from. Read the full interview.
Introducing Michael Harte
“Choose people well. Inspiration, ideas, passion and hard work are all valuable human traits. These are the characteristics we look for to identify intrinsic value(s) and where to invest. Ultimately large doses of these traits can be the differentiators of success. It’s easy to get seduced by the latest and greatest gadgets or technological breakthroughs from algorithms in AI to new compounds in life science – however, if it’s not supported by driven people willing to go the extra mile with passion and hard work, it’s unlikely to succeed.”
At United Ventures, we always try to find teammates who share our vision, but also expand our thinking and perspective. Michael Harte, who joined UV in January to lead Research, is no exception. Michael possesses a unique technology vision and a deep understanding of how to drive growth through digital strategies, having spent a significant part of his professional life creating value through innovation, leading change, transformation and growth across the banking and the broader financial services industry. Read the full interview to get to know him better.
Things Worth Sharing
Tech insights from the world, trends, perspectives & more.
Every year, Benedict Evans produces a big presentation digging into macro and strategic trends in the tech industry. This year it is called “The Great Unbundling” and includes a view to the next 50 years, too. Not to be missed.
The list “10 Breakthrough Technologies 2021” marks 20 years since the MIT Technology Review began compiling an annual selection of the year’s most important technologies. Some, such as mRNA vaccines, are already changing our lives, while others are still a few years off.
“How Venture Capitalists Make Decisions" is an insightful article published on the Harvard Business Review summarizing what is perhaps the most comprehensive survey of US VC firms to date. Through plenty of data, the authors offer details on how VCs hunt for deals, assess and winnow down opportunities, add value to portfolio companies, structure agreements with founders, and operate their own firms.
Venture capital firms play a critical role in shaping the future of technology, industry and society; yet VC has lagged behind other asset classes with regard to ESG. The groundbreaking report “Responsible Investing in Tech and Venture Capital” reviews a range of dilemmas that the venture capital industry faces in managing ESG considerations and proposes potential solutions that the industry could adopt.
If you haven’t had enough of non-fungible tokens, the go-to resource is the NFT Canon by a16z: a curated list of readings on all things NFTs, organized from the big picture of what NFTs (with regard to art, music, gaming, social tokens...) are and why they matter, to how to mint, collect, and do more with them.
The big deal of the past weeks was the direct listing of crypto exchange Coinbase, which entered public markets trading at $381 per share, giving the company a market cap of $99 billion. The crypto company just crushed the first three months of 2021 and it’s worth putting its monster Q1 in context. One thing is certain - the crypto industry is establishing itself and this is only the beginning...
Be sure to check the 2021 AI Index Report, presenting extremely rich data across a huge range of topics, including technical progress, AI education, the economy, and more. AI investment in drug design and discovery received the greatest amount of private AI investment in 2020, with more than $13.8 billion, 4.5 times higher than 2019.
According to a new cybersecurity report by Crunchbase, the first quarter of this year saw more than $3.7 billion invested globally into the industry — outpacing the $2.3 billion for the first quarter last year. If this level of investment continues, the cybersecurity industry would shatter last year’s record of $7.8 billion invested globally and see the sector hit nearly $15 billion in total venture investment.
A new generation of companies around the world is challenging the status quo – and changing the startup playbook along the way. From China’s internet giants to startups in Nigeria to policy debates in the EU, this beautiful collective report “Beyond Silicon Valley” by Quartz tries to find out where the next big battles in tech are happening.
“Scientists have taught spinach to send emails” wins the prize for the weirdest news of the quarter. As unbelievable as it sounds, engineers at MIT have developed nanotechnology which can be embedded in plants.
🏆 Our portfolio companies InSilicoTrials, BOOM, MainStreaming, and MishiPay made the longlist at The Europas Tech Startup Awards! Before the judges make their decisions, you can vote at this link and help them make the shortlist.
🖋️ In the last months, it became evident that a robust technological-digital infrastructure is a substantial and necessary element of the functioning of society. But what are the trends that will characterize technological development in the post-pandemic society? Find it out in our blog post. [IT]
🎙️ Andrea Picardi, director of communication at I-Com, Institute for Competitiveness, hosted Massimiliano in his podcast Hello Innovation to talk about the innovation ecosystem in Italy between development prospects and problems to be addressed. [IT]
👩💻 As members of the VCs for Female Founders initiative, we will join the next event on April 30th focusing on sustainability, where our Sara together with more than 70 investors from Europe offer virtual office hours to give advice and guidance to female founders and mixed founding teams from DACH.
💬 Mario joined Cloud4Wi’s Chief Business Evangelist Mario Aprile Zanetti in an online conversation between San Francisco and Cagliari about how to resist the virus of homologation in the time of social (media) distancing.
🥇 Sifted asked P101, 360 Capital and United Ventures about the most promising Italian startups not on our portfolios. Here’s the full list of the 28 Italian startups to watch.
💡 Moze, our design and development partner, published on their website the story of the creative process behind our recent rebrand.
Our portfolio companies are constantly hiring exceptional talent from all over the world and with work flexibility becoming the norm (e.g., Moneyfarm and BOOM will permanently offer their employees freedom to have options and choose between office life or remote working), most opportunities are open to candidates wherever their location. Check out some of the current openings at the links below:
brumbrum | several positions in Sales, Tech, Production and more
Equalum | several tech positions between Tel Aviv and San Francisco
FACEIT | several positions in Tech, Design, Marketing and more
Fiscozen | positions in Sales, Product and Tax
InSilicoTrials | Senior Full-Stack Engineer and Frontend Developer
Musixmatch | several positions in Engineering, Business Development, Finance, Publishing Operations and more
That’s all for today!
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