After a slow start compared to its European counterparts, Italian technology has started to catch up.
2021 saw a noticeable surge in VC investment in the nation’s startups, hitting an all-time high of $1.4 billion, more than doubling the year-ago figure, according to Dealroom.
For comparison: That’s still less than 10% of the cash that went to France or Germany. But just over halfway through 2022, Italy has already made $1 billion in investments.
International investors tell Sifted they visited Milan in search of the country’s hottest startups, and the business capital will also host the Tech Chill conference for the first time in September.
The surest sign of all? Italy finally banked his first unicorn Companies since the dot-com boom Buy now, pay later fintech Scalapay reached a $1 billion valuation in February. Now there is a growing club of scaling startups catching the attention of international investors and approaching the ten figure price tag.
We used data from the intelligence team at Sifted and from Dealroom to compile a list of Italian startups that could be the country’s next stars. Each company was founded in 2010 or later, has raised its latest rounds since early 2020, and has a valuation of €100 million or more.
So who are the emerging Italian tech startups? And who could be next to hit a $1 billion valuation?
What: A proptech that buys and refurbishes properties to resell at a profit
funding so far: $241 million
Last rating: $500 million (sifted estimate based on founder interview)
Founded in 2018, Casavo has experienced accelerated growth in recent years. It’s gaining momentum in southern Europe – particularly Italy and Spain – where there are large pools of properties that haven’t changed hands in years and often need refurbishment.
This is Casavo’s core focus: it operates on a rather unusual model, where it offers free valuations to property owners who want to sell, using its technology to create an offer within two days, then buy it and close renovate in order to resell it at a profit.
The company tripled its user base in 2021 and expects “triple-digit growth” in 2022. To date it has sold around 3,200 properties and completed transactions worth €1 billion.
It raised a €400 million Series D Financing round consisting of 100 million euros in equity and 300 million euros in debt last month to expand across Europe, starting with France. Stay tuned for an upcoming valuation boost that could take the valuation advantage closer to $1 billion — CEO Giorgio Tinacci tells Sifted the round was so oversubscribed that he’s already planning an extension in the coming months. Not an easy task in the fundraising environment of 2022.
What: Start of food delivery
Previous funding: $149 million
Last rating: $469m (dealroom estimate)
A slightly older member of this list, Online food platform Everli was founded in 2014 – but the pandemic was a turning point for the startup’s growth.
CEO Federico Sargenti previously told Sifted: “The pandemic has been a real tsunami. The number of requests doubled every day and we had to act at tremendous speed across many borders, from technology to logistics.”
Everli enables users to have orders delivered directly to their home via a network of freelance “personal shoppers” in 135 cities in Italy, France, Poland and the Czech Republic at supermarkets such as Carrefour, Lidl and Conad. It has been dubbed “one to watch” by investors on the pages of Sifted a a few timesand recently announced a €22 million expansion of its Series C funding round from Italian VC United Ventures.
It will use this fresh money to accelerate its international expansion plans with Germany and Romania on the cards First.
What: An insurance broker that sells car insurance online
Previous funding: 110 million dollars
Last rating: $330m (dealroom estimate)
Prima has built its own tech stack and data analysis tools to digitally underwrite consumer car insurance. She sold her first policy in 2015 and has since gained 2.2 million customers.
It has also grown rapidly. Its main market is Italy, but it has also expanded into Europe, with offices in the UK and Spain. According to LinkedIn data, these locations have 698 employees, a whopping 57% growth over the past year.
Prima did all this without fundraising for four years. Its latest venture boost came in 2018 when it raised €100 million from Goldman Sachs and Blackstone. So another increase could be possible soon…
What: Mobile payments for consumers and businesses
Previous funding: $171 million
Last rating: $248 million (as of: November 2020)
Another relatively old member of this list, Satispay was founded in 2013 and launched its payment systems in 2015. It has grown into Italy’s largest mobile payment provider, used by more than 160,000 merchants including Esselunga, Carrefour, Boggi, Eataly and Benetton. The head office is in Milan and has so far been expanded throughout Europe with branches in Luxembourg and Berlin.
Rather than using debit and credit card networks, Satispay is a bank account-enabled platform that offers in-store and online payments, as well as peer-to-peer payments, savings and, thanks to a recent one partnership with Italian emerging Star Young Platform, cryptocurrency trading.
His last fundraiser was in November 2020: a €93m Series C Round involving Jack Dorsey’s payments company Block (then called Square) as well as China’s Tencent Holdings. In other words, that was some time ago – we’ll be on the lookout for a raise in the near future.
What: Challenger Bank
Previous funding: $49.5 million
Last rating: $198-$297 million (dealroom estimates)
Banca Aidexa is an Italian neobank founded in 2020, focusing on sole proprietors and companies valued up to 5 million euros – the backbone of the Italian economy. It has a full ECB banking license and was founded by financial heavyweights Roberto Nicastro (also senior advisor to Cerberus Capital) and Federico Sforza (previously an executive at Nexi and ING). It also boasts a rare female co-founderCOO Elena Adorno.
Aidexa provides SMEs with fast loans within 48 hours via Open Banking. Founded during the pandemic, when many SMEs had to close, it distributed over 80 million euros in loans in 2021 and raised 60 million euros in deposits, according to reports its latest results. It now has over 2,000 Italian SMEs on its loan book and plans to double its workforce from 50 to 100 by the end of 2022.
What: grocery delivery
Previous funding: $77.5M
Last rating: $187m (dealroom estimates)
Cortilia offers home grocery delivery with an emphasis on local, eco-friendly suppliers. The company previously operated in the northern Italian regions of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Veneto and Liguria – but plans to expand further south to Rome with a new €20m Series C extension.
Funds were raised in June by Five Seasons Ventures, Red Circle Investments, Indaco Venture Partners and Primo Ventures.
CEO Marco Porcaro previously told Sifted that the company’s business exploded during the pandemic, thanks in part to the benefits it brought to struggling businesses and quarantined consumers.
Cortilia has developed its own AI-driven algorithm that adjusts deliveries based on users’ preferences and delivery times, which helps avoid food waste and also helps sellers selling on the platform to keep track of deliveries.
Over 250 small and medium-sized producers sell their food on Cortilia, and the company employs 70 people.
What: AI-powered business forecasts
Previous funding: $49.5 million
Last rating: $176 to $264 million (deal room estimates)
Vedrai has developed an AI-powered software that provides SMEs with business forecasts by analyzing millions of market variables alongside their company data – a currently useful tool for CFOs.
Founded in 2020, Vedrai raised €40 million from Italian asset manager Azimut in its second round of funding in April, which it intends to use to develop its technology and further expand into Europe.
Vedrai currently has just over 80 employees — almost half of whom have been hired in the past six months, according to LinkedIn data.
Amy O’Brien is Sifted’s fintech reporter. She tweets from @Amy_EOBrien and writes our fintech newsletter — You can sign up here.