2019 has been a great year for Italian startups: according to research by the Milan Polytechnic School of Management, they raked up € 694 Million in investment, mostly from venture capitals, both private and governmental on a national or regional level – almost 100 Million more than in 2018. International investors also contributed to this impressive result: almost half of them hail from Europe, slightly over 40% from the USA and the rest from Asia (mostly China, but small investments came also from Taiwan and Japan). Unsurprisingly, high-tech startups were the most successful, particularly in the fields of digital health, biotech and marketplaces. As usual, we present to you the three most interesting Italian startups of the past year, the ones you should be keeping an eye on in 2020.
3 Italian startups to watch out for in 2020
Casavo – the first Italian instant buyer
Casavo was the most financed startup in Italy, in 2019, receiving € 27 Million. Its very business model, after all, could not function without significant capital to back it up. Casavo presents itself as the first Instant Buyer in Italy, implementing a model that allows homeowners to sell real estate within 30 days and receive immediate payment for their property. This process is made possible by their innovative technology, which goes by the acronym AVM (Automated Valuation Model) and allows for a quicker evaluation of the property. Casavo’s main selling point is the fact that payment is immediate, with the seller receiving the full amount in one lump sum. Casavo then finances the restoration of the property and puts it back on the market. This model could revolutionise real estate management. Casavo is currently the only Instant Buyer in Italy (currently available in five cities), and the largest in Europe.
Freeda Media – a controversial media platform
Freeda has been one of the fastest-growing media platforms in recent years and, in 2019 alone, it was financed to the impressive tune of € 15 Million. It is based on the production of content that targets women and that is packaged specifically for social media, without a proper website to support it. Its now iconic videos focus on the biographies of inspirational female figures. Freeda has a community of over five million and one of the highest engagement rates in female-oriented media worldwide. Some, however, have branded it controversial and accused it of being a pinkwashing operation. The reason? Freeda was not created by a group of millennial feminists, but by Ag Digital Media, whose male founders Andrea Scotti Calderini and Gianluigi Casole come straight from the Publitalia group and from Holding Italia Quattordicesima respectively: both groups are among the many holdings of the Berlusconi family. In 2017 Ag Digital Media also welcomed as shareholders some members of the powerful Elkann family. In short, the oldest, most male-dominated strands of Italian capitalism seem to be rebranding themselves as XXI century feminists, which might be effective and highly marketable, but it is also not a little disturbing to users who care about the authenticity of the content they consume.
Buzzoole – the influencer marketplace
Influencer marketing is still very much growing and a growing number of startups are trying to organise it and make it more viable and effective – and to generate profit in the process. Buzzoole aims at connecting content creators with brands using AI algorithms that match the potential of the former to the interests of the latter. In 2019, this startup raised a respectable two million in funding from several external investors and from some of its own employees. The proprietary technology developed by Buzzoole is based on deep learning and social listening and it purports to be able to calculate and increase brand affinity. Brand managers will be able to use objective tools to analyse a creator’s social profiles and gauge whether or not they are a good fit for a specific campaign or the brand as a whole. Anyone who has ever tried to recruit an influencer knows exactly how tempting it is to have an algorithm do that part of the job for you.