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Italy has been a little slow off the mark in creating a thriving startup ecosystem but has started to catch up with success stories such as Brumbrum and Freeda Media. What are the startups you need to follow in 2020?
Our team of experts at Sifted — in partnership with dealroom.co — have chosen a list of companies we think you need to know about, with an added “Sifted take” on some to provide an extra layer of insight.
We have picked companies based on the money they have raised, how quickly they are hiring and how formative they have been to the startup ecosystems around them. If there is anyone missing from this list, or anything is wrong in the numbers, please let us know by email at [email protected]
Please check out our jobs board to see some of the compamies hiring from this list.
Sifted Take The traditional insurance industry is being upended by the rise of the gig economy and the sharing economy, with increased demand for pay-as-you-go instant insurance rather than the traditional annually renewable policy.
One of the startups attempting to capitalise on this trend is Italy’s Yolo, which provides on-demand and ad hoc digital insurance brokerage services to consumers via an app.
So, for example, Yolo customers can use their smartphones to take out instant and pay per use insurance products: e.g travel insurance for a trip or sports insurance or phone insurance.
It’s one of a range of startups in a similar field. London startup Cuvva allows users to pay for car insurance based on the exact number of hours or days behind the wheel. In the US startups Trōv, Verifly Insurance Services, Metromile, Slice Labs and Sure are all in a similar world.
Founded by Simone Ranucci Brandimarte and Gianluca De Cobelli in 2017, Yolo last year raised a €5m Series A funding round led by the bank Intesa Sanpaolo’s fintech venture fund Neva Finventures.
Yolo is now busy extending the range of insurance products on offer and expanding internationally.
Overview Freeda’s mission is to use business to spread real women stories that inspire positive change
Sifted Take Freeda Media is the hottest brand in Italian startup media, publishing short videos, interviews and articles aimed at Gen Z and Millennial women. A kind of social-media-focused version of Elle, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan or Man Repeller, it has managed to amass 2.7m Instagram followers and 3.3m Facebook fans. It says that 90m people have viewed its videos.
Already a success on the editorial side, Freeda is now looking at a way to build the business. At the moment, it’s main revenue driver is branded content. In the last two years, the company has produced content for more than 200 brands, including Nike, Gucci, Estée Lauder, Shiseido, Dior and Burberry, with campaigns promoting women’s rights and gender equality.
But last year it raised a $16m Series B round led by Alven, a venture capital firm based in Paris, to launch a direct-to-consumer business and ramp up its revenues. You can expect to be able to buy Freeda-branded products, such as streetwear and beauty/personal care, in the second half of 2020. The business is now “analyzing the market trends” in order to roll out a set of products, according to the company.
Freeda is also expanding its reach across Europe, moving beyond its core markets of Italy, Spain and South America and into English-language markets such as the UK. Last year Freeda co-chief executive officers and founders Andrea Calderini and Gianluigi Casole said operating in the UK “is a fundamental step” in the mission to make Freeda “the most relevant female media brand worldwide.”
Sifted Take Automotive e-commerce startup Brumbrum is part of a new wave of companies rethinking the process of buying a car. The company has two main offerings: retail and car-as-a-service.
Its retail business buys second-hand cars, fixes them up, and sells them on its platform. The car-as-a-service option allows users to rent some cars long-term through a package that includes financing, delivery, and maintenance.
The startup, which was founded in 2017, is notable in part because of its big-name backers, last year winning €20m in a funding round led by heavy-hitting venture capital fund Accel.
At the time Francesco Banfi, the Brumbrum founder and CEO, said: “The car market has long been broken and needs to evolve, so we’re building Brumbrum to be the brand of choice in automotive retail.”
He is not wrong. The broader trend is a rising demand for consumers looking to rent cars (by the hour, week, month or year) more than buy them outright. Similarly, the process of buying a car is still far less digital than other retail sectors.
Elsewhere in Europe, Alex Chesterman, who founded house-hunting hub Zoopla, has a new venture in a similar world called Cazoo, which will allow users to buy, rent or finance a pre-owned car and have it delivered in as little as 48 hours.
Auto 1, Berlin-based used-car marketplace, has taken in €460m from Japanese conglomerate Softbank and since launching in 2012 has expanded into more than 30 countries.
Overview MatiPay is the innovative payment and telemetry system that transforms vending machines into intelligent points of sale, thus allowing consumers to purchase products quickly and easily via a smartphone app and operators to optimize and efficiently manage the activities on their vending machines network.
Overview StreetLib provides a multi-service platform where publishers can distribute their content (ebooks, audiobooks, print-on-demand books and podcasts) internationally and grow their digital publishing business to the next level.
Overview Cloud-based platform that manages, distributes and analyzes digital content
NB The Dealroom data about employee growth is mainly from LinkedIn, and so is not perfect (people may not always update their profiles when they move jobs, for instance). But it gives some idea about the rate of change from 2018 to 2019. We have classed 0%-20% growth as “staying level”, 20%-100% growth as “growth” and 100% plus growth as “hyper-growth”.Logos provided by Clearbit
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