Ambitions Raised: Italian Founders Fund Infuses €50 Million to Send Startups to the Global Stage

A new fund in Italy could change the landscape for entrepreneurship in the country. The Italian Founders Fund (IFF) has €50 million to invest in 25 startups during its first target investment period. In addition to money, the initiative is designed to provide a founders-first environment to remove barriers to success for startups.

IFF: The New Paradigm of Italian Venture Capital

While Italy has made encouraging progress in this sector, ranking eighth in Europe in terms of volume of venture capital (VC) investment, it is still far behind other European countries. The IFF will inject cash into promising startups, but will hedge its bets by being agnostic as to sector. It would appeal to a diverse range of entrepreneurial needs throughout Italy.

The Portfolio Speaks: Success Stories in the Making

IFF have four such companies on the go, with a fifth one in the pipeline. It’s hard to be an egalitarian when your portfolio includes Glaut and Jet HR. The customer research platform and the HR tech pioneer are two companies IFF is nurturing to be Israeli superstars.

Challenging the Status Quo: A Fresh Perspective on VC

Indeed, as Lorenzo Franzi, IFF’s founding partner, has stated: ‘In IFF we want to be the lifeline for those early-stage founders in Italy who have somehow missed the chance of getting a high-conviction lead investor.’ This desire to fill the gap reflects the general consensus that many startups today struggle to find investors willing to back them – despite the fact that the Italian VC scene is already crowded with established players such as CDP Venture Capital and Primo Ventures.

Fostering Growth Beyond Funding

For IFF, this means staying involved long after the initial cheque is cashed in by providing help to portfolio companies in key hires and sometimes even suggesting strategic partnerships. Jet HR’s CEO Marco Ogliengo highlights IFF’s network of successful and experienced Italian founders as a major added value. ‘It establishes IFF in a very unique spot in the ecosystem,’ he says.

The Strategy: Italy’s Global Ambition

IFF has also additional objectives; it is not just for the ‘internal’ Italian startups but for ‘Italians abroad’, and for ‘foreign startups that are interested in the Italian market’. This is yet another indication of a focus on the globalisation of the Italian startup ecosystem, exploiting the fund’s geographical freedom and the international VC connections to open up opportunities for international co-investments.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Navigating Challenges

With that in mind, the IFF’s work is grandiose – and with the advantage of facing neither high taxes nor heavy bureaucracy. However, with nothing more than private funding that is earmarked exclusively to the IFF, along with the advantage of being outside the huge juggernaut of public funding, Franzi concedes that it’s not going to be easy.

Conclusion: A Catalyst for Change

The fund not only alters the direction of Italy’s relationship with the global entrepreneurial realm, but also signals a fundamental shift in the way people think about the country. IFF is financing not only startups, but Italy’s future as a beacon of innovation on the world stage.

Understanding Status in the Venture Ecosystem

I would like to also clarify that in the context of the Italian Foundors Fund (IFF), ‘status’ has multiple shades of meaning. Status is about changing the current state of Italian startups and physically moving them up the European venture bloc, enabling them to compete globally. As part of our mission, we are providing access to much-needed early-stage capital sources, but more importantly, we are giving entrepreneurs access to a long-term, multi-faceted support mechanism. And by doing these things, we are changing the status of Italian startups. We are making the opportunity, the risk-taking, and the dreaming not only possible, but actually a reality for those who want to push boundaries in Italy. Our work is about changing the ‘story’ and sending the message that this is a new era of opportunity, growth and global ambition for the best minds in Italy.

Jun 10, 2024
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