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Launching second crowdfunding campaign in SWG history

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With already 131,2K eur committed (and counting) from more than 14 investors, Startup Wise Guys (SWG) Italy is in full swing into equity crowdfunding on the CrowdFundMe platform and you can join too.

The minimum investment ticket is 3K eur (10k  eur for lead investor status). Campaign maximum goal is 1.2M eur which would ensure 4 accelerator programs run out of Italy and startup investments in 40 startups. The first program is starting already this November and is focused on B2B SaaS startups (applications still open).

Why crowdfunding?

This is the second time we at SWG are opening our fundraising to the public. The first successful equity crowdfunding done by SWG was in 2016 fundraising via the Funderbeam platform for the Wise Guys SaaS 8th batch. 

Crowdfunding is hard work, but it is also a great way to show market validation and test value proposition at all levels. While having already a handful of lead investors on board, we also wanted to open up SWG Italy fund for other investors accustomed (or new) to crowdfunding and thus let them explore investments through acceleration. Hopefully, there will also be many investors that turn into mentors and continue support accelerated startups beyond pure investment,

Andrea Orlando, Managing Partner in Italy

The current crowdfunding campaign will not be the only source of funding for SWG Italy programs and investments, the fundraised amount will be matched by our Challenger fund (6M Eur) and SWG friendly VCs and Angel investors will be involved in follow-up investments in the accelerated startups.

Investing in an accelerator fund is a perfect solution to investors looking for a diversified portfolio and seeking  investments in startups. To select startups for only 1 program (on average 10 startups), our team scouts 300+ international startups and a committee of 10+ people including legal, tech and business experts assess the startups in terms of the team, product and market. While we are big fans of startups and SWG portfolio overall survival rate is rather high, we remind that past returns are not an indication of future performance and investment via accelerator fund is a long-term game, as the fund returns are tied to startup exits.

In May 2020, we already launched our first online activity in Italy – a program called JUMP for Italy and to date have advised 100+ startups from Italy or with otherwise Italian connections. As part of this program, 14 startups graduated our flagship Online Pre-Accelerator and are already potential targets  for the first Italian accelerator program. Currently we are running SaaS vertical focused Online Pre-accelerator for further startup pipeline development. 

Accelerator program

We invest in startups through an acceleration fund, which means that selected startups, apart from cash investment, also receive access to an up to 5 months long intense acceleration program.  The program is based on 3 large modules: product-market fit and company building, sales and marketing, and fundraising and it also includes topics such as product & technology, financials, legal and even mental endurance. Program content is delivered by international coaches and mentors, as well as the SWG team. On average there are around 100 mentors that startups interact with during the program, majority of those are international and calling in or flying in from all over Europe and beyond. There is a good mix of startup founders, subject experts, corporates and investors.

90% of the content is individual, i.e., in 1-on-1 mentoring sessions. As of this year we are also implementing the so-called “sprint methodology”, where startup teams work in a focused manner with one specific problem and a clear deliverable on a short 1 week deadline. This ensures even more “learning by doing” approach, which often is missed in traditional education programs or even some accelerators and incubators.

Due to COVID-19 related health risks and travel restrictions, we moved our last 2 programs (that would normally happen on-site) fully online and are entirely equipped to ensure a high quality program online if a second wave of COVID-19 is happening. However, if that is not the case, the program will be run in a “hybrid” format with modules on-site in Milan and online, giving startups also in-between time to really execute on the learnings and moving their business forward.

Expansion to Italy and the team

As already announced, SWG is expanding to Italy and we will be running the first accelerator program based in Milan already this fall. Overall plan is to run at least 4 programs in the coming 2 years aimed at early stage Italian startups and foreign startups with Italian co-founders or startups seeing Italy as one of the core expansion markets. First program will be our flagship B2B SaaS vertical and applications are open.

SWG Italy is led by Andrea Orlando as the Managing Partner, Cristobal Alonso as the strategic driver and Egita Polanska as Venture Partner, the first accelerator program in Italy will be managed by Lauma Gailite. We are also very proud and grateful to have one of the leading Female Angel investors in Europe and Italy  – Fausta Pavesio – to join us as Venture Partner. We are also hiring additional team members in Italy – if you are into startups and know Italian, check the open positions.

Startup Wise Guys represents an incredible opportunity for development and internationalization for the Italian ecosystem and its startups. It is an accelerator that brings experience and skills, as well as resources, to Italian startups, thanks to its approach truly focused on founders. I share with Startup Wise Guys the desire to help the Italian founders to become global entrepreneurs.

Fausta Pavesio, Venture Partner in Italy

Entering the Italian market is part of the European expansion strategy of Startup Wise Guys in order to help to build even more successful tech companies in Europe and help Italy recover from COVID pandemic the startup way.