Friday, July 19, 2013

Extreme Sport is business: MilkyWay raises €720k from TTVenture and Atlante Seed

Passion for sport as entrepreneurial idea with high growth rate. With this target is mind the venture capital funds TT Venture, a fund managed by Fondamenta SGR, and Atlante Seed, the fund managed by IMI Fondi Chiusi SGR, an Intesa Sanpaolo Group firm, have invested in MilkyWay, a Modena-based startup focused on design, manufacture and online sale of bike-trial and extreme sports equipment.

MilkyWay was founded in 2011 from an intuition of its founder Jacopo Vigna - a young mechanical engineer from Modena - (supported by an angel investor, the entrepreneur Pietro Vandelli).  After some experiences gained in the biotech sector as well as in the racing departments at Ducati and Aprila, Jacopo Vigna decided to undertake an entrepreneurial path transferring the technological innovation in the bike-trial space by founding the company.

 MilkyWay took its first steps thanks to business angels within

the Knowbel startup incubator of Modena, promoted and supported by Democenter-Sipe foundation, the center for technological transfer of the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia - registered at the name of Enzo Ferrari, who even mowadays inspires both sportsmen and and entrepreneurs - which put at disposal of the startup an adequate structure to the growth perspective of the company.

In 2012 MilkyWay was awarded  a final place at the Gaetano Marzotto Prize and was selected in the same year to take part to the accelerator program Seedlab, where its founder Jacopo Vigna had the possibility to sharpen the business model and to get to know many investors as well as other entrepreneurs.

Since the beginning of the year (2012) the company passed from a headcount of 2 to more than10 employees, and the e-commerce - which is going to be replaced by a new website in September - has seen an increase of more than 3,000 sold articles, and the company facevbook page have seen more than 150,000 fans with a proprietary community which growth by 2,000 new users each month ( MilkyWay Tribe is a real social network, a place to mach the meeting of riders and the reasarch for new spots (i.e. placs) where to bike. A collector of information which allows to share and organize the personal sport life, to those who are interested by the practice of "alternative" sports from mountain biking to skateboard, passing to surf and parkour.

The investment operation totaling €720k, is going to be used by MilkyWay to expand its products' range on the extreme sports market (such as kitesurfing, downhill biking and parkour) and to further develop its online community ( The target is to let the traction increase exponentially on social networks and to offer the service "Tribe" for free, to users which will be able to buy those niche products which are not available "next door" in a unique global market place with thousands of products available from day one. The operation was supported by the law firm LTPartners.

As Jacopo Vigna, founder of MilkyWay, told to Startupbusiness, the funds raised represent a possibility for his firm to scale up and lay the foundations to perform the huge potential of the project at global level". The company is working hard from the community till e-commerce in what will it be a real revolution for lovers of action sports, and the injected resources will allow the company to render the projects into a reality in a very little time - said Vigna.

The choice to invest in the market of extreme sports was determined both by the high growth rate of the market as well as for the energy, passion and skills of the MilkyWay team", revealed Mauro Odorico of TT Venture. " ha developed an innovative business model, unique on its kind and with a high potential, positioning itself in a production district which has always been known for its ability to innovate and produce at the highest levels".

"One of the distinctive elements of MilkyWay is given by the community of practicioners, who participate with their own ideas and useful advices thus contributing to better target the e-commerce and the production of own brands" commented Andrea Balestri of Atlante Seed "we consider that this particular formula renders MilkyWay a reference point for all lovers of bike-trial and extreme sport".