Tuesday, December 16, 2014

U-Start Ventures: a new VC Fund targeting at raising €30M to support Italian Digital & Tech Startups

Milan, 15 December 2014 - U-Start, a Milan, Italy-based global boutique advisory firm, founded in 2012, focused on direct and direct venture capital investments providing fully fledged services to private investors - family offices and high-net-worth individuals - corporations and early stage companies in the search for investment opportunities and companies at international level, has launched U-Start Ventures, the VC fund that will invest on early-growth stage companies in the digital & tech space. The fundraising phase aims to raise €30M by the end of 2015, although the fund will be operational when it will held the first closing expected by the first quarter of 2015 at €10M.

U-Start Ventures will make use of the expertise and resources of U-Start, which are characterized by a strong territorial trait: teams based in Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Ukraine, Turkey, Mexico, Chile and Italy, that thanks to a thorough knowledge of the area and of the local players, offer advice to potential international investors by identifying and analyzing for them the most interesting deals on the market. Thanks to extensive and developed network of service providers operating in the territory U-Start may, in fact, provide support in the due diligence of the business, financial and legal, both locally and internationally.

According to a company note, the VC fund will
invest in already existing companies, but who need to develop their business online, by selecting some of the most interesting investment opportunities in markets characterized by a diffusion of startups sufficiently structured and with strong growth, thanks to the support of over 60 partners among the best business accelerators, incubators and VCs at global level capable to drive and support early stage companies with high potential.

U-Start Ventures will make minority investments, within 5% of the capital, in co-investment with other venture capital funds, family offices and business angels who over the years have become part of its network. The risk on early stage investments is mitigated through a portfolio diversification, which will be made up of 25-30% by high potential seed opportunities and for 70-75% by follow on and from companies in stages advanced development, operating in some of the sectors with highest growth.

The investment team of U-Start Ventures will be led by a highly specialized team composed by Marco Valta, co-founder of U-Start Ventures as well as Viktoriya Tigipko and Teodoro D'Ambrosio, all professionals with extensive experience in venture capital investments particularly in international innovative projects in the digital & tech space - including emerging countries - and with a track record of including successful exits of its investment portfolio, such as the launch of Bravofly, then listed in Zurich.

The fund will follow the same approach of TA Venture, the $50M vehicle of venture capital founded by Tigipko and D'Ambrosio, who has invested in 70 companies across Europe, USA, India, Brazil, China and Africa.

Viktoriya Tigipko, entrepreneur since 1991, has a long-time experience in venture capital investments at international level with investments in over 70 companies and 9 exit sofar and is specialized in the markets of Europe, United States, India, Brazil, China and Africa. Among the most successful projects on which Ms. Tigipko has invested there are Bravofly (listed on the Zurich stock exchange since April 2014), Littleeyelabs (acquired by Facebook), Adoreme (among the fastest growing US companies according to Business Insider), Azimo, WeAreHolidays, Finanzcheck and Sumup.

Mark Valta is an entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience in business development activities at the international level, including five years with focus on emerging markets and as angel investor in companies in the web/tech spaa, including NU3, Dreamlines, Beepi (one of the fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley, launched in the first half of 2014 and has already reached a value of $200M), Auctionata (one of the most interesting European companies according to Wired). Valta has actively contributed to the development and launch of web startups in the travel (Hotelscan) and e-commerce (Topmall) space in Europe and in emerging markets.

Teodoro D'Ambrosio is an entrepreneur and angel investor in the IT industry with a track record of success and an active portfolio of 25 companies. D'Ambrosio was a member of the board of Bravofly Rumbo Group till the IPO, and Managing Director of Bravoavia, as well as Venture Partner of TA Venture, a Luxembourg venture capital fund specialized in investments in innovative start-ups in Europe, the US, India, Brazil, China and Africa. D'Ambrosio is co-founder and CEO of Hotelscan, a global metasearch engine for hotel search.