The best Italian fintech startups awarded by CheBanca! GrandPrix

The young talents of Italian fintech rewarded by David Wolman and other experts of innovation.

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Their names are Cryptodeer, Wolf of Trading, Modefinance – s-peek, Crenway – Borsadelcredito.it, and they want to change the future of money with their ideas. The four startups, which are the winners of the CheBanca! GrandPrix context, received their rewards today in front of an audience of innovators, bloggers, and fintech passionates at Smartmoney, the event of Innovation Week – Maker Faire Rome.

Four startups, all very different in terms of age, experience and capabilities: from Cryptodeer, founded by two young boys in their twenties who, having studied the success of Bitcoin, decided to create an alternative and more secure system for exchanging money in the form of their cryptocurrency ‘Tetra’; to Wolf of Trading, an innovative platform for traders and banks, which already has forty staff on its books and was able to leverage Leonardo Di Caprio’s popular film to attract 2,000 new users in just a few days; Modefinance, by contrast, was developed in a university setting as a spinoff from the University of Trieste offering a scoring service for SMEs which is already very active outside of Italy; to finally Crenway – Borsadelcredito.it, the first, and currently still the only, portal assisting 500 companies a month to obtain finance from banks.

‘Around 70 startups responded to our call, a huge number if we consider that the fintech start up market in Italy consists of around 103 players’, commented Roberto Ferrari, General Manager of CheBanca! ‘We spent 3 months analysing all the projects and choosing the 14 finalists who took part first in the bootcamp and then in today’s final. Our objective was twofold: to find concrete projects which could be integrated within our bank, and to be inspired by young new ideas, visions and projects. CheBanca! was born as a startup, we have it in our DNA and we don’t want to lose it. Being surrounded by professionals for us is nothing but encouragement and a concrete help to keep looking forward and imagine the future, which is the key to innovation and success”.

Based on the data currently available for Italy today, the fin-tech start-up market currently consists of 103 players, but despite the low numbers, it is increasingly awakening investors’ interest. In 2014 finance was disbursed in a total amount of €7.15m, a significant increase in comparison to the previous two years (€12.6m in 2012-2012 combined).

“What we have understood this year is that apart from funding, what startups really need is to be able to be effectively in touch with companies, and to have international visibility, as well as the traditional mentorship pathway – Ferrari added – the incubators are a first response to this need, but we need further progress in this direction. And it is no coincidence that the CheBanca! Grand Prix for us was just the starting point to create a genuine fin-tech startup community. In the coming months we will be launching new initiatives addressed to all the seventy startups we met at the first phase of the contest, as well as new ones we have not yet met with”.

THE WINNING STARTUPS AND THEIR PROJECTS
Cryptodeer, a startup by two young Italian engineers looking to challenge Bitcoin

Lorenzo Gavazzeni and Matteo Assinnata (born in 1994 and 1992) set up Cryptodeer starting from one idea: to take what was good about Bitcoin – i.e. being able to transfer money swiftly, simply and securely at lower costs – and make it available to the payments sector.

If the best-known problem of crypto-currency was the gain linked to mining, i.e. creation of the currency itself, Cryptodeer decided to eliminate this aspect entirely, thus avoiding speculation and volatility on the currency.

Tetras, the currency on which the Cryptodeer system is based, are available in a fixed number and have already all been generated. One Microtetra is equal to one cent, one Tetra to one Euro, and so forth. “This way investors tend to be less timid”, explains Lorenzo Gavazzeni. The question of tracking has also been tackled differently: “Each transaction is recorded, and via the serial codes an individual Tetra can be frozen in the highly unlikely event of it being duplicated or counterfeited. All historical records are accessible”.

Wolf of Trading, the Italian platform for financial traders whose first 2,000 users are due to Di Caprio

Davide La Spina understood from a very early age that “he would much rather work twelve hours a day doing something he liked than spend eight hours doing a job that he hated”. It was this drive and passion that enabled him to become a successful entrepreneur so soon. His new startup is called Wolf of Trading, a portal for traders and institutions (such as investment funds and banks), straightforward and transparent, with graphs and diagrams which are accessible even to non-professionals, providing information on thousands of traders and notifying the user in the event of movements involving their investments.

But the real turning point was the film Wolf of Wall Street: “I approached the producers, 01 Distribution – the film starring Leonardo Di Caprio was about to come out – offering them use of my platform. They agreed, and it was a success. Two thousand users in two weeks, with the best traders winning tickets for the first night”.

S-peek, the app which values companies, for freelancers as well

Founded by Matteo Ciprian and Valentino Pediroda, S-Peek was set up as a spin-off from the University of Trieste in 2009. For the CheBanca! GrandPrix, S-Peek submitted an app which values companies and is addressed not just to large multinational corporations but to professionals and SMEs as well.

With a database consisting of valuations of 20 million companies distributed in 43 states, S-peek is an ideal source of information for a small company which, say, exports to Germany, Finland and Portugal and who wants to know the financial conditions of a potential new client located in that country.

The basic version of S-peek can be downloaded free of charge, and when the name of a company is entered, an initial valuation is provided free of charge. Healthy companies are signposted gree, normal companies yellow, and those in difficulty red. There are also two premium versions, costing €0.89 and €14.99 respectively. The former allows users to know why a company has been assigned a colour (based on an associated rating and fundamental value such as commercial loan, solvency, liquidity based on the last three years. The latter provides access to four fundamental balance-sheet data for the last three years (to discover the size of the company, whether or not it is profit-making and has debts).

The product was launched in 2012, and has now exceeded 25,000 downloads and 800,000 searches, with significant increases in countries such as Spain and Germany.

Borsadelcredito.it, the startup which helps 500 companies a month to obtain bank loans

Founded in 2013 by Alessandro Andreozzi and Ivan Pellegrini, Borsadelcredito.it is the online location where banks and entrepreneurs looking for finance for their projects can meet.

Its strength is the possibility it offers of definite response times. “Within the space of 24 hours we provide an answer regarding the possibility of obtaining a loan”, comments Lafiosca.

All an entrepreneur has to do is access the portal and enter their requirements (e.g. €50,000 for five years), plus the company’s data. At this point Borsadelcredito.it moves into action with automatic procedures appraising the company and its request. Once the most suitable offers have been identified, the two parties are put into contact with each other. The assessments made by Borsadelcredito.it are based on the commercial requisites provided by the partner banks. ‘In other words, we intercept the request and carry out the initial processing”.

Around 500 companies contact the startup every month, free of charge regardless of the result of the request. The customers of Borsadelcredito.it are young and mature companies, and echo the distribution of SMEs in Italy: in particular Lombardy, Piedmont and Lazio.

The future, in their view, will involve introducing new qualitative aspects to the valuation process. “The big data providers and social networks these days are an indispensable source”, adds Lafiosca. “If a restaurant owner on the sector study limit applies, we collect data on it from the social networks, and if, say, it hasn’t received even a single post on Tripadvisor for a year, we start to ask questions. The company’s business model is simple. The startup receives a sum of money from the bank based on the quantity of the loan. “No costs are passed onto the transaction”, Lafioscmakes clear; “the sum lent is not affected.”

What is it? 

CHEBANCA! GRAND PRIX
The CheBanca GrandPrix Fin-Startup Programme is a contest which was launched in February 2014 by CheBanca!, in conjunction with Polihub and StartupItalia!, and is intended to reward and support the most innovative Italian startups in the fin-tech area.

Who is it aimed at?

Entrepreneurs (with their own business idea expressed as a formal business plan) and companies in existence since 2010 and active on the market with financial innovations.

Dates to remember

  • –  21 February – 21 May (90 days): applications sent
  • –  June: 14 finalists selected
  • –  16-20 June: bootcamp for finalists: mentoring session run by Polihub and CheBanca!
  • –  1 October shortlisted projects presented and four winners selected.
    Prizes
    The four successful projects:
  • –  receive a prize of €25,000 from CheBanca!
  • –  will be hosted by PoliHub for 12 months, and will have the support of the financial experts and
    management of CheBanca!
  • –  receive assistance in social communications from experts at StartupItalia!.