Imagine – opening a new international market and in the highest peak of global pandemic?
That is exactly the reality of one of Europe’s most experienced startup accelerators Startup Wise Guys when they were planning their expansion to Italy in early 2020. However, they did not give up on their dream. In May they launched an online support program “JUMP for Italy“, impacting and activating more than 45 startups with Italian connection through online hackathon and pre-accelerator program. In September they launched a public crowdfunding campaign on Crowdfundme platform for their Italy focused fund and upcoming accelerator programs. Minimum goal of the campaign was 300K eur.
Fast forward to end of 2020 – they managed to fundraise 1.2M eur (maximum goal of the campaign, exceeding minimum goal 4 times), which to their knowledge is the highest crowdfunded amount in Europe for an accelerator. But even before the campaign finished, they had already launched their first accelerator program – Wise Guys SaaS – based out of Milan and investing in 10 startups.
Entering the Italian market was part of the European expansion strategy of Startup Wise Guys in order to help to build even more successful tech companies in Europe. They plan 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. Crowdfunding campaign is not the only source of funding for Startup Wise Guys Italy programs and investments. The accelerator company is backing it also from its 6M eur Challenger fund and involving its extensive database of international Angel investors and VCs for follow-up investments in the accelerated startups.