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Boutique Investment Advisory Firm Specialising In Emerging Market Start-Ups Launches Today

  • €3.8bn under management for tech’ start-up investment in the emerging markets
  • Offices already opened in South Africa, Brazil, Russia, and Chile
  • Launching a series of international events in conjunction with Bessa Advogados, Telefonica (VIVO) and Amazon Web Services – kicking off in São Paolo, Brazil, February 8th
  • First deal of 2014 announced today: PrivateGriffe secures €1.2m from VAM Investments, facilitated by U-Start

U-Start, the Swiss-based investment advisory firm is delighted to announce its global launch today. With an estimated €3.8bn under management from 132 global investors – consisting of family offices, high-net-worth individuals, VCs, Corporate Ventures and angels – the boutique consultancy believes the emerging markets house an untapped and undervalued resource of entrepreneurial talent. Born in Milan, Italy and now headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, its rapid expansion strategy has launched offices in Brazil, South Africa, Russia, Chile, Turkey and Mexico in 2014. It’s truly global presence fortifies the organisation’s position as a conduit between globally sourced high net-worth investors, and tech’ weighted start-ups in the emerging markets.

U-Start’s global service offer consists of an international consultancy service and an innovative online platform. Both arms of the offer manage and support every intricacy of an investment agreement, from the sourcing of tier one deal flow and appropriate partnering, to the subsequent process that leads to final investment. The consultancy service provides unparalleled international insight from sector specific experts. Relevant to the domestic complexities surrounding deals of a cross-cultural nature, the consultancy includes legal and fiscal advice, support with analytics, and guidance on due diligence procedures.  The online platform enables start-ups – all pre-selected by the U-Start team- to house and profile their business credentials, plans and projections. Serving as a tech and digitally weighted portfolio of investment ready opportunities, the platform operates on a subscription model, available to both investors and start-ups.

Stefano Guidotti, CEO of U-Start, said: “We are absolutely delighted to announce our global launch.  We have been very busy behind the scenes in the last couple of years, building a significant network of international investors and global tech start-ups.  We have already secured investment for some of the best early stage businesses in the tech’ and digital arenas, and are committed to championing the phenomenal calibre of entrepreneurial prowess that exists worldwide, with a particular focus on talents in some of the fastest growing economies worldwide”.

Case study – PrivateGriffe & VAM Investments

PrivateGriffe, a Milan-based social fashion marketplace is one business to have benefitted from the U-Start service. Founded in 2012 by CEO Leonardo Cucchiarini and Maria Cecilia Andretta, the online platform offers a social marketplace for members to buy and sell bags, shoes, clothes, jewellery and accessories.  The business attended U-Start’s flagship event, Bloom, in May 2013 in Milan, where it partnered with VAM Investments.  Thanks to this meeting, which was organised and facilitated by the U-Start team, PrivateGriffe was able to raise €1.2m in equity funding.  This new finance will see PrivateGriffe invest in new staff, expand and increase its technology development and enhance its marketing efforts. 

Leonardo Cucchiarini, CEO of PrivateGriffe, said: “The Bloom event in Milan last year was excellent and the consultancy we received from everyone at U-Start has been invaluable for our business.  Without the hard work of U-Start, we would not have secured the funding from VAM – which we are absolutely delighted to have received.  We are looking forward to using the money to build the team, enhance our technological offering and increase our marketing so we can take the business to the next level.”  

Following the success of Bloom in 2013, part of U-Start’s official global launch and one of the key business directives for 2014 is a series of international events. Each will serve as a global platform for early stage digital companies looking to scale their business beyond their home territories. The launch event – sponsored by Bessa Advogados, Telefonica (VIVO) and Amazon Web Services – will take place in São Paulo, on February 8th. The first of its kind in Brazil, the event will kick-off an international series of satellite conferences held in South Africa, Russia and Switzerland. Each international leg will see 20 start-ups pitch their business models in successive three-minute slots to an audience of global venture capital firms, accelerators, family offices, and local/foreign investors. The successful candidates from each event will be flown to the U-Start Conference held in Milan on 13-14th May. Here, they will compete for final stage funding and priority access to a pre – engaged network of European investors. The winners will also receive a year’s complimentary access to the online platform, mentorship services and personal introductions to the bank of U-Start investors. 

Felipe Matos, COO of Startup Brazil, the Government backed initiative to boost and support the early stage-tech ecosystem in Brazil, said: “U-Start helps investors to connect with good investment opportunities in the whole world and the conference confirms U-Start’s arrival in Brazil. This job is very important to allow more high potential business to find a way to success. That’s why I take kindly U-Start’s presence in our ecosystem and the event in São Paulo”.