Top Italian Investors Talk About Their Country’s Fledgling Startup Scene

Mauro Del Rio founded Buongiorno, sold it to NTT DoCoMo for $300 million cash in 2012, and is still responsible for one of the most successful Italian exits ever. Fausto Boni, a world traveler to say the least, is a partner at 360 Ventures after having founded his own venture firm in 1997. And last, but certainly not least, Massimiliano Magrini, formerly leading Google’s presence in Italy, Spain and Portugal, is now co-founder and managing partner at his own firm, United Ventures.

At TC Italy, we were lucky enough to have all three of these brilliant men on the startup competition advisory panel, so I took the opportunity to ask them some questions about Italy’s blooming startup scene.

They all agree that scale has been reached here in terms of startups looking to solve problems, and that at this rate, Italy’s scene won’t be all that different from other popular European startup hubs. “The ecosystem is getting critical mass in quantity,” said Fausto Boni. “But we still have to work on quality.”

The way these investors see it, Italy isn’t very different from Israel’s tech scene. There is excellent engineering talent and R&D in Italy, like Israel, but companies struggle with marketing and distribution.

That comes back down to education, says Mauro Del Rio. “Unlike in the U.S., Italian students aren’t taught how to speak publicly or present, but we are working toward these things now.”

Luckily for Italian startups, these investors don’t see any reason to change locations. It’s all about having a good team, says Boni, and as long as you can find a good team you can succeed.