Backtowork in recent months has accumulated several new stories to tell. We decided to ask Alberto Bassi for an update asking him also a comment on 2020 and some anticipations for 2021.
Intesa SanPaolo has invested twice in BacktoWork. How is the relationship with this player developing and what developments do you expect?
After the entry into BacktoWork’s capital in 2019 by Neva Finventures, Intesa Sanpaolo’s corporate venture capital, the transfer of shares to parent company Intesa Sanpaolo Spa, carried out in August 2020, confirms the Group’s industrial interest in our crowd-investing platform and its desire to strengthen existing synergies.
In this first year of collaboration between BacktoWork and Intesa Sanpaolo, not only have we been able to speed up our development, accelerating results on all the main KPI’s, but we have also built the foundations for important synergies with different departments of the bank and its ecosystem, and those synergies has already started to show the first important results.
I do not hide my satisfaction at having succeeded very quickly in creating a strong relationship with Intesa Sanpaolo’s private banking department. That relationship allowed us in Q1 2020 to set a new record for Italian equity crowdfunding market with Fin-Novia’s campaign, which was not only one of the largest ever in Europe, but also the first to be achieved with the full support of a private banking network, specifically the largest in Italy.
In the coming months the common goal is to speed up the effects of those synergies, scaling up volumes and offering more and more companies and investors innovative solutions for their needs.
What satisfaction has 2020 given you ?
In a difficult market situation such as the one we are all experiencing, the greatest satisfaction is that we have managed to drive the company’s growth in an important way from all points of view, consolidating a structure that allowed in 2020 more than 45 companies to raise capital on the market, financing their development plans. Comparing to 2019 we’ve been able to double the number of companies that has been financed, more than double the number of investors and, most important, doubled the capital raised. For our kind of business this is the main indicators that shows company’s growth.
Two years after our entrance in the crowdfunding in 2020 we managed to become one of the leading players, but we are far from satisfied: this is just the beginning.
What were the biggest challenges?
First and foremost, the sustainability of the business model. Ours is a very competitive and fast-growing market but the tools we offer to companies and investors are still little known. Reconciling an important marketing activity to the sustainability of the business is the great challenge that we are facing and that awaits us in the coming months. In the course of 2020, thanks also to the conditions in which we found ourselves due to Covid, we started to work a lot on this issue. As agreed with our main partner Intesa Sanpaolo our goal for the coming years will be to establish a profitable, sustainable and long lasting business.
From your private observation point on the Italian entrepreneurial ecosystem, how did you see the change in project proposals for the Covid19 crowdfunding case?
Of course a lot has changed in the past few months, and we can see that not only in the Italian startup ecosystem but at a global scale. I believe though that it is necessary to make a distinction between fashion and the real value that companies can generate for themselves, for their customers and for investors. In the last few months we have seen incredible changes in many industries, some of them are flying while others have suffered a sharp slowdown. Just think, for example, of the tourism industry, which has been hit hardest by the pandemic. In this situation the approach of a conscious investor to this type of asset class, same as always, should be the long-term one. Although many companies had change their business model, this is not necessarily the answer in the medium-long term. I believe that those businesses that already before covid had all the necessary elements to sustain growth, starting for example with a strong team, will be successful anyway. The pandemic won’t last forever and the investors know that!
Has the attitude of investors also changed?
In times of uncertainty on the markets, when investment decisions require more time, prudence and reflection, I must say that we were impressed by how our network of investors reacted. More and more this type of asset class, with the appropriate diversification that we always suggest with our investor education, is perceived as anti-cyclical and therefore suitable even in times of short-term uncertainty.