How Soldo helps companies manage expenses

Soldo has recently joined the ranks of the Payments start-ups and scale-ups belonging to the Fintech District community. To better understand its business, we interviewed Founder and CEO Carlo Gualandri.

What does Soldo do and who is it aimed at?

Soldo is the leading European Spend Automation Platform, for businesses of all sizes. Beyond employee expenses and T&E, Soldo streamlines spend management for purchases, advertising, software subscriptions, e-commerce purchases, and all other company costs. From decision to allocate funds to departments and projects to the execution of outbound payments with cards or bank transfers, from the automated classification and reconciliation of transactions to the integration with accounting platforms Soldo delivers a unified and connected vision of spend across the entire organisation. Today, thousands of organizations across Europe, including small, medium and large businesses, use Soldo to manage spend the brighter way.

How has it grown in recent months?

Soldo has attracted a total of $260 million from international institutional investors including $180 million in the latest C round that will be used to increase turnover tenfold to 200 million euros in the four years after the pandemic. Soldo is expanding in Europe, where Soldo already has offices in Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland and France, and is continuously developing its platform to address and automate all the different types of company spend.

Have you done or would you like to do any open innovation projects? What kind and with whom?

At Soldo innovating in both software and financial services is part of our DNA. We support companies open innovation with a range of initiatives that allow the integration of the Soldo platform into the custom business logic of our clients allowing them to fully control our architecture according to their needs and we are constantly experimenting also with financial institutions on how they could make our proposition part of their product offering for selected segments of the market.

How is your team structured?

Soldo is a real European company, our team comprises people from over 27 nationalities, and there is no single headquarter as both London, Rome and Dublin each is the base of a number of divisions that in turn then interact with the teams present in each country we serve that contribute with the specialised knowledge and understanding of each market. We have currently over 350 employees and we are constantly growing.

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Sella Data Challenge: so a mutually beneficial collaboration begins

After the selection phase, the co-creation phase has begun. The Sella Data Challenge organised by Banca Sella in collaboration with Fintech District and the technological support of Fabrick continues in the name of open innovation. We asked Doris Messina, Chief Digital Transformation Office, to take stock of the situation and tell us about the next steps.

Did you expect such a high level of participation in the Sella Data Challenge from the Italian fintech ecosystem? How do you interpret it?

We are immersed in, and part of, the ecosystem and we appreciate its continuous growth; we have signed important partnerships and have others in the pipeline, and through the continuous dialogue we have with startups it has emerged how data is a fundamental resource for creating products and services that meet the expressed and unexpressed needs of customers.
At Sella we were confident that there would be interest and we are proud of the response, not only in quantitative, but also qualitative terms. The response obtained is a validation that of the choice of openness made together with the recent strategic plan and the first step in a path of creation, co-creation, learning and mutual growth. The large number of applications received allowed the selection teams to bring onboard different companies in terms of maturity, team composition and with heterogeneous use case proposals: from customer behaviors predictive models, to computing ESG scores and many other valuable projects

How is this co-creation phase taking place?

Co-creation for us certainly means doing things together, but also, and above all, making resources available and in common for others. By opening the data sandbox we want to allow participants to use Sella’s wealth of information and know-how to improve a product they already have, to add functionality or to create a specific use case that adds value to customers and at the same time allows them to grow. We are very careful to balance our presence at specific times when we make ourselves available, but without interfering with the specific creative and generative process of each team.
We ourselves are learning a lot from the relationship with the start-ups and this is also the phase in during which we improve and perfect the sandbox.

What is Sella’s role in this phase of the Sella Data Challenge?

We have been working with the teams to help them focus on a specific use case. We are now going through the preparation phase and our role is to support and assist them in giving meaning to and understanding the organisation and structure. In the coming weeks the focus will shift from technology to business with product manager colleagues providing information and feedback to refine what will then be presented.

In the light of the selected realities, what do you expect to see at the end of this phase?

In designing this initiative our focus has been on a mutually beneficial collaboration. We want to give the startups something that will help them grow and as they grow it will have an impact on the Bank and its customers. We therefore expect to see how creativity and collective intelligence can make leaps forward in terms of experience and service model, we expect to learn how to leverage the best of both worlds and build long-term relationships, we expect to build new services and products for our customers and for those of the startups that collaborate with us.

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Corptape, story-telling startups and connecting them to investors

Corptape is a platform that connects startups of all kinds with investors of all kinds. It collects information from startups and investors and processes it through artificial intelligence so that everyone finds what they need. It caters, not only for startups and investors, but also for facilities like coworking and accelerators by providing its own tool to manage their deep flow.

Corptape launched its MVP in late 2019 and will launch its finished product in January 2021. Its team consists of Daniele Mogavero, 29, founder and CEO of the project, Luca Ceppaluni, 35, who is in charge of deal management and intermediation between startups and investors, and lastly Martina, 23, who is in charge of communication mainly on Youtube and Instagram.

Watch the interview with Founder & CEO Daniele Mogavero

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Facilities for startups: Leyton’s point of view

What benefits can a startup count on today? What can be expected for the future, especially in the fintech sector? During a mentorship meeting, proposed to the startups of our fintech ecosystem, we had the opportunity to talk with mentor Marco Pozzi, Innovation Consultant of Leyton, one of the players in the FD marketplace.

What are the 3 most important benefits for startups in 2020?

The panorama of benefits for startups in 2020 is very varied: among the various decrees issued during the Covid-19 emergency, measures aimed at strengthening the startup ecosystem have also been defined, with a focus on innovative ones. Although each measure has to be considered individually, some of the most important ones include

  • Smart&Start: is the main national tool to support the birth and development of innovative high-tech startups. The facility consists of zero interest financing
  • SME Guarantee Fund: thanks to the Liquidity Decree, the possibility of obtaining public guarantees to support financing provided by 31 December 2020 has been strengthened, with advantageous conditions such as the automatic and free issue of the guarantee and the absence of creditworthiness assessment by the Fund
  • The Tax Credit for Research & Development and Technological Innovation and the Tax Credit for Instrumental Goods and Software: these represent a commercial lever to be used to offer services to customers and prospects, especially after the recent equalisation of innovative startups to universities and research institutes. In the case of extra-muros research, in fact, thanks to contracts entrusted to innovative startups you can in fact benefit from an increase of 50% of the costs eligible for the R&D tax credit.

From your point of view, how are the new facilities impacting on the startup ecosystem and in particular on the fintech ones?

With regard to the measures put in place, we can discuss the extent or mode of operation, but there is no doubt they are having an impact on the entire ecosystem and have implemented, at least in part, the requests promoted by trade associations and the proposals of the most influential players.
In addition to those already mentioned, measures have been launched in direct support of startups such as the extension from 5 to 6 years of permanence in the registry for innovative startups There are also incentive measures for the entire ecosystem such as the one to increase capital from third parties by raising IRPEF deductions in favour of investors or the establishment of a national fund to support venture capital.
The redefinition of development and investment guidelines in recent years is having a positive impact especially on fintech. It is in fact one of the sectors that offers the greatest opportunities thanks to the general digitisation process, but also thanks to specific applications, such as open innovation and open banking, or the use of new technologies such as blockchain or artificial intelligence. It is essential, however, that the horizon of these initiatives is not limited to the national market alone, but leverages skills and opportunities at a European and global level as a drive to engage the scaleup phase.

In 2021 what news should we expect in terms of facilities and if you were a startup what measures, would you wish to see implemented?

It is difficult to make predictions, especially in a complex period like this. The government has had to face many problems and meet the demands of almost the entire entrepreneurial fabric. In order to make interventions more effective, it will be increasingly necessary to identify the priorities on which to concentrate resources as a stimulus for restarting. The lack of investment – an issue often highlighted as the main cause of the economic backwardness of our country compared to the rest of Europe – is a topic that can no longer be postponed. All measures aimed at freeing up resources and simplifying their use are desirable. In this sense, some useful tools could be an increase in tax rates to support investments in R&D and technological innovation, the offsetting of receivables and payables to the PA, the possibility of assigning or liquidating accrued tax credits, or the possibility of issuing venture debt also to leverage innovative banks. The resources that will come from the Recovery Fund and the 2021-2027 Programming of EU funds cannot be wasted as in the past.
If I were a startup I would hope for:

  • greater awareness of large companies in considering startups as a differential competitive element, supporting open innovation or corporate venture programs;
  • major opportunities to access the expertise of professionals who can help improve processes and optimize performance without losing focus on my strategy;
  • major timing and determination on behalf of institutions to support the most fragile players, especially in a context such as the current one, but which, instead, represent the engine for the development of an economy.

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FD Marketplace. Interview with Value4you

Value4you is one of the firms we have selected for our FD marketplace to support the community. It offers training in traditional and innovative finance issues for founders, entrepreneurs, managers and administrators and provides CFO services to companies to fuel growth. Fabio Scognamiglio tells us more about his point of view on the world of startups and what he can offer fintech through Value4you.

What are the strengths of the Italian fintech ecosystem and what are the ones to work on from your point of view?

The strengths of the Italian fintech ecosystem are exactly the same strengths as those of the Italian economic fabric, i.e. the entrepreneurial intuition, a “street sense” that is absolutely uncommon outside our borders and the flexibility we have in conducting business. However, weaknesses are also characteristic of the Italian ecosystem, two of these in particular being: the lack of ability to make synergy and the difficulty in thinking in terms of strategic planning in the medium and long term. For this reason, an initiative like Fintech District can foster the growth of innovative startups, sharing different skills and experiences and making them available to the community. Value4you puts itself forward as a partner of financial skills, through the Academy division, which provides training courses on finance issues, both ordinary and extraordinary, and the Advisory division, which brings a fractional CFO to an innovative startup.

What are the main critical issues facing innovative startups today and how can you support them?

Innovative startups are born around an idea, a project, a prototype, and therefore in most cases with a strong engineering or commercial expertise and often even both. Less frequent is the case where in startups, and even more so in innovative ones, there is a financial competence. This is the contribution that we, at Value4you, can make: we are a team of dozens of professionals, including CFOs and professors, able to integrate the missing financial management skills in two ways. Namely through training involving the main AFC issues (management control, financial planning, relationship with banks and other financial stakeholders, optimization of working capital, all economic and financial aspects of a deal, including the drafting of a business plan, evaluation of a company, etc.), including coaching, shadowing and personalized paths or through the introduction in the management team of a fractional CFO, who supports founders/CEOs together with a manager with many years of experience. Both are coming from SMEs and startups but also from complex and multinationational contexts. With a part-time engagement they follow all the financial aspects and become enablers of the growth of the startup itself. In this way the company avails itself of an experienced professional, who would probably cost too much to hire, with the flexibility to model his engagement and involvement in the initiative; in this way a fixed cost is made variable and the impact on the budget is considerably reduced.

How are the priorities changing with the covid19 emergency and how should the next few months be addressed as a startup from your point of view?

Covid19 has forced us all to change paradigms. Businesses that have failed to adapt quickly risk closure, due to lack of turnover or cash, but businesses that have been able to adapt quickly must also be on their guard. Those who have resources, or are using those of a public nature, must assess their sustainability in the medium term, especially if they are debt resources. How much more cash do I have to pay for fixed costs? How can I reduce them? Can I access the liquidity instruments of the PCDM? More importantly, can I afford them? In order to adequately answer these questions, especially at this moment in history, it is becoming increasingly important for startups to introduce specific financial expertise to the team.

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FD Marketplace. Interview with Joost Bergen (Startupbootcamp)

In the selection of professionals that we have made at the disposal of our community through the FD Marketplace there is also Joost Bergen, from Startupbootcamp. With his international professional experience we are sure that he will be able to make a great contribution to the growth of the emergent companies in the Italian fintech scenario. Let’s get to know him better!

From your point of view how is the fintech sector changing in these months and what will be the major trends?

  • Due to Corona, Fintechs are gaining more traction as banks see the urgent need to digitize their processes, for example, take their ability to process loan applications from SME clients quickly
  • Technology that enables working remotely with multi-cultural and multi-location professionals teams and that helps to engage with clients in a remote manner is becoming paramount
  • Many organizations are in survival mode and not exploring new things. Only those with a strategic focus and of course those that deal with regulation
  • Many investors are playing the waiting came. That said, some of them are putting more money in the companies in their portfolio that are more likely to make it.

How is the Italian Fintech ecosystem growing and how can it improve?

Since we have known the Fintech District we see that you continue to attract both local Fintechs and international ones. We believe that the links that the Fintech District has created in the past year to international ecosystems has and will continue to help the Italian fintechs to grow. An example is that based on discussions we had with one of the fintechs at the Fintech Distrct, we were able to link them to a Tier 1 international bank. We believe that there is a lot of potential to not only help the Italian Fintechs but also to bring more international players who want to scale to Italy to the Fintech District.

Four tips for startups and scale ups who want to collaborate with financial institutions?

  • Be clear and very focused what you offer and what you don’t offer
  • Partnerships are the name of the game—see how you can partner with other Bigtechs/ fintechs to be able to offer more and gain credibility
  • Understand which problem you solve and how you add value and at what part of the value chain you do so
  • Have you story ready end to end

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FD Marketplace: interview with NoDoubt

NoDoubt is an Independent Consultancy Firm founded in 2015 and active in Human Resources & Organization. It is one of the professionals of the Fintech District network and we asked Elena Ghilardi, what was her vision of the sector and the activities carried out by the company that could be useful to the Italian startup ecosystem.

What are, in your point of view, the most important issues the fintech sector is facing, from the HR stand?

Beyond the ordinary HR needs, the contingent period is leading us to face a number of changes that will certainly affect the business of tomorrow. I read that 70% of FinTech do not agree with their banking partner either on a cultural or organizational level. It is important that traditional banks consider them as strategic partners with whom to work together to quickly face the changing expectations of consumers. From an organizational point of view, there could be a great need to work on the organizational culture shared between FinTech and its banking partner.

What kind of advice do you give to startups/scaleups in the tech/fintech sector?

NoDoubt, in addition to its Executive Search and HR Consultancy activity, NoDoubt proposes itself as HR Advisor for start-ups, possibly with different needs, according to their growth phase, offering flexible support plus a dedicated and highly customized HR team.
For start-ups in the launch phase, we propose activities of organization, construction of skills models, identity & brand reputation, privacy models and recruitment service focused mainly on entrepreneurial soft skills as well as technical ones.
For companies in the Warm Up phase, we generally suggest an activity focused on building up an organizational culture, development and training plans, as well as recruitment service and employer branding.
Finally, we support Scale Up realities mainly for Talent Acquisition, Performance Management, Leadership Consulting and Assessment/Development Center activities, in order to accompany them to the next phase in which they will be able to internalize an HR Manager who will lead, together with NoDoubt or autonomously, the construction of the internal Human Resources function.

Have you launched any initiatives related to the Covid19 emergency? What kind?

NoDoubt has not launched specific initiatives related to the Covid19 emergency, mainly because we have been faced with a workload that hasn’changed much from what we were used to before.
However, we have had the opportunity to discuss and reflect on what may be the main HR activities we can put forward in a delicate moment such as this: reorganization (which does not necessarily mean cutting down, but rather reorganizing its resources, to respond more efficiently to the new normality), capabilities assessment (facing a cultural and business change requires a new assessment of the capabilities of its resources, ensuring a quick and effective response to the market), climate survey (in a period of great change, how arethe resources operating in my organization living through it? This offers the possibility of designing possible ad hoc interventions able to restore security, determination and orientation to the new objective), leadership coaching (the context changes, the approaches change: hence the importance of a leader who is able to stay on track as far as the business is concerned but also to management his team). In addition to the fact that leadesrhip in start-ups is often strongly entrepreneurial and less managerial, it is important to have the right combination. Crises reveal leadership style for better or for worse and consequently the ability to maintain a balance between strategy and medium-long term vision versus an opportunistic decision making (that sees only the short term), training (new contexts, new objectives: all this means new skills) and employer branding (the market is uncertain, the perception of brands changes: how to remain attractive to resources on the market?).

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Banca Sella and the choice to be open

Banca Sella is part of the Fintech District community. In this interview Doris Messina, Chief Digital Transformation Officer, shares what is the meaning she gives to be open and what are activities that the bank has implemented to provide a tangible representation to this word. Entirely in line with the philosophy of the Fintech District, she also launches an invitation to fintechs who want to collaborate and create new services or products.

How has Banca Sella dealt with the fintech world so far?

Banca Sella has always affirmed that only by building an open financial ecosystem, available to the community and supporting the development of fintech was an added value both for the creation of a broader ecosystem and for the banking industry itself. For this reason, in 2017 Sella started the Fintech District and was its creator, promoter and supporter.

What does the word Open mean to you specifically in banking?

For Banca Sella Open is the keyword. Open means above all open-mindedness, willingness to listen, questioning where it is needed, welcoming new collaborations and new initiatives born in synergy with the members of the community. It is in this spirit that we are part of the Fintech District and we invite those interested in starting synergistic activities to contact us.

What is the added value that Banca Sella thinks it can bring to the community?

First of all, in a context further renewed by PSD2, we provide our expertise, through consulting, thus offering the opportunity to interact with a player that has been operating in the banking and investment field for 130 years but with a view to innovation and the world of fintech. Banca Sella can also be the enabler for community members as we have made available almost 200 Banking and Financial services APIs on the Fabrick platform. We also support business development through Sella’s Corporate & Investment Banking division which helps companies, especially fintechs, to raise capital and carry out M&A operations.

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A selection of professionals for FD startups

Thanks to its network, Fintech District is inaugurating a new activity in support of the startup community which now counts 150 members. It ismaking available to them,free of charge, the skills of many professionals coming from different fields.

After investigating what could be the needs of fintech, its most poignant and painful points, FD has built important partnerships with professional firms that, as from today, will be helping Fintech companies become stronger, finding and pursuing new business opportunities.

Preparatory work for the project started months ago but never before has it been so necessary and important to support the Italian ecosystem in the face of “extra” unknown events related to the pandemic. All these in addition to those that are already part of the path of a company that must conquer its market and strengthen its position.

Exploring the group of professionals available, each Fintech can ask FD for a free needs assessment and analysis and then take advantage of this service by choosing the areas and offer based on the needs assessment and gap analysis. At this point, it can book a meeting with the professional it considers most useful. At present it will be a call but hopefully this will soon be a flesh and blood meeting at Copernico Isola for 32

The three areas identified by FD are Talent&People, Organization, Growth.

Here are the professionals the Fintech District startups will meet.

  • BonelliErede, market leader for legal and tax services in Italy, brings together its digital innovation expertise in a dedicated Focus Team focusing on 4 key areas: innovation, fintech, insurtech and start-ups
  • Carbonetti and Partners is a boutique firm highly specialized, inter alia, in Corporate and M&A, Banking and Finance regulation and Capital Markets law
  • Leyton advises clients all aspects of innovation funding, energy consultancy and capital advisory
  • Linklaters is a leading global law firm, combining legal expertise with a collaborative and innovative approach to help clients navigate constantly evolving markets and regulatory environments.
  • NoDoubt is an Independent Consultancy Firm founded in 2015 and active in Human Resources & Organization.
  • StartupbootCamp – Joost Bergen is an entrepreneur, investor and Fintech lead at Startupbootcamp. Joost brings a wealth of experience in the Corporate Banking ecosystem on how technology enables the delivery of value, operational efficiency and reduction of risk.
  • Value4you offers training on traditional and innovative finance issues to founders, entrepreneurs, managers and administrators and provides CFO services to companies to fuel growth.
  • Wexplore is an HRTech company specialized in providing technological and human solutions to drive the development of organizations and their people.

As we wait to know which new pages of history of our ecosystem will be written thanks to these collaborations, we invite you to discover all the services we are offering to the fintech startups of the community in this page

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HubSpot Marketing Hub: Onboarding for startups

The objective of a startup that is being set up in this period is certainly to create a solid base of profiled and qualified contacts: a real and impactful resource for tomorrow’s business. There are different strategies and ways to achieve your current and future business goals, but one thing is certain: you can’t ignore digital marketing.

Compared to classic advertising – or outbound – for the same investment, inbound marketing can bring more results and build solid foundations for the future. In order to make more profit from this type of activity, it is necessary to build a growth path and use highly efficient tools.

It is from these assumptions that the collaboration between Fintech and Delmonte is born: to combine experience and specialized knowledge with HubSpot, a leading all-in-one software in the inbound marketing sector.

Why choose Hubspot? Because, in addition to the completeness and number of its features, it boasts a series of economic advantages for startups.

Marketing onboarding

Onboarding is a complete package designed to help startups get the most out of Hubspot. Onboarding, in collaboration with Fintech+Delmonte, consists of three parts:

  1. A setup phase of the platform,
  2. The creation of a training plan for the staff,
  3. On-the-job assistance for the entire duration of the contract.

HubSpot Marketing Hub: features and advantages

HubSpot’s core is, without a shadow of a doubt, the Marketing Hub: a portal that allows you to manage all operations related to the lead generation from a single platform. Among the main and most important tools for the life of a startup we can find:

  • Form creation tool. The possibility to create conversion forms for data collection and subsequent contact profiling. These can be customized from the point of view of not only the required information but also the design. In addition, you can use these forms on sites built with any type of CMS;
  • Social media management tool. Here you can schedule posts on corporate social accounts on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can also monitor the interactions with your posts;
  • Lead scoring tool. This score allows you to assess the proximity of a prospect at the time of purchase and his interest in your brand/company;
  • Contact lists management tool. Here you can create static and dynamic lists to segment your contacts according to the actions performed on the site, the characteristics traced within the CRM and the interactions with your brand;
  • Workflow tool. Here you can create and keep track of all the workflows you need to manage your contacts or to automate a series of emails or, generally speaking, communications. Think about it: when a contact reaches a high score, you can automatically pass it to the sales team and setting up a task such as “Contact new prospect”. Pretty impressive, isn’t it?
  • Reporting tool. You can keep track of the results achieved through this reporting tool: site performance, emails, CTAs, forms, and much more.

If we were able to intrigue you or, more simply, you would like more information about marketing onboarding with the Fintech + Delmonte team, contact us by writing to stefania.barbato@fintechdistrict.com

Read the other episodes of the Hubspot special on Sales and Service