€3.8 billion and the U-Start Conference in Milan


A few weeks back I went off to Milan to cover U-Start’s major annual conference. For those of you who don’t know, U-Start is a global boutique advisory firm – in practice, that means connecting investors and startup deal flow on an international level. A particularly interesting statistic is the €3.8 billion within their network and also being supported by major sponsors including Enel, Directa and Iberia to name a few.

This conference is the finale of their tour which has gone through at least four continents this year. It was focused on providing and highlighting investment opportunities in the major emerging markets around the world.

Now the descriptions out of the way, what happened at this conference and why should you be interested?

In short, for me the particularly unique thing about this conference that made it important was the quality of deal flow from emerging markets, many people talk about vetted opportunities from Brazil, Russia and Africa, U-Start turned up with some.

19 companies came to Milan in all, and ultimately one was victorious in the competition, but the sheer array of technology businesses and investors made sure everyone was a winner to one extent or another. Companies like Linguademia (Gamifying language learning) and Cape Ray (Cutting edge breast cancer screening technology) were just a few of some promising business models and technologies.

The speaking side of the Conference was also interesting, there was talk around topics from crowdfunding to tropicalisation (The process of companies moving or expanding to Brazil). I chaired a panel on corporate venture capital (CVC), which taught me a thing or two! Specifically, the increase in CVC and how more traditional venture capitalists are becoming more closely aligned with CVC partners. If you want to know more you can see the panel below:

All things considered, the U-Start conference in Milan made for an interesting and diverse couple of days. We have 30/40 interviews going live over the next six weeks with investors, partners and startups.

We’re looking forward to what U-Start has planned for the rest of 2014.