Venture capital firm Open Seed, a Florentine holding company founded in 2016 that specializes in investing in and flanking pre-seed startups, has opened a virtual headquarters on Over the Reality, an open-source mixed reality (Augmented/Virtual Reality) metaverse powered by Ethereum’s blockchain, to bet on that vast digital/virtual space.
At the same time, the company chaired by Lorenzo Ferrara launched its second equity crowdfunding campaign on CrowdFundMe exceeding the minimum goal of €150,000 in a few days, having raised just under €182,000 at the moment. The capital share corresponding to the minimum goal is 6.1% based on a pre-money valuation of €2.3 million.
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All capital raised in this campaign will be used by Op[en Seed to invest in new startups
“In the metaverse of Over, we built our digital headquarters on 500 square meters of virtual space,” Ferrara explained. “We firmly believe in technology as a way to improve people’s lives, and the Metaverse is a frontier yet to be shaped and explored. That’s why we decided to invest in the creation of a real incubator where we will be able to select startups, meet, do training, and events or simply meet for an exchange of ideas. All in a virtual place that we have designed as a large open space, with workstations, a relaxation area, and a large window that gives a glimpse of Florence, just like in our physical location.”
He continues, “During the pandemic we all experienced what it is like to work remotely, to make calls and meetings from home and anywhere else. For us at Open Seed, already accustomed to daily dialogue with partners and entrepreneurs scattered all over Italy, not much has changed from this point of view. Instead, a lot changes now, thanks to the Metaverse technologies that allow us to add in all these remote digital interactions a level of immersiveness never seen before.”
Ferrara (president of OpenSeed, a digital entrepreneur, and coordinator of the BusinessAngels.Network association) founded the Florentine holding company assigned with Francesco Maggio (CFO of KValue, a company that accompanies companies in their digital transformation) with the goal of funding high-potential pre-seed startups and supporting them on their growth path. For selection, the holding company leverages a range of networks of innovation pioneers, from LVenture to the BusinessAngels.Network itself. Other important partners include Grownnectia, Impact Hub, Pariter Partners, Wylab and Trentino Sviluppo, InnovUp, and Italian Tech Alliance.
The company, made up of 30 industry-experienced partners including professionals and entrepreneurs, has 15 holdings in its portfolio and is in exclusive negotiations for six more new investments. Open Seed’s portfolio, which has tripled in value in 3 years, includes several issuers on the CrowdFundMe platform including FrescoFrigo, a producer of hi-tech vending machines; Tulips, a pure online supermarket; and CleanBnB, a company specializing in short rentals that landed on Aim Italy in July 2019. Open Seed also holds shares in Treedom, a Florentine platform for planting trees remotely, and Fitprime, a digital platform dedicated to fitness. In 2017, the year Open Seed invested in it, the company had a valuation of €10 million; today it is worth €35 million. Currently, the value of the portfolio holdings is about €2.1 million.
Open Seed intends to use the capital raised from the current round to invest in the 6 new startups on which it is finalizing negotiations. Currently pre-selected are Fakebusters (information and fact checking app), Genuino.Zero (agrifood), Co-Robotics (robotics), Tips Here (real estate listings), Mio Meal (food delivery), and MyRa (fintech). In the future, the capital raised can also be invested in other high-potential startups selected through the ongoing scouting of BusinessAngels.Network, which through its platform collects applications and analyzes dozens of startups each year.
As for the crowdfunding campaign, the idea behind it is that investing in a company like OpenSeed allows you to join a team of forward-thinking professionals, but it also means investing in innovation and promising startups that are carefully selected by the partners with the aim of bringing great value while minimizing risk.
Open Seed’s long-term goal is to increase its value, including through new capital increases, to the point of listing on the stock exchange or making an overall exit of its portfolio through an acquisition by a larger investment fund.
Open Seed’s first crowdfunding campaign took place in April 2021, and valued the holding company at €1.4 million, with a minimum raising goal of €80,000. On that occasion, it had raised €500,000.
It should be recalled that in September 2021 Vedrai, an Italian group specializing in the development of platforms based on artificial intelligence and aimed at SMEs, had acquired 51 percent of Premoneo (formerly Dynamitick), a startup specializing in dynamic pricing solutions for various sectors, from entertainment to travel (see press release here). In this deal, Openseed sold its shares alongside LVenture Group, Boost Heroes, and Wylab, as well as other business angels who had invested in the early stages of the Milan-based company. Founded in 2016 by Federico Quarato, Marco Alò, and Massimo Dell’Erba as Dynamitick and accelerated by Luiss Enlabs, between 2016 and 2017 Premoneo had raised a first round of about €500,000 in several tranches, underwritten by Wylab, Shark Bites (later to become Boost Heroes), and LVenture Group and later also by OpenSeed itself.
As for Tulips, on May 30 it raised €4 million through two separate channels: a capital increase underwritten by a select number of entrepreneurs, professionals, and professional investors (see Openseed press release here), and a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdfundme whose minimum goal was just over €2 million, a target that was exceeded thanks to a raise that closed at €3.77 million. In that campaign, Tulips was recognized with a pre-money valuation of about €14.8 million. Also participating in the campaign was Openseed, which had already invested in the company in 2020 during the first campaign, of €300,000, also carried out on CrowdFundMe.
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First published in Be Beez, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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