A virtual currency to boost companies (small and medium) through the exchange of goods and services. The objective of Sardex, since its inception, has always been to support SMEs, with alternative finance, which does not affect the liquidity in euro and allows companies to obtain lines of credit at zero interest.
An idea that has made Sardex, which then became SardexPay, a fintech company that seems to stand the test of time, even in times of Pandemic, as Marco De Guzzis, CEO of the company, who we reached via Google Meet, confirmed: “In 2020, the rate of new members has grown by 73% and the transaction in complementary currency has exceeded $144.7 million (€120 million) in goods and services.”
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Now SardexPay opens to crowdfunding investors
With a turnover in 2020 that exceeds 3 million, the company turns to crowdfunding investors. The news is the start of a crowdfunding campaign on BacktoWork24 with the objective of collecting $723,500 (€600,000), of which, at the time of writing, $552,000 (€458,000), or 75%, have already been reached: “Crowdfunding seemed to us to be the natural evolution of a project that was already born with a social soul. Hence the idea of opening up to a widespread shareholding.”
The historic investors of the project, including CDP Venture Capital Sgr, Primomiglio, and Fondazione di Sardegna, are participating in the collection: “This is a bit of an answer to the gossip that spoke of a lack of confidence among investors. They are increasingly convinced of Sardex Pay, so much so that they have decided to convert a $2.9 million (€2.4 million) bond loan into capital.”
Growing without losing identity
Scalability has always been a worry of Marco’s since the very first moment he joined the company. A long-time experience in the startup world (former board member of IAG and Artemest, luxury marketplace) joined the company in January 2020.
The scalability challenge was also culturally driven: how to expand the audience and offerings while maintaining the local community spirit with which the project started?
“We started with a relaunch plan to expand the community and cover the whole country. Today we are on 15 regions. One of the biggest challenges was the technological one to get to allow exchanges between Italian SMEs located in different communities. But we won it. Then there was Covid, which on the one hand slowed down, but on the other made companies understand the usefulness of SardexPay. We worked on some promos, allowing those who joined in lockdown to try the platform for six months without paying fees. This, too, has helped us grow.”
A greater openness that has favored the growth of the value of goods and services that today can be bought in Sardex on the platform: more than $301 million (€250 million): “Sardex Pay owes its success to the answers it offers to a territory, such as the Italian one, where SMEs represent 65% of the IPL but get only 30% of the liquidity of banks”.
SardexPay relies on innovation
The growth of SardexPay in these ten years also offers lessons for startuppers who want to create innovation in our country and have their eyes, constantly pointed, on foreign countries:
“What works in business is to tie oneself to the territory and the identity of the place, instead of aping ideas from abroad that have little to do with Italian culture. Technology must never be an end in itself, but it must be put at the service of the territory”.
To clarify his opinion with an example, Marco gives the example of Artemest, the marketplace for handicrafts, which has been able, with a skillful use of digital technology, to take the culture and tradition of Italian artisans all over the world: “Ask yourself what is extraordinary about your territory and use technology as a facilitator.
One last line of our chat, Marco spends it to take a snapshot of Italian fintech: “I feel a great energy, it is one of the most vital sectors. I advise those who do business never to fall into the trap of homologation. Always have in mind what your differentiating factor is.”
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First published in Smartmoney, a third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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