BizPlace, the home of startups Interview with CEO Federico Palmieri
Interview with Federico Palmieri, CEO of BizPlace, a boutique financial consultancy for innovative startups and SMEs.
BizPlace, as its name suggests, is a place for business, the home for transforming innovative ideas into projects, and the projects into successful businesses. Operating since 2017, the company’s mission is to help Italian innovators to develop their entrepreneurial projects and make them profitable, with a team of professionals specialised in the world of finance and business strategy.
BizPlace supports entrepreneurs by offering high-level services for each stage of setting up a new company or in the process of growing an established company:
- Business Plan Design, looking at economic sustainability and the business model
- Fundraising Advisory
- Investor Reporting
- M&A Advisory
- IPO Advisory
The BizPlace Team
Deal Flow & Investment Team
Sales & Marketing Team
Hello Federico, firstly thanks for your time. To begin with, let’s ask the classic question: how did BizPlace start?
Thanks to you. BizPlace was created at the end of 2016 in Rome to fill a gap in the market that existed at the time due to a lack of an organisation to support innovative startups with their financial operations such as: venture capital and debt fundraising, support for structuring equity crowdfunding campaigns and M&A support. Large companies can get support from an industry figure like JP Morgan or Goldman Sachs during an important operation, medium-sized companies can work with Mediobanca or Lazard, but if a small business or a startup has to undergo a complex financial operation, who can they turn to? For this reason I decided, along with my school friend Andrea Bonabello, to bring this idea to life, and so we created BizPlace. The goal was simple: to help anyone with a breakthrough technological project to scale up, by raising capital. Now, we have expanded and we also offer other services to startups, but initially this was our vision.
In your opinion, what is the Italian startup landscape today, especially in the digital world?
It has certainly evolved greatly in recent years. I was already in the startup world before BizPlace, starting out in 2014 with another venture called Mr. Guide, and in seven years I’ve really seen the sector blossom. While it is true that we have not kept up with the pace of change in other countries, we have still done a great deal. If in 2014 a ground-breaking startup was one which offered an app to book drinks in pubs, today a ground-breaking digital startup would operate in the B2B world, providing other companies or organisations with solutions for a major digital transition.
What is required of a startup to work in the digital sector?
Certainly, as a sector that has experienced great growth, the digital sector has seen a huge increase in competition, and this has led many digital startups to fail or to never take off. The key nowadays is to really specialise in a micro-sector or a specific niche, to become the best at doing a single thing, and then to prepare to expand the business horizontally. Vertical and then horizontal, as Michael Porter said decades ago, that’s the greatest weapon to date.
One of the greatest difficulties that aspiring startuppers encounter is that of creating a financial plan. So we want to ask you: how do you construct a financial plan in 2021?
I always go back to 2014, when I started in this world, to say that years ago there was not all the structured finance available that we have today. Investments have increased greatly but even the nature of venture capital tools are considerably more varied. Creating a financial plan in 2021 means conveying the intrinsic value of the project as a disruptive technology operating in a growing market, bearing in mind that in 2021 there is more capital than projects, and that it is advisable not to settle with the first investor you find, but to be more patient.
You have supported many projects in the last few years, is there one you are particularly fond of?
Definitely, there are and there have been so many. If I have to mention one (I don’t want to offend the others), there is an innovative tannery located in the province of Avellino (Solofra) that, starting out as a traditional company, has managed to create a formula for processing leather in a metal-free manner, thus significantly reducing the environmental impact. The company is called Be Green Tannery and they are achieving great results, whilst respecting the environment, and with market rationales that increasingly demand this focus on sustainability. They are definitely one of the companies that I greatly enjoy working with.
Final question, what advice would you give to someone who wants to start on an entrepreneurial project?
I’m not going to give a banal answer like “go for it”, “try anyway” or anything similar, but my advice is clear: making a business is extremely difficult, it requires considerable skills, tenacity and dedication. But it is wonderful and rewarding. If you want to do it, you have to know that it is a real commitment and that there are no half-measures.