The Group invested 10 million Euros in 12 startups and created Supernova Hub, an innovative, 100% made in Italy startup incubator born of an idea by Federico Pozzi Chiesa, CEO of the Italmondo Group – a leader in the Italian and international logistics sector – and founder of several startups in the field.
Aged only 36, you are already in charge of a group like Italmondo – one of the major players in the European sector of shipping and transports – and the founder of Supernova Hub. You must have gone through several years on the ground floor, a long training and big challenges to get here. Could you tell us about your story?
I joined my family’s company when I was 20 years old. My grandfather Giacinto, who chaired the firm back then, decided that the time had come for me to see and experience every stage of our business process firsthand. First, I was sent to visit the Group’s several offices around the world: I spent six months working in our warehouse in Belgium, where I was doing night shifts, then I moved to Lyon, Paris, Hong-Kong, Shanghai, and Moscow, where I worked in several positions, from customs to the operating offices of various departments. Once in Milan, my training went on: I followed my grandfather to the company every day, and when I turned 25, I joined the Board of Directors. In 2018, my father, who was the CEO at the time, became President of the Group, so I replaced him and launched a rebranding process to group all our companies under a unique, renewed image: this is how the ITLM Group was born, which includes both the transportation and logistics companies and the IT and consulting firms.
Besides Italmondo, you also founded several other startups. Could you tell us about the most successful ones?
I first approached digital in 2014, when I thought of creating an online carrier scanner. I selected a team and together we developed Sendabox, a pioneering startup in e-logistics. Sendabox evolved quickly, and today offers small and medium e-commerce companies a varied range of services to optimize their logistics flows and processes. It has actually become Italmondo’s in-house Research & Development department, and collaborates with big Groups as a fully fledged logistics and system integrator platform – by 2020, it will have handled almost 1 million shipments. At the same time, I have believed and invested in BorsadelCredito.it, and today I am one of the BoD members. It is the first Italian platform to offer credit solutions to SMEs and investment opportunities to savers; it is the first mover of its sector, with 65 millions supplied to businesses until now. Based on these two tests, I decided to found a startup incubator: this is where Supernova Hub came from. With Supernova Hub, for example, I supported Termostore, an innovative startup co-founded by Alessandro Andreozzi, specialized in on-line sales and set-up of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) via an unrivalled full digital service platform in Italy that has already served over 30,000 customers. It is now partnering with Enigasluce and has its own ad aired on Mediaset TV channels.
Supernova Hub’s business model is a unicum in the national scenario. What makes it stand out from other startup incubators?
While traditional incubators present a project and collect third parties’ capital, we do the opposite: starting from business ideas that often come from within the company itself, we combine an analysis and check of marketplace areas whose business models could be innovated, and fund them directly with our own capital. The decisive factor for us to get involved is that our startup project should be at least one of the sector’s first movers, and have a market that could potentially be big enough for us to grow. We have also been focusing on sectors running behind in their digitalization process, so as to identify ideas with the highest potential of success both in Italy and abroad.
What mainly differentiates Supernova Hub is its comprehensive “company building” ability, which means it builds new businesses from scratch by providing financial support, research resources and technological skills, creating a reference team and defining a business model. In addition, this model is based on a traditional corporate context, Italmondo, whose know-how has proved to be a crucial competitive advantage that has allowed us to optimize processes at the startup stage. A third new element has been the concentration of all this technical, consulting and managerial expertise in a smart working space. Of the 7,000 square meters that the Group made available to the project, around 1,600 have already been redeveloped, and the whole renovation will be completed within the next 18 months, when the business model will be extended to new departments.
Supernova Hub boasts extraordinary figures: 10 million Euros invested in 12 startups. What does the future have in store?
In July 2019, Supernova Hub closed with a 6 million capital increase signed by GC Holding, and fixed the following goals for the next 3 years: the total renovation of its own building, further support to its in-house startups and tangible support to new ones that are synergic with Italmondo’s business models.In the next two years and a half, theGroup also intends to further develop the available space, now covering an overall 14,000 square meters, to create a real technological hub where to integrate the in-house accelerated companies, as well as others founded elsewhere that might be synergic with the Group’s core business. A hub able to support the different stages of new businesses development, from incubation to acceleration and consolidation on the reference markets.