Italy’s Gellify seeks Middle East startups with fund that could hit $50m


B2B software start-up focused accelerator and investor says it plans to recruit up to 30 regional businesses

Italian-based B2B software start-up focused accelerator and investor, Gellify, has expanded into the Middle East with ambitious plans to recruit up to 30 businesses to its regional portfolio by the end of next year, helped by a fund that could reach as high as $50 million.

Massimo Cannizzo, CEO and co-founder of Gellify Middle East, told Arabian Business the sector is “very promising” and “very rich with good ideas”.

He said the initial launch of the fund will involve $10m, which could grow to $50m by the end of 2021.

“The first part of the year will mainly be the scouting and the hiring of the start-ups, which we will invest in. We will start also to invest as a company in these start-ups. About the middle of next year, we will open also the fund in order to offer this investment opportunity to other investors. It could be angel investors, it could be VCs, it could be corporates, anybody who wants to invest with us in B2B start-ups,” he said.

“We want to start putting our skin in the game, reaching about $10m at the beginning of 2021, but then by the end of the year we want to open the fund that will be much larger. We don’t already have the limits, but I think it could be up to $50m no problem,” he added.

Gellify works to identify opportunities for B2B as a service (SaaS) start-ups operating in health and wellbeing, education, culture, wealth and finance, entertainment, hospitality, and the environment.

The company, which started in 2017, has already invested in 31 start-ups in Europe, three of which have since successfully completed exits.

Cannizzo explained: “We would like to reach something like, between 20 and 30 start-ups, so there is this loop and every year there are new start-ups entering the portfolio and others are doing exit operations, but keeping the average.”

Gellify already boasts an €80 million fund in Europe and Cannizzo revealed he is keen to bring its European portfolio of start-ups to the Middle East to build up the ecosystem, through a ‘bridge’ system that would also help those from the region to scale-up overseas.

He said: “The key success factor is to scale the start-up from the Middle East to the world and this is the reason why we say we want to help, especially for Europe, to help this kind of growth. We believe this kind of international scale-up will be the secret sauce for success.”

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