In Venice, seven startups brought the first edition of the Argo traveltech programme to a successful close
At the Argo Demo Day, the final event of the first edition of the acceleration programme, seven startups presented seven innovative solutions, from a smart pass for tracking boats as they enter and exit ports to a platform dedicated to sport adventure guides, and from an Uber-style private plane service that makes flying cheaper to a platform that opens up a world of outdoor experiences to help users reconnect with nature. Argo is the traveltech accelerator within the CDP National Accelerator Network, created by CDP Venture Capital in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and based in Venice. The accelerator is managed by LVenture Group and VeniSIA (Ca' Foscari University of Venice), and is supported by its main partners Intesa Sanpaolo and Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center (the banking group's centre created to support the development of startups and the innovation ecosystem), as well as by its corporate partner, Human Company, and its technical partner, the Italian School of Hospitality. Argo's goal is to launch around 30 startups in the tourism and hospitality sectors over the next three years, thereby accelerating the digital transition and increasing the sustainability of a crucial sector for the Italian economy. The seven startups that wrapped up the first edition of Argo received a pre-seed investment from CDP Venture Capital and LVenture Group, and five earned a further non-repayable grant from the Ministry of Tourism. At the Argo Demo Day in Venice, the introduction at the SerenDPT headquarters was followed by a startup showcase hosted by VeniSIA, the sustainable innovation ecosystem from the Ca' Foscari University of Venice. For the occasion, VeniSIA inaugurated a new headquarters in the former Herion complex on the island of Giudecca: covering over 200 square metres, the facility offers spaces for the community of young talents and national and international startups. The event represented the final stage of a programme spanning more than 5 months, which saw the startups interact with their partners in over 25 discussions and training events such as seminars and classes, helping to prepare them for the next steps on their growth journeys. The topics included Scrum & Communication, HR for startups, Understanding Investors, Product Management, Being a CTO, Accounting, Communication Kits, Metrics, Sales & Biz Dev, How to Pitch, Financial Planning and Fundraising.
"Supporting innovation and young entrepreneurs in the tourism sector is a valuable investment for the ministry and the government as a whole," stated Daniela Santanchè, the Minister of Tourism. "The ARGO acceleration programme has allowed us to foster innovative new startups in the sector, enabling them to reach the level of the most advanced European countries; accelerate the development of new solutions, technologies and business models; and facilitate technology transfers from universities and research institutes. The programme is also part of a broader strategy to underline tourism's vital role in increasing the employability of our young people."
"The solutions presented today by the startups that participated in the first edition of Argo demonstrate how technology and digital innovations can contribute to the tourism and travel sector," commented Stefano Molino, Senior Partner of CDP Venture Capital and Head of the Accelerator Fund. "Thanks to the support of the LVenture and VeniSIA programme managers, as well as the corporate and technical partners, the startups have embarked on a strategic path for growth. As the accelerator fund, we will continue to support the best projects, including during the next phases of their development."
"Tourism plays a fundamental role in the economic development of our country, as demonstrated by its strong recovery over the last two years. The industry has the potential to generate even more value by investing in innovation, galvanising its digital transformation, and working towards greater sustainability. With Argo, we are therefore striving to encourage the creation and development of new technologies, platforms and business models that can position Italy as both an excellent tourist destination and the birthplace of the companies shaping the future of this industry," declared Antonella Zullo, Head of Innovation & Corporate Venturing at LVenture Group.
"Argo, the CDP National Network's accelerator in Venice, has garnered the support of some important partners, and shares VeniSIA's objective of transforming critical issues into opportunities," noted Carlo Bagnoli, scientific director at VeniSIA. "In particular, the first Demo Day will feature several startups that can bring tourism back to its prime: a resource for our beloved city and for the country rather than a threat to tourist destinations."
"The innovative solutions presented by the companies selected for the Demo Day of the Argo traveltech programme reflect the passion and innovation of startups in the tourism field, as well as their potential impact on this important and strategic sector for the country," remarked Anna Roscio, Executive Director of Enterprise Sales & Marketing at Intesa Sanpaolo. "For our group,
supporting the growth of startups by facilitating their access to investors, client companies and banking products and services is a vital part of our work. We pursue these objectives by drawing on Intensa's expertise and working alongside accelerators operating in the areas with the greatest potential. To date, around 50% of innovative SMEs and 30% of startups in Italy have taken advantage of the opportunities that we offer, including non-financial options."
"We are proud to have participated in this first round of acceleration, which brought together young startups who demonstrated their skills, enthusiasm and motivation, as well as the courage to tackle the new challenges facing the travel industry," explained Luca Belenghi, Human Company's CEO. For a group like ours, with extensive experience in the world of open-air tourism, it is important to support companies that are able to identify the most innovative solutions, especially as we undertake a major digital transformation journey. In fact, the group's long-term goal is to support the development of an ecosystem of trailblazing companies that can collaborate synergistically with each other, thereby fostering an increasingly competitive and sustainable industry. We are excited to return as a corporate partner for the second round, which we are sure will generate many new opportunities."
"At the Italian School of Hospitality, we are proud to have contributed to the acceleration path for the startups, supporting them in terms of training human resources and networking with industry experts and companies in the sector," commented Francesco Ottoboni, Innovation Manager at the Italian School of Hospitality.
The startups presented during the Argo Demo Day were:
Smartway: a platform that allows companies to organise offsites for their employees in iconic villages, with the aim of combining increased team productivity with local development, maximising each event's social impact.
Ulisses: management software to track boats as they enter and exit ports, simplifying the associated bureaucracy and eliminating a range of record-keeping issues.
Skycabs: a platform that allows users to book private flights for medium and short routes, even where they are not covered by scheduled flights, at prices up to 10 times cheaper.
Mapotapo: a web platform for certified sport adventure guides to digitalise their operations and collect and manage bookings.
Tela: the first vertical management software in the cultural sector offering the integration of all museum management operations into a single platform.
WeforGuest: comprehensive software to manage services related to the world of hospitality, including CRM, workflow automation and management, revenue management and loyalty programmes.
Friland: an online platform that offers accommodation solutions and local experiences in contact with nature.