Sunday, January 01, 2012

We came, saw and... invested

Our last investment in the old year is a novelty for us – our first investment in a startup from Italy. Founded by 23 year old entrepreneur Guk Kim, Cibando operates a popular iPhone app that makes it easy to find the best restaurants in Rome, Milan, Florence and other Italian cities.

What makes this significant (beyond its obvious significance for Cibando and for us) is that this is one of only a very small number of VC investments in Italy. So significant, at least, that the news got covered by TechCrunch and also made it to the online frontpage of Corriere della Sera, one of Italy's oldest and most reputable daily newspapers!

To say that Italy's early-stage funding ecosystem is underdeveloped is probably an understatement, at least that's what I've heard in the last few months. Not that it's that great in Germany, although with the rise of Berlin as Europe's new tech hub it's hopefully getting better. But in Italy it seems to be much worse – so bad that many of the serious Internet entrepreneurs from Italy leave their country to raise money elsewhere.

It might seem odd that we as a Berlin-based VC invest in Italy, but part of our strategy is to be somewhat location-agnostic. While the majority of our portfolio companies are based in Germany or Poland (homeland of Pawel and Lukasz) we're open to investing in other European countries and even outside of Europe. In fact, some of the best investments that Point Nine Capital (and/or I as an angel investor) made were in pretty unusual locations: myGengo (founded in Tokyo), Vend (founded in New Zealand), Zendesk (founded in Copenhagen) or Clio (founded in Western Canada) are great examples. Some of these companies later moved part or their operations to the US or even relocated completely, but that's another story.

Back to Cibando. You simply draw a circle on a map to select how far you’re willing to drive and select your preferred restaurant category. Cibando then lists the best restaurants that match your requests, along with reviews, mouth-watering photos and other helpful information. Think of it as a mobile version of Yelp or Qype but with several special twists. Buon appetito!

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