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Digital Magics, a story of success

The venture Incubator, a paradigm for early-stage investing

Digital Magics, a story of success

Alberto D'Agnano

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We are getting acquainted with the venture capital technical vocabulary, whose words have sometimes been invented from scratch and some other times simply borrowed from other disciplines, medicine for example. This is the case of the now well-known word incubator, sometimes found in its variant venture incubator. This, however, does not imply that people can already master the differences that exist among those expressions, which are sometimes small, but always significant.

Let us shed some light on the above-mentioned once only medical term, with the parallel objective of giving an example of a successful story in that field, namely Digital Magics.

Digital Magics is an investment company, founded by Enrico Gasperini in 2004, that has been focusing since 2008 on innovative high-tech startups. It has invested approximately ?10mln giving birth to 30 companies that employ more than 300 people.

The key here is the creation of brand new companies in lieu of investments in already existing ones, which is what differentiates Digital Magics LAB, their business model, from the typical seed investor or startup accelerator. This involves engaging in the very first stages of a new business, such as consumer testing and product development, which makes scouting and mentorship (activities performed by accelerators too, though in a later stage) more straightforward and effective. In a more abstract but nonetheless still quite convincing way, this means starting from talents and ideas rather than businesses and companies.

Leveraging on the investment team's expertise, the startups that make up Digital Magic's portfolio are all focused on internet services, and here are some of the most promising ones:

- Plannify is an events' search engine. It displays shows, cultural meetings and social features as well: Plannify allows the users to search for events by location, to schedule their agenda and to share invitations with friends. It can provide around 250.000 activities per month and it is able to suggest the most appealing ones for the customers, depending on their location, tastes, hobbies and passions. Plannify makes it possible also to buy directly online tickets for concerts, exhibitions and shows.

- Wazzap is a guide to streaming web TV and video on demand. Italy is offering an increasingly rich availability of quality online content, but this has always been difficult to access: now, however, films, TV series, sports, reality shows, cartoons and much more are available on wazzap.tv both paid and free of charge.Through social networks, friends can suggest important upcoming streaming events, as well as the latest available releases. By checking in, friends can share their preferred choices and can chat, vote and comment about their favourite programs and films online.

- 4w MarketPlace has become the leading Italian advertising network, handling the online advertising campaigns for some of Italy's most important publishing houses: RCS Group, L'Espresso Group, RAI, La Stampa, ANSA, Finelco Group and Class. 4w offers the largest premium inventory of national players, with over 15 million unique users per month, on the web, mobile apps and m-sites. In September 2011, 4w MarketPlace became the first Italian network to have been certified by Facebook as an advertising provider, thus allowing for the sale of advertisements within Facebook applications, as well as any websites that use Facebook connect.

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