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Exclusive: GELLIFY is connecting startups with companies, innovation supply with demand

GELLIFY has "Skin in the Game". Find out what this means for its B2B approach to building partnerships with startups, government and corporates on the way to digitally revolutionizing businesses in the UAE and Saudi

UAE and Saudi plans include building a Phygital Hub, a space where the tech and business can network, exchange ideas GELLIFY invests in relevant technology and business trends such as Fintech, AI, Cybersecurity, Big Data, and Industry 4.0 GELLIFY invests in early, middle and late growth stage startups, and aims to increase the size of B2B startups

Born in Italy, this new innovation platform for the business community then traveled to Spain and now has established its successful model also in the UAE.

GELLIFY Middle East aims to provide B2B innovators, from investors, startups to corporates, a unique and integrated platform to digitally revolutionize businesses.

It simultaneously acts as an investor, a venture capital, a growth advisor, a cultural shift coach, a start-up and digital consultant, in what the company calls “Having Skin in the Game”.Fabio Nalucci 

Fabio Nalucci, CEO and Founder of GELLIFY Group, said: “We have invested about Euro 15 million in Europe and we plan to replicate this performance in the Middle East in the next three years. The aim is to create a global ecosystem.”

 “Out of the investment funds raised by the Group for the Middle East, one third will be spent to build the local team. The remaining part will be invested to empower GCC startups and allow them to scale internationally. Our plans start in the UAE and then to Saudi and include building a Phygital Hub which will be used as a hub and event space where the tech and business community can network and exchange ideas” said Massimo Cannizzo, CEO and Co-founder of GELLIFY Middle East. 

AMEinfo digitally sat with Fabio and Massimo to better understand the business.

On the innovation demand side, the company connects startups and scaleups with traditional companies such as large companies and SMEs, providing innovation and disrupting business models wherever there is a need to innovate. 

On the innovation supply side, GELLIFY invests in relevant technological and business trends such as Fintech, Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Big Data, and Industry 4.0, supporting B2B startups.

The company calls this program for B2B startups: Gellification.

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How Gellification works 

Similar to the actual process of turning a substance into a solid form with the help of a gelling agent, GELLIFY matches an idea (air) with a beneficiary (liquid), then performs innovative processes to achieve positive earnings (gel) until the startup matures and is ready for exit (solid).

GELLIFY comprises three business units: one for startups offering comprehensive services beyond mentorship, another for companies where digital transformation of small businesses and large corporations happens; and the third for investors, which provides Investment advisory and the management of a GELLIFY Investment Fund on selected innovative B2B Tech Start-ups.  Massimo Cannizzo

“The importance of playing multiple roles, as investor, incubator, consultant, and networker is that we become a one-shop-stop for whoever is looking for integrated responsibilities of these services. This represents evidence of having skin in the game, that is really appreciated by our clients,” Massimo Cannizzo told AMEinfo. 

“We began UAE operations at year’s start and what we aim for 2020 is to launch our advisory arm, helping corporates and the public sector. We already started to connect with start-ups in order to invest in them and create a network of interest. By end 2020 or start 2021, we plan to launch the GELLIFY Venture Capital fund for startups in the Middle East with ME investors.” 

GELLIFY’s areas of interest

The company looks at multiple industries, but driven by UAE and Saudi strategies and visions for 2030, topping their priorities are government, fintech, travel and healthcare.  

GELLIFY also has robust operations in Manufacturing and Supply Chain Distribution. 

The company has begun screening companies specializing in AI, big data analytics, cyber security, blockchain, IoT, and industry 4.0.

“AI is on top of this list,” Fabio Nalucci said.

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How GELLIFY approaches a B2B Startup

The Gellification process of air (idea) to solid (exit) begins for startups by identifying gaps in the target company sales, management structure or product, before looking to make any financial commitments. 

“We do a very strong technical due diligence, and in B2B startups, tech is really relevant because only if you are robust enough you can succeed with large companies, the recipients of such technology innovations,” Fabio Nalucci explained. 

“From that point, we identify the Gellification process, in terms of what we want to do with them, and the capabilities we want to inject, apart from giving money.”

That’s stage 1.

“Then we do a joint go-to-market. If we have an offering for Human Capital, we go to clients and say hey we help you in answering or addressing your capabilities and we provide a mixture of consultancy and company portfolio.”

From there on, the startup starts delivering solutions after securing an investment.  

Fabio explained that there is always a “chicken and egg” conundrum. 

“They (startups) want to have a channel and grow on the software side but don’t have the right credentials, credibility and references to enable this growth, so we create that initial channel for them to establish case history, and good stories to enable interest and visibility for other channel partners,” Fabio Nalucci clarified.

“A business good in sales and marketing may not have the skills to hire a CTO. We have skin in the game, so we help them identify the right people. So the second stage is that we support startups in creating a better team, while injecting smart shortcuts, sound processes and best practices.”

GELLIFY TechMass Hardware and software solutions to increase productivity

GELLIFY invests in early, middle and late growth stage startups, and aims to increase the size of B2B startups in the region, which pale compared to B2C startups offering direct solutions to a consumer market.

Startup portfolios include solutions for: marketing technologies and digital publishing, talent management, online fundraising, finance, improving air quality and saving energy, cutting telecommunications costs, crypto assets storage, electronic identities and signatures, automation of sales, purchasing and whole supply chain processes, real-time customer engagement, avatar concept and experiences such as digital fashion shows, humanoid robot, and Instagram influencer marketing, among others. 

“It’s an opportunity. If I started investing in B2C, I would be one of many, but it’s very valid, promising and satisfying partnering with corporates and doing venture building, helping corporations create new digital businesses, on B2B basis” Fabio Nalucci offered. 

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Foot through the door: Advisory 

In Italy, the company has history and reputation.

But to create the gellifying connections in a new market and enable delivery of an offering with startups, GELLIFY needs the network to work with clients and then start connecting investors to companies. 

 “We need to create traction in the market because startups are very fragile, and have limited amount of time and money to go to clients,” Fabio Nalucci said.

For this to gel, GELLIFY has also built a community called ‘EXPLORE’ that connects entrepreneurs, innovators, and professionals on any digital device, where they facilitate events that allow phygital (physical and digital) experiences. 

The app is a smart-working platform for the EXPLORE community, where one can read the latest strategies on digital transformation based on the latest innovative technologies on the market.  

“The community is a key component of our eco-system. The reason is it’s easy to locate generalistic content providers like Tech Crunch for example, where you can find almost anything you want. We want to be extremely vertical in terms of what we provide for these communities, so part of it is finding specific content for each problem,” Fabio Nalucci advised. 

GELLIFY is hiring, connecting with clients on multiple initiatives, and is launching a series of webinars to shed light and offer advisory regarding emergency management during COVID-19.

The first session of the webinar series will take place on April 21, 2020 at 14:00 GST. Register for free here

More details of the full series can be found on this page.