What happens when technology scaleups find synergy and start collaborating? Businesses grow, become more efficient, more international, more capable of creating added value and jobs.
in the case of Italianway and Soldo this is exactly what happened. The first is a company that manages and rents short term lets, the second is the highly regarded fintech that has solved the problem of managing company expenses and payments founded by veteran tech entrepreneur Carlo Gualandri.
Italianway is an innovative SME that has been operating since 2014: “We launched just before the Milan Expo to seize the huge opportunity of increased visitors to the city, that came at a time when the habits of travelers, both domestic and from overseas, were changing and the hotel was no longer seen as the only option for accommodation” said Marco Celani, CEO of Italianway.
Unlike many services that offer apartments for rent in popular cities, Italianway is not an OTA (online travel agency) but takes over the direct management of apartments from owners who intend to rent them, takes care of the preparation to optimize their capacity and therefore the rates in relation to the areas where they are located, and any specific needs of travellers.
Videos and professional photos are produced of the properties, and the apartments are available to book both on the Italianway website and on external OTAs such as Airbnb. All aspects of property management are taken care of: from payments to the check-in and check-out of guests. Italianway also has a series of centralized reception areas positioned in strategic points of the city, for example, one is inside the Central train station in Milan.
“We have created a software platform that allows us to manage everything in an effective, fast and accurate way” explains Celani, “e have invested 1.5 million euros over four years for this platform and today we are fully repaying that investment because it not only allows us to offer a professional level service but also to better understand our business, to support those who entrust us with the apartments even when it comes to managing the fiscal aspects and financial administration. ”
Italianway has recorded a turnover, and a total value of bookings, equal to 1.1 million euros in 2015, which then became 3.6 million in 2016, 8 million in 2017 and 11 million in 2018. Last year a four million euro investment round was completed, entirely underwritten by private investors. The company, led by Marco Celani, currently operates in Milan, Sanremo, Alba, and Genoa and manages a total of almost 470 apartments: 42% of bookings are for the same day with a filling rate of almost 84%, with an average nightly rate of just over 102 euros a night. Almost half, 48%, are non-Italian customers with an average age of 25-34 years old customers. They have 85 employees and 220 collaborators. And they use Soldo, the London-based fintech company that offers intelligent prepaid cards to manage payments and expenses in a smart way.
The collaboration between Italianway and Soldo started in 2016, as soon as Carlo Gualandri’s new fintech company launched: “Italianway was one of our first test customers” confirms Luca Scagliarini, VP of Soldo, “and it is with clients like them we have started to develop not only the process of perfecting the functionalities of our system but also our ability to integrate with external management systems in order to make the process of managing payments and expenses effective at all stages “.
“Today we use Soldo both with our property managers who have to make purchases to furnish the apartments, the maintenance workers who buy products to make the apartments efficient, or cosmetics to delight guests. Even a simple light bulb or a plate, – by using Soldo we can track everything, record all receipts and save both money and time, “says Celani.
This way of using Soldo to purchase products and services such as travel expenses and cleaning is growing at organizations that already use the platform and has vastly reduced the time and cost associated with financial processes.
Today Soldo, whose business model is based on a flat fee per user, counts over 10,000 companies and customer organizations throughout Europe, with Italy and the United Kingdom, its key markets.
In the future Italianway plans to expand significantly in the Italian market with adding to its locations and growing its client base with significant markets including Chinese tourists exploring Italy: “if we divide our customers by nationality our biggest market is domestic with Italians taking first place, followed by the French and the Chinese which have now surpassed the Swiss, Germans, Americans and Russians traveling to Italy. The average Chinese tourist is 25 years old traveling with a friend but we also have business customers, the ZTE engineers who come to Milan are our customers for example “, concludes Celani, who also anticipates that in 2020 Italianway will start expanding abroad.
For a detailed example of how Soldo saves companies time and money, see the Forrester Total Economic Impact Report: