15 very fashionable start-ups from Milan to watch in 2018

5 Oct 2017

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milano. Image: Georgios Tsichlis/Shutterstock

Milan is not only the fashion, financial and industrial capital of Italy, it is also Italy’s biggest start-up hub.

Milan boasts a lively start-up scene that is bolstered by generous government tax measures and legislation (Ireland: take note) and the momentum that followed the city’s hosting of the world’s fair, Expo 2015, two years ago.

The largest of the Italian industrial hubs, Milan is Italy’s finance and fashion capital and its talent pool is driven by a strong cluster of universities and colleges including Bocconi University, IULM, Politecnico and Cattolica.

Just like Dublin, many of the big tech giants have offices in Milan including Google, IBM, Microsoft, Deloitte and Gartner.

While, traditionally, bureaucracy has stifled start-ups in Italy, legislation passed by the government of Matteo Renzi has made it easier for innovative new companies to excel. Start-ups under five years of age with revenues under €5m, and which have yet to pay a dividend, are exempt from certain taxes and can create flexible employee contracts that include payments in stock options.

Networking and collaboration is a big factor that defines the Milan start-up scene with community groups like StartupItalia! Milano, the Codemotion Tech Community, Digital District Milano and StartuppaMI, to name a few, adding to the energy of the city. Regular events and meet-ups like Startup Grind Milano, UX/UI/IA Milano, Meetup di Robotica Milano indicate that the start-ups of Milan mean business.

Here are the ones to watch in 2018:


CharityStars is a European online charity auction platform with its own tablet auction technology that connects digital events to online bidders. During charity gala events, guests can use tablets on tables to bid against one another. It has been used by the Eva Longoria Foundation and Novak Djokovic Foundation. Last year, CharityStars raised €2m in a Series A round led by 360 Capital Partners, AS Roma player Stephan El Shaarawy, and Shark Tank regular and LastMinute Group CEO Fabio Cannavale.


If you want to capture a vision for what the future of retail or even e-tail looks like in the world of VR, the Milan-based start-up ELSE Corp is one to watch. The start-up offers cloud-managed back-end processes like virtual fitting and order creation as well as smart manufacturing solutions to brands, retailers, manufacturers and independent designers. The company was founded in 2014 by Domus Academy digital fashion retail strategies professor Andrey Golub and has so far secured more than $1m in funding, including $560,000 in a debt financing round in May.


Founded and launched in Milan in 2013, Musement aims to consolidate the tours and activities market by providing a single online destination to discover and book in-destination activities. Users of the site or app can ‘hack’ the city by getting hints and tips from local experts, as well as temporary or exclusive offers on certain locations across 450 cities. Its most recent investment saw it raise $10m in Series B funding from a previous investor, Micheli Associati. This now brings the Italian start-up’s total funding to $16.5m with almost 50 people employed there.

FABS (Fashion Buyers Society)

15 fashionable start-ups from Milan to watch in 2018

FABS is an app targeted at professional fashion buyers. Available on iOS, FABS supports and assists buyers throughout the entire process, from the initial order to the final report. FABS was created by Twentyfourseven, a multi-disciplinary team based in Milan focused on the fields of fashion and design, and developed by H-Farm, a digital platform for young entrepreneurs.


Sweetguest is a Milan-based start-up that sells property management services online. Founded by Rocco Lomazzi and Edoardo Grattirola, Sweetguest provides full management service for short-term rentals aimed at those who want more from their holiday apartment, apart from stress. Services include reservations, check-in, check-out, laundry, cleaning and more. The company raised €1m in a seed round last year.


Cortilia is an online agricultural marketplace that allows consumers a subscription service, which sees deliveries of fresh produce to users’ doors at the click of a button. With annual revenues of more than €2m, Cortilia – already well established in Lombardy – is planning to further develop its web platform to seize opportunities linked to food e-commerce and mobile commerce, which are rapidly growing in Italy. The company has raised $2.4m to date from investors including P101, Boox, Club Italia Investimenti and dPixel.


15 magnificent start-ups from Milan to watch in 2018

Image: WISE

WISE is a biomedical startup based in Milan and Berlin. It is working on developing a new generation of implantable leads for neuro-modulation and neuro-monitoring and its first products are biocompatible, implantable and flexible electrodes that can be used to treat various neurological disorders. The company raised $6.5m in May from existing investors. It has been selected for a €3.2m project funded by the Lombardy Region for research into new forms of treatment for nervous system patients.


Adabra is a marketing automation platform that uses big data from multiple sources and machine learning algorithms to improve the performance and sales of e-commerce players by providing customers of retailers with a personalised shopping experience. The company last year raised €1.1m in funding from A11 ventures and private investors.


Established in Milan in 2015,  GoodBuyAuto.it offers consumers in Italy and across Europe a more efficient way to buy private used cars. Founded by Carlo Salizzoni, Marcello Vena and Andrea Locatelli, the company has raised $2.7m to date from angel investors including Fabio Cannavale, Giuseppe Guillot and Lorenzo Sistino.


Founded by Giovanni Dapra and Paolo Galvani, MoneyFarm has offices in Milan and London and provides robo-adviser fintech services to the UK and Italian markets. According to reports, the company has £260m in assets under management. The company began in Italy in 2012 and launched into the UK in February.

Talent Garden

Talent Garden is a co-working platform where digital, tech, entrepreneurial and creative professionals work, learn and connect. In the last five years Talent Garden has spread across a number of European cities in the last five years and now has 17 co-working campuses serving 1,500 digital professionals in Italy, Albania, Romania and Lithuania. It raised €12m last year from investors including Endeavor Catalyst, 500 Startups and Tamburi Investment Partners and plans to expand further into Europe, including the UK and Ireland.

D1 Milano

15 fashionable start-ups from Milan to watch in 2018

Image: D1 Milano

Co-founded by brother and sister team Dario and Alessia Spallone along with Allesandro Pedersoli and Mattia Bodni, D1 Milano designs and sells its own watches that are sold online as well as in brick-and-mortar stores by retailers like Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and the Dubai Mall. The start-up also has the distinction of designing the world’s first thermochromic watch that changes colour with heat.


15 fashionable start-ups from Milan to watch in 2018

Olimpia Pitacco and Gabriela Pacini. Image: Front-Row-Tribe

In its own words, Front-Row-Tribe is a European website that was created by two young women who decided to bring their shopping skills to the next level and share them with the rest of the world. Front-Row-Tribe is an online luxury service that will rent to its members looks from the latest collections of well-established as well as up-and-coming fashion designers. Founded by Olimpia Pitacco and Gabriela Pacini, Front-Row-Tribe has a strong editorial ethos fostering taste, the latest fashion news and curated styles.


Considered one of Italy’s hottest early-stage fintech start-ups, Euklid applies artificial intelligence to bitcoin and blockchain. Founded by Antonio Simeone, at the heart of Euklid there is a sophisticated AI engine capable of making independent trading decisions. The AI is based on complex algorithms which are monitored daily and enhanced on a regular basis by Euklid’s financial engineers and analysts. The company last year closed a seed funding round valuing it at €10m and enabling it to establish a NewCo in the UK and an RAIF fund in Luxembourg.


Tannico is an online wine retailer that offers one of the most extensive catalogues of Italian wines in Europe with over 6,000 different labels from more than 1,000 wineries. Founded by Marco Magnocavallo, Tannico is regarded as one of the leaders in the Italian online wine market and last year raised €3.8m in a Series A funding round led by P101 and private investors, which will enable the company to expand into the UK market.

Main image: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milano. Image: Georgios Tsichlis/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years