The Italian grocery market is worth €150 billion, but online services have a low adoption rate. Milan-based Cortilia is an e-commerce business delivering fresh food products to homes across the North of Italy, and is planning to fill this gap.
The startup, founded in 2012, has just raised €8.5 million from the food and agtech investor Five Seasons Ventures along with Indaco Ventures, the largest VC in Italy.
Cortilia offers country-fresh products to consumers, placing them directly in contact with farmers and artisans. With a simple click, Cortilia delivers fresh products right to customers’ doorsteps within 24 hours at the most convenient day and time. The service is available online, and via an iOS and Android app.
Cortilia began as an online fruit and vegetable market, and now has an inventory of 2,000 items from local farmers, producers and artisans. It currently serves 500 towns and cities across the Lombardy, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna regions. In 2018, Cortilia delivered its products to the homes of over 20,000 Italian families.
Cortilia uses technology to integrate management of farmers’ supply chains, plan orders with predictive models, offer clients the right products at the right moment with AI and to optimise deliveries. Product surplus amounts to only 1% of the volumes and it is donated to Banco Alimentare, a NGO that fights hunger and food waste, in order to help people in need.
The new round of investment will be used to drive growth for the business across Italy. In addition, the company will be investing money into the use of AI and other new technologies to increase standards in quality of food and sustainability.
“I am immensely proud that companies in the world of venture capital as important as Five Seasons and Indaco SGR have decided to invest in Cortilia,” said founder and CEO Marco Porcaro. “A season of great challenges await us and we will tackle them with even greater enthusiasm, because as Italians, we want to play a key role when it comes to innovation in distribution in our country, where online shopping is still in its infancy.”
“From the very first meeting, we realised that Cortilia could be a ‘hidden gem’ and we are extremely satisfied that this investment has been finalised,” said Ivan Farneti, co-founder of Five Seasons Ventures. “In Italy, the penetration of the food e-commerce business is still at low levels, but growing rapidly, and we see Cortilia with the greatest chance of emerging as champion. The Cortilia management team has the profile and skills at the level we are looking for throughout Europe. They listen carefully to what customers have to say and ensure open dialogue with their suppliers, and we are convinced that they will be able to make the most of the opportunity offered by the new financial resources.”
“In our opinion, the grocery sector will become polarised between discount and premium both online and offline, and thanks to its brand, omnichannel approach and technology, Cortilia is certainly on track to dominate the Premium segment, offering high value for all those customers for whom quality and service are greater priorities,” said Antonella Beltrame, an Indaco partner and the Fund Investment Director.
The investment also includes further involvement from Primomiglio, already a Cortilia shareholder, through its Barcamper Ventures investment vehicle.