“With the advent of the coronavirus, the automotive world closed like a hedgehog, but at the end of each wave it understood that technology was keeping it afloat”, he told us Marco Marlia, born in 1979, founder of Motork, an Italian startup that was listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange at the beginning of November to climb the European market.
Founded in 2010, Motork has developed a suite of SaaS tools for digitize the business of car dealers and today it has around 300 employees in 7 countries (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom and Israel): “With physical presence blocked or limited, the only way to maintain contact with customers were solutions like those offered by us “.
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Even because the changes introduced by the pandemic are becoming definitive and the automotive world has completely changed: the purchase, rental or leasing process no longer passes through the visit of different dealerships, because thanks to the digital offer today the customer goes to the dealership almost always without fail, spending much more time in online search. “Buyers today expect content and experiences that are much closer to the dealership visit than they were before, such as 360 degree indoor and outdoor video o focus on the details of the car ”. The most interesting news, however, are not at the level of individual products, Marlia told us again, but “it is the platform approach that makes the difference today: the retailer must oversee all the touch points to interact with the customer”.
The problem is that companies in the sector do not want to relate to dozens of startups or companies in different countries and this had forced Motork to start an expansion project based on regular acquisitions, then a year ago came the idea of going public: “In this way we will have simplified access to capital to scale acquisitions and we will be able to position ourselves as a European player, not a local one”. The reference market, estimated at around 5.4 billion euros, today it is very fragmented: reaching 1% by next year, Motork expects to become a leader in the sector.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Motork saw its turnover halve, had to resort to layoffs to stay afloat and employees had to learn to work completely remotely. Almost two years later, however, turnover has doubled compared to the pre-Covid era: when on November 5 Marlia rang the bell in Amsterdam, Motork closed a collection of 75 million euros, with a post-IPO valuation of 261 million euros.
With the quotation, a new life usually begins, but in the case of Motork the travel companions have not completely changed: “Our quotation was only primary and our investors reinvested during the deal rather than exiting. They immediately understood the advantages that the operation offered compared to another round of investment “.
Deciding to list the company is never easy, especially for a growing startup: “For us the listing was above all a positioning operation strategic, so as to tell the market that we are a medium-long term choice. This is true both for the large companies we want to have as customers and for the startups we want to acquire “. The transition from a startup to a listed company was not easy, although technically not very different or more complicated than an investment round: “It requires corporate structuring choices, because you have to become a mature company, maybe change some key figures. It is a process that raises the bar for the whole company and just writing the prospectus requires in-depth business introspection, and perhaps this leads to a higher valorisation from the outside “.
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Because Amsterdam? “We have chosen the square that best allows us to tell our story and gives us a European and neutral connotation, so as to attract companies fleeing from London cause Brexit. Milano risked making us pass as focused on Italy “.
According to Marlia, however, one of the key points of the journey was the ability to be able to choose the right investors: “We learned a lot by making all the mistakes along the way. Today in Italy there is a group of scaleups with whom we compare and help each other. For those who start now, I would recommend looking for about twenty peers and a few later in the path. We have all accumulated so much knowing that it can come in handy. Making a startup is an activity so different from manuals that only confrontation with peers prevents you from making all possible mistakes “.