The Italian family business, the family office...and the many startups

Trento, home of Bertoldi Holdings                   (photo:pixabay)

Trento, home of Bertoldi Holdings                   (photo:pixabay)

Here’s a good example of how a family business can rise from the ashes and later innovate through a family investment platform. Also, we aren’t talking about a big family business here, which perhaps makes the story even more satisfying from the point of view regeneration.

After all, it’s a lot easier to regenerate with billions of dollars behind you. And in this case, the family didn’t have that level of backing.

Bertoldi Holding is an Italian investment group based in the town of Trento in northern Italy. It’s run by brothers Gianluca and Giacomo Bertoldi. Late last year, Bertoldi made an interesting investment in a property startup called Walliance, which proclaims to be the first Italian property crowdfunding platform. Walliance was also founded by one of the Bertoldi brothers,  Giacomo - so he got the family investment group to back the startup he himself set up. Smart move.

the backstory of the Bertoldi family and their entrepreneurship makes the family’s current endeavours more pertinent

Bertoldi has also backed some other startups like UK-based Oval Money, a financial planning app, and two Italian startups called Starteed, a crowdfunding platform, and Le Cicogne, a mobile app that finds local babysitters. The family investment group is also an investor in a successful crowdfunding group, the UK-based Crowdcube.

But Bertoldi isn’t all about investing in the cut and thrust of the digital economy, it has heft through its links to traditional businesses in the world of real estate, supermarkets and industry. And that’s where the family business comes in.

Indeed, the backstory of the Bertoldi family and their entrepreneurship makes the family’s current endeavours more pertinent. The Bertoldi brothers are the grandsons of Aldo Bertoldi - an entrepreneur from Trento who founded two notable businesses. One was named after him and makes supermarket and airport trolleys. Bertoldi Aldo SRL is still in existence today and is one of the biggest manufacturers of trolleys in Europe.

The other is a supermarket chain called Orvea, which is based in the Trentino region. Aldo lived until he was 91 and the two businesses were successfully run under his guidance and members of the second generation for many years. But three years after Aldo’s death in 2011, most of the family’s shares in Orvea were sold to another local supermarket group. The sale was partly forced on the family because of the difficult trading environment Orvea found itself in after the financial crisis of 2008.

Nevertheless, the sale led to the consolidation of some of the different parts of the family business empire under the investment holding group, Bertoldi. And the move is proving to be a useful method for the third generation to reinvigorate the family’s wealth and reestablish the family’s name with entrepreneurship.

Not a bad idea that will no doubt inspire other next-generation members of family businesses to follow a similar path.