19 Dec 19
19 Dec 19
ELITE: from pipeline to platform

More than 1,300 ambitious, fast growing companies have joined our international business support and capital raising programme since its inception. Now, completing the creation of an efficient and scalable business model is set to increase ELITE’s growth potential even further.

Exchange of value

Since its launch in 2012, ELITE has operated on a ‘pipeline’ principle, with member companies essentially taking a linear journey along the funding ladder supported by advisers, intermediaries and experts. But around the beginning of 2019, the ELITE team identified a new framework for taking the programme forward – as Giordano Sassaroli, its Head of Technology, Digital & Marketing, explains.

“We looked at digital-driven businesses such as AirBnB and Uber, where the focus is not on delivering services to clients but rather on enabling connections between participants,” says Giordano. “It soon became clear to us that in the ELITE ecosystem, just as in these companies, the real value for the participants comes from their interactions with each other.”

These concepts resonated perfectly with the principles on which ELITE was built, and the team quickly understood that they needed to be looking at ELITE as a digital ‘platform business’. All elements of the programme – tools, communications, relationship management – can be seen as a mechanism to facilitate the exchange of value in the form of a commercial, strategic, or financial opportunity between ELITE companies, investors, advisers and intermediaries.

Describing reality

One thing that hasn’t changed in the new model is the quality of the companies. Requirements for ELITE membership are still just as demanding and are proving not only to be fully compatible with the platform model but also a fundamental tool to ensure the quality of participants and their commitment to interaction. Indeed, since January there has been a significant increase in engagement, fuelled by both the release of a new digital platform and the trust between participants which lies at the heart of ELITE.

The platform model has transformed ELITE’s ability to collect and share relevant information about its member companies. With all activities on the platform now digitally captured, the ELITE team has a privileged view that enables the smarter provision of services. “The inherent value of the data is its ability to describe reality,” says Giordano. “As we collect it, we gain a better and better understanding of our participants’ needs and enable better informed decisions to be made through the use of algorithms.” These include the team’s own decisions about which services and products are more relevant to the multiple segments of members, and also the decisions of each single participant about their actions on the network and their relationships with others.

Digital and physical

Giordano sees the creation of a positive feedback loop as central to this transition, with more digital tools leading to more activities with more participants. However, he emphasises that human contact remains fundamental to ELITE. “Most of the network value is realised when people meet face-to-face,” he says. “What digital technology can do is bring efficiency and scale to these interactions.”

As an example of digital and physical channels working together, Giordano points to the ELITE Day event in October. This was attended by more than 500 members of the ELITE community, with all attendees able to use an online tool to submit their profile and book face-to-face meetings at the event. “That produced nearly 200 meetings, over 80% scheduled in advance,” recalls Giordano. “It showed how much members of our community want to meet, seek opportunities and exchange experiences – and also how a simple digital technology can really activate these interactions.”

Going forward, the goal is for ELITE to reach many more companies while the number of partners is similarly scaled up. And, as Giordano points out, digital technology will be key to shaping this larger, more ambitious offering. “Our community’s engagement with the new platform is sending out very positive signs. And with the digital insights now available to us, we can truly understand what they want from it and make better decisions about how to serve them.”