To identify the most promising German start-ups Informilo asked some of the most active investors in Europe to nominate and evaluate companies outside their own portfolios. Some are well-known, others are below the radar but unlikely to stay that way for long. Here are our picks for the Top 25.
What it does: Online auction house.
Why it’s hot: Auctionata runs frequent livestream auction broadcasts from Berlin and New York. Users from all over the world can bid at any time, from any device. The company recorded total net sales of €31.5 million in 2014, and €12.5 million in the first quarter of 2015. In March MCI Management led a €42 million Series C round, bringing total funding close to €90 million.
Babbel / Lesson Nine
What it does: Online language learning services.
Why it’s hot: Launched in 2007 with the idea that learning should be easy and effective, today Babbel offers courses in 14 languages, has a team of 300 people, and sees 100,000 downloads of its app each day. In April it launched a location-aware version on the Apple Watch. The company has raised roughly $12 million; investors include Reed Elsevier Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners, Kizoo Technology Ventures and VC-Fonds Berlin.
What it does: Online food home delivery.
Why it’s hot: Delivery Hero claims to be the biggest food network in the world, with more than 75,000 participating restaurants; it delivers more than 10 million meals globally every month. It operates in 23 countries. In March Rocket Internet invested $586 million, bringing the total raised to $1.3 billion. In May Delivery Hero acquired Turkey’s Yemeksepeti for $589 million.
What it does: Photography community and market.
Why it’s hot: EyeEm’s free app and supporting platform enable its 13 million registered photographers to share, interact, and learn more about taking pictures on any device. More than 50 million photos can be licensed through EyeEm’s marketplace. In April the company raised $18 million; investors included Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures. Existing investors also participated. Total raised so far exceeds $25 million.
What it does: Online food ordering site.
Why it’s hot: Foodpanda offers food delivery in more than 580 cities in 40 countries, focusing on emerging markets. It has partnered with more than 60,000 restaurants, and acquired competitors throughout Asia and Europe. In May the company announced it has raised $100 million in a round led by Goldman Sachs. Existing investors, among them Rocket Internet, participated. Foodpanda has raised over $310 million since its launch in 2012.
What it does: Multi-mode travel platform.
Why it’s hot: GoEuro is a comparison search engine for travel in Europe. Travelers no longer need to use multiple sites to plan their journeys and book flights, trains and buses. The company operates in seven countries. In August 2014 GoEuro raised $27 million in Series A funding led by New Enterprise Associates. Existing investors Battery Ventures, Hasso Plattner Ventures and Lakestar participated.
What it does: Credit rating service.
Why it’s hot: Kreditech aims to build a digital bank for the unscored worldwide. It uses 20,000 data points to enable financial service providers to acquire, identify, score and pay out customers in seconds. In 2013 it raised $40 million from new and existing investors. It secured a $200 million credit facility from Victory Park Capital in 2014. Kreditech has a revenue run rate of $50 million and is growing 300-400% per year.
What it does: Online private shopping service for men.
Why it’s hot: Founded in 2012, Outfittery offers men in eight European countries access to style experts who put together individual outfits for them; customers only pay for what they keep. In March the company raised $20 million in a funding round led by Northzone. Previous investors Highland Capital Partners, Holtzbrinck Ventures, Mangrove Capital Partners and others participated. Outfittery has raised $38 million so far and has more than 200,000 users.
What it does: Social sound platform.
Why it’s hot: Soundcloud enables its 200 million users to discover original music and audio, connect with each other and share. In 2014 it introduced paid subscriptions and advertising, and started revenue-sharing with some of its popular artists. In April it announced a partnership with rights management company Zefr. Soundcloud raised $60 million at a $700 million valuation in January 2014 and is rumored to be seeking more funding now.
What it does: Smart thermostat.
Why it’s hot: The Tado app uses geofencing to sense when the last resident leaves a house and turns down the heating. It also takes weather forecast data and building characteristics into account. The company claims it can cut overall heating costs by up to 31%. In July 2014 Tado raised €10 million from previous investors Target Partners, Shortcut Ventures, and others. It’s now the leading intelligent climate control provider in Europe.
What it does: Mobile games developer.
Why it’s hot: Founded in 2009, Wooga has become one of the most popular developers of mobile games in the world. Hits include Jelly Splash, Pearl’s Peril, Diamond Dash and most recently Agent Alice (which set a new record of three million downloads in four days). Over 50 million people play Wooga’s games every month across multiple platforms. The company has raised more than $30 million in funding since it launched.
What it does: Home decoration e-commerce site.
Why it’s hot: Westwing is Germany’s largest shopping club for home decoration products. The company is active in 15 markets and has over 17 million members. In 2014 revenues exceeded €183 million. In January Westwing raised €25 million, bringing funding to €179 million. Investors include Rocket Internet, Access Industries, Fidelity Worldwide Investment, Investment AB Kinnevik, Odey, Summit Partners and Tengelmann Ventures.
What it does: Ad and site optimization.
Why it’s hot: Founded in 2008/09, Adtelligence provides e-commerce optimization and customer intelligence services that increase advertising effectiveness through machine learning, leading to improved conversion rates and increased revenue. Customers include eBay, Microsoft and Siemens. The company was named a “Technology Pioneer 2014” by the World Economic Forum.
What it does: Video lipsynch app.
Why it’s hot: Dubsmash lets users make a video of themselves lipsynching to their own sounds, or to songs or movie scenes from the app’s own clip list. The app launched in November 2014 and has been downloaded by more than 50 million people in 192 countries. It gained the number one spot in the German Apple App Store seven days after it went live there.
What it does: Recipe kit delivery service.
Why it’s hot: Founded in 2014, Marley Spoon delivers boxes of ingredients and recipes to time-pressed customers. Users can choose from up to seven recipes a week, which Marley Spoon claims is more flexible than competitors’ services. In April the company raised $3.5 million from Lakestar, adding to an earlier $5 million in investment from Global Founders Capital, Point Nine Capital and angel investors.
What it does: Modern banking services.
Why it’s hot: Number26 styles itself as a bank of the future. It offers free, flexible services based on traditional bank Wirecard’s infrastructure. Accounts are mobile-first and can be set up in minutes. Number26 has launched in Germany and Austria and has close to 10,000 customers and a waiting list. In April the company raised $10.6 million from Valar Ventures and existing investors Earlybird and Redalpine. (See the interview on page 5.)
What it does: Business process improvement.
Why it’s hot: Signavio’s goal is to deliver a collaborative business process management service. It claims to offer the world’s first integrated platform that covers both Business Process Management and Business Decision Management. Today, more than 500 customers, including Akamai, Audi, Bulgari and Cisco use Signavio’s Process Editor and consulting services to document, share and optimize their business operations.
Under The Radar
What it does: M2M technology.
Why it’s hot: azeti Networks provides IoT and M2M technology that enables users to monitor and control distant objects from one central location. It works with more than 700 clients in 35 countries across a variety of verticals. Azeti’s Social Sensor Cloud is an open-source communications protocol for sensors and actuators and a marketplace for sensor data. The company has raised a total of $17 million from Earlybird Venture Capital.
What it does: Distributed data store.
Why it’s hot: Crate is an open-source data store. It requires no administration on the part of the user and claims to be massively scalable. Crate Data can be installed on commodity hardware or the cloud; developers can then use Crate to query massive data sets in real time using SQL rather than building out their own backend systems. The company has raised €1.5 million from Sunstone Capital and DFJ Esprit.
What it does: Cloud solutions for hotels.
Why it’s hot: Customer Alliance provides analytics and reputation management for hotels. The software allows hotels to manage online reviews at one place, survey guests, display reviews on the hotel‘s website and distribute reviews to relevant review and social media websites. More than 3,000 hotels in 35 countries use its software. Investors include German Startups Group, Rheingau Ventures, KFW and Mountain Partners.
What it does: Private pensions provider.
Why it’s hot: Fairr’s goal is to become the leading online provider of retirement savings services, offering low-cost and transparent retirement products. With partner bank Sutor Bank, fairr.de offers the only pension product with ETFs and Dimensional Funds. Founded in late 2013, Fairr.de aims to put an end to poorly-performing financial products and expensive sales commissions.
What it does: Interactive cooking app.
Why it’s hot: Kitchen Stories provides recipes in 12 languages and a platform to share them. Features include how-to information, auto-generated shopping lists, quantity calculator and an integrated timer. The app has been downloaded more than three million times. In January Kitchen Stories raised $1.8 million from Point Nine Capital and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments.
What it does: Hand-picked design.
Why it’s hot:. Monoqi collects hard-to-find and limited-edition design products, making 100 of them available each day for a short time on its site. To date the company has worked with more than 7,000 international designers. In February Monoqi acquired the assets of former online furniture marketplace Mydeco to help its expansion into the UK market. In 2013 Condé Nast Germany acquired a 26% stake in Monoqi for an undisclosed sum.
What it does: SEO software.
Why it’s hot: Launched in 2012, OnPage.org crawls users’ websites as search engines do, then analyzes the results to show companies opportunities to rank better. It also offers monitoring of key performance indicators and alerts to enable users to fix errors. The company recently launched a brand monitoring tool, called Mentions. Customers include Disney, Zalando, Sixt and Condé Nast.
What it does: Internet security.
Why it’s hot: ZenMate protects users’ internet privacy while browsing by routing traffic through its free, encrypted, private VPN, cloud network of secure servers. ZenMate also compresses data by up to 30%, giving mobile users real cost savings. The company has more than 12 million users in 170 countries, up from one million a year ago. In 2014 it raised $3.2 million from Holtzbrinck Ventures, Project A Ventures, Shortcut Ventures and T-Venture.