Looking into the crystal ball is almost part of everyday work for venture capitalists. Hardly any other profession is so intensely concerned with tracking down new technologies that have the potential to shape our future. That is why we have made it a tradition to ask renowned startup investors for their forecasts at the start of the year.
Once again this year, NewsABC.net and Gründerszene asked ten venture capitalists which tech companies from Germany they believe will make the big breakthrough in 2020. Be it in terms of financing or customer and sales growth. Lakestar, Holtzbrinck Ventures and Earlybird, among others, took part in the survey.
Came out a list of 20 promising startups that you should definitely keep an eye on in 2021. Remarkable: Compared to the previous year, not a single tourism company was included. Instead, the topics of logistics and fintech predominate. Here you can find all finalists of the Startup Watchlist 2021 in alphabetical order:
- Founder: Emanuel Pallua, Julian Stoss
- Branch: Robotics / gastronomy
- What the startup does: Aitme builds robot canteens for restaurants that can cook up to 120 dishes per hour without human assistance.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “The world of work changed permanently in 2020 – towards more flexibility and less presence in the office. But we still have to eat healthy, hygienic and fresh. Aitme has built an automated robo kitchen that cooks delicious food at unbeatable prices with the push of a button. Forget canteens, the future of good food is called Aitme ”, says Judith Dada, partner at the Berlin venture capitalist La Famiglia.
- Founder: Aimie-Sarah Carstensen and David Neisinger
- Branch: Events
- What the startup does: Artnight organizes art workshops in bars and restaurants, where the participants paint a work of art under supervision. There are now other variants such as Bakenight (supervised baking) and Plantnight (plants). The startup became known in 2017 with an appearance on the Vox founder show “Die Höhle der Löwen”.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “Artnight switched the entire business model from offline to online workshops practically overnight, and with digital Artnights, Bakenights and Co. also caters to corporate customers who are looking for alternatives to team events. This year, the team has shown resilience, flexibility and creativity. The mission ‘bringing people back together will be more important than ever after Corona,” says Jan-Gisbert Schultze, Managing Partner at Acton Capital.
- Founder: Benjamin Jones
- Branch: Fintech
- What the startup does: Bitwala offers online banking and wallets for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether. According to its own information, the Berlin startup currently has 150,000 customers in 32 countries who hold bitcoins with a total value of 60 million euros.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “Bitwala is a disruptive challenger bank that is fully focused on offering its users innovative investment products such as cryptocurrencies and alternative asset classes in a central bank account. It has shown incredibly strong user growth over the past year, ”says Tim Rehder, partner at Earlybird.
- Founder: Michael Hübl, Michael Grupp and Micha-Manuel Bues
- Branch: Legal Tech
- What the startup does: With Bryter, companies can build their own applications without hiring a programmer. This is made possible by a modular principle. The focus is on applications that automate decisions, such as chatbots or review processes.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “Next year it’s mostly about the US. Bryter has had an office and team in New York for a few months. We are assuming rapid growth here, ”says Rouven Dresselhaus, Managing Partner at Cavalry Ventures. “In general, we believe that next year more and more companies will dedicate themselves to the topic of automation and that digitization will also become a hot topic in compliance, tax and legal departments.”
- Founder: Daniel Schmitt-Haverkamp, Christian Becker and David Löwe
- Branch: Consumer goods / sustainability
- What the startup does: The cleaning startup from Munich sells cleaning agents that you can mix yourself as well as packaging-free dishwasher tabs. The goal: to reduce household waste. According to its own information, the startup has already saved around 1.5 million plastic bottles and processed over 100,000 orders. The startup gained notoriety through Instagram.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “The zeitgeist for sustainability is higher than ever,” says David Fischer from Holtzbrinck Ventures. He is convinced: “Everdrop is revolutionizing how consumers look at their household products and how much they can harm the environment. They also dispel the myth that household products such as cleaners and laundry detergents cannot look appealing and make sustainable products affordable for the mass market. ”
- Founder: Max-Josef Meier, Nikolai Schröder, Andreas Wixler, Maximilian Wühr
- Branch: mobility
- What the startup does: Finn rents cars on subscription. Since it was launched less than a year ago, it says it has brought almost 1,000 car subscriptions onto the streets.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “With the fresh financing of 20 million euros from December (including from the Zalando founders), the company will now scale really strongly in 2021 and bring the efficient business model to a completely different level,” says Rainer Märkle, partner at Holtzbrinck Ventures.
- Founder: Sander van de Rijdt, Clemens Hammerl, Ibrahim Imam
- Branch: PropTech, real estate
- What the startup does: Planradar offers software for documentation and communication in construction and real estate projects.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “Planradar continued to grow in 2020 as well. Despite a challenging market environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Proptech almost doubled its sales compared to the previous year and opened another eight locations. The number of customers rose significantly to over 10,000 with 80,000 users. Expansion into the Arab region and Australia is planned for 2021, ”says Stefan Walter from Cavalry Ventures.
- Founder: Thilo Konzok and Moritz von Hase
- Branch: Proptech / real estate
- What the startup does: Home is a digital property management company. The Berlin startup regulates, for example, new letting or repair management for landlords who can track the status of their property via an app. In 2020 Home received funding of eleven million euros with which it wants to expand into other cities.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “The founders have built an excellent team, won over strong investors and have the potential to completely disrupt their market by creating new asset classes and forms of ownership,” says Jörg Binnenbrücker, partner at Capnamic Ventures.
- Founder: Daniel Metzler, Josef Fleischmann, Markus Brandl
- Branch: Space travel
- What the startup does: The Munich rocket builder is considered the German answer to SpaceX. The startup aims to put satellites into orbit at internationally competitive prices. However, Isar Aerospace has yet to prove that its launchers work. The maiden flight is planned for the last quarter of 2021.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: Isar Aerospace was nominated by two venture capitalists for this year’s watch list. Hendrik Brandis, partner at Earlybird, says: “A first successful start would be a bang for European space travel and would not only open up the exciting market segment of the nearby earth orbit for commercial purposes, but also allow Europe greater independence in access to future infrastructure technologies and applications.” Klaus Hommels from Lakestar also sees great potential in the founders. ”The team is doing pioneering work in hardware and software engineering techniques that enable them to iterate and develop faster than the established companies. They use European talent and production facilities. ”
- Founder: Timon Ruban, Sebastian Schaal
- Branch: electronics
- What the startup does: Luminovo started as an agency that built tailor-made AI solutions for companies from various industries. The startup now focuses on software for the electronics industry.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “Luminovo is building the operating system of the electronics industry and will be launched on the market in 2021 – this is what world-class innovation Made in Germany looks like!”, Says Judith Dada, partner at the Berlin venture capitalist La Famiglia.
- Founder: Eugene Danilkis, Sofia Nunes, Frederik Pfisterer
- Branch: Fintech
- What the startup does: Mambu is one of the largest German fintechs. The startup offers its customers a core banking system based on the modular model. This should enable both young fintechs and global banks to adapt their internal processes more quickly.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “The pressure to innovate in the banking sector is currently being increased by the Corona crisis. In order to master this successfully, Mambu’s software solutions are more in demand than ever by established financial institutions ”, says Fritz Oidtmann, Managing Partner at Acton Capital.
- Founder: Tobias Buxhoidt, Julian Krenge and Anton Eder
- Branch: logistics
- What the startup does: Parcellab informs customers of online shops about the shipping status of their order. The technology is used by, for example, Ikea, Lidl and Puma.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “More than 500 brands already trust Parcellab. In addition, Parcellab was able to quickly build up a global presence with branches in Great Britain, France and also the USA – in addition to the home market of Germany ”, says Christian Siegele, partner at Capnamic Ventures. “In 2021, this global expansion will continue to grow, making Parcellab an incredibly hot player in the digital logistics space.”
- Founder: Humberto Ayres Pereira and Torben Schulz
- Branch: Productivity / software
- What the startup does: Rows is competing to become the Excel of the 21st century. With the program, tables and calculations should look nicer and be easier to handle, for example through automation. The software is expected to be launched in 2021.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “Rows will revolutionize the use of spreadsheets, users can program their own business apps via integrations and work on them with colleagues. Quasi a spreadsheet with superpowers! ”Says Filip Dames, partner at Cherry Ventures.
- Founder: Christian Hülsewig, Thomas Hagedorn
- Branch: construction
- What the startup does: Schüttflix is an online trading platform for building materials. If you need larger amounts of sand, gravel and split, you can compare the prices of more than 200 providers there. According to the company, this shortens delivery times many times over. The actress and presenter Sophia Thomalla has been on board as a celebrity investor since 2019.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “With more than 15,000 orders for sand, gravel and gravel, 20 million euros in fresh capital in 2020, Nils Klose as the second managing director and the cooperation with STRABAG, 2021 can be a crazy year for Schüttflix”, forecasts Felix Klühr, Principal at Holtzbrinck Ventures.
- Founder: Jan Micha Kroll, Timo Stosius and Daniel Zacharias
- Branch: education
- What the startup does: With their app, the founders want to build a “digital classroom” in which students and teachers can communicate online. The functions include an overview of the timetable and substitutions, homework lists and appointments.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “Sdui is one of the fastest growing EduTech startups in Germany and has established itself as a real problem solver (not only) in the current pandemic situation in the German educational landscape”, sums up Tanja Emmerling, partner at High-Tech Gründerfonds.
- Founder: Monja Mühling, Matthias Baur, Florian Schimandl
- Branch: logistics
- What the startup does: The Munich startup helps logistics providers with route planning in freight transport in order to utilize their truck fleets more efficiently.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “We are currently seeing an enormous development in software at Smartlane and have now finally found our product-market fit in the general cargo area. After we were able to achieve major cost savings with the first customers in this area in 2020, our pipeline for 2021 is already well filled, ”says Frank Thelen, partner at Freigeist Capital.
- Founder: Christian Königsheim, Roger Gothmann, Matthias Allmendinger
- Branch: Fintech
- What the startup does: Taxdoo supports international e-commerce retailers in the legally compliant processing of sales tax and financial accounting. According to the company, 1,000 online retailers are already using the service. In December, it raised 17 million euros from international donors, including the Silicon Valley investor Accel.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “The continuing boom in e-commerce, the increasing number of cross-border transactions and the outstanding performance create the best conditions for Taxdoo to get started in 2021”, says Tanja Emmerling, partner at High-Tech Gründerfonds.
- Founder: Michael Baumann and Stephan Rohr
- Branch: E-mobility
- What the startup does: Twaice, a spin-off from the Technical University of Munich, is developing analysis software for batteries. For example, operational failures should be recognized and prevented in good time. This can be interesting, for example, when servicing e-cars.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “Twaice has built one of the leading battery analysis teams in the world. The team is developing software that is central to the advancement of battery technology, the introduction of electromobility and energy storage in general, ”says Thomas Lueke, partner at Cherry Ventures.
- Founder: Martin Kassing
- Branch: Fintech
- What the startup does: The company, founded in 2017, offers an interface with which fintechs can integrate digital investment products into their portfolio. For example, apps that allow users to invest in ETFs or stocks.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “Upvest has tremendous potential to transform the European securities infrastructure,” says Earlybird partner Tim Rehder. The product contains “a unique value proposition that goes hand in hand with a high level of regulatory and technical complexity.”
- Founder: Claudia and Benedikt Sauter
- Branch: ERP software
- What the startup does: In the Corona crisis, many companies were forced to relocate their processes to the Internet. Xentral helps with this. With the software from the start-up, companies can manage their logistics, accounting, personnel planning, purchasing goods and sales channels.
- Reason why it belongs on the watchlist 2021: “With an unbelievable growth rate of 3x in 2020, Xentral has shown that the product is experiencing a lot of traction on the market,” says Frank Thelen, partner at Freigeist Capital. “The great numbers have already caught the attention of some well-known international investors. We firmly expect that Xentral will have big announcements in 2021. ”
Collaboration: Solveig Gode, Alex Hofmann, Georg Räth