Top German Startups to Watch in 2021

Top German Startups to Watch in 2021

Germany has been a strong, well-organised and unique startup ecosystem for quite some time already. They’re known for fostering innovation and talent all across the continent and have generated numerous global success stories during the last years. The country gets lots of funding and support from the government and corporate businesses. The European corporate venture investors are the most active in Germany. The country was ranked number one in Europe for start-ups by NimbleFins in 2019.

The most unique thing about Germany is that’s the country doesn’t have only one Digital Hub. Berlin and Munich still dominate, if you look at start-up activity, but there are twelve smaller, but thriving, Digital Hubs across the country. International VCs looking for specific profiles, are attracted to these growing specialised hubs. It helps to connect and combine forces on the local and national level.

While there are many different specialisations, Germany is the best in deep-tech. They ranked third place globally for having the most deep-tech start-ups, after the US and China. Their main strengths are AI & Machine learning, logistics, mobility and IOT. But who are the players everyone should know? Here you will find a list of the top 20 German startups of 2021.

1. Research gate

Year founded: 2008

HQ: Berlin

Size: 201-500

Founders: Dr. Iljad Madisch, Dr. Sören Hofmayer and Horst Fickenscher.

ResearchGate is your go-to academic social networking site if you want to indulge yourself with scientific knowledge or want to share your work. You can get in contact with researchers around the world, ask questions and get the statistics you need.

They call it ‘Facebook for scientists. Founded in Boston, but moved to Berlin and now start-up number one in Germany. They raised 87.6M USD in funding over 4 rounds. With one of the 22 investors being Bill Gates, this must be the opening of this list.


2. Adjust

Year founded: 2012

HQ: Berlin


Founders: Christian Henschel and Paul H. Müller

Adjust is an intelligent mobile analytics company. The platform provides marketing automation products, fraud prevention solutions, measurement and cybersecurity. Adjust raised a total of 255.9M USD in funding over 6 rounds and spread over 9 investors.

Their latest and most successful round was in June 2019 and raised 229M USD. They have big brands as clients like Pinterest, Runtastic, NBCUniversal, Canon, BlaBlaCar, Viber,, HelloFresh, Manchester United and Universal Music Group.

Recently Adjust acquired a few businesses to expand their service and formed a partnership with the Japanese marketing agency Adways obtaining Adway’s tool PartyTrack. Take all of this into consideration and you can’t disagree with Adjust being number 2 in our list of top 20 German Start-ups.



Year founded: 2009

HQ: Berlin

Size: 11-50

Founders: Christian Kroll is a non-profit organization and search engine. They donate 80% of its search ad revenue profits to programs that plant trees in Burkino Faso, Indonesia, Madagascar and Peru.They raised 15K EUR in funding over 2 rounds.Their latest investment in TreeCard was valued at 1M USD. Not only because of the good cause but also because of the new investment, this is definitely a start-up to follow.

4. Wandelbots

Year founded: 2017

HQ: Dresden

Size: 51-100

Founders: Christian Piechnick, Dr. Georg Püschel, Maria Piechnick, Jan Falkenberg, Giang Nguyen, Sebastian Werner and Christoph Biering

Wandelbots is a technology platform and launched software that allows non-programmers to teach industrial robots to complete tasks more precisely, cheaper and faster. The Wandelbots software tracks human motion to live-control industrial robots, with sensors attached to clothes.

They have raised a total of 38.2M USD in funding in 4 rounds. The Series B round, their latest one in June 2020, gave them 30M USD. Wandelbots already works with companies like Siemens, Volkswagen, Microsoft, BMW and Infineon. They got published by Forbes, TechCrunch and Gartner.

Because Wandelbots have support from investors like the federal ministry for economic affairs and energy, it makes them a start-up well worthy on this list.


5. OroraTech

Year founded: 2018

HQ: Munich

Size: 11-50

Founders: Björn Stoffers, Florian Mauracher, Rupert Amann and Thomas Grübler

OroraTech is the first commercial supplier of infrared satellite data for early detection and real-time monitoring of wildfires around the world. They use NewSpace intelligence for a sustainable earth.

They raised 1.6M EU over 5 rounds. Their latest round in May 2020 was good for 845K EUR. Awareness in the New Space sector is growing and more investors are looking into space. The start-up is part of the Google Accelerator for start-ups program. Their system is already used in Australia and Canada, nations that are suffering from wildfires a lot. OroraTech is planning to launch its own nanosatellites in the next five years.

With everything going on in the world, I would say OroraTech deserves a spot in the top 20 German Start-ups.


6. Coya

Year founded: 2016

HQ: Berlin

Size: 101-250

Founders: Andres Shaw, Peter Hagen and Sebastian Villaroel

Coya is an online insurance provider company on its way to becoming Europe’s number one digital insurer. They offer transparent insurance products at low cost and taking away the need for agents and brokers.

Their first product, Home Contents Insurance, already raised $40 million, in 2 rounds. With this money, they are establishing their footprint in the German market, but they plan to expand to the rest of Europe.

Coya have big plans for the platform, in the future, more insurance products will be added. This startup is one to look out for.


7. Penta

Year founded: 2016

HQ: Berlin

Size: 101-250

Founders: Aleksandar Orlic, Igor Kuschnir, Jessica Holzbach, Lav Odorovic, Luka Ivicevic, Matteo Concas and Sir Gabriel Holbach

Penta is a digital platform for business banking that helps every type of business open a free bank account in a few minutes. Their mission is to disrupt business banking in Europe and worldwide.

Penta raised 39.7M EU over 6 rounds and is funded by 10 investors. They finalized their series B round in July 2020 by adding another 4M EU to the already 18.5M EU, which was raised in March the same year. Penta have around 20,000 businesses as clients.

It is a strong signal that the new investors, S7V and Presight Capital, were willing to add Penta to their portfolio during the coronavirus crisis. A start-up with a promising business model and huge growth potential that deserves a spot on our list.


8. E-bot7

Year founded: 2016

HQ: München

Size: 51-200

Founders: Fabian Beringer, Maximillian Gerer and Xaver Lehmann

e-bot7 helps with growing the efficiency of customer service operations. They automate existing or custom CRM systems by integrating an AI layer into it. The AI is constantly learning.

In 4 rounds they raised 8.1M EU and they have 4 investors. They belonged to the 12 semi-finalists for ‘4YFN Start-up Awards for the most promising start-ups’.

This start-up could change the business and consumer world as we know it and that’s one of the reasons it belongs on our list.


9. JustWatch

Year founded: 2014

HQ: Berlin

Size: 11-50

Founders: David Croyé

JustWatch is a streaming search engine. It helps you find where to watch movies and tv shows legally online.They have grown more than 10 million users, in 38 countries and recently expanded to the U.S. with the acquisition, on December 9th, 2019, of GoWatchIt, a New-York based rival.While it started as a web app optimized for smartphones and tablets, it now works on laptops and computers too. As a business model, they’re building a fully integrated adtech stack to be able to target the right audience for movie studios’ advertisements.Their goal is to make movie marketing more valuable and less annoying for users and more efficient for advertisers. For sure a worthy start-up for this list.


Year founded: 2011

HQ: Berlin and Dresden

Size: 101-250

Founders: Benjamin Bak, Bjorn Bak and Ilja Gorelik

LOVOO is a network to meet new people and a dating app, available in 15 languages. Millions of people around the world are using the app. In 2017 The Meet Group, a U.S.-based social platform for meeting new people on the web, acquired LOVOO for 70M USD.

They were one of the first dating app providers in Germany and they’re a trendsetter and pioneer in app development. So LOVOO can’t be missed on our list.


11. Babbel

Year founded: 2007

HQ: Berlin

Size: 501 – 1000

Founders: Lorenz Heine, Markus Witte and Thomas Holl

Babbel is the world’s first language learning app. A pioneer and leader in the online language learning world and an international success story with millions of people using their app.

They got ranked as ‘number 1 of innovative company in education of the world’ and got mentioned by Fast Company Magazine as ‘the most innovative education company of 2016’.

Babbel is funded by 8 investors and has raised 33.3M USD over 4 rounds.

Babbel also acquired 3 organizations: FriendsAbroad, PlaySay and LingoVentura. With the acquisition of LingoVentura, in 2018, they announced their expansion into the language travel market. All in all, a big player and no doubt a must on this list.


12. Komoot

Year founded: 2010

HQ: Potsdam

Size: 151-100

Founders: Christoph Lingg, Jonas Spengler, Markus Hallermann and Tobias Hallermann

Komoot is a personal guide for a great outdoor experience. It’s Europe’s most used app for planning and navigating cycling and hiking routes. Their app is used by millions of people all over Europe.

They’ve recently partnered with Bosch to develop advanced integrations for their e-bikes. As you see they’re constantly growing and moving with the market and are very on top of the game.

They’re funded by 3 investors. They’re being mentioned in a lot of ‘top’ and ‘best’ outdoor/ mapping lists.

Like we mention them in our top 20 German Start-up list, where they belong.


13. AnyDesk Software GmbH

Year founded: 2012

HQ: Stuttgart

Size: 11-50

Founders: Andreas Burike, Andreas Mähler, Olaf Liebe and Phillip Weiser

AnyDesk is a remote desktop application that’s known globally. They’ve raised a total of 6.5M EU over 3 rounds. AnyDesk is funded by 5 investors. They are listed as one of the 50 fastest-growing businesses in Germany.

In July 2020 they announced their 100 millionth download with around 7 million users being added each month. Working from home used to be the exception to the rule, nowadays with COVID-19 forcing people to work from home, it’s becoming the new norm.

They recently, in November 2020, partnered with HTC. HTC delivered the world’s first 5G smart hub and it comes pre-installed with AnyDesk.

AnyDesk states this collaboration is only the first of many innovations, so we need to keep an eye on them the next year. Undoubtedly one of the top start-ups in Germany.


14. Adblock Plus

Year founded: 2011

HQ: Cologne

Size: 11-50

Founders: Wladimir Palant

Adblock Plus is a free extension that allows you to block online advertising and customize your web experience. It had been downloaded more than 250 million times. Eyeo GmbH was founded to manage this project and to develop solutions.

They were listed in 2013 in Pc Magazine as one of the best free Google Chrome extensions. The same year they received an ‘ readers’ choice award for best privacy/security add-on’.

Who doesn’t want to have the best web experience? Given the answer, Adblock Plus is a worthy name on this list.


15. Zalando

Year founded: 2008

HQ: Berlin

Size: 10001+

Founders: David Schneider and Robert Gentz

Zalando is an online fashion platform. They’ve become Europe’s number one online fashion retailer. On their website, you can find 1.500 brands and more than 150.000 product choices. They have over 17 million customers in 15 countries Zalando had 8 rounds of funding and they raised a total of 467.7M EU. Zalando is funded by 11 investors. Their stock opened in its October 1st, 2014 IPO with 21.50EU. They raised 605M EU since then.

They made 11 investments. The most recent one was on 24 September 2020, when Magazino raised 21M EU.

Zalando also acquired 7 companies. The most recent one, meepl, a body scan feature for close size recommendations, on 16 October 2020. They also had 2 exits. On the whole, Zalando is a big player and keeps thriving forward with their innovations.

They’re always a step ahead. A must on this list.


16. FlixMobility

Year founded: 2011

HQ: Munich

Size: 1001-5000

Founders: Andre Schwammlein, Daniel Krauss and Jochen Engert

FlixMobility is a mobility provider that gives suitable, environmentally-friendly and affordable travel options via FlixBus and Flixtrain. They quickly created Europe’s biggest long-distance bus network and launched, in 2018, the first green trains. The same year they also started a pilot project for all-electric buses in Germany and France. FlixBus USA was launched in 2018.

They’ve raised 500M EU over 6 rounds with 15 investors. FlixBus has acquired 5 companies, the most recent one was Eurolines S.A. on the 4th of March 2019. They also invested in Alasco in July 2020. This investment was valued at 7.5M EU.

The special combination of e-commerce platform, classic transport company and technology start-up has made FlixMobility a leader against big international corporations and a name on our list.


17. EyeEm

Year founded: 2011

HQ: Berlin

Size: 101-250

Founders: Florian Meissner, Gen Sadakane, Lorenz Aschoff and Ramzi Rizk

EyeEm is a company that builds computer vision technology to connect the cosmic’s creative community with established brands. They showcase more than 90 million images from the world’s leading photo community. It’s a mobile photo app that mixes a social photo platform with stock photography.

They had 5 funding rounds and raised a total of 24M USD. EyeEm is funded by 7 investors. They acquired in August 2014.

In 2018 LG turned to EyeEm to add new features to their camera. They’re using EyeEm’s AI system. Given the fact that they started as an underground art movement and have grown into the planet’s most engaged online photography marketplace and community, they have a well-deserved spot on this list.


18. Inkitt

Year founded: 2014

HQ: Berlin

Size: 51-100

Founders: Ali Albazaz

Inkitt is a digital platform for writing, sharing and reading novels online. The platform gives people the chance to read books that haven’t been published yet. They have developed a computer algorithm to predict book success based on reader behavior.

They’ve raised 21M USD over 3 rounds and is funded by 20 investors. Their app is being downloaded over 100.000 times a month and the monthly visits on their website keep growing.

In 2016 Inkitt worked together with Tor, a publisher, to release the first book picked by an algorithm. They’ve been mentioned by the BBC, Forbes, the Guardian and TechCrunch and loved by people all around the world. A reputable name on this list.


19. Blinkist

Year founded: 2012

HQ: Berlin

Size: 51-100

Founders: Holger Seim, Niklas Jansen, Sebastian Klein and Tobias Balling

Blinkist offers a mobile app that allows you to read or listen to the key insights of best-selling non-fiction books in 15 minutes.

They’ve been nominated as one of the best in the App Store, have received ‘the World Summit Award’ in the Learning & Education category and won a ‘Google Material Design Award’ for Brand Expressiveness.

They’ve raised 34.8 M USD over 5 rounds and is funded by 7 investors. No argument here, a big game changer and we must mention them in our top 20 German Start-up list.


20. Personio

Year founded: 2015

HQ: München

Size: 501-1000

Founders: Arseniy Vershinin, Hanno Renne, Ignaz Forstmeier and Roman Schumacher

Personio is a company giving all-in-one cloud-based HR software for start-ups and small and medium-sized companies. Because the companies can manage and store all employee data and HR processes in one place. It includes human resources, recruiting and payroll, so it supports every HR process.

The tech market intelligence platform CB Insights included Perrsonio in the list of 50 promising global companies set to achieve a billion-dollar valuation. They gave them ‘unicorn’ status in June 2020. They also have offices in Madrid, London and Dublin.

Earlier this year they’ve had raised 75M USD, bringing its total funding to 129.3M USD.

Personio is backed by 16 investors. One of them is the Silicon Valley venture capital fund Accel, which has previously invested in game-changers like Dropbox and Slack. They’ve acquired Rollbox, an API Payroll Engine, in April 2019.

You can say that with around 2.000 customers already, they’re moving deeper into the company market in Europe. And with that, a noble add to our list.


21. Alugha

Year founded: 2014

HQ: Mannheim

Size: 11-50

Founders: Bernd Korz, Gregor Greinert, Ithamar Adema and Niklas Korz

One extra name for you, a nice bonus on this list. Alugha is an all in one place solution for converting your video into a multilingual video. They give a complete video translation and distribution solution, so it will be possible to host, translate, subtitle, transcribe, voiceover and publish multilingual videos.They give you the tools to become multilingual with only one adaptive video streamed into the viewer’s language.Alugha raised a total of 4.7M USD in funding over 3 rounds and is funded by Greinert Verwaltungsgesellschaft. They’re currently working on the technical development of the software and the design, services and sales. I would say, keep an eye on this start-up, it’s going to be a gamechanger.

This article was originally published on Startup Stash.

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