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The Cologne Start Up Scene According To Mattermark Data

Many Internet investors use a tool called Mattermark.com to research, prospect and track the fastest growing private companies all over the globe. I was curious: how does my home town of Cologne, Germany, stack up here?

For a while now, I have been using a tool called Mattermark.com for research (unfortunately it's quite an expensive subscription, but there's a great free trial I can recommend to anyone). Mattermark basically collects information of all sorts (social presence, web site stats, press hits, backlinks and much more) which can be used as indicators for the success of a web site or company.

All indicators are put together into their so called 'Mindshare Score' which helps quickly identify companies whose online footprint is growing the fastest. It is measured on a weekly basis and averaged over time to provide a trending metric over time.

The Mindshare Score is determined by tracking six signals and measuring how they change over time:

  • Estimated web traffic
  • Estimated mobile app downloads
  • Inbound links from other websites
  • Company profile followers on Twitter
  • Company page likes on Facebook
  • Company page followers on LinkedIn
A positive score indicates aggregate growth across these signals, a score closer to zero indicates a plateau, and a negative score indicates a declining online footprint.
At first glance, it seems a little superficial, but the tool definitely seems to work. Looking at global data, the usual suspects (Uber, Airbnb, Tesla, Palantir, etc.) come out on top.
Now I wanted to know, in a town where I know the start up scene quite well, namely my home town of Cologne, Germany, would I still agree with the output of the tool?
So I selected 'Companies from Cologne only'  and received the following results:
I found the results quite interesting:
  • The company on top, ArangoDB, is certainly no household name. But it's one of the few truly innovative Cologne dev companies with a meaningful product and global interest in its product. Maybe the only other company somewhat similar to that is Giant Swarm - also a fantastic team!
  • I'm obviously happy that my own company, Adblock Plus / Eyeo, grabbed the #2 spot with a Growth Score of 521 and a Mindshare Score of 477. Having some inside knowledge, it allowed me to dig deeper into Mattermark's results. AdblockPlus's full stats profile is as follows:
While it's not bad, clearly the lack of a significant mobile presence and a somewhat sub-optimal social presence (at least compared to Adblock Plus's vast user base of over 60 million world-wide) is keeping the score below its full potential. Rightly so, that's all stuff we need to work on.
  • The number 3 position should actually be held by my former company, Sedo.com, which I helped found and ran as the CEO for 10 years. My successor, Tobias, and his team are doing a great job keeping it up there with a growth score of 410... but it's classified under 'Boston' as its headquarters, which is indeed Sedo's US headquarters, but not it's global one - that one is proudly Cologne!
  • Instead, the number 4 position is, oddly, held by Germanwings, which is neither a tech company nor private (it's part of Lufthansa AG). The company is currently in the news a lot for the very sad plane crash a few weeks ago, which shocked and saddened us particularily here in the Cologne-Düsseldorf region where is was supposed to land and where many of the victims came from.
  • Number 4 is the name of a product (Foxydeal) which is produced by the company ranking under Number 6 (R&E Media), so it's essentially the same. This is a good example for a company with a great team which is quietly but very successfully doing its job of building a remarkable company... opposed to wasting time on networking and start up bullshit. For that reason, only insiders know them here, but they totally deserve their high ranking!
  • I have no idea why StartupNext (Number 5) is on there... can anyone tell me?
  • Number 7 (Userlike) surprised me as well. It's a good product with a good team, but I had no idea they were doing that well. I saw their pitch over two years ago and declined to invest, but I guess that was the wrong decision. Motivated to contact their CEO again, and I'll swing by for a coffee sometime. I'm actually biking past their office every morning and evening.
  • Squeaker.net (Number 8) has been founded by an old friend of mine, together with Sedo - and companies like HRS.de - it's among the Web 1.0 batch of companies started around 2000.
  • Number 9, Miacosa, shut its doors, so they shouldn't be on there, clearly.
  • Number 10, Linguee, is another "hidden champion." Lots of users, but not many people know them (I also didn't know they were from Cologne).
The list goes on and on, with some companies which really are surprises to me, others which are among the leading web companies in Cologne (like Pixum, Reputami, Quintly, Studitemps, Cleverbridge, Hitmeister) and clearly deserve to be up there in the top 50.
Others, like HRS.de are missing, but they should be up there.
Overall: Given that those lists are available world-wide and not curated, it's a remarkably good list and it can in many cases separate start ups which are just noisy from the ones which actually have real traction.
What do you think? Which start ups are missing, overrated or underrated?
Viva Colonia!  --- I'm gonna follow up with an article on how this stacks up against Berlin... and against Düsseldorf, our favorite neighboring city ;-)
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