Which are the smart companies and interesting start ups you need to know in Germany?
Last few months I've been keeping busy exploring the start up scene in different cities throughout Germany. What I discovered eventually found its way into pieces on Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg, München and Frankfurt. I write about smart/new companies I come across or about interesting findings on companies you might already know.
To aid my search I use Mattermark as a fundament. Mattermark is a great big data tool for private companies. It puts all kinds of indicators (web traffic, social media presence, mobile downloads, etc) together into their so called 'Mindshare Score' (MS) which helps to quickly identify companies whose online footprint is growing the fastest. If you'd like to know more about Mattermark and how I use it, I go more into detail in my first article on Cologne.
To get the full picture, I have an arsenal of tools to dive deeper into any company I find. But time and again I find myself using Mattermark. It is a tool I highly advise to anybody interested in getting a clear overview and hard data on companies in any particular field or region.
To sum up my current report and to be able to move onto another country, the Netherlands, I present to you my quick review on which start ups you need to know and what you need to know about them in the top 50 companies in Germany, as provided by the Mattermark index,.
But first, the list of the top 50 companies in Germany according to Mattermark:
To summarize: 32 of the 50 companies on the list are located in Berlin. That makes Berlin, overwhelmingly, the city with the biggest start up culture. It has the biggest density in creativity, which is felt in the general scope of most companies. Runner-up Munich (5) has a unique perspective on business and providing services that the market requires. It's different in turn from Hamburg (3) which is very technically focussed. It also definitely differs from Berlin which is very artistically focussed.
Whereas Berlin is occupied by creating products in the realm of music, art and marketplaces and Hamburg focusses more on supporting the mechanisms that make those companies possible, Munich's perspective is on building companies that combine and collaborate services and products and help people reach an informed decision about anything. Read more on the top 3 cities Berlin, Munich and Hamburg in my articles.
My take on specific companies on the list:
(#1) Sandoz(Holzkirchen. MS: 67): Heading this list is Sandoz, which isn't at startup. At all. They are part of the public pharmaceutical giant Novartis and yes, they are a young company. What distinguishes a startup then, you might ask? According to Forbes, a startup is a recently established company with a loose organizational structure that tries to disrupt an industry, invent something new or improve a genre in a way that hasn't been done before. Sandoz is young and produces great products, but the winner on this list is not the winner in my book.
(#2) Zalando(Berlin, MS: 308): I wrote about Zalando in my article on Berlin. This passage sums it up: "a closer look into Zalando’s stats shows that their Mindshare Score has never been really high nor has there been much growth momentum over the last two years. They’re growing in size alright, but their name isn’t exponentially calling out more consumers over the internet every month. That makes sense, because they're pretty big, and obviously growth slows at this point, relatively speaking".
(#5) Soundcloud (Berlin, MS: 943): Roger, my co-writer, is a great fan of Soundcloud and I guess that makes him one of the steady stream of happy customers that Soundcloud keeps attracting on. Their Mindshare Score has held steady for a year (which is remarkable on Mattermark) and their Growth Score is equally rock solid (I show you in the two graphs below). Impressive feat: this Berliner company attracts 25 million (!) new visitors every month.
> These graphs represent the Growth Score and Mindshare Score for Soundcloud over time:
But really though, what is that dip around May 2013.. Can anybody tell me?
(#6) Dubsmash(Berlin, MS: 1263: Some of you might have used it, but you all probably know it. Personal opinion: I really don't know what all the fuzz is about, but people (mostly celebrities) seem to love it. I guess it's a great marketingtool to show that fun-loving/crazy side of you. Especially if your face is on tv. Dubsmash is hiring but their MS chart does show a bit of a decline since April and their Historical Growth score is dipping seriously. But then again, the company is only just a year old. Buzzing or bubble? Please comment.
(#8) Junique: (Berlin, MS: 1010) Stays true to its Berlin roots and offers a platform to buy high-quality affordable art. I wrote on it as well in the Berliner article: 'Great team. I had the opportunity to invest at its seed round, came very close, and declined. Big mistake.'
(#11) Giant Swarm(Cologne, MS: 841): The great team behind Giant Swarm from Cologne is doing an amazing job at enabling developers to easily build, deploy, and manage their containerized services as well as collaborate on and share their architecture templates. As they put it: 'We are especially optimized for applications that are built in a microservice style. We offer an opinionated solution, but maintain the flexibility to change the tooling to your own liking and needs.' They're high on the list and for good reason. Check out their Mindshare score in relation to their date of birth (2014!) and join me in awe. Just one thing though: as a web-based company, the monthly unique visitor score offers an insight into the popularity and success of the company. They've sky-rocketed ever since they opened up for office. Right until April that is.. Check the graph below, did everybody in IT suddenly go on vacation?
(#14) Dataconomy(Berlin, MS: 832): As I wrote before, Dataconomy is a portal about data science, part of Hitfox. Surprisingly high on the list. But as a smart media company, they know how to use social media. Twitter in particular. This gives them an advantage in the way Mattermark measures. They've dipped in MS score though since I last checked (which is May 15) and went from 1169 to 832. April/May however seems to have been a key turning point for them, since right around that time they somehow had fewer monthly unique visitors, an almost lineair decline in inbound links from other websites and fewer Twitter mentions. Why oh why..
(#34) AnyDesk(Stuttgart, MS: 595): I wanted to include at least one other company from I city a hadn't featured before. Unfortunately, this proved not to be an easy find. Not because there aren't any cool companies, there just aren't very many. AnyDesk however fits my requirements and this is clearly represented in their website header: "Working together? Accessing your apps from the road? Showing family photo's to your friends? No problem with AnyDesk. And your data stays at home."
AnyDesk is not the first one who does this, but who cares if you do it better? With a name that says it all and a very catchy approach to marketing, I think this is a clear example of how sometimes you need just the right things to say to let a product stand out from the crowd. They advocate easy of use, security and efficiency as their prime unique selling points. Their data shows some irregularities though as shown in the graphs below. I've never seen a declining historical growth rate in a company that's experiencing a growing number of unique monthly visitors. Maybe their PR and marketing division is really doing the great work I say they are but is their sales team not able to close with the same success?
(#35) Kreditech (Hamburg, MS: 289): I've said this before and I'll say it again: Kreditech. Is. Awesome. It surprises me that their Mindshare score is declining (from 316 to 289 since the last time I checked), compared to the momentum they have. Kreditech uses big data algorithms and automated processes to score everyone worldwide and they mean everyone (also the 4 billion unbanked inhabitants of this earth that do not have a credit score). It's like Mattermark, but for people. I love big data.
(#38) COBI (Frankfurt, MS: 436): This company had Roger (aka 'the biking Dutchman') jumping in his seat again. COBI describes itself as the smarted connected biking system and they've been praised by Kickstarter as a 'staff pick'. They've exceeded their original Kickstarter goal four times when they collected 400.000, received millions in funding from several partners and have now invested in distribution and serial production. They are still declining in historical growth score though (as shown in the graph below), since I last reported on them. Maybe they really are too expensive (starting at 179,-)?
(#50) ArangoDB(Cologne, MS: 511): Something weird is happening. This final company closing the lines of the top 50 companies in Germany is actually the #1 in Cologne. Which is strange because Giant Swarm is from Cologne and it ranks #11 in the Germany list. But let me explain, Mattermark makes a difference between Köln and Cologne. And even though you can search for Cologne in the database, somehow you can't for Köln. Which is why I'm happy we're looking at Germany today and Giant Swarm showed up. Wouldn't want to miss that one! The company 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: a distributed free and open-source database with a flexible data model for documents,graphs, and key-values. Related to Giant Swarm, but great in its own way.
Now that you've read my overview, summary and personal picks it's time to hear your comments.