The Hottest Startups in Berlin

Berlin remains one of Europe’s top tech hubs, with Atomico’s 2021 State of European Tech report ranking the city second only to London in capital investment after its startups collectively raised US$7.1 billion (about US$7.3 billion) in 2021 alone euros) had raised. It’s also been a steady uptrend, with investments up 150 percent year-on-year since 2017.

“We are finally reaping the rewards of an ecosystem that has been slow to develop,” says Bettine Schmitz, business angel and founder of Auxxo, a VC fund focused on female founders. “Now we have a solid base of angels, investors and scaled startups producing experienced future founders or C-levels.” With many big reviews like N26 and Contentful and new investors on the scene, Berlin is more alive than ever.

Julien Fredonie, Head of Strategic Venture Partnerships in Europe and Africa for Honda’s Xcelerator program, notes Berlin’s transformation from an e-commerce and app powerhouse to a serious deep-tech hub: Think hardware, AI, Web3, Space, new materials, energy and biotechnology. “Berlin is developing into a leading climate technology center in Europe,” he says. “It attracts global talent with a good quality of life and an international mindset.”

Form

A pioneer in lab-grown cheese (that tastes really good), Formo was founded by Raffael Wohlgensinger and Britta Winterberg in 2019 and became Europe’s first cellular farming company, using milk proteins to create animal-free dairy products. “Through precision fermentation, our rewired microorganisms produce nature-identical milk components, reducing the need for industrial milk and removing some of the most damaging elements of our food system,” says Wohlgensinger. Lionheart Ventures, Happiness Capital and Albert Wenger helped raise €42 million – the largest venture funding round in the European foodtech industry to date. Now, Formo is focused on scaling production at its microorganism dairies, bringing products to market by 2023 and replacing 10 percent of milk consumption in Europe by 2030. “Precision fermentation is used to make highly specialized compounds, not bulk ingredients like milk, so we’re investing in big facilities to brew milk at scale,” says Wohlgensinger. Flavor remains its north star – Formo works with Michelin-starred chef Ricky Saward to develop European specialties like mozzarella and ricotta. formo.bio

Sarah Bechstein, co-founder of FORMEL Skin, a digital platform for dermatologists.Photo: Wolfgang Stahr

FORMULA skin

Sarah Bechstein’s desire to pursue a career in dermatology began with severe acne as a teenager. While studying at the renowned Charité Berlin teaching clinic, one of her professors treated her acne flare-up with compound medicines that combine two or more medicines for a more personalized treatment. “I knew this was the type of treatment I wanted to offer my patients,” says Bechstein. “When telemedicine was liberalized, I saw it as my chance to change something in this broken system.” In June 2020, Bechstein and co-founders Florian Semler and Anton Kononov launched FORMEL Skin, a digital platform for dermatologists to help patients with chronic skin diseases faster to make diagnoses. Based on a questionnaire and the transmission of photos, experts then create a personalized treatment plan, which is adjusted through regular check-ins. It has offered 150,000 treatments in Germany and Switzerland and plans to expand outside of Europe soon. Pricing starts at around €50 for a monthly subscription and has so far raised €36 million from Singular, Heal Capital and Vorwerk Ventures. formulaskin.de

Enpal

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Dubbed Germany’s first “green unicorn” after raising €150 million from tech investor Softbank in October 2021, Enpal was founded in 2017 and is now Germany’s largest solar solutions provider with over 12,000 homeowners on its books. Proprietary AI software plans the solar array in seconds, and a team of Enpal installers mount the photovoltaic panels on the roofs. With a subscription model starting at €49 per month to pay for panel leasing and usage, Enpal solves many of the problems of adopting solar energy, from installation bureaucracy to high upfront costs. The Enpal Academy trains future installers of solar systems, and the employees also lend a hand, because 400 of the 1,000 employees are trained and active in the installation. The founders Jochen Ziervogel, Mario Kohle and Viktor Wingert want to make renewable energies accessible to everyone at home and abroad and create an Enpal customer network to share energy for electricity, mobility and heat. enpal. en

moss

Moss, which is nearing unicorn status, was valued at over $500 million less than two and a half years after its launch in early 2019, with recent funding spearheaded by Tiger Global Management and A-Star. It offers corporate credit cards that allow small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to track their spending. Transactions are instantly reflected in Moss dashboards and employees can generate virtual cards for online payments. After issuing 20,000 cards and processing 250,000 transactions in Germany and the Netherlands, the founders Ante Spittler, Anton Rummel, Ferdinand Meyer and Stephan Haslebacher are now bringing the Moss model to Great Britain. getmoss.com

Stenon

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Founded in 2018, Stenon eliminates the time it takes to send soil samples to labs for testing and helps growers make faster, more efficient crop growing decisions. The startup makes the FarmLab portable soil analysis tool, which uses sensors to instantly generate parameters like soil temperature, moisture, nutrient levels, and pH. “Soil data is a crucial factor in making better decisions, increasing productivity and at the same time working sustainably,” says founder Dominic Roth. “Stenon is a leader in providing high-quality, real-time soil data and aims not only to provide growers with high return-on-investment solutions, but also to expand the global soil data layer to improve the food system.” space and is scheduled to launch in the UK and California next year. Stenon has raised over $26.8 million. stenon.io

April

The raging battle for talent for knowledge workers means that companies today are desperate for ways to attract and retain the best employees, creating an important power shift between employers and employees. Apryl is the only pan-European platform of its kind for fertility benefits, enabling companies to support employees on their journey to parenthood. Employee benefits include grants for care navigation, consultations, access to clinics, and treatments such as egg and sperm freezing, IVF, adoption, and surrogacy. $4.3 million was raised. apryl.co

Raffael Wohlgensinger, Founder and CEO of Formo.Photo: Wolfgang Stahr

Mondu

The “buy now, pay later” model is rapidly penetrating the B2B sector and Mondu is Germany’s star in this field. Founded in 2021 by Gil Danziger, Malte Huffmann and Philipp Povel, the company aims to distribute startup finance and offer flexible payment methods with net maturities of 30, 60 or 90 days and has seen thousands of companies using its platform, including cleaning , beauty and manufacturing industries. Just seven months after its $14 million seed round, Mondu raised $43 million in a Series A led by American venture capital fund Valar Ventures in late May. Next up: expansion of the 100-strong team and expansion to Austria before the end of the summer, then other European markets are to follow. mondu.ai

vay

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Vay users can order a KIA Niro electric vehicle remotely controlled by a human “teledriver” and have it driven directly to their location. When they have driven to their destination themselves, they simply get out and alert the teledriver, who takes over again and drives the car away. Founded in 2018 by Thomas von der Ohe, Fabrizio Scelsi and Bogdan Djukic, the company raised $95 million in Series B financings in late 2021, led by investors Kinnevik, Coatue and Eurazeo, with La Famiglia and Creandum continuing their support. Vay will launch its fleet of remote-controlled cars in Hamburg, and investors claim the service could be 60 percent cheaper than Uber. Vay also wants to expand from driverless hire-meets-taxi service into logistics and deliveries. vay.io

heap

Pile’s simple API platform enables existing fintechs, neobanks and startups to integrate crypto into their offerings via wallets or trading, while dealing with the legal intricacies of smart contracts in the background. The aim is to make it easier and smoother for fintechs to diversify their own products, reduce acquisition costs and strengthen customer loyalty. Founded in May 2022, the company has already raised €2.8 million in a pre-seed funding round with investors including Anthemis’ Female Innovators Lab, Barclays and Pitch founder Christian Reber. After leaving Penta, the B2B bank she co-founded, founder Jessica Holzbach has big plans for Pile: growing the founding team from four to twelve, testing faster international payment gateways, and building tools to pay salaries in crypto. pile.capital

Alps

Founded in 2020 by Isabel Poppek and Nils Vollmer, Alpas procurement software helps medium to large manufacturing companies find, compare and manage suppliers. At the moment it focuses on industrial companies that buy machine and electrical parts and makes sourcing more transparent at the beginning of the value chain. According to the founders, by applying AI, the software is ten times faster than existing suppliers and streamlines the identification, comparison and management of existing and previously unknown suppliers. For example, when looking for a cooling fan, you could dive into detailed supplier profiles, receive an automated quote to compare with others, and anticipate potential supplier risks—and save up to 40 percent on procurement costs. The customers of the Y Combinator Alumni include the German conglomerate BASF, the Schweizerische Bundesbahn AG and Landis+Gyr. With investments from venture capitalist Ann-Kristin Achleitne and former Spotify CTO Andreas Ehn, it has raised $2.2 million to date. alpas.ai

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