21 brilliant Berlin start-ups to watch

1 Feb 2018

Berlin skyline. Image: Canadastock/Shutterstock

Berlin is Europe’s leading start-up capital, with a vibrancy and pace that is truly inspirational.

Berlin is rivalled only by London for cool, as well as the amount of capital raised.

But where Berlin blossoms is the serious lack of frictions faced by start-ups compared with London in terms of a vast tech talent pool from nearby central and eastern Europe, not to mention that rent and the cost of living is comparatively cheaper.

When we last visited Berlin to check out its start-ups in 2015, we were impressed by their velocity and global vision, and how naturally the frenetic pace of start-up life merged gently with the energy and vibrancy of the city.

On 21 February, we will be back in Berlin with the next event in our Inspirefest 2018 salon series.

The theme at the Berlin Salon will be ‘The Human Face of Artificial Intelligence’. You will hear from award-winning Inspirefest founder Ann O’Dea (Ireland); founder of Hatch Analytics, Monica Parker (UK); global vice-president of SAP.io Fund and Foundry, Alexa Gorman (Germany); and the CEO of RefineAI, Bharat Krish (Germany).

Michael Collins, Ireland’s ambassador to Germany, will open proceedings for the evening.

Berlin is carving a new chapter in its history – a chapter led by design, art, music and entrepreneurship. And, like all start-up cities, it has a vibrant events calendar and community. Useful links to start-up events and meet-ups can be found at Berlin Startup Digest, Gründer Metropole Berlin, Berlin Startup Grind, Betahaus and the Berlin Startup Events Facebook page. In terms of community, Berlin Startups is a group of more than 20,000 entrepreneurs while the Startup Berlin group on Slack is definitely worth subscribing to.

In terms of co-working, Überlin has created an interactive map with links to different co-working spaces. Berlin also boasts a thriving mix of accelerators, including: Techstars Berlin, Hub:raum, Microsoft Ventures Accelerator and Berlin Startup Academy, to name a few.


Auto1 is a marketplace platform for buying and selling used cars. Founded in 2012 by Christian Bertermann and Hakan Koç, Auto1 this month raised a staggering €460m from SoftBank, valuing it at €2.9bn. It previously raised €360m in equity from investors including Princeville Global, Target Global, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas.


Blacklane is a professional-driver service company founded in 2011 by Frank Steuer and Jens Wohltorf. It has raised more than $82.5m from investors including Daimler and Recruit Strategic Partners. Earlier this month, it closed a $40m Series D round led by Al Fahim Group. Last October, it acquired airport concierge start-up Solve for an undisclosed sum.


Ida Tin, Founder of Clue

Ida Tin, co-founder of Clue. Image: Clue

Clue uses science and data to provide actionable, personal insights into female health. Launched in 2013 by CEO Ida Tin, the app’s empowering tracking features have made it a huge hit with users. Clue gives users the option to track not just their menstrual cycles, but a whole host of other patterns, from pain experienced to food cravings. It can even predict when users will feel PMS symptoms. Clue has raised $30.3m in funding so far from investors that include NGP Capital and Mosaic Ventures.


ChartMogul is an analytics platform that builds software to help managers run subscription-based businesses. The platform is currently used by more than 1,000 subscription businesses, and helps them to centralise and analyse critical business insights. Founded in 2014 by Nick Franklin, ChartMogul has raised $3.7m to date, including a recent $2.2m funding led by Alven Capital with participation from Point Nine Capital and angel investors.


Contentful is a content infrastructure start-up founded in 2014 by Sascha Konietzke and Paolo Negri out of dissatisfaction with various content management systems in the market. Contentful recently secured $28m in Series C funding in a round led by General Catalyst Partners and existing investors including Benchmark Capital, Balderton Capital and Point Nine Capital, bringing total funding to $45m.


Crate.io is the creator of an open-source SQL database platform with integrated search for storing and analysing internet of things (IoT) and machine data in real time. The company recently raised €2.5m in a seed round led by Vito Ventures, which has enabled it to establish new headquarters in San Francisco. The company was founded in 2013 by Bernd Dorn, Christian Lutz and Jodok Batlogg.

Dalia Research

Specialising in real-time data research through mobile, Dalia Research distributes micro-surveys to consumers in close to 100 countries worldwide. Founded in 2013 by Fernando Guillen, Hanns-Christoph Leisewitz and Nico Jaspers, Dalia Research last year raised $7m in a Series A funding round led by Balderton Capital, Wellington Partners and IBB Bet.


Ecointense makes software for companies seeking to decrease their environmental footprint. Founded by Markus Becker, the company last year raised €22m from One Peak Partners and Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital.


Recently featured in our Europe Start-up 100FreightHub is a digital asset-free freight-forwarding company. Founded in 2016 by Fabian Heilemann, Erik Muttersbach, Michael Wax and Ferry Heilemann, last December it reported the biggest Series A financing round for a European logistics start-up after raising a $20m Series A round led by Northzone, an early investor in Spotify and iZettle.


GoEuro is a real-time booking platform for aeroplanes, cars, buses and trains, and it connects up more than 500 travel providers in 12 western European countries. Founded in 2012 by Naren Shaam, GoEuro has raised $146m in investment, including a Series C investment in 2016 of $70m from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Other investors include Goldman Sachs and New Enterprise Associates.

Heartbeat Medical

Heartbeat Medical’s software empowers doctors to devise healthcare strategies for patients and practise personalised, data-driven medicine that puts a patient’s needs first. Founded in 2013 by Yannik Schreckenberger, Heartbeat Medical secured €3m in funding from Holtzbrinck Ventures.


N26 is a fintech start-up and mobile bank that enables users to manage their bank accounts through their smartphones. Last year, it reached 500,000 customers across 17 countries, just two-and-a-half years after its launch. Founded in 2013 by Maximilian Tayenthal and Valentin Stalf, N26 has raised $52.8m to date.


Lofelt is a haptics player that has developed its own technology to enable people to ‘feel’ interfaces on their devices. Its debut hardware, the Basslet, is a watch-sized subwoofer that delivers bass sensations to the arm. Founded in 2014 by Daniel Büttner and Gwydion Dafydd, the company has raised $6.7m in funding to date, including a recent $5.4m Series A round led by Wolfman One with participation from Horizons Ventures, Q Venture Partners and Coparion.

Mimi Hearing

Mimi Hearing is on a mission to make hearing ability smarter and better synced with today’s technology advances. This has resulted in a medically certified hearing test app as well as Mimi Music, an app for personalised sound that has been downloaded more than 1m times. In 2017, Mimi was nominated for a CES 2018 award, recognised as the audio innovation of IFA 2017, won a Startups and Developer award at SF MusicTech Summit, and secured the Sónar+D award for innovation.


Moeco is a decentralised platform designed to provide global IoT connectivity with blockchain security for these connected devices. Founded in 2016 by Alex Korolkov and Mit Gorlovsky, Moeco raised $5m in funding last November from Bitfury Group.


MoBerries is a recruitment software-as-a-service player that connects companies and professionals. Founded in 2015, the company uses AI ranking technology to accelerate the selection and hiring process. Last year, it raised €1.8m in a funding round involving High-Tech Gründerfonds, 42CAP, Littlerock and various angel investors.


Morressier is a platform for digitising academic conferences and exchanging early scientific findings. Founded in 2014 by Sami Benchekroun and Justus Weweler, Morressier’s vision is to provide scientists around the world with one place to discover and build on the most recent and groundbreaking research. Last December, the company raised $1.7m in a seed funding round led by Redalpine.


SnapShot is a data analytics platform focused on the hotel industry and its employees. Founded in 2013 by David Turnbull and Michael Heinze, SnapShot provides analytics for hotel data, stored in the cloud and presented on an intuitive, actionable dashboard. In 2016, the company raised €25m in a funding round led by Beijing Shiji Information Technology.


TreasureHunt is a mobile gaming company led by ex-King and Rovio developers who helped launch such titles as Pet Paradise and Boomie Blast. Founded in 2014 by Kyle Smith, Martin Kern and Ville Mikkola, the company last year raised $6m in a Series A round led by The Gauelmann Group with participation from angel investors.


Wundertax helps workers and expats to recoup tax refunds without any hassle. Wundertax was founded in 2015 by David Czaniecki and has raised €4m so far from investors that include PROfounders Capital, Capnamic Ventures and various private investors.


A telco-powered data intelligence platform, Zeotap enables telecoms firms and marketers to use privacy-compliant customer data for advertising. Founded in 2014 by Daniel Heer, Projjol Banerjea and Stephan Schwebe, Zeotap last year secured €12m in a Series B round from New Science Ventures, HERE, Capnamic Ventures and Iris Capital as well as a number of angel investors.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Early Bird Tickets for Inspirefest 2018 are on sale now!

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Updated, 8.20am, 6 February 2018: This article was updated to include Michael Wax as a co-founder of FreightHub.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years