20 magnificent start-ups with momentum in Munich

10 Feb 2017

Munich is home to a thriving start-up scene. Image: Valentina Photo/Shutterstock

Beloved for its beer, cars and engineering, Munich is also an epicentre of culture and entrepreneurship. Here are 20 Munich start-ups to watch.

Ahead of Silicon Republic CEO and Inspirefest founder Ann O’Dea’s visit to Munich next week (Thursday 16 February), where she will hold the first of a number of Salon events, we thought it would be a great idea to take a look at the city’s start-up scene.

The Inspirefest Salon is one in a series of international networking events designed to highlight the importance of diversity in our technology, science, business and creative industries. We’ll also be heading to Paris, London and New York.

Munich is Bavaria’s oldest capital and Germany’s third-largest city, which for centuries has been an epicentre for learning, writing, art and publishing.

Famous for its beautiful architecture, its beer and its outdoor markets, Munich is also a critical business centre and a vital hub for engineering, technology and automotive innovation.

For example, Munich is home to the headquarters of Siemens AG, BMW, MAN AG, Linde, Munich Re and Rohde & Schwarz.

The city has a thriving start-up scene and many of today’s crop are on the road to becoming household names.

The strong entrepreneurship vibe is bolstered by an enviable cluster of local venture capital players that include Acton Capital Partners, Cipio Partners, Greencoat Capital, Siemens Venture Capital, 360 Capital Partners, Holtzbrinck Ventures, Ventech and Alstin, to name a few.

Last June, Siemens revealed that it would invest in a new start-up accelerator called Next47, which will have offices in Munich as well as Shanghai and Silicon Valley.

Here are the start-ups to watch in Munich.

1. Tado

Tado’s smart thermostats and air conditioning controllers use location-based technology to track when users leave or return to their home, automatically adjusting the temperature accordingly. In September, the brand announced compatibility with Apple’s HomeKit, Amazon Echo and IFTTT.

Founded in 2011 by Christian Deilmann, Leopold von Bismarck, and Johannes Schwarz, Tado’s many backers have invested in what’s set to be the ‘Nest of Europe’.

In its third funding round last year, Tado raised $23m, bringing its total sum of investment to roughly $56m.

2. Konux

Konux is an internet of things company that integrates smart sensor systems and AI to maximise asset performance and provide insights in real time.

The company was founded in 2014 by Andreas Kunze, Dennis Humhal and Vlad Lata.

It has raised $9.5m in two rounds from investors, including NEA, Andreas Bechtolsheim and MIG.

3. RiskMethods

RiskMethods is a service-as-a-software (SaaS) player that uses technology to provide full transparency about risk exposures in supply chains.

Its technology enables companies to identify risks early, set up risk mitigation programmes and share structured risk across the whole customer network.

Founded in 2013 by Heiko Schwarz, Rolf Zimmer and Alexander Bruehl, the company has raised $9.1m in funding from investors including EQT Ventures and Senova Systems.

4. EGym

Start-ups with momentum in Munich

Image: EGym

EGym is on a mission to make the gym work for everyone. It provides gym operators, trainers and members with technology to advance the user experience and make gyms more profitable.

The key is its own EGym cloud, where it connects all the hardware on the training floor into one cloud.

Founded in 2011 by Philipp Roesch-Schlanderer, the company has raised $60m in two rounds led by HPE Growth Capital and Highland Capital.

5. Westwing

Founded in 2011, Westwing is an online platform that provides products and services for interior designers, ranging from wall units to garden furniture, beds, lamps and more.

The company has raised $237.49m in six different rounds.

6. Finanzchef24

Fintech player Finanzchef24 is Germany’s fastest-growing insurance broker and comparison portal for SMEs.

It has developed its own proprietary insurance underwriting software, which is used by thousands of businesses and professionals.

The company was founded in 2012 by Felix Schollmeier and Hendrik Rennert.

It has raised a total of $17.1m from investors including HW Capital, Mercura Capital and Target Partners.

7. Payworks

Payworks creates innovative, point-of-sale solutions for merchants to integrate card payments functionality in a cost-effective manner and securely process EMV, contactless and mobile payments.

Founded in 2012 by Christian Deger, David Bellem, Johannes Lechner and Simon Eumes, the company raised $4.5m last year in a Series A round from investors including Rumford and HQ Capital.

8. ProGlove

ProGlove has created a smart glove that helps workers in logistics and manufacturing to work more efficiently, unlocking new levels of information and business intelligence.

The company was founded in 2014 by Jonas Girardet, Alexander Grots, Thomas Kirchner and Paul Günther.

ProGlove has raised $2.5m in equity so far from investors that include Bayern Kapital, GettyLab, Intel Capital and TechFounders.

9. Travador

Founded in 2013, Travador is a fast-growing travel platform that focuses on short and weekend trips.

To date, it has served hundreds of thousands of customers.

The founders of the company are Katrin Buckenmaier, Thorsten Schroeppe and Sebastian Schmidt.

The company has raised $22.5m in funding from investors that include Iris Capital, Capnamic Ventures and BrandLab Holdings.

10. Holidu

Holidu provides metasearch capabilities for vacation rentals for the top websites worldwide in one search.

The company was formed in 2014 by brothers Michael and Johannes Siebers.

It has raised $6.2m to date from investors that include EQT Ventures, Senovo and Venture Stars.

11. Testbirds

Testbirds has created testing apps for mobile devices such as Android and iPhone smartphones, as well as website and web applications, using the concept of crowdsourcing.

The company was founded in 2011 by Markus Steinhauser, Georg Hansbauer and Philipp Benkler.

It has raised $4.9m so far in rounds involving Seventure Partners, Btov Partners and Exotel.

12. Wywy

Media and entertainment-focused start-up Wywy has developed an online platform that allows TV advertisers to analyse the impact of their ads, bridging the gap between TV and online advertising.

The company was founded by Andreas Schroeter and Tobias Schmidt and has raised $10m from investors including Cipio Partners.

13. Loyalty Prime

Founded in 2014, Loyalty Prime has built a SaaS platform that empowers the creation of successful loyalty programmes to understand and drive customer behaviour.

The company has more than 60 employees spread between headquarters in Munich, as well as London and New Delhi.

The company was founded by Christoph Straub, Kunal Mohiuddin, Kilian Thalhammer and Alexander Bruehl.

It has just raised $1.6m in equity funding from investors that include Senovo and UnternehmerTUM Venture Capital Partners.

14. Celonis

Munich-based SaaS start-up Celonis integrates with enterprise-level business management IT systems from platforms like Oracle, Microsoft, Salesforce and SAP to enable a category of data mining that it calls process mining, which is a new form of analytics.

The company was founded in 2011 by Bastian Nominacher, Alexander Rinke and Martin Klenk.

It has raised $27.5m so far from investors including Accel and 83North.

15. SimScale

SimScale is the creator of a web-based 3D simulation platform that is revolutionising product design.

The platform gives engineers and designers access to stimulation technology, and CAD and computation power on demand.

It was founded in 2012 by David Heiny, Alexander Fischer, Vincenz Dolle, Anatol Dammer and Johannes Probst.

16. Lilium Aviation

Founded in 2015 by engineers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Lilium Aviation has developed its own take-off and landing jet.

Supported by the European Space Agency, the company has grown to around 40 personnel.

It was founded by Daniel Wiegand, Patrick Nathen, Sebastian Born and Matthias Meiner.

The company has raised $10.6m in investment from Skype founder Niklas Zennström’s Atomico, as well as E42 Ventures.

17. Personio

Personio is a Munich-based provider of a HR management and recruitment platform for SMEs.

The company has raised €2.3m in funding from investors that include Global Founders Capital and Picus Capital.

The company was founded by Roman Schumacher, Arseniy Vershinin, Ignaz Forstmeier and Hanno Renner.

18. NavVis

A spin-out from the TUM, NavVis has created technology that enables interior 3D navigation of large buildings.

The company was founded in 2013 by Georg Schroth, Rubert Huitl, Felix Reinshagen and Sebastian Hilsenbeck.

It has raised $8.2m in investment so far from investors that include BayBG, MIG AG and Target Partners.

19. Neokami

Seen as a player that could revolutionise artificial intelligence, Neokami has created a range of powerful self-learning algorithms that could be used in healthcare, exploration and business.

A graduate of the Wayra Germany accelerator, the company’s technology can make sense of emotion, geography and social media sentiment.

Founded in 2014 by Andrei Ciobotar and Ozel Christo, Neokami has raised $1.1m in investment so far from Wayra and seed investors.

20. Cliqz

Cliqz has developed a new way to search the web. It is on a mission to reinvent web navigation by putting the user first, making their searches more private.

The brainchild of Jean-Paul Schmetz, the company has amassed more than 1m users on desktop and mobile.

In August last year, it attracted an undisclosed investment from Firefox creator, Mozilla.

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Updated, 11.08am, 16 February 2017: This article was edited to update the names of the founders and investors associated with Konux.

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