June 26, 2015

Is Munich a tech start-up hub?

On Wednesday evening I was inside the Nymphenburg Castle and not as a tourist! I attended a PWN networking event where the founder of InterNations, Malte Zeek, told us about how he and his co-founders have built a successful internet company from scratch.

The event was in English but we all spoke a mix between German and any other language available... it was cool!. During the event I got the chance to connect with amazing professionals working in technology and on my tram back home I thought: "I don't have a single blog post dedicated to the topic" so today I am writing about the tech scene in Munich

European tech hubs

I have spent the last two years working with technology startups in Silicon Valley. In Europe cities like London, Barcelona, Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm or Dublin are usually mentioned as tech hubs and why is that?
  • Amsterdam hosts the TMW Conference (around innovation and technology)
  • Dublin where Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Zynga, Dropbox and many others have their EU headquarters. The main reason? Money of course! Ireland has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the whole continent, which is a very good reason to put up with the Irish weather
Click here to know more about Unicorns in Europe: Research by GP Bullhound

And what's going on in the Munich tech scene?

For starters Munich has a number of tech events that are not as popular as the ones mentioned above. Why?  Most of them are very specialized and German focused... so German-focused that they don't even have their site translated to English!

Good thing is that the size doesn't always matter and in this case the relevance and the potential for deals matter more. 

1) The Oktoberfest - Yes, you read me well: the Oktoberfest is a key event for tech companies to do business. 

In Silicon Valley there are certain wine/fine bars and restaurants where the Business Development people take clients to foster their loyalty; to steal them from the competitor, to discuss terms of the next contract... Major deals in Adtech, mobile, SaaS, etc. are rarely agreed in conference rooms but in those key bars. 

And in Munich companies reserve space in the Oktoberfest and pay a lot of money to have tables available for customer meetings at the event. They don't do this to give their executives and sales people a ticket for free drinking but to use the festive atmosphere and why not? the alcohol to entice clients and close deals.

2) The Web Week in Munich - takes place in Munich every year in June and is a key date for the digital ecosystem.

To know more about Munich Web Week click here
It all started in 2012 and since then the event has grown in popularity. Every year around mid June companies, professionals and bloggers get together to kick off seven days of networking, training events, presentations and activities; all with just one goal: support the tech ecosystem in Munich and strengthen the ties amongst the digital community.

If you want to get a feeling, this official video may help:

3) Specialized Conferences - as mentioned they are all very niche and German focused but that shouldn't diminish their relevance:

My 15 Top Munich Start-ups

There may be other cities but Munich is also a start-up heaven. This is what's happening right now in the start-up scene in Munich:

1) Windeln - yes, it means diapers in German!  This is a a very successful e-commerce start-up specializing in all stuff for babies. They went public in May this year.

2) Paymill - makes online payment easier by offering a payment transaction system that allows you to consolidate all your payment methods: debit/credit cards, PayPal account, Sepa (for bank transfers in Euro across the EU -27) into ONE system.

3) InterNations - Malte got the initial idea when working in India. A year later he and his co-founders locked themselves in a castle in Cologne for four months. The final company was funded in Munich where it still has its HQs.

4) Scout24 - Does it sound familiar? This is the parent company of ImmobilienScout24 (yes, I also have a love-hate relationship with it) and yes, it is a Munich startup!

5) Freeletics - is a fitness startup that offers digital nutrition plans and personal training, customized for everyone's need. It is basically a mobile app to get fit with premium programs and a social network to share your workouts with your friends. Started in 2012 in Munich.

6) My Theresa - is a very successful online retailer for women's luxury fashion. Started in 2006 as small e-shop in Munich and has been growing non-stop ever since.

7) Shäre - One of the founders Christoph went to the Uni with my husband. But that's not why I'm including Shäre here. The company works: share a taxi/share the cost. 

8) Experteer - Is not just another online platform for professionals, it is a very niche one. Their pitch: "premium career and recruitment marketplace". It is premium because most of its content isn't public to basic members. Funded in Munich with its HQ in Lenbachplatz.

9) Former Termine24 changed to Shore in 2015 - is a specialized software company for local business like dentist, hairdressers, gyms, etc. to manage their business processes, appointments and marketing automation. It was funded in 2012 and closed his second round of funding in 2014.

10) Stylight - Is an e-commerce platform selling fashion and funded in Munich in 2008. 

11) TrustYou - a great online tool for travelers to check thousand of opinions online and a great way to test the online reputation of hotels, restaurants, destinations and travel agencies.

12) Kulinado - Like MyEatClub in San Francisco Kulinado catters for companies all around Germany. Where there is no "Kantine" Kulinado employees can signup for a regular food delivery, all fresh prepared and cooked with 100% Bio quality.

13) MegaZebra - is a social game developer. It all started in 2008 with a little Blackjack game in Facebook and since then the startup has launched four more games, secured funding from Kizoo and Doughty Hanson

14) Regiondo - is Germany's largest marketplace and online ticket platform for local activities.  Funded in 2011, today it has and offer of over 8000 leisure activities.

15) Bonavendi - a online price comparison engine for used and second-hand items.

Want to know more about other Munich start-ups? Join: 
I am very thankful again to the PWN for inviting me to the event on Wednesday. I learnt a lot and I will keep an eye on your events calendar in the future!

Any thoughts or ideas over events/startups in Munich? Just email us at: 
myadventuresinmunich AT gmail DOT com

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