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Which startups will succeed post-Corona?

TECHSCALE! The coronavirus has devastated the startup landscape, but there are still a few winners. Jewell Sparks outlines who they might be.

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The startup world has been hit hard by the coronavirus, but there are some winners. Photo: Headway / Unsplash

Berlin, despite the impact of COVID-19 on startups, is still one of the hottest locations across the globe to set up shop. It’s not business as usual, but there are a few elements that position Berlin as the place to be during these transformative times. Yes, the startup arena has been hit hard by the crisis, but startups focused on the areas of digital health, fintech, AI, media, E-commerce and agrifood have seen an uptick in their sales as the world adjusts to the new norm.  

According to Startup Genome’s last survey  Global Funding | The Impact of COVID-19 on Global Startup Ecosystems four of every 10 startups globally are in what we call in the “red zone”, with three months or fewer of cash runway. For startups who had raised Series A or later rounds, it was reported that 34 percent have less than 6 months’ worth of cash. Startup Genome research also showed that only 28 percent of startups have seen their funding rounds proceed as planned and over 70 percent have had to reduce their full time staff. Innovation is one of the most important areas of opportunity for most industries, therefore keeping startups alive should be a top priority for governments and both private and public corporations. Germany’s corporates and government institutions have attempted to put mechanisms in place to come to the rescue for our Berlin startup founders. 

As mentioned in our article Who wins from Germany’s startup support?, financial resources have been made available for startups. But the question remains. When will the startups receive funding? The German Ministry of Finance has since announced more details regarding the funding package for startup founders which is structured to benefit both venture-backed (Phase 1), and early-stage startups (Phase 2) with no venture capital support. Details regarding the Corona Matching Facility has been released and venture capital providers need to submit applications by December 31, 2020. Details for Phase 2 are still a bit fuzzy for startups and small companies who have not been funded by venture capital, but information has been posted on KfW.

Berlin has organically grown to be a European hub for Blockchain and IoT and is inclusive of AI startups that are projected to generate more than € 2.2 billion in revenue by 2025. Although Berlin dropped six places to number 16, according to the  Global Startup Ecosystem Report, the government plans to invest $33..44 billion to invest in the country’s research and AI capabilities.  During the crisis, many companies have had to utilize the Kurzarbeit wage subsidy scheme, but here are a few Berlin startups I feel will put a ding in the universe post COVID-19 throughout the rest of 2020.  

These companies are still at the top of my previous TechScale of 2020 list:

Kontist is a banking app that is dedicated to freelancers and founders that calculates your income tax and VAT and enables you to save. Led by Sibylle Strack, an ex-board member of Mastercard, and co founded by Christopher Plantener, who has founded other fintech solutions in the past, this three-year-old company understands the elements needed to keep your financials intact.

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Plantix utilises image recognition to identify plant diseases.

Penta is an online bank account for startups and SMEs. Penta has a very diverse and seasoned leadership team who have worked in traditional banking as well as companies such as N26. Founded by Marko Wenthin, who served on the board of solarisBank and Deutsche Handelsbank, they’re rapidly shaping the future of banking. As a foreigner, I know how hard it is to open a bank account for your company. Most traditional banks require you to make physical appointments and we know that most German calendars are booked out for months. Penta’s concept of making banking easy is a sure way to keep Berlin in the lead for start-up activity and international talent acquisition.

Pitch is an enterprise software platform used for teams to work together on presentations. The company was founded in 2018 by the brains behind Wunderlist, a task management app that was acquired by Microsoft in 2015. Being able to collaborate with colleagues across the globe already makes this start-up a 2020 winner as teams become more remote. Look at the success that companies such as Slack has made with its collaboration hub. 

Plantix utilises image recognition to identify plant diseases. This company pitched at the first annual AgTech FoodTech Summit which was held at Factory Berlin in 2016 and has been making strides ever since. The mobile crop advisory app is for farmers, extension workers and gardeners. Developed by PEAT GmbH, a Berlin-based AI start-up, the app can diagnose pest damage, plant disease and nutrient deficiencies affecting crops and offer corresponding treatment measures. Plantix was co-founded by Pierre Munzel and Simone Strey, both of whom are passionate about plants and our environment.

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Photo: Lenny Kuhne / Unsplash

Post-COVID fabulous 5 

Agranimo utilizes in-field climate and soil data to improve and forecast farm yields, reduce water consumption and assess climate risks. The company recently added a unique “Frost Forecast” which enables farmers to  visualise predictions of Dew Point and Temperature in order to execute frost management activities. The company has recently added more growers in Germany as well as management sectors via their platform to aid with crops such as blueberries, apples, mint, red currant, wheat, potato and strawberries. The company has offices in both Berlin and Santiago, Chile.

Infarm builds and distributes highly efficient vertical farms throughout cities to grow fresh produce right in your neighbourhood.  Most recently, the company just closed a $140 million of a planned $200 million round according to Financial Times. Infarm’s “modular units” help differentiate supermarkets and restaurants enabling growers to avoid the utilization of pesticides and provide fresh produce.  Founded in 2013 by Osnat Michaeli, Erez Galonska and Guy Galonska the company is expanding across the globe. 

Medlanes is a digital health company that organizes home visits by emergency doctors. Founded in 2013, Emil Kendziorra and Erik Stoffregen came up with the solution to service those in need of medical attention. Now more than ever Medlane is the perfect solution to limit a patient’s exposure to medical facilities during COVID-19 times. Medlane can be utilized for medical checkups and acute illnesses. The services are available throughout Germany.  The private medical service enables patients to stay safe and healthy in the privacy of their own home. 

Medwing is a healthcare startup that provides opportunities to work in the healthcare sector. The platform starts with the candidate first and filters recruiters based upon the type of job being posted. Most recently, the company secured a €28 million Series B financing round. Due to the worldwide shortage of health professionals across the globe, Medwing is positioned perfectly to put a ding in both society and the Berlin startup scene. During the pandemic many health care professionals left their jobs due to the lack of flexibility and Medwing helps to solve this pain point. Founded by Johannes Roggendorf and Timo Fischer this startup employs approximately 200 employees from across the globe. 

Moeco is an end-to-end solution for data generation and delivery through simple non-intrusive sensors and a secure software platform.  The platform enables customers to deploy citywide IoT networks using Blockchain technology and is a scalable option for smart cities, manufacturing and property management. Co-founders Mit Gorilovsky and Alexa Sinyachova run a tight ship and have clients across the globe.  Moeco has offices in Silicon Valley and Berlin. 

Startup Exposure / Education

Apply before July 12, 2020 and get 10 percent off: KAOSPILOT+ Berlin is a school for leaders who are courageous, creative, and committed in their pursuit of making the world a better place. It offers a learning platform for design, sustainable entrepreneurship, and positive change to the German capital and beyond. It is founded on the belief that positive social impact can be achieved through collaborative initiative, innovative design, and value-based leadership. Use code EXBERLINER10.

Apply now: The German Startup Association is a partner of IFA Next which offers a global platform innovators, startups, research and development institutes, universities and business associations in the areas of hardware, consumer electronics, robotics, and IoT. The theme for this year is “IFA NEXT meets SHIFT Mobility.”  This event will be one for the first live events post Corona. 

Until next week…

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If you think we should keep an eye on your start-up in 2020, please send an email to [email protected].

If you would like Exberliner to attend your demo days and/or do a deep dive on your start-up, send an email to Jewell Sparks via [email protected].