By popular demand, I’m releasing another edition of my “Top 10 [Location] Startups to Watch in 2019”
Over the past few months, I’ve written:
- Top 10 Latin American Startups to Watch
- Top 10 Israeli Startups to Watch
- Top 10 Chinese Startups to Watch
- Top 10 African Startups to Watch
- Top 10 MENA Startups to Watch
- Top 10 Indian Startups to Watch
The European startup scene has experienced massive change over the past few years.
Over those years, the region has been especially affected by GDPR, numerous additional regulations, tech protests (did you see those French taxi drivers?!), and the multi-year looming cloud of Brexit.
Any 1 of these events individually would likely scare away even the heartiest of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, but all of them combine together to create a minefield for companies trying to simply get off the ground. Why even bother?
Two reasons: Market opportunity and talent.
The European Union is the second largest economy in the world (after the United States) and according to purchasing power parity or PPP (after China).
The European Union’s GDP was estimated to be $18.8 trillion (nominal) in 2018, representing ~22% of global economy (Source).
After North America, Europe has the highest enrollment in tertiary education and this enrollment ratio has been growing rapidly over the past two decades.
However, it isn’t all roses (or tulips) in Europe.
For tech firms founded since 2000, European companies lag far behind other regions in cumulative valuation:
Besides the additional regulations, why are European startups smaller?
Money. Funding rounds have historically been smaller in Europe and VC/Private Equity isn’t as plentiful as it has been in Asia or the US.
Another reason for the smaller valuations is lower tech network density.
While the US has the PayPal Mafia and tech behemoths like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, Europe is just starting to create large-scale technology companies that can fund and support entrepreneurship communities that span the breadth of the EU.
How Did I Choose This Top 10?
With so many great startups to choose from in Europe, how could I possibly narrow the list down to only 10?
For this list, I included many startups that are bringing successful ideas from other parts of the world to the regulatory-heavy EU (this isn’t easy!).
These startups have founding teams with experience leaping over these (often very high) hurdles. Enough background, let’s get to the list!
The Top 10 European Startups to Watch
- Softomotive: RPA for Europe
Over the past couple of years, RPA (Robotic Process Automation) companies have been growing faster than almost any other sub-industry.
Softomotive has been at this a while (they were originally founded in 2005) and is starting to get some traction in the EU, raising a Series A of $25MM in September 2018.
Offices In: England, Greece
Total Funding: $25MM
2. Meero: Photoshoots, meet Technology and AI!
For a 1-hour photoshoot, it typically takes a photographer 4 hours to edit! Meero has built algorithms that automate much of this editing and take this post-processing time down to mere seconds.
In just 24 months, they’ve grown to 400+ employees and recently closed a $45MM Series B to continue accelerating. They also already count big realtors like Sotheby’s, BNP Paribas Real Estate, and Barnes International Realty as customers.
Offices In: France, England, NYC, Shanghai, Bangalore and Tokyo
Total Funding: $63MM
3. Mintos: Prosper/Lending Club for EU
Mintos brought the Prosper/Lending Club model first to Latvia and then to the rest of the EU. Since 2015, they’ve funded €2.3B in loans with an average net annual return close to 12%.
Borrowers still apply for loans at typical originators and originators list loans on the Mintos marketplace for investment.
Given that Prosper and Lending Club are both valued $1–2B, there is a large opportunity for Mintos to grow to a similar size in the EU market.
Offices In: Latvia
Total Funding: €7MM
4. Qonto: N26 for SME Banking
Qonto is a banking alternative for freelancers, startups, and SME’s. They are designed for individuals or companies up to 250 people. In addition to basic banking services, they provide finance/accounting solutions and expense management.
It may not sound very sexy, but compared to the alternative of opaque and 20-years-out-of-date business bank accounts, Qonto is a godsend.
If only I could pronounce or type their name…
Offices In: France
Total Funding: Not disclosed
5. Playerhunter: LinkedIn for Pro Athletes
For fans, it’s a place to connect with friends, clubs, and players. Clubs can use Playerhunter as another source of information when evaluating talent.
It’s certainly an uphill battle to build a new social network, but by focusing on a small niche (pro athletes) and serving their needs well, Playerhunter has a good chance of success.
I’d recommend they also focus on brand/sponsorship opportunities in addition to club-player matches.
Offices In: Austria
Total Funding: £466k
6. FoxIntelligence: The Ultimate eCommerce Data Source
FoxIntelligence provides unbiased access to eCommerce data across most major European merchants including Amazon, Uber, PayPal, Booking.com and more.
Their data is invaluable for tracking market share, understanding customer demographics, and developing pricing/promotion strategies. With a real-time consumer panel of close to 3MM people in Europe, FoxIntelligence has built quite a moat and a strong fit in this niche.
Offices In: France
Total Funding: €16.2M
7. Sherpa: Changing Insurance in Europe
Given the success and growth of “Tech Meets Insurance” platforms like Lemonade (which raised $300MM at a $2B valuation in April 2019) in the US, it’s no surprise many are starting to emerge in the EU.
Sherpa is starting by focusing on the freelancer and contractor population in the EU, who are looking for easy to understand, easy to buy, and affordable insurance. In a few taps, you can insure your mortgage, insure yourself against serious illness or purchase basic life insurance.
Offices In: England
Total Funding: $2.3MM
8. Crisp: Online Only Supermarket for Fresh Food
Crisp, is an app-only supermarket based in the Netherlands, featuring rare items that can only typically be found at farmers markets and specialty stores. Their mission is to enable better quality food for a large audience.
Crisp buys super fresh, high-quality food from directly from the makers and growers without any middlemen involved. This focus on quality limits their selection, but leads to high customer retention that will benefit them as they scale.
Offices In: The Netherlands
Total Funding: €3M
9. Datacamp: Learn Data Science Online
Datacamp is Codeschool or Product School for aspiring Data Scientists. In case you haven’t been paying attention, the demand for Data Scientists has absolutely exploded over the past 5 years, increasing by 344% since 2013!
Datacamp focuses on popular DS languages like Python, R, SQL, and Spark and takes an online-only SaaS approach that has allowed them to scale incredibly quickly.
While they are sure to face fierce competitions as other code schools push quickly into DS, DataCamp is well positioned to serve the massive demand opportunity in the field.
Offices In: England, Belgium
Total Funding: $31MM
10. Impraise: People enablement for growing companies.
Impraise is feedback and performance management for the modern world. Their platform helps enable more frequent and natural feedback sessions and provides the tools to track their success in driving positive outcomes for the employee and the company.
Impraise also provides the tools to enable your managers to become better coaches and helps them focus on proven areas that will build their teams stronger.
Impraise is already being used by notable tech companies like DoorDash, Atlassian, and Skyscanner to help their employees continue to level up and their teams continue to get stronger.
Offices In: The Netherlands
Total Funding: $12.3M
Azimo: Azimo is an online international money transfer company that challenges the old fashioned, expensive ways of moving your money around the world.
Offices In: London, Kraków
Total Funding: $66MM
Import.io: Import.io delivers a SaaS product that enables users to convert the mass of data on websites into structured, machine-readable data with no coding required.
Offices In: London, Los Gatos
Total Funding: $18.1MM
What European Startups Did I Miss?
I’m sure I missed quite a few prolific, fast-growing European startups. Let me know which ones on Twitter at @amitch5903!