What are some interesting B2B startups

B2B start-ups from Europe: The New Hidden Champions

Anyone looking for successful technology start-ups in Germany will first come across the German start-up hubs Berlin and Munich. While the capital is more of a showcase location for B2C business models, the Isar metropolis is home to B2B start-ups in particular. A lively start-up scene is also developing in other countries such as North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg and Baden-Württemberg, and young companies are also increasingly being promoted in eastern Germany.

This does not go unnoticed in the investor world. The fact that the mood among founders in Berlin, Munich, Germany and all of Europe is cause for joy is shown by the latest figures, which the management consultancy McKinsey has brought together in the study "The New Hidden Champions" and which take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the start-up ups allow. They are based on figures from Crunchbase, which takes into account the founding of 130,000 startups between 2010 and 2020. Of these, around 77,000 are B2B startups.


B2B startups from Europe generate more value per invested US dollar compared to B2C startups from the USA. They achieve a median of 2.4 times the value for every US dollar invested. In a direct comparison of B2C startups, these from Europe and the USA are on par with revenue of 1.2 and 1.1 per US dollar invested.
Even if Germany scores weaker in comparison with eastern and southern EU countries, the values ​​of the B2B startups between Berlin and Munich in terms of the efficiency of the capital employed are on average well above those of B2B startups in the USA.

New thinkers wanted!

In Munich, with the combination of high-turnover corporations, renowned universities and investors, a globally recognized ecosystem has already emerged that attracts many founders and talents and is particularly interesting for B2B business. The success story of start-ups such as NavVis, for example, emerged from this environment. The start-up, which emerged as a spin-off from the Technical University of Munich, enables the intelligent combination of outdoor and indoor navigation. It is one of the first winners of the competition that Handelsblatt and McKinsey have awarded annually since 2016. The initiators award the award to new thinkers who, with their start-ups and ideas, have the potential to fundamentally change the industry. Such as the Munich-based robotics specialist Magazino, which received an award in 2018 - and whose intelligent logistics robots are now in the Zalando shoe warehouse, among other things.

The success stories of the competition also include Relayr and Konux, both of which are also based in Munich. While Relayr, the winner of 2016, managed to exit Munich RE in 2018 with an enterprise value of 300 million US dollars, Konux, the third-placed winner from 2016, managed a further 13 million US dollars in February 2019 as part of an expansion its Series B financing round. Their total volume increased to a total of 33 million US dollars.

More money from foreign investors

A look at the entire German start-up landscape shows that precisely this type of financing was sometimes difficult for start-ups to obtain - until a few years ago. But the mood is turning, as the report "The New Hidden Champions" shows. Especially in deep tech and industrial, B2B start-ups from Europe are increasingly more efficient in using their investments than their counterparts in the USA.

If the digital association Bitkom warned in spring 2019 that start-ups were considering leaving Germany, they can now expect more interest from investors. "Through improved relationships and financial incentives, local and foreign venture capital funds could be motivated to invest more in German tech start-ups," says Niko Mohr, partner at the McKinsey management consultancy, who insists on the digital competition together with Handelsblatt Called life.

Those who survive take off

A lot has happened, even if the start-ups from Europe run out of steam earlier than those from the USA. They usually do not manage to sufficiently consolidate their business model before Series A, only 27 percent make the leap from seed financing to Series A. But as soon as the first hurdles have been overcome, they are on a par with US start-ups. This is being driven, among other things, by investors from Europe who were themselves founders in the recent past. But venture capital and institutional investors also increased their investments in European B2B start-ups significantly between 2015 and 2020. And these are not just investors from Europe. US-based investors also increased their exposure to European start-ups by 78 percent between 2015 and 2020.

In the future-oriented fields, there is still more than enough space, especially for female founders: only eight percent of the start-ups based here have been co-founded by women since 2010. Female founders in the tech sector are even less represented. In addition to the low proportion of women with technical training, this is also due to the fact that, on the one hand, there is a lack of female role models and, on the other hand, access to venture capital is limited.

It's worth taking part

McKinsey experts warn that the number of women has increased slightly recently, but the low number means that many opportunities are missed - the number of innovative start-ups could increase by as many as 70 percent if as many women founded start-ups as men. “At the same time, a higher proportion of women could ensure that new interfaces arise between business and society - because women founders feel more motivated by social issues than their male counterparts,” explains Niko Mohr. In order to get more female talents excited about business start-ups and to position more successful role models, Handelsblatt and McKinsey are also awarding the “Female FoundersAward”.

Inspiring founders and creating new interfaces is what it will also be about in autumn 2021, when the winners of the current award round will be announced. The digital competition also takes into account the growing need for innovative technology solutions with disruptive potential. Because this year the most exciting tech concepts for reducing CO2 will be awarded.


Participation is worthwhile for the start-ups. The finalists were able to collect an average of 25 percent more funds than non-finalists. Their average funding has tripled compared to the other applicants. In addition, the attention paid to the start-ups has increased dramatically. According to the winners, the number of mentions in the press alone increased by up to 85 percent in the year following their participation.