Hamburg Startups: the 2016 retrospective

2016 was not very popular everywhere, on the contrary. But because we do not deal with wars, crises, and idols that passed away too soon, but with the Hamburg startup scene, we allow ourselves to draw our own 2016 wrap-up. Granted, it’s abridged and subjective,but before anything else, we want to finish on a positive note!

Some people need a tad bit of time to get into the new year. January is just too cold and too dark to get into the game. Unless you are part of the Hamburg startup scene, where you can find reasons to get out and about! This reason is the pitch, for which you can win a trip to the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas! The 2016 issue was, in many respects, quite inspirational as we could see during the year.

At the MLOVE Forum in Heiligendamm in July:  Nicolas Chibac (right) flying his drone Spherie through the ballroom of the Grand Hotel. Left: MLOVE organizer Harald Neidhardt.

Already qualified for the trip to America, SpiceVR was one step ahead with the drone Spherie. It developed into a permanent foundation for startup events of all kinds in Hamburg and beyond. No matter where you went, the drone, the 360-degree recordings in new quality, and Nicolas Chibac, one of the inventors, were very likely to be there. The long-term presence was rewarded, among other things, by winning the Webfuture Award in May.

Trending: AR, VR, and industry 4.0

SpiceVR is not necessarily typical, but still stands for a trend that has finally started in 2016 and will surely become even more important in the new year: Virtual and Augmented Reality. Another buzzword is industry 4.0, which happens to be a German invention. In this area, Cybus is a precursor and was also invited to fly to Austin. Same with Spottster. The startup “with the alarm button” earned nationwide fame in 2015 thanks to its participation in the German TV show “Die Höhle der Löwen”.

The founders Hamburg Startups, Sina Gritzuhn (left) and Sanja Stankovic, with Ralf Dümmel

At that time, there was more criticism than praise, yet it did not damage their commercial success. At the moment, there is no better way for a startup to receive quick visibility and immediate success than the business TV show. This is not least because of one of the new “lions”: Ralf Dümmel, whose company DS Produkte is located near Hamburg. We were one of the very first ones to publish a  portrait about the entrepreneur, until then rather unknown. We could only guess back then, how he would become the member the most incline to invest in startups.

Major topic in 2016: Die Höhle der Löwen

Some purists will assert that “Die Höhle der Löwen” gives a wrong image of the startup world and that most of it is here for the razzle-dazzle. Not completely untrue, after all they do have a business to run, don’t they? Yet, who will say that Sibilla Kawalla, founder of the online store Limberry, is not a serious and exemplary entrepreneur? Or Anne and Stefan Lemcke from the spice factory Ankerkraut? Or the boys from the Thinks agency with their towels Towell+?

Anne and Stefan Lemcke, the founding couple of Ankerkraut, at “Die Höhle der Löwen” (Photo: VOX / Bernd-Michael Maurer)

These three startups from the Hamburg scene managed to close a deal with the lions. Of course, mass appeal is an important criterion, which is why the food area was particularly well represented. A well-known technology expert, like Frank Thelen, also stepped up on everything that is tasty and healthy. Hamburg Startups follows the same path and has already started a series of articles, which illustrate the topic from all sides. You can look forward to many delicious articles!

This idea came up after the huge success of the Food Mixer, started by Hamburg Startups early September. The coworking location Mindspace on Rödingsmarkt was the theater of the event. In April, we were already there for the opening.

Hamburg & fintech

André M. Bajorat at the Fintech Week at the betahaus in October

The concept of dossier originally started with the fintech dossier. The financial sector is the most important growth drive to the Hamburg startup scene: Kreditech, Deposit Solutions and Exporo managed to snatch investments accounting to millions, the big winner being who scored a 33-million investment. The first fintech week held in the betahaus was equally important. André M. Bajorat, who showed very positive results with his startup figo, declared:

In November we were proud to announce that the Deutsche Bank became a partner and an investor. With the help of fantastic sponsors, we managed to organize the third bankathon on our own. The fact that over 200 guests attended the final pitch of the 22 teams and 85 participants confirms the relevance of the topic  PSD2, as well as the need for a cooperation between fintechs and banks.

The Deutsche Bank just launched its MultiBanking-Function, powered by our technology. Furthermore 1.000 developers, entrepreneurs, fintechs and many others can rejoice over the creation of a banking API. We started a blog about PSD2, won fantastic partners such as Cringle, Bonify, and Addison and brought banks from Austria on board with the figo platform.

Revelation of the year: Baqend

Let’s go back in time to January 2016, to the qualifications for the SXSW Festival. Next to FLIO there was also Familo, just crowned among the best apps of the year by Google. And then came Baqend, which had until then almost never appeared in public. With complex subjects, including websites speed, many viewers were slightly overwhelmed at the time, but experts were unanimous: they will make it through!

The Baqend team got themselves a double victory at the Startups@Reeperbahn Pitch in September (Photo: Stefan Groenveld)

And so it happened. The Baquend team worked hard on their pitch, convinced their growing audience with a refined software and celebrated a double victory in September: jury and audience gold prizes! This was at the Startups@Reeperbahn Pitch. For Hamburg Startups, a leading organiser, it is a yearly apex. And for all the participants as well. For Baqend it resulted in a €100.000 budget in media with “Die Welt” and a trip to Austin. Not bad at all.

Many thanks to all our partners at the Startups@Reeperbahn Pitches!

Much happened in 2016

Other startup players have paved their way to success, like Manouchehr Shamsrizi, founder of RetroBrain, who strives to keep senile dementia at bay:

We launched our first product (the MemoreBox) and it met a national success (i.e. Malteser, Johanniter, are the first clients), we initiated a study with the support of  BARMER, the Humboldt Universität, and the Hospital zum Heiligen Geist, we were the only German startup invited to President Obama’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Stanford, and we won the Eugen Münch prize, normally never awarded to startups.

What else? So many things happened, it’s impossible to combine them all here. Great events like the Online Marketing Rockstars at the Messehallen, the Innovation Summit at Airbus, the MLOVE Forum in Heiligendamm or the with the summer festival of Silpion at Kampnagel. The stunning growth of the Hamburg startup concept with a growing amount of topics and locations. The international appeal of the next media accelerator. And so much more.

Exciting news for Hamburg Startups

Many things happened at Hamburg Startups too: a total of 312 blog posts were published in 2016. Interviews, portraits, event coverage, guest articles, and much more. We also started an international version in English, with 48 posts published, thanks to our growing team. Our hard work was rewarded with over 300.000 page views and over 8.000 Facebook likes.

Our pride and joy, the Startup Monitor of over 600 profiles, is about to become a national reference: a version for Baden-Württemberg under the name of StartupSpot is now live and many more locations are soon to be released.

The current Hamburg Startups team (minus CTO Norman Holz)


Our events, like the Hamburg Startups Mixer or the Startups@Reeperbahn Pitch attracted over 1.400 guests in 2016. In addition, our team organized more than 70 meetings between startups and mentors at the blind dates. With five dinner formats with an average of 30 guests, we brought together startups with investors, press representatives, and cooperation partners in an exclusive setting.

In addition, over 35 startups were able to present their products free of charge to a wide audience and to create exciting contacts with our mixers.

O là là! Auch in diesem Jahr haben wir wieder Startups mit passenden Mentoren in unsere Lovemobile gesetzt. Das Blind…

Posted by Hamburg Startups on Freitag, 23. September 2016


A big thank you!

Our work was only made possible thanks to the many partners who believed in us. Some of our most loyal partners: Die Deutsche Bank, BEST AUDIT, EY, hiscox, Haspa, Sutor Bank, die Welt, Airbus Bizlab, XING, T-Systems, hub:raum, Handelskammer Hamburg, Ergon Datenprojekte, KPMG , DS Produkte and fischerAppelt.

Special thanks to our media partners at the Gründerszene, Deutsche Startups, t3n and Startup Valley News, with whom it was a real pleasure to collaborate.

Without our cooperation partners, many projects would have never come to light. Therefore, we would like to thank the betahaus Hamburg, Mindspace Hamburg, Reeperbahn Festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), Hamburg Marketing, MLOVE, Hamburggemeinschaft Hamburger Musikwirtschaft eV, nextmedia.Hamburg, Carl Technik, the next media accelerator, the online marketing rockstars, the Social Media Week Hamburg, the Technical University of Hamburg (TUHH) with the Startup Dock, the next and the foodactive eV and many more!

Last, but not least, we would also like to thank our great startups! We are very proud of the fact that Hamburg is now called as a showcase for startups like Berlin and Munich and has become a national benchmark! This is all thanks to you. You truly rock!



With so many successful news, one might wonder: what about the negative sides? Sure, not all startups have been able to keep up as hoped, some had to bite the dust. The support from business and politics for the local startup scene is definitely viable. We will continue to monitor this and, if necessary, comment critically.

We look optimistically into 2017, which could also be the year of women. As such, the final word by Miriam Bundel, founder of ShelfSailor. A positive conclusion:

2016 was full of highlights. Shelf Sailor has been developing a lot over these months. At the beginning of the year, I brought an Austrian competitor into the company. The team has grown and meanwhile we are the largest storage space provider for private space in Germany and Austria with over 1,000 storage areas. In the middle of the year, investors came in. Since October we are at the Startupbootcamp in Amsterdam. We learn a lot there and are supervised by mentors. The program really paid off for us. When I look back on the year I am very proud of my team and what we have achieved together.


Top left picture: Hamburg Startups Mixers at Mindplace in May, topic: Corporates & Startups.

This post is also available in: German

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