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German Unicorns: Nurturing Innovation in Europe’s Economic Powerhouse

Explore the remarkable journey of German unicorns as they rise to prominence, driving innovation and economic growth in various sectors of the tech industry
April 15, 2024

Germany, well-known for its engineering and industrial heritage, is rapidly transforming into a hotbed for startup innovation. Spearheaded by major cities like Berlin and Munich, the nation’s startup ecosystem is flourishing, giving rise to a string of German unicorns.

According to StartupBlink, Germany is home to 26 unicorns as of the end of 2023. Grocery and food delivery services, along with e-commerce fashion sites, have seen a rapid rise in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were required to stay home. Digital travel companies and tour sites also became extremely popular when the lockdowns eased, satisfying the hunger for travel by millions of people.

The German Startup Ecosystem

For the unacquainted, a unicorn company is usually a privately owned company valued at at least $1 billion. This means that it is not listed on a share market. Owing to their mystical namesake, unicorn companies are named as such due to their rare success. Right before being declared as unicorns, some companies are called “soonicorns”—these are projected to be on their way to their first $1 billion.

Germany has the largest economy in Europe and is one of the top three in the world—just after the United States and China—making it a great place to launch a startup venture. With its history of industrial innovations, motor exports, and such, Germany’s startup ecosystem is full of opportunities thanks to the support of investors, entrepreneurs, and governmental bodies.

In 2005, the German government established the High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) as a way to provide early-stage financing for startups. This seed investor has financed more than 700 startups, seen over 180 exits, and is still supporting hundreds of startups in Germany.

The 26 German Unicorns To Watch Out For

From AI to fintech, to food delivery services - these unicorns are well-loved not just in Germany but all over Europe for their convenience and tech advancements. Take a look at these German unicorns, and you might just recognize some of them!


Founded in 2020 in Berlin, Flink is rapidly becoming a major player in the grocery delivery space by offering lightning-fast deliveries within ten minutes as their major selling point. This is done so by having their own grocery warehouses in various points of major cities, where delivery rides pick up orders.

The brainchild of founders Christoph Cordes, Julian Dames, Nikolas Bullwinkel, Oliver Merkel, and Saad Saeed, Flink’s business model focuses on efficient warehouse grocery operations - using technology to meet consumer demands swiftly. Their last valuation in 2021 was $2.1 billion.

Flink - one of the best German Unicorns

Gorillas, another Berlin-based grocery delivery startup founded in 2020, swiftly climbed to a valuation of $3.10 billion by providing on-demand delivery of groceries and household items from local merchants, enhancing accessibility for urban dwellers. Founded by Jörg Kattner, Kagan Sümer, Ronny Shibley, and Ugur Samut, Gorillas’ platform connects consumers with nearby stores, offering a diverse range of products with rapid delivery times.

HelloFresh, headquartered in Berlin and founded in 2011, gained prominence with its meal kit delivery service, boasting a valuation of $3.6 billion in facilitating home cooking without the hassle of grocery shopping. Founded by Alexander Samwer, Marc Samwer, and Oliver Samwer, HelloFresh’s subscription-based model provides customers with pre-portioned ingredients and recipes, catering to the growing demand for convenient yet nutritious meals.

HelloFresh - one of the best German Unicorns

TIER Mobility, established in 2018 in Berlin, focuses on sustainable transportation solutions, garnering a valuation exceeding $2 billion in 2021, and offering eco-friendly ride-sharing options across cities. Founded by Julian Blessin, Lawrence Leuschner, and Matthias Laug, TIER Mobility’s fleet of electric scooters and bikes promotes greener urban mobility while addressing congestion and pollution challenges.

Zalando, a Berlin-based e-commerce titan founded in 2008, dominates the fashion market with a valuation of $8.9 billion, offering a seamless shopping experience for fashion enthusiasts. They connect warehouse stocks with multiple retailers and then sell through its online platform.

Founded by David Schneider and Robert Gentz, Zalando’s platform connects customers with a vast array of clothing, footwear, accessories, and beauty products from renowned brands, revolutionizing the retail experience.

Zalando - one of the best German Unicorns

Celonis, born in Munich in 2011, reached an impressive valuation of $13 billion with its mining process software, aiding businesses in optimizing operations and enhancing efficiency. Founded by Alexander Rinke, Bastian Nominacher, and Martin Klenk, Celonis’ Execution Management System (EMS) makes use of data analytics to provide insights into business processes, enabling organizations to identify bottlenecks and streamline workflows effectively.

Founded in Berlin in 2009, GetYourGuide entered the travel industry with its online marketplace for tours and activities, reaching a valuation of $1.10 billion in 2019. Founded by Johannes Reck, Martin Sieber, Tao Tao, and Tobias Rein, GetYourGuide’s platform offers travelers a diverse range of experiences, from guided tours to attraction tickets, enhancing travel planning and exploration in the digital age.

GetYourGuide - one of the best German Unicorns

Omio, established in Berlin in 2013, achieved a valuation of $1 billion in 2018, offering travelers a comprehensive platform to compare prices across various transportation modes. Founded by Naren Shaam, Omio’s multi-mode price comparison tool facilitates seamless travel planning, encouraging users to find the best deals on flights, trains, buses, and rental cars.

BioNTech, headquartered in Mainz and founded in 2008, revolutionized healthcare with its mRNS technology, notably collaborating with Pfizer to develop the groundbreaking COVID-19 vaccine. Founded by Christoph Huber, Ozlem Türeci, and Ugur Sahin, BioNTech’s innovative approach to personalized immunotherapies holds immense potential in treating diseases. BioNTech’s last valuation is at $12.8 billion.

BioNTech - one of the best German Unicorns

CHOCO, founded in Berlin in 2018, focuses on creating a sustainable food system, leveraging AI to streamline wholesale operations. Founded by Daniel Khachab, Julian Hammer, and Rogerio Da Silva Yokomizo, CHOCO’s AI-powered platform automates order processing for wholesalers, optimizing supply chain efficiency and reducing food waste. CHOCO’s last valuation is valued t $1.20 billion in 2022.

Born in Berlin in 2013, Contentful offers a headless content management system that enables organizations to deliver content seamlessly across channels. With a valuation of $3 billion in 2021 and over $331 million in funding from 10 rounds, Contentful’s platform revolutionizes content creation and distribution, empowering businesses to engage with their audiences effectively.

N26, founded in 2013 in Berlin by Maximikian Tayenthal and Valentin Stalf, is a mobile banking platform that provides users with a range of financial services. With a valuation of $9 billion, N26 offers a fully digital banking experience, enabling customers to manage their finances conveniently from their smartphones. In 2021, N26 was voted as the “Best Bank in the World” by Forbes.

N26 Group - one of the best German Unicorns

If you’re a traveler or you like to move around on a budget, then chances are you’re familiar with Flix. Flix Mobility, headquartered in Munich and founded in 2013 by Andre Schwammlein, Daniel Krauss, and Jochen Engert, has made a big name for itself in the travel industry with its budget-friendly transportation services, most notably FlixBus and FlixTrain. With a valuation of $3 billion, Flix Mobility offers travelers an affordable and convenient alternative to traditional transportation options.

Sennder is a digital freight-forwarding company that connects commercial shippers with small freight carriers. Founded in 2015 in Berlin by David Nothacker, Julius Koehler, and Nicolaus Schefenacker, Sennder’s last valuation was $1.10 billion in 2021. Sennder’s digital platform empowers businesses to streamline their supply chains and optimize freight operations.

Taxfix, founded in 2016 in Berlin by Lino Teuteberg and Mathis Buchi, is an app that simplifies complex tax filing systems with its chat-like interface. With a valuation of $1 billion in 2022, Taxfix’s platform revolutionizes the tax filing process. It makes it easier for users and consumers, as well as making it more accessible for individuals and businesses alike.

Taxfix - one of the best German Unicorns

Trade Republic is a fintech unicorn that offers a mobile-based investment platform. With a valuation of $5 billion, Trade Republic’s commission-free trading model and user-friendly interface make it an attractive option for both experienced and novice investors. Furthermore, Trade Republic was founded in 2015 in Berlin by Christian Hecker, Marco Cancellieri, and Thomas Pischke.

Razor Group, founded in Berlin in 2020, is a global consumer holding company that partners with e-commerce merchants to acquire and scale brands. With a valuation of $1 billion, Razor Group’s strategic partnerships drive growth and innovation in the e-commerce space. Razor was founded by Christoph F. Gammon, Jonas Diezun, Oliver Dlugosch, Shrestha Chowdhury, and Tushar Ahluwalia.

Personio is an all-in-one HR software for small- and medium-sized businesses. With a valuation of $8.50 billion in 2021, Personio’s platform helps businesses streamline their HR and payroll processes, enabling them to focus on growth and innovation. Furthermore, Personio was founded in 2015 by Arseniy Vershinin, Hanno Renner, Ignaz Fortstmeier, and Roman Schumacher.

Personio - one of the best German Unicorns

Enpal is a photovoltaics leasing firm that provides solar power systems for homeowners with no money upfront. With a valuation of $1.10 billion in 2021, Enpal’s innovative financing model makes solar energy accessible and affordable for homeowners across Germany and beyond. Enpal was founded in 2017 in Berlin by Jochen Ziervogel, Mario Kohle, and Viktor Wingert.

Delivery Hero is an online food delivery service that operates in numerous countries worldwide. With its last valuation at a whopping $14 billion, its platform connects customers with a wide range of restaurants and cuisines, offering convenient and fast food delivery services. Delivery Hero was founded in 2011 in Berlin by Kolja Hebenstreit, Lukasz Gadowski, Markus Fuhrman, and Niklas Ostberg.

DeliveryHero owns Foodpanda, which is another hugely popular food-delivery service in Asia, with its headquarters in Singapore.

WeFox pioneers digital insurance solutions by seamlessly blending technology with human expertise. With a valuation reaching $4.50 billion in 2019, WeFox leads the fintech and insurtech domains, offering customers an enhanced insurance experience. Its approach transforms how insurance is managed, tracked, and paid for, setting new standards for the industry globally. WeFox was established in 2014 in Berlin by founders Dario Fazlic, Fabian Wesemann, Jonathan Seoane, Julian Teicke and Teodoro Martino.

WeFox - one of the best German Unicorns

Volocopter spearheads urban air mobility with eco-friendly air taxi designs. Founded in 2011 in Baden-Wurttemberg, Volocopter redefines transportation in urban landscapes, presenting sustainable aerial mobility solutions to tackle urbanization challenges effectively. Volocopter’s last valuation was at $1.87 as of March 2022. It was founded by Alexander Zosel and Stephan Wolf.

Scalable Capital, originating from Munich in 2014, emerged as Europe’s premier digital investment platform. With a valuation of $1.40 billion in 2021 and significant funding of over $314 million across six rounds, Scalable Capital democratizes wealth management, offering a sophisticated yet user-friendly investment experience accessible to all. Scalable Capital was founded by Adam French, Erik Podzuweit, Florian Prucker, Manuela Rabener, Patrick Poschl, Simon Miller, and Stefan Mittnick.

Worldcoin, born in Berlin in 2019 under Alex Blania’s leadership, introduces a novel global digital currency. With a valuation of $1 billion in 2021, Worldcoin disrupts the cryptocurrency landscape by envisioning a future where every individual receives free shares, fostering financial inclusivity and accessibility worldwide.

Worldcoin - one of the best German Unicorns

Grover, founded by Michael Cassau in Berlin, redefines ownership through a hassle-free rental platform for tech gadgets and products. With its last valuation at $1 billion in 2022, Grover offers a subscription-based model, enabling users to access and enjoy the latest tech products without the burden of ownership, flexibly adapting to their evolving needs.

InFarm pioneers urban agriculture with efficient vertical farming solutions. This unicorn revolutionizes agriculture and agtech, bringing sustainable food production to urban areas, thereby promoting food security and environmental sustainability. InFarm’s last valuation is at $1 billion in 2021. Furthermore, InFarm was established in Berlin in 2023 by Erez Galonska, Guy Galonska, and Osnat Michaeli.


Germany's startup ecosystem is currently experiencing a surge in activity, marked by the emergence of numerous unicorns and soonicorns. The nation's favorable business climate, abundant talent pool, and government support mechanisms have been instrumental in driving this momentum. Substantial investments flowing into German startups have facilitated their expansion, both domestically and internationally.

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