The startup investors in Berlin to keep on your radar

7 min read
12 Dec 2018

eed to know which VC firms to approach in Berlin? Here’s a handy list we’ve curated for you of twelve investors in the German capital.

With an increase in investment of 88 percent to €4.3 billion in 2017, last year was a record year for German startups. Berlin-based startups got 70 percent of this total.

Moreover, last year a report by EY found that the top 100 German startups accounted for an accumulated funding amount of $8.5 billion USD, with most of the top startups based in Berlin.

Notable startup activities in the city include food subscription company HelloFresh getting €268 million in its IPO. Last year, online food ordering company Delivery Hero, which now operates in 49 countries, received a €387 million investment round.

If you have your sights set on raising funds for your business, you’re in luck. Here are investors – complete with their elevator pitches – which were carefully selected by Startup Guide and Silicon Allee, community partner of our Startup Guide Berlin Vol. 4 book.

Founded in 1946, there can be no doubt that digital publishing house Axel Springer Group is a big name in the game, especially in Europe.

Axel Springer Digital Ventures, the early-stage investment arm of Axel Springer Group in Europe and the US, focuses on investing in companies in the digital publishing realm as well as marketing and ad models.  

For companies that aren’t yet ready to approach Axel Springer Digital Ventures but are in search of an accelerator, APX is an option.

APX, an early-stage investor and accelerator, a joint venture between Axel Springer Digital Venture and Porsche based in the German capital, offers pre-seed financing of €25,000 for 5 percent equity, or up to €100,000 if the company has raised external capital. They also aim to connect you with mentors, customers, investors and potential new hires.

“BlueYard invests in founders with transforming ideas that decentralize markets, empower users and liberate data.”

BlueYard Capital describes itself as a “thesis-driven firm” that’s dedicated to supporting early-stage enterprises which are “upgrading the internet.” Based in Berlin, BlueYard was able to raise an early-stage fund of $120 million when it launched three years ago for investment across Europe.

While a small venture firm, BlueYard has big plans to see technology and data used and dispensed more democratically. One of the organizations the firm supports is AirTM, a startup with seeks to enable people to regain financial freedom through an e-wallet that allows financial assets to be exchanged without a bank account.

“We are entrepreneurs first – and investors second.”

Founded by entrepreneurs with lots of experience in building tech that scales quickly, Cherry Ventures writes on its website that it backs “innovators, renegades and disruptors at the seed stage.”

Having seen a gap in Europe for early-stage funds managed by successful founders, Cherry Ventures thought they could play a significant role in how the ecosystem could continue to develop and based themselves in Berlin.

Seeking to add value to enterprises that’s strategic, rather than just capital, the fund offers advice and coaching services, as well as access to key external partners in the fields of marketing, operations and IT.

“We are optimistic risk-takers who roll up our sleeves.”

With over €1 billion of assets under management, €10 million as its highest investment and twelve investments in the last year, Earlybird is arguably one of the most successful VC firms in Europe.

Founded in 1997, Earlybird one of the first firms to realize the potential of digital assets. Describing themselves as “optimistic risk-takers,” Earlybird invests in all growth and development phases of their companies, but their support doesn’t stop there.

Not only do they offer financial resources, they also give practical support on strategy and operations, as well as access to an international network and capital markets across Europe. What sets the Earlybird team apart from other VCs is their extended knowledge and experience of health technologies. The firm incorporates investment in medical tech into their vision of a digital future.

"We invest in fast-growing, information technology-driven companies in Europe and the USA."

While located in the quaint city of Potsdam, just at the southwestern edge of Berlin, Hasso Plattner Ventures is active worldwide particularly in the field of IT.

Founded in 2005, the firm now manages four funds which focus on companies across Europe, the USA, Israel and South Africa. Hasso Plattner prides itself on its ability to act globally as a strategic partner for its companies.

Having received funding which totalled €150 million in 2015, one of the firm’s funds, HP Ventures III, offers support to fast-growing software companies in Germany and Silicon Valley.

The VC firm’s commitments in Germany have also seen the launch of a seed program in 2015 for IT startups at the Hasso Plattner Institute, a faculty of the University of Potsdam.

“We invest in digital innovators who create a sustainable world and inspire how people live and work.”

As the venture capital branch for innogy SE, one of Europe’s largest utility companies, Innogy Ventures invests in companies seeking to create a sustainable, digitalized future. Interested in data-driven innovation, the firm writes on its website that it focuses on finding “the best teams that strive to make the world a better place.”

At Innogy Ventures, offering practical advice and business development assistance to companies that are ready to scale is one of the main priorities. The firm has two offices in Germany: one in Berlin and one in Essen, North Rhine-Westphalia.

“Global tech investments with extraordinary entrepreneurs.”

Spread across offices in Berlin, San Francisco, Paris and Dakar, Partech Ventures is a global VC firm for tech and digital companies.

Founded in Silicon Valley in 1982, the firm unites capital and resources to support entrepreneurs at all stages in Europe, North America, Africa and Asia. Partech Ventures invests from €200,000 to €50 million in a wide range of businesses and technologies from software to hardware and deep tech.

With an original founding team of entrepreneurs and European pioneers, Partech Ventures brings a wealth of experience and business acumen to each of its investments.

“We are an early-stage VC firm providing capital to startups with strong technologies.”

At Paua Ventures, investment isn’t just about capital. As “company builders with an entrepreneurial mindset,” the VC states on its website that it is especially looking for B2B software companies.

From access to an accredited pool of experts and a range of software and services, to help with recruitment, Paua Ventures offers companies in their portfolio the necessary building blocks to create disruption in their chosen industry. With a maximum investment of €6 million, the firm has funded over 30 companies.

Photo: Unsplash/rawpixel

“We empower tomorrow’s digital winners.”

As an international VC firm, Project A believes it stands out from the rest in that it provides funding and in-depth operational support to companies in the digital technology space.

With assets under management of €260 million, Project A provides its ventures with substantial capital support as well as access to an extensive global network.

Home to a team of some one hundred operational experts, the Berlin-based firm supports its portfolio companies in areas from software engineering and digital marketing, to business intelligence and talent acquisition.

With a data-driven approach and unique organizational setup, Project A ensures that their passionate early-stage entrepreneurs “have the right support at the right time.”

“We’re an early-stage venture capital firm primarily focused on SaaS and online marketplaces.”

Point Nine Capital is based in Berlin but invests all over the world. With an particular interest in expanding the worlds of SaaS, B2B software and online marketplaces, the firm is dedicated to supporting companies throughout every step of their journey.

Describing themselves as similar to angel investors and a “friendly source of capital,” Point Nine will offer you funding, but will also be there to shake your hand at the end of the day. Whether you’re a serial entrepreneur or first-time founder, the most important things to Point Nine are “dedication, founder/market fit, and of course, integrity.”

“We back visionary founders that enable the datafication of businesses.”

As an early-stage enterprise and B2B investor, Signals Venture Capital works with founders who are at the frontier of digital technologies such as Al, blockchain and IoT.

Videesha Böckle, founding partner of Signals, told Startup Guide that the firm “works closely with our portfolio of enterprise startups to leverage the corporate ecosystem, sales access and data within our limited partner.”

Signals prides itself on nurturing startups throughout their development by building a holistic relationship with the people they work with. Companies that have been supported by the investor not only gain financial support, but access to their global network, distribution channels and entrepreneurial expertise.

“Technology-oriented seed venture capital investor in Berlin.”

As an opportunity-driven firm, WestTech Ventures focuses its investment energies on B2B SaaS in different verticals, enterprise software and developer tools. Supporting companies from pre-seed and seed phase until growth stage and exit, Westtech Ventures has the capacity to invest between €25,000 and €250,000 in the first round.

The firm also has an angel investment program called Project Flying Elephant, which helps take tech-savvy entrepreneurs that are building exceptional products to the next level.

All photos: Pexels/ Rawpixel

*This article was originally published on October 17th, 2018 and updated on December 12th, 2018.