50 European Startups to Watch

Europe’s startup scene is lauded as vibrant and fast-growing with hubs popping up in every corner of the continent now.

It may not have taken on the big boys in Silicon Valley just yet, but so many European cities have been taking center stage in the global startup ecosystem. Within Europe, there are so many new rising stars. At one point, it was all just about London, Berlin, and Paris. But those days are over, and now it’s tough to keep track of which city is taking over the other. We are witnessing cities such as Wroclaw, Helsinki, and Minsk appearing on international top-ranking lists such as rising startup cities to watch.


The European Startup Market at a Glance

More capital is pouring into Europe than ever with a record $38.6B of capital invested, close to 180 $1B+ companies, and $16B closed by European venture capital funds. That represents a big jump from five years ago at $15.3 billion in 2015.

99B+ VC-backed tech companies with a valuation of more than $1 billion in Europe compared to 22 in 2015 according to the same report on the state of the startup industry in Europe by Atomico.

20 countries in Europe have at least one VC-backed unicorn.

20% of all rounds raised in Europe now include at least one US investor. In total, the amount invested in Europe from US-based investors was close to $10B, up three times since 2015. with 19% of funding rounds including an American firm, double the portion when Atomico started tracking in 2015. Those American investors will account for about $10 billion, or nearly a third, of the total amount invested.

In terms of talent, Europe contains 6.1m professional developers. The continent is home to prestigious tech and engineering universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College in the U.K., ETH Zurich, and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Top talent is less expensive in Europe. Salaries for software developers are as much as 50% lower in Europe than those in the San Francisco Bay Area or New York City according to Startup Genome.

They have direct access to the world’s largest economy, of 500 million people and a GDP of €25,000 per head. Some advantages are their accessibility to so many trading partners including rapidly growing emerging markets in Africa and Asia.

European Startup Challenges

Historically, one of the main issues that hurt many European startups is raising money. European companies having a harder time trying to raise large funding rounds due to a lower supply of late-stage capital (Specifically at the Series D and E stages). To put the numbers in perspective, total capital invested in North America, at $141B in 2020, is approaching nearly 5x the level of investment in Europe.

In general, Europeans tend to take on a revenue first approach versus growth first attitude that is seen in the USA and Asia. Hence, one of the many reasons for their difficulties raising venture capital within Europe. On the plus side, their startups have more pressure to generate profits and perform earlier to survive.

Europe’s regulations are much tougher than the US. However, the tide may be changing as there have been many new recent policy changes aimed at making it is easier for startups.

A big hurdle for startups is the fact that the European market is so diverse and fragmented. Although the borders are open, there are still so many different cultures, laws, and languages. To put it into perspective, for a startup to take on Europe, it must enter 28 heterogeneous countries to compete with a market equivalent to the size of the USA.

The Impact of Covid-19 on European Startups

Like the rest of the world, the European startup market has experienced major damage and setback caused by the onset of the pandemic. Lack of venture capital, massive layoffs, and a drop in consumer demand have taken a big toll on them.

Loosening up regulations and supporting startups in order to avoid mass extinction is the next major hurdle. Many initiatives and interventions are taking place throughout Europe. France set-up a EUR 4 billion fund to support start-up liquidity, including bridging start-up funding rounds, Germany has announced a tailored start-up aid program, expanding and facilitating venture capital financing, and the United Kingdom has announced a co-financing fund for innovative companies facing financial difficulties.

49% of European startups have turned to banks for government-backed loans in recent months, while 43% have frozen hiring. The survey also found that 40% of European companies expect to see revenues down at least 25% in 2020, compared to previous targets.

Now, ready to meet the stars that are primed for success in 2021 and beyond? In this list, we’ve gathered 50 companies to watch from 20 leading countries in the European startup scene. But the question is, who will be their next pegasus?

Germany Startups To Watch

Delivery Hero, Berlin

Founded in Berlin in 2011, Delivery Hero is a worldwide network of online food ordering sites, operating in 21 countries and with over 73,000 restaurant partners.

GetYourGuide, Berlin

GetYourGuide operates an online platform for booking tours, attractions and activities worldwide.

Wirecard, Munich

Wirecard is a software and IT specialist for outsourcing and white label solutions for payment processing and issuing products.

CoachHub, Berlin

Coachhub is the “mobile coaching cloud” and enables personalised coaching for employees at all career levels.

France Startups To Watch

BlaBlaCar, Paris

BlaBlaCar is the world’s leading long-distance carpooling community, connecting people looking to travel long distances with drivers going the same way.

Shadow, Paris

Shadow is a high-end gaming PC accessible from all your devices to play the PC games you own.

Meero, Paris

Meero is an on-demand photography company that uses AI to streamline photo editing, while also acting as a marketplace for photographers around the world.

Alan, Paris

Alan is a digital health insurance platform that revolutionizes health insurance by focusing on user experience with an excellent price-quality ratio health plan.

October, Paris

October, an online marketplace for business loans, whose mission is to empower businesses to thrive by simplifying and democratizing their funding.

United Kingdom Startups to Watch

Curve, London

Curve is an over-the-top banking platform, consolidating all your cards and accounts into one smart card and even smarter app.

Rapyd, London

Rapyd is the mobile-first financial network that makes the world’s favorite ways to pay and be paid instantly available through a single API and SDK.

Monzo, London

Monzo is a digital-only bank platform for people who live their lives on their smartphones, and is targeted at people who want to get things done in a click.

TransferWise, London

TransferWise is a money transfer service allowing private individuals and businesses to send money abroad without hidden charges.

eToro, London

eToro is a social trading investment network that enables users to watch the financial trading activities of other users, copy them, and make their own trades.

Spain Startups to Watch

Badi, Barcelona

Badi is the leading online room-rental marketplace that makes city living accessible for everyone and everywhere by offering a seamless user experience in a supply constrained market.

Spotahome, Madrid

Spotahome is a mid- to long-term residential rentals platform that is reinventing the property market.

TravelPerk, Barcelona

TravelPerk is a next-generation business travel booking and management platform for companies of any size.

Marfeel, Barcelona

Marfeel is an ad tech platform that revolutionizes the way publishers create, optimize and monetize mobile websites.

Cabify, Madrid

Cabify is a ride-sharing company that operates in Latin America, Spain, and Portugal.

Netherlands Startups to Watch

MessageBird, Amsterdam

MessageBird, a cloud communications platform, is on a mission to modernize and simplify the overcomplicated space of customer communication.

Picnic, Amsterdam

Picnic is a pure app-only grocery player that offers customers lowest price and free delivery for all their grocery items.

Tiqets, Amsterdam

Tiqets is a ticketing platform where visitors can find, buy, and use tickets for museums and attractions.

Bitfury, Amsterdam

Bitfury is the leading full-service Blockchain technology company and one of the largest private infrastructure providers in the blockchain ecosystem.

bunq, Amsterdam

bunq is the Bank of The Free. A totally independent bank that makes life easy. No branch visits, no queues, no paperwork, just immediate access from a mobile device.


Klarna, Stockholm

Klarna is an e-commerce payment solutions platform for merchants and shoppers.

VOI Technology, Stockholm

VOI Technology owns, operates, and manages electric scooters for urban commuters in Stockholm.

Teamtailor, Stockholm

Teamtailor, an employer branding platform, helps SMEs market themselves as an attractive workplace to engage their employees and improve their recruiting process.

Tink, Stockholm

Tink is a cloud-based platform that provides the infrastructure and data products that are enabling the future of financial services.

Karma, Stockholm

Karma develops an application that helps restaurants, grocers and cafés reduce their food waste by selling their surplus to consumers at reduced prices.

Portugal Startups to Watch

Unbabel, Lisbon

Unbabel enables modern enterprises to serve customers in their native languages, with always-on, scalable translation across digital channels.

Virtuleap, Lisbon

Virtuleap’s VR brain training app offers a daily cognitive workout of short, intense and fun games scientifically designed to help increase attention and concentration levels.

Codacy, Lisbon

Codacy is an automated code review tool that helps developers to save time in code reviews and to tackle technical debt efficiently.

BrainTrust, Lisbon

Braintrust is a European Business Angels group that invests primarily in Early-stage startups.

Infraspeak, Porto

Infraspeak provides facility management software that speeds up and simplifies the process of registering and transmitting information.

Italy Startups to Watch

Penta, Milan

Penta offers fast and easy business banking for customers in the digital sector.

Satispay, Milan

Satispay is a smart payment platform that enables individuals to pay, exchange money with friends, and set aside small amounts of money.

Supermercato24, Milan

Supermercato24 is an online delivery service transforming the way people buy groceries and home essentials.

Delos, Turin

Delos is an Italian Med-Tech company that has developed the most effective system and methodology to reactivate the control of equilibrium, prevent injuries and falls, speed up the recovery after injuries.

Uala, Milan

Uala is an online booking platform for hundreds of beauty salons in Italy.

Ireland Startups to Watch

Keywords Studios, Dublin

Keywords is an international technical service provider to the global Video Game Industry with studios around the world.

Kaseya, Dublin

Kaseya is a leading provider of IT automation software for IT service providers and public and private sector IT organizations.

Profitero, Dublin

Profitero is the eCommerce performance analytics platform of choice for leading brands around the world.

Debenhams, Dublin

Debenhams is an international, multi-channel brand with a proud British heritage which trades out of 240 stores across 28 countries.

Kitman Labs, Dublin

Kitman Labs is a sports analytics company that uses artificial intelligence to increase athlete performance and health.

Belguim Startups to Watch

iBanFirst, Brussels

iBanFirst is a financial services platform that allows making payments and transfers in foreign currencies through real-time foreign exchange rates.

Qover, Brussels

Qover designs, builds and distributes innovative digital insurance solutions across Europe to help fast-growing companies.

Guardsquare, Leuven

Guardsquare develops premium software for the protection of mobile applications against reverse engineering and hacking.

Confo, Brussels

Confo Therapeutics is a drug discovery company building internal drug discovery programs on GPCRs addressing unmet medical needs.

Deliverect, Ghent

Deliverect provides a central hub between food delivery service providers and businesses around the globe.

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