Look-back at 2020 in the Rhein Main Startup Ecosystem


What will we remember when we look back on 2020? That´s one of the questions everyone keeps asking. Followed by what did you do during the lockdown times?

It´s a challenge “per se” to describe 2020 in just some words, or to pick the right adjectives that describe what happened in the last 365 days.

The exercise we purpose in this article is to highlight some facts that we covered, in other words, a curation of more than 500 stories we shared n our platforms.

According to a report from PWC, Frankfurt startups struggled with the consequences of the corona crisis, 2 out of 3 Entrepreneurs reported negative effects of the pandemic on their business and only 12% had access to venture capital.

But let´s start exactly there, according to RhineMain.VC, our local ecosystem that received one billion euros in funding in 2018 and 2019, had a record-breaking Q1 with eight deals worth more than 310 million euros, and in -line with what happened in Europe, 2020 could be on track to hit a record level of investment. Check some of the Financing rounds of 2020.

From the archives: some of the Financing rounds of 2020


Tvarit completed a financing round with the Frankfurt-based VC fund Futury Ventures and aims high by willing to become the first unicorn in Frankfurt.


Seven-digit pre-Series A funding secured for Agora Innovation with FinLab EOS VC


Mainz startup BioNTech received 120 million from Fosun from China

Wingcopter secured another seven-figure investment from Corecam


BRYTER raised $ 16 million in Series A funding for global growth


Iconic raised four million in Series A (July)

Implify was able to win the Policen Direkt Group as an investor to found the company (July)


Mario Götze invested joined Qualifyze as a new investor in a round investment of 3.2 million euros

TraFinScout GmbH has successfully completed its first financing round

Convercycle raised 1M via WIWIN and Hessen Kapital

flapgrip impressed in “Die Höhle der Löwen” and got 125,000 euros for 15 percent of the company’s shares


Darmstadt Graphics Group raised funding of €760k to advance RapidCompact


CAPTIQ concludes the third financing round and raised a seven-digit euro amount

MOMENI Digital Ventures, Elevat3 Capital, and the energy company EWE invested a mid-double-digit million sum in Bullfinch

Lylu received a six-digit seed funding

viMUM concluded a funding round of 7 digits


GUNZILLA got $25M in funding


Solactive announced 50 Million EUR Growth Equity Investment from Summit Partners

Spearad raised $1M + Seed Funding to Transform Addressable TV Advertising

Threedy secured seed funding

STRAFFR closed a seed financing round of 300K

Northern Data carried out a capital increase and collected 52.5 million euros in this way

But an ecosystem success is not measured only by the deal flows, here are some additional milestones that happened this year:

What should be celebrated and additional milestones and success stories of 2020

Founder Institute Frankfurt graduated the first cohort and run a second one virtually.

Lizza´s founders do an exit to CREMER

INTL FCStone took over Giroxx

Emma — The Sleep Company became part of the Haniel Group — reaching 500 employees, opening a new office in Lisbon, and promising a huge investment in India and APAC

Seven-digit exit for the Mainz marketing platform Mailtastic

Wingcopter was awarded as Technology Pioneer by World Economic Forum

German premiere for medical cannabis: Cansativa was authorized to sell exclusively 10.4 tons of medical cannabis grown in Germany on behalf of the federal government over the next four years

Tribes decided to open additional coworking spaces beside the lockdown imposed

Axel Springer took over the majority in the start-up FRAMEN

Starlink settled office in Frankfurt

Google also planned to enlarge it´s presence in the region — by building additional two offices

Mainstage Incubator supported several startups to scale between ecosystems with HQ in the center of FRM.

Also, some 2020 Ecosystem Highlights in FrankfurtRhein Main :

  • Startup Genome — selected our region as Fintech Ecosystems to Watch Worldwide;
  • Atomico — Mainz got highlighted as leading Europe’s hub in terms of capital invested in 2020;
  • BioNTech was in the center of a global coronavirus vaccine race as is praised as a winner and example.
  • Some local startups were now included in the Soonicorn Club 2020: Top Tech Startups In Germany;
  • 16 million Euros awarded to build The Financial Big Data Cluster, FBDC, research project and develop a secure, legally compliant, and user-friendly financial data platform to advance machine-learning solutions across Europe’s financial ecosystem, being TQ assigned as project coordinator.

We tried to deep-dive in some cases and spoke with founders from the ecosystem, like Dennis Schmoltzi, Founder & CEO of Emma — The Sleep Company.

According to Dennis, “Despite the unprecedented situation, we have all been thrown into, we increased our sales target by 20 percent, expecting revenues of more than 240 million Euros this year (2019: 150 million Euros).
Also, in June, we sold our one-millionth Emma mattress. According to the Financial Times, Emma is one of the fastest-growing companies in Europe. 1

Our team has grown tremendously, we are now more than 500 “Emmies” working hard to develop and sell innovative products that make a positive impact on people’s lives by enhancing their sleep.
As we are aiming to become the global leader in Sleep Tech, we appointed Andreas Westendoerpf as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in October.
In November, we announced the opening of our new Lisbon office in Portugal. We are planning to hire over 100 new team members within the next months over there. This will be our third office alongside our headquarter in Frankfurt and our office in Manila, Philippines.
This year, we have expanded to 4 new markets. Emma is now available in 25 countries all over the world, including Brazil, China, and India.

2020 has been a huge challenge for every business, as so many conditions have changed throughout the year.

One of our biggest challenges was to organize a trade show in China during the pandemic. While all events in Europe had been canceled, China has conducted the first re-openings already.
The China International Furniture Fair (CIFF), one of the world’s biggest furniture fairs, has taken place in Guangzhou at the end of July. We were the only Western company exhibiting at the show facing very strict hygiene concepts and quarantine restrictions. Our two colleagues attending the
show even had to spend 14 days in quarantine and consequently traveled there well in advance. It turned out to be the right decision as the trade show was a great success.

We also measured the impact with some Ecosystem builders, like Eugenio Grapa, Director at Founder Institute Frankfurt

According to Eugenio, “Despite the pandemic, in 2020 we saw an incredibly active and supportive network of mentors and some great new start-up projects!
At the Founder Institute Frankfurt we graduated our first cohort, and ran a second one just virtual with over 20 founders but with mixed results — it was a good learning experience. We hope to bring the best of the on-line and traditional meetings, with a Winter 2021 semester.”

Also, he adds, “The biggest challenges that our businesses (&ahead and Supplino) overcame, and I think this is common for many startups, was simply organizing and staying focused while working remotely during this year.
The pandemic changed how we worked, how we shared information, the needs of our teams and clients and also investors’ focus — we had to adjust“.

A lot happened in 2020, days were felt like weeks, weeks like months, months like years.

We were all affected, in different ways, and in different degrees. We look at Frankfurt Valley, look forward to 2021 with a very positive attitude and we hope that in this article you find some evidence that besides all that is happening in our life´s, besides the unpredictability, uncertainty, and negativism, a lot was achieved, a lot successfully pivoted, and a lot it´s still ahead of us.

2020 may be a year to forget for a lot of reasons, but we may as well get some learning for the future, and well, remind some success stories that shouldn’t be ignored.

A look-back at 2020 in the Rhein-Main Startup Ecosystem was originally published in FrankfurtValley on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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