FinTechGermany Award Honors Best FinTechs
The financial center Frankfurt, represented by the FTGA organizers Frankfurt Main Finance, Business Angels Frankfurt RheinMain, TechFluence and the WM Group / Börsen-Zeitung, honors outstanding FinTech companies in various categories with the leading investor-side startup award.
The FinTechGermany Award Golden Garage will take place on May 16, 2019. An open jury session will occur on March 6, 2019 in conjunction with WM-Gruppe’s 11th annual Finanzplatztag (Financial Centre Day).
The renowned prize for entrepreneurs will honor the most promising FinTech, InsurTech, and RegTech companies from the following categories: Seed-/Early Stage, Late Stage, Growth Stage und Foreign New Entrant to Germany. The jury, comprised of the Financial Centre’s top actors and FinTech supporters, will award the prizes to the FinTech, InsurTech and RegTech companies whose business models show the most promise for the future success and to add long term value to the marketplace. The three most important criteria are financial viability, scalability, and exit-potential.
Latest News on the FinTechGermany Award
With the leading investor award for start-ups, the Financial Centre Frankfurt honours outstanding FinTech companies in six different categories. The jury’s vote went to AUTHADA GmbH in the Seed/Early Stage category and to Barzahlen – Cash Payment Solutions GmbH in the Late Stage Category, while solarisBank AG received the prize for the best FinTech in the Growth Stage category. TransferWise Ltd. was voted the Best Foreign FinTech on the German market. The special prize for the best PropTech was awarded to Exporo AG, while Wefox Germany GmbH was honoured in the special InsurTech category.
The organisers, Börsen-Zeitung (WM Group), Business Angels Frankfurt RheinMain, Frankfurt Main Finance and TechFluence, have now presented the FinTechGermany Award to high-potential FinTech companies for the fifth time. “Our ‘Golden Garage’ award offers young entrepreneurs, in particular, the opportunity to enter into dialogue with FinTech insiders and financial centre representatives and expand their network. We are pleased to be able to offer this platform for the fifth time,” says Dr. Jens Zinke, Managing Director of the Börsen-Zeitung. Andreas Lukic, Chairman of Business Angels Frankfurt RheinMain comments: “We award the prize to the best FinTech, InsurTech and PropTech companies, whose innovative business models and new technologies create value and transform the financial sector. At the same time, the Financial Centre Frankfurt offers the entire financing chain for start-ups – from their foundation and time of growth until they become established.” Hubertus Väth, Managing Director of Frankfurt Main Finance says: “Cooperation between FinTechs and the established players in the financial centre is the key to future success. The FinTechGermany Award creates the platform to make this possible.” And Michael Mellinghoff, Managing Director at TechFluence UK, adds: “In awarding this prize, we above all support start-ups with promising FinTech concepts, while at the same time increasing their visibility on the German market.”
The focus of the sixteen-strong jury was on the companies’ financial viability, scalability and exit capability. Among other things, they evaluated the business concept, competitive advantages, positioning, financial plan and management. The “Seed/Early Stage” category comprises FinTechs with no or only initial revenues, and with no or only a basic prototype. Companies with at least cumulative six-digit revenues were able to apply for the “Late Stage” category. The prerequisites for an award in the “Growth Stage” category were a more than seven-digit turnover and international expansion. Günter Rothenberger, the founder of Günter Rothenberger Industries GmbH and inventor of the R-System, donated the six perpetual trophies in the form of gold-plated water pump pliers mounted on American oak.
Andreas Plies, managing director of AUTHADA GmbH, stated: “The prize is not just for us alone, but for the entire company. It’s nice to have your work recognised.” Ulrike Czekay, Head of PR & Marketing at Barzahlen – Cash Payment Solution GmbH, aims to begin with the payment infrastructure and “dispel customers’ fear of digitisation and offer new possibilities.” Jörg Diewald, Chief Commercial Officer at solarisBank AG, announced, “Our Sales division is growing, and we are desperately looking for new employees to meet our customer needs.” Thomas Adamski, European PR Manager at TransferWise Ltd, was delighted with his trophy, “Our foremost concern is to help people and enable them to drastically reduce the cost of foreign bank transfers. Especially in such a large and active market as FinTech, I am immensely grateful that the scene is very open to new alternatives. I am delighted to be here and get to know all the nice people from the different areas.” Botho von Hülsen, Senior Manager at Exporo AG, commented that “A lot of construction is taking place in Germany, and fund packages can also be purchased from us in the form of products consisting of existing properties. Our digitalisation rollout is initially planned for France and the Netherlands, as the economic performance of these countries can be easily assessed.” John Shewell, Head of Group Marketing & Communications at Wefox Germany GmbH, felt honoured by the golden garage trophy and expressed that “It is a privilege to be here tonight. At the same time, it is also an honour for all tech start-ups to have the opportunity to transform the financial industry. We want to make insurance easy and convenient for our customers.”
In an interview with Frankfurt Main Finance, Andreas Lukic, CEO of ValueNet-Capital-Partners GmbH and jury coordinator of the FinTechGermany Award (FTGA), explains how the award has evolved in recent years and why the “Golden Garage” should be awarded monthly.
What inspired you to establish the FinTechGermany Awards as an annual event?
In the ’90s and around the turn of the millennium, I worked in the USA and England. Upon my return, I noticed that the start-up ecosystem in the Rhine-Main region was rather small. Moreover, there was a lack of private investor networks or other initiatives bringing start-ups, investors, and clients together. Thus, I decided to join a small Business Angel Club in 2002 and became chairman of the Business Angels Frankfurt Rhein-Main in 2006. By now, we review about 900 start-ups a year and invest in about 20 to 30 – furthering the start-up ecosystem is an important factor.
With the end of the financial crisis, interest in founders grew substantially. Initiatives such as the FinTech Dialogue forum – which later initiated the TechQuartier and the FinTechGermany Award the “Golden Garage” – were formed. The award allows us to draw attention to the internationally renowned Financial Centre Frankfurt as an attractive location for founders. We cannot say “We are the coolest, the most creative and have been on the market the longest.” However, what we can say is “We are a Financial Centre – with capital and financial market competence” and we have been for more than 100 years. Furthermore, the investor-driven award demonstrates that we can evaluate to what extent start-ups are financially viable, scalable and likely to provide feasible exit options.
How has the event evolved over the years?
Approximately 180 start-ups are nominated for the FTGA every year. However, interested start-ups can also hand in applications. With about 200 participating companies, start-ups from every market segment are represented. Today, we are established enough to award the Golden Garage, with this year’s ceremony taking place in the Eurotheum. An open jury session also took place as part of the Finanzplatztag.
Which challenges were FinTechs facing in Germany during the early days of the FinTechGermany Award?
First of all, FinTechs are nothing new, but the growing public awareness is. Back in 2005, we would not have been able to initiate such an award – all the necessary resources were not accessible in one place. However, by now it is standard practice in the financial sector to use new technologies and FinTechs are well-established.
Whereas a few years ago start-ups needed to explore new ideas and enter untapped market segments to position themselves, start-ups nowadays need to successfully become established. They have to penetrate the market to a much greater extent and be able to handle customers, competition, and profit equally well. While fewer start-ups are founded these days, we find a lot of FinTechs that are “partially or fully financed”. That is what has changed.
You have kept track of the progress previously winning companies have made to this day. Have the founders and their companies gained increased attention from investors after winning the FinTechGermany Award?
Yes, founders and entrepreneurs receive greater attention from the public after the award. The attention grows proportionally with the increasing importance of the FinTechGermany Awards.
A start-up – whether at the Seed/Early Stage, Late Stage or Growth Stage – always needs unique selling points. Everyone makes a lot of noise. Thus, every competition, every price and every chance of access to partners and networks is an essential aspect for a start-up. However, this effect also works the other way around: The Financial Centre and the players draw benefits from it – by forming a cooperation or increasing their number of clients.
With regards to investors: We must show that Frankfurt is worth locating to. Not just because of the networking opportunities but also because of the start-ups. Actually, we need something like the FintechGermany Awards to happen every month (laughs).
The name “Golden Garage” refers to the early beginnings of technology pioneers such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Larry Page. Are those career paths we can still observe today? Or are FinTechs already moving away from garages and bedrooms to FinTech hubs and offices around the world?
The garage symbolizes the unconventional founding of which Hewlett-Packard is a prototype. There even is a museum in Silicon Valley called “the old garage”. And yes, this original founding continues to occur.
Three characteristics define a start-up hub:
1. Founding Landscape
When looking at Silicon Valley, it becomes evident that only a few founders were born there.
Hence, there is no “founding gene” that one region has or has not got. It is upon us to establish an attractive start-up landscape. This a consistent factor and the Rhine-Main region has caught up significantly over the past few years.
2. Educational Landscape
This includes universities, but also cultural institutions such as museums. The educational landscape in the Rhine-Main region has a strong focus on start-ups and their founders.
3. Finance Chain
A financing landscape must be created in which start-ups are able to get access to all forms of investments – from 1,000 to 10,00 to 100,000 Euros. That is why I always emphasize the investor-driven award and the jury’s capital market competence. Financing is our future topic. A golden garage is characterized by the fact that it a place where I can get settled while also getting my company financed. When looking at Facebook and Co.: at some point, someone gave them between one hundred and five hundred thousand dollars. At the same time, that business angel had an idea of where the start-up was heading. In the FinTech sector, we are on the right track today.
Andreas Lukic is the founder and managing director of ValueNet-Capital-Partners GmbH, a private equity and consulting company founded in 2000. The company focuses on investing, financing and M&A transactions in management buyouts/buy-ins as well as company successions, occasionally invests in growth-oriented companies from the corporate, SME and start-up sectors and supports their corporate development. Mr. Lukic is a member of several advisory boards, CEO of Business-Angels FrankfurtRheinMain e.V. and has been an active business angel since 1999. In addition, he supports renowned and ambitious artists as part of Schirn Zeitgenossen, Frankfurt. Please find more information on Andreas Lukic here.
Promoting the Frankfurt FinTech ecosystem would not be complete without recognizing some of the top FinTech start-ups for their accomplishments. On November 17, 2016, Frankfurt Main Finance, Business Angels FrankfurtRheinMain and WM Gruppe held the annual FinTechGermany Awards ceremony to present FinTech companies with a Golden Garage. Companies competed in four categories: Early/Seed Stage, Late Stage, Growth Stage and New entrant into Germany. The jury’s three most important judgement criteria were financial viability, scalability and exit-potential.
Guests filled the ground floor of the Pollux building which would host the inauguration of the Frankfurt FinTech Hub, Tech Quartier, later that evening. Certainly a symbolic location for the conferral of these awards, as the opening of Tech Quartier marks the culmination of months of work by Frankfurt Main Finance and other actors in the Financial Centre to promote Frankfurt’s FinTech ecosystem. Before the room would be consumed by the pomp and circumstance of state ministers and foreign delegates, it was transformed into a Golden Garage. This new concept should harken back to famous founders, like Jobs, Gates and Page, who worked tirelessly in their garages developing technologies that would later change the world. Rounding out the effect were golden tools across the tables and stage, where the awards – called Golden Garages- rested upon a pulpit of golden tires. Only the founders with the most promising and innovative business models would take home a Golden Garage, a symbol that should act as a signal to investors of the value and potential of these start-ups.
The top sponsor of this year’s FinTechGermany Awards was Deutsche Börse. Executive Board Member, Hauke Stars, explained, “We want to contribute to Frankfurt becoming the leading location for FinTech in Germany. To this end, it is critical that all involved work together to build up a community that is attractive to FinTechs and allows all actors to profit from one another.” Frankfurt has indeed developed a significant FinTech ecosystem and is now home to more than 50 FinTechs and several FinTech hubs, incubators and accelerators as well as a mass of regular events. Stars continued on the importance of these efforts and the Golden Garage, “The FinTechGermany Award helps to spotlight these efforts.” Other sponsors of the awards included EY, Baker McKenzie and the IHK Frankfurt.
The event began with opening words from Frankfurt Main Finance’s President, Dr. Lutz Raettig, who explained the importance of digitalization for the financial sector and economy. Commenting on the Financial Centre Frankfurt as a destination for FinTech Start-ups, Dr. Raetting stated that, “Simply put, we have a start-up ecosystem in Frankfurt and a great infrastructure which is practically second to none. Furthermore, we have what many cities do not, which is especially important for the FinTech sector, and that is the ability to test and experiment with new applications, because the end-users are in Frankfurt.”
Dr. Jens Zinke, Managing Director of Börsen-Zeitung, took the stage as master of ceremonies to introduce presenters as well as the Golden Garage winners. In his opening remarks, he discussed the growing importance of FinTech. According to Zinke, the first mention of FinTech in the Börsen-Zeitung was in 2014. He continued to state that FinTech is now a reality of everyday life and that, “in the past twelve months, there have been over 300 articles published about FinTech in the Börsen-Zeitung, or more than one per day.” This increasing relevance of FinTech underscores the importance of the FinTechGermany Awards and the support of the Financial Centre for the FinTech ecosystem.
The Golden Garage winnners for each category are:
- Seed/Early Stage: Scalable Capital
- Late Stage: CRX Markets
- Growth Stage: WebID Solutions
- Foreign new entrant to Germany: Quantoz N.V.
Being honored with a Golden Garage is surely a milestone for these young companies, as is the opening of the Tech Quartier for the Frankfurt FinTech ecosystem. In his remarks, Andreas Lukic, Chairman of Business Angels FrankfurtRheinMain, discussed the importance of his work with Business Angels in supporting these young companies. “There is a large financing gap from several million to a few hundred thousand. We wanted to close this gap through our work with the dialogue forum. This prize is one of our best marketing instruments for this.” The FinTechGermany Awards play a critical role in attracting investors’ attention and helping to increase the flow of funding to the region and Germany. Without the necessary funding and support, start-ups would stagnate, not be able to scale, and the brilliant ideas of these innovative entrepreneurs could never be realized.