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.