This Month in German, Swiss, and Austrian (GSA) Startups - January 2023 image
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This Month in German, Swiss, and Austrian (GSA) Startups - January 2023
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Happy 2023, as well as a happy Chinese New Year of the Rabbit. 2023 Chris and Joe will again bring you startup news once a month (with a small summer break) wrapping up what was going on — and we found noteworthy — in the GSA / DACH startups scene.

Our Highlights:

WeFox is under fire for growing with acquisitions of insurance broker pools, BioNTech makes largest acquisition in its history, DeepL confirms unicorn status and snipes at Grammarly, Solarisbank in trouble with BaFin, Trade Republic has to disclose numbers and Sono Motors gets longer runway with EU money.

Let’s talk startups:

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Top News

WeFox got some splaining to do 🙂

Extensive, but not favorable coverage of insurtech Wefox came out this month. The main complaints are that the growth is basically driven by acquiring existing pools of insurance brokers (not really what you would associate with an insurtech startup). They made that way 600 million Euros in revenue in 2022. But these pools do not get innovative systems from WeFox, or innovative insurance offers from them, they just keep working. Also, there has been no innovative product that really drove the growth at WeFox as an innovative unicorn

BioNTech makes the largest acquisition to date

BioNTech may be one of Germany’s most successful startup companies. We talked about it in our news before, the company alone is responsible for approximately half a percentage point of Germany’s GDP Growth in 2021 — Keep in mind that Germany is the 4th largest country in the world by nominal GDP.

Here is the new piece: Mainz-based pharma company BioNTech (famous for their corona vaccine) makes the largest acquisition in its history with UK-based AI startup Instadeep

Related: BioNTech’s founder on the future of mRNA technology

Cologne-based DeepL confirms unicorn status and snipes at Grammarly

DeepL takes aim at Grammarly with the launch of Write, to clean up your prose.


Cologne-based translation tool DeepL confirms unicorn valuation for their 2022 fundraising of 100 mn US$

Solarisbank joins N26 in Troubles with BaFin

Bafin is Germany’s bank oversight body (think FSA or SEC). They have already limited the number of customers N26 can acquire due to lapses in following regulations (especially AML), now Solarisbank is in too: “Solarisbank in Germany can now only get new partners (fintech clients) with permission of German finance oversight BaFin, due to continuing problems. BaFin also sends an “observer”

Trade Republic Updates

Trade Republic generates more than 1 bn Euros inflows of new client money with 2% interest rate offer and a lot of favorable press coverage.

Also, Trade Republic has to publish their numbers: There is a legal requirement in Germany to publish your balance sheet 12 months after your business year