The SaaS Tech Stacks of German Unicorns
German startups are making headlines both for the quality of their platforms and products as well as the valuation of their businesses. In 2020, German startups raised $7.5 billion, which represented a 20% increase over the previous year. In 2021, Forto, Gorillas, and Scalable Capital, amongst others, earned “unicorn” status, which means valuations of $1 billion or more. And Munich-based Celonis just became Germany’s first decacorn with a valuation of more than $10 billion.
Startups in Germany and across Europe are raising more money than ever before. The tools and technologies these startups are using to fuel their growth are just as important as the products they are offering to their target markets.
But what is the best tech stack for a company worth more than $1 billion? The Sastrify team conducted external research using only publicly available data (such as job descriptions and tools like "BuiltWith") to examine the tools used by the following unicorn companies. Explicitly, as some of those companies work with Sastrify, the team conducting the research did not have any access to customer data or internal information. Sastrify took a closer look at the following companies:
Any company’s tech stack may comprise dozens of SaaS tools. Therefore, we focused our research on the following five primary categories that we consider most important to a startup’s day-to-day operations and ultimate success.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) → Interaction with (potential) customers
- Help desk → Advanced customer service
- Development operations (DevOps) → Work organization & collaboration
- Business intelligence → Data preparation & processing
- Application performance monitoring → Tracking & error identification
Customer Relationship Management
All startups need a customer relationship management tool, better known as a CRM. A CRM helps a company organize and communicate with prospects and existing customers, including support for onboarding, marketing automation, the sales cycle, retention, and other important tasks.
There are different categories within the CRM space, too. Some CRMs emphasize marketing automation, while others emphasize sales lead management. In many cases, one company may use more than one SaaS tool that can be considered a CRM. For example, a growing startup’s marketing team may use an inbound CRM to gather leads and then pass those leads to a general or sales-focused CRM for the account executives to pursue and manage.
No matter the category, there’s one CRM that Germany’s unicorns are using more than any other: HubSpot.
HubSpot is best known for its marketing-focused capabilities, including lead generation, marketing automation, and analytics. But Hubspot can also serve as a comprehensive CRM when companies take advantage of its sales-, support- and operations-related features.
German unicorns that are using HubSpot include:
These companies may be using complementary tools for some aspects of CRM, as noted above. For example, it’s not unusual for a company to use HubSpot on the marketing side and Salesforce on the sales side. HubSpot even comes with a Salesforce integration so that leads can pass automatically from one platform to another.
In the startup world, customer service isn’t just something that companies have to offer their users. It’s an essential function and one that can serve as a competitive advantage — when it’s done well.
For that reason, Germany’s unicorns seek out help desk platforms that can empower their customer service teams to create outstanding user experiences — short wait times, helpful answers, omnichannel communications, etc. In recent years, Zendesk has become the go-to service desk platform for modern companies. The list of German unicorns using Zendesk is long and includes:
With Zendesk as their help desk platform, startups can create help centers, use chat bots to answer predictable questions, offer users support access via live chat, email, phone calls, etc. Zendesk also includes powerful reporting features so that support teams can track their performance and identify areas for improvement. Zendesk offers products beyond its service desk (like its sales tool), but it made its name by providing a platform that powers an effective customer service operation.
Development work is complex. It typically involves a team of people working on deadline-driven projects that require attention to detail, quality assurance, testing, and more. Unicorn companies can’t afford to launch updates or new features without ensuring that everything works properly.
Platforms for development operations (better known as DevOps) help teams organize their work, stay in touch with one another, collaborate on tasks, and generally keep projects moving forward so that work gets completed before deadlines arrive. Atlassian has become the go-to DevOps platform for tech companies of all sizes. It offers tools like Confluence, Jira, and Trello that keep development teams on track.
Large, established corporations (like eBay, Cisco, and others) rely on Atlassian’s suite of DevOps tools. So too do some of Germany’s unicorn companies, including:
Atlassian offers a variety of service plans that are designed to walk alongside companies from the startup phase straight through to managing operations at the enterprise level. Here’s a look at the suite of tools that Atlassian recommends for startups:
Benchmarking actually doesn't help a lot at Atlassian. I'd rather have something like "we can help our customers identify in which products from Atlassian to invest in and how to track their actual usage to avoid any waste"
Because Atlassian offers many different products, it can be challenging for any given company to pick and choose the right mix for their business. At Sastrify, we can assist our customers in choosing the right Atlassian products to invest in, and we can also help them track their actual usage to avoid any waste.
In the 21st century, “big data” has become a trendy phrase. But data isn’t helpful unless you have the tools to quickly analyze, interpret and draw conclusions from that data. That’s where business intelligence tools come in — they provide companies with the software needed to track performance and make data-driven decisions.
Of course, as big data has grown in importance, business intelligence tools have flooded the market. But Tableau has established itself as the industry leader, becoming the go-to business intelligence platform for German unicorns like:
Tableau helps companies of all sizes capture their data, explore their data, manage their data, and interpret their data. Ultimately, Tableau helps its users make better-informed, more confident decisions that are grounded in what the data says.
Tableau offers tools and features that benefit a wide range of departments:
Application performance monitoring
Software engineers can’t fix issues they don’t know about. Application performance monitoring tools are made available so that engineers can keep tabs on software performance, identify errors, and quickly fix problems so that their users enjoy the best possible experience.
New Relic has become one of the leading application performance monitoring platforms by giving teams “observability” across their full tech stacks. Development teams can configure real-time alerts that allow them to know about errors at a moment’s notice. In short, New Relic provides a single source of truth that teams can use to monitor and track performance across even the most complex tech stacks powering today’s unicorns (and other companies).
German unicorns that rely on New Relic include:
New Relic offers a free plan that startups can take advantage of. This is a savvy pricing model, as the startups that become reliant on New Relic at a low price point will likely continue using New Relic as their companies grow. Of course, as is often the case with enterprise-level software, New Relic does not provide publicly available numbers for its highest levels of service.
Create Your Optimal Tech Stack — at the Right Price
The world of software is growing exponentially year after year. That means the companies that rely on SaaS to create and maintain great products have an increasingly difficult time making sense of the SaaS landscape. Given the many options available for different types of services, and given the challenge of finding reliable pricing information, how can your company create the optimal tech stack at the right price?
At Sastrify, we provide pricing benchmarks and negotiation support to companies large and small so that they can make informed SaaS buying decisions that bring real value to their operations. Our services help startups and established companies save time and save money so that they can focus on their core product and service offerings.
Are you trying to create the best tech stack for your business? Getting started with Sastrify is easy. Get a free SaaS analysis so that you can start down the path toward savings.