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 an 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 has not had any access to any customer data neither was any internal information given to them. Sastrify has taken 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.