December 4, 2023

Europe’s 10 fastest-growing SaaS startup teams

The downturn has not been kind to SaaS — but AI is keeping the lights on for funding coming into the sector

AI has been the saving grace in 2023 of a SaaS sector that’s felt the full reckoning of the tech downturn. 

SaaS companies in Europe have raised just $6.4bn so far this year, down from the record $18.4bn raised in 2022, according to Dealroom. Saas startups have cut software budgets as they grapple with their own funding troubles. 

But AI SaaS startups have seen VCs dole out the kind of eye-watering cheques that were commonplace across the tech sector during the heady days of 2021 and 2022. 


Germany’s Aleph Alpha brought $500m in one of Europe’s biggest ever AI rounds in November and the UK’s Builder AI raised $250m in May. 

In June, France’s Mistral raised a €105m seed round and the UK’s Synthesia picked up $90m to become one of the very few new European unicorns of 2023. 

They are all among the top 10 fastest-growing SaaS teams in Europe across the past 12 months, which also features two no-code startups, alongside quantum, cryptocurrency and solar companies.

Headcount data for the past year has been pulled from Dealroom and all the companies featured were founded after 2010. 

To avoid the results being skewed by small businesses making lots of new hires, startups needed to have raised $50m or more and have over 10 employees to make the cut.

1/ Mistral AI

The Mistral AI founding team
The Mistral AI founding team

Mistral was founded in May this year, just four weeks before it raised its €105m seed round (you can see the pitch deck it used to raise that cash here). Since then, the startup has emerged as one of the frontrunners of Europe’s GenAI scene. 

It released its first large language model (LLM) in September — but a day after release, the model attracted criticism as it appeared to generate harmful content.

Back then, founder and CEO Arthur Mensch told Sifted that Mistral would develop a “family of models” and has four clients it’s working with, including French healthtech unicorn Alan.

Founded: 2023

HQ: Paris

Team growth last 12 months: 2600% to 26 employees

Total funding: $113m

2/ Synthesia

Synthesia uses generative AI models to let users create videos for company training, internal comms and marketing purposes, in more than 120 languages. 

The company told Sifted in June that 50k companies use its software, including Amazon, Ocado and Johnson & Johnson. Its investors include Accel, Air Street Capital, Seedcamp and Taavet Hinrikus. 


Founded: 2017

HQ: London

Team growth last 12 months: 111% to 280 employees 

Total funding: $153m

3/ Stability AI

An image of Stability AI's Emad Mostaque
Stability AI's Emad Mostaque

Stability AI’s $101m Series A round in October 2022 was one of the first of a growing number of generative AI startups that seemingly sprung out of nowhere to raise huge sums from VCs. 

The startup helped develop text-to-image generator, Stable Diffusion — although it doesn’t own the IP for the model — and released a GenAI-based audio generator in September.

More recently, the company has seen an exodus of senior execs and last week announced it was shifting its open source business model to putting its most powerful AI systems behind a paywall.

Founded: 2019

HQ: London

Team growth last 12 months: 110% to 193 employees

Total funding: $151m

4/ Matter Labs

Matter Labs is a cryptocurrency startup that has built a platform, called zkSync, that reduces the cost of Ethereum transactions and aims to increase the accessibility of trading on the blockchain. It last raised a $200m Series C, which included backing from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Andreessen Horowitz.

Founded: 2018

HQ: Berlin

Team growth last 12 months: 107% to 114 employees

Total funding: $256m

5/ Tines

Tines is a no-code startup which helps companies automate workflows. It’s one of the fastest-growing Irish startups and is backed by Accel, Blossom Capital and Index Ventures. Its last raise was a $55m Series B in October 2022.

Founded: 2018

HQ: Dublin

Team growth last 12 months: 88% to 280 employees

Total funding: $96.1m

6/ Builder AI

Builder's Sachin Dev Duggal
Builder's Sachin Dev Duggal

Builder AI helps businesses build web or mobile apps without the need for technical knowledge. Its $250m round in May was one of the biggest SaaS raises of the year and it’s backed by investors including Qatar Investment Authority, Insight Partners and Lakestar.

Sifted’s Eleanor Warnock sat down with founder Sachin Dev Duggal earlier this year on the Sifted Podcast to talk about mistakes, salaries and why he prefers to title AI wizard to CEO.

Founded: 2012

HQ: London

Team growth last 12 months: 87% to 1440 employees

Total funding: $445m

7/ Terra Quantum

Terra Quantum is a quantum-as-a-service startup, and develops hybrid quantum algorithms which can run on any sort of chip, including current and future quantum processing units (QPUs). It’s currently helping HSBC bank manage risks in its investment portfolio and aerospace multinational Thales maximise revenue by picking the best images obtained from Earth observation satellites.

The Swiss startup’s last round was a $60m Series A round in January 2022, which it topped up with a $15m extension the following month. Its investors are Lakestar and Investcorp.

Founded: 2019

HQ: Rorschach, Switzerland

Team growth last 12 months: 85% to 85 employees

Total funding: $100m

8/ PVCase

PVCase has built a software tool aimed at speeding up the design and assessment stages of building solar panel plants. It raised a $100m Series B in July — one of the largest rounds ever raised by a Lithuanian startup — and is backed by VCs Highland Europe, Energize Ventures and Elephant.

Founded: 2018

HQ: Kaunas, Lithuania

Team growth last 12 months: 74% to 228 employees

Total funding: $124m

9/ Framer

Framer is a no-code website builder and manages the online presence of scaleups like US productivity app Superhuman and Dutch cloud communications platform Messagebird. It raised a $27m Series C in September this year and is backed by Accel and Atomico. 

Founded: 2013

HQ: Amsterdam

Team growth last 12 months: 71% to 171 employees

Total funding: $60m

10/ Aleph Alpha

Aleph Alpha CEO Jonas Andrulis
Aleph Alpha CEO Jonas Andrulis

Aleph Alpha is building LLMs similar to OpenAI’s GPT-4 but designed for enterprises rather than consumers. Its whopping $500m November raise was mostly made up of grant funding, as well as €110m in equity. 

The startup has drawn plaudits from Germany’s richest man, whose foundation has partnered with Aleph Alpha to launch an AI innovation park in the city of Heilbronn in southwest Germany.

Founded: 2019

HQ: Heidelberg, Germany

Team growth last 12 months: 66% to 68 employees

Total funding: $641m

Kai Nicol-Schwarz

Kai Nicol-Schwarz is a reporter at Sifted. He covers UK tech and healthtech, and can be found on X and LinkedIn