May 3, 2024

Germany’s 10 fastest-growing startup teams

Climate and AI startups are — predictably — growing their headcount the fastest after huge financing rounds in 2023

German tech ended 2023 on a slightly sour note, with VC funding dropping by a third and just three unicorns crowned — a stark contrast to the heydays of 2021.

But 2024 is already showing some promise. In the first quarter of this year, German startups raised $2.3bn, $300m more than the same quarter in 2023, making it the second top ecosystem in Europe by VC investment in 2024 so far.

Many German companies have also been on a hiring spree in the last year. Solar startup 1Komma5° has retained its crown as the fastest-growing company in terms of headcount this year. AI company Aleph Alpha has grown its team size too, after a large funding round at the end of 2023.


Sifted has compiled the 10 fastest-growing German startup teams by headcount over the last 12 months, using data from Dealroom. To avoid results being skewed by early-stage businesses making lots of hires while growing quickly, companies have to have raised at least $50m to be considered. Total funding and headcount figures are taken from Dealroom.


HQ city: Hamburg

Founded: 2021

Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 183% to 479 employees

1Komma5° has built a marketplace that helps homeowners buy and install carbon-neutral energy systems like solar panels and heat pumps. It also provides software to optimise consumption and reduce energy bills. The company hit unicorn status in June 2023 after raising a whopping €430m in Series B financing, and topped Sifted’s last year’s edition of the fastest-growing startup teams in Germany.

Aleph Alpha

HQ city: Heidelberg

Founded: 2019

Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 164% to 111 employees

Aleph Alpha builds LLMs for enterprises and governments and is the poster child for AI innovation in Germany. In November last year, the company raised $500m in one of Europe’s largest-ever AI rounds. While the company has grown its headcount significantly in the last year, founder Jonas Andrulis doesn’t want Aleph Alpha to scale to become a huge company: “I want to contribute to the fact that there’s technological sovereignty, and I want to be the smallest company that can do that,” he told Sifted in a November interview.


HQ city: Salzgitter, Lower Saxony

Founded: 2022

Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 137% to 1,053 employees

Volkswagen Group-owned battery company PowerCo is working on building three gigafactories in Salzgitter, Valencia and St Thomas in Canada, with more in the pipeline.  It wants to have six 40 gigawatt hour (GwH) battery cell production plants in operation in Europe by 2030. To put it into perspective, just one gigawatt hour could power 10m watt bulbs.


HQ city: Berlin

Founded: 2017

Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 105% to 223 employees

Parloa is a conversational AI platform designed to automate and improve customer service operations for businesses. It’s already raised a €61.7m Series B round this year from Altimeter Capital — a standout deal for the sales and customer service tech sector.


HQ city: Frankfurt

Founded: 2015

Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 105% to 698 employees

Insurtech Clark offers life, property and casualty insurance services and has 700k customers across Europe, according to its website. The company, which last raised funding in 2021, has backers such as early stage VC Target Global, Tencent and Allianz X, the corporate investment arm of financial services giant Allianz.


HQ city: Berlin

Founded: 2012

Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 100% to 467 employees

KoRo is an online B2B/B2C marketplace for healthy snacks such as superfoods, dried fruits and nuts. It also has its own cafe in Berlin, selling porridges, sandwiches and smoothies, and a catering service for events of 50-70 people. It’s raised $86.1m to date and has backers such as HV Capital, Partech and SevenVentures.


HQ city: Stuttgart

Founded: 2014

Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 93% to 543 employees

AnyDesk is a remote desktop software that allows users to connect to devices in other locations, making remote work and online collaboration easier. The company has been growing fast in the last few years,  boosted by a $70m Series C funding round in 2021 from General Atlantic, Insight Partners, EQT Ventures and Possible Ventures which valued the company at $660m. 


HQ city: Munich

Founded: 2020

Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 86% to 65 employees

Tacto’s platform for SMEs provides an overview of supply chains, sourcing processes and transport. The Munich-based startup raised €50m in December last year, attracting a roster of high-profile backers including Sequoia, Index Ventures and Cherry Ventures.


HQ city: Cologne

Founded: 2009

Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 86% to 1,059 employees

AI translation unicorn DeepL was one of only five private European tech firms to reach a billion-dollar valuation in 2023, when it raised a €100m round from investors including Atomico, Bessemer Venture Partners and IVP.  As well as growing fast in terms of headcount, DeepL is also expanding its product range. Last week, it launched an AI language assistant — its first product based on its  large AI language model — to take on Google and Microsoft.



HQ city: Freiburg

Founded: 2015

Headcount growth over the last 12 months: 85% to 74 employees

NexWafe is designing a process to produce ultra-thin and sustainable solar wafers, which form the basis of every solar module where solar energy is turned into electricity. 

It last raised funding in May 2023, a €30m round according to Dealroom, from backers such as Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures and Reliance New Energy Limited, the clean energy investment arm of Indian multinational conglomerate Reliance Industries Limited.

Miriam Partington

Miriam Partington is a reporter at Sifted. She covers the DACH region and the future of work, and coauthors Startup Life , a weekly newsletter on what it takes to build a startup. Follow her on X and LinkedIn