When it comes to thinking about so-called "unicorn" startups – those that are valued at $1 billion or more – two countries come to mind: America and China. America, of course, gave the world Uber, AirBNB, SpaceX, and WeWork: companies so embedded in the news and mass media that most in the west hardly think of as "startups" anymore. China is the home of MoBike, Didi Chuxing, and lu.com: companies well known in the technosphere, if not the rest of the world. There are, however, startups everywhere in the world – Canada and India being two examples that we've covered here – that savvy entrepreneurs know to keep an eye on.
Today, we're going to take a look at Germany's four unicorns: who they are, what they do, and where they stand.
1) Otto Bock Healthcare: Healthcare/Prosthetics. $3.5 billion
Founded in 1919, Otto Bock Healthcare isn't what you might think of when it comes to the "move fast and break things" ethos commonly identified with startups. However, the company has been at the cutting edge of prosthetic research and development since its founding in the aftermath of WWI which saw thousands of soldiers returning home with lost limbs. The company remains true to that vision, stating on their website that "the goal of helping to restore mobility for people—or protect what mobility they have—stands behind each and every Ottobock product" and helping people live full and active lives with new technologies for mobility.
2) Auto 1 Group: eCommerce/Auto sales. $2.8 billion.
Auto 1 Group operates in over 20 countries to make buying used cars easier. During their most recent funding round in May, they raised $404 million, including money from JP Morgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Barclays, and Citigroup Inc according to Bloomberg.
3) HelloFresh: eCommerce/Marketplace. $2.09 billion.
If HelloFresh sounds familiar, it's because the self-described "leading global provider of fresh food at home" has a worldwide presence that includes the USA. The premise behind the 4 company is simple: make it easy for people to cook and eat healthy food at home. The company delivers locally sourced ingredients for subscriber in 9 markets to make weeknight meals. All the shopping is done for you and delivered at a convenient time. All that's left to do is cook and serve... remember when that was a thing? Well, there you go.
4) CureVac: Healthcare/BioTech. $1.65 billion.
CureVac is an mRNA biopharmaceutical company that has received the support of Bill and Melinda Gates in addition to that of their investors. In plain English, the company aims to create therapies that use messenger RNA (mRNA) "as a data carrier to instruct the human body to produce its own proteins to fight a wide range of diseases." In other words, they're looking for vaccines based on RNA that will help the body cure itself when sick. Still wondering if you need to brush off your college biology textbook? Don't worry... watch this.
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