Sina Gritzuhn präsentiert die Ergebnisse der Studie © Torben Jensen, Hamburg Startups

Top 4 sectors in Hamburg's start-up scene

Commerce, tech and media - study shows where founders are most active and employee numbers per sector

Most start-ups in Hamburg emerge in commerce and in both over-the-counter and online trade, the first study published this year by the private initiative Hamburg Startups, and contained in the live data bank, has found. The study is based on replies from 214 start-ups in the city and the Hamburg Metropolitan Region interviewed in September and October 2015. The initiative defines a start-up as not older than ten years, a firm that has an innovative business idea and growth potential. The live data bank takes account of start-ups that have set up a profile in the initiative’s Startup Monitor.

Top 1: About You, Foodist & co

Almost 26 per cent of start-ups said (24.2 per cent on September 5th, 2016) they operated in the trade sector. That means Hamburg’s founders are most active in commerce in terms of new companies and the number of employees. Start-ups in commerce employ 1,247 staff or 24 per cent of employees in the firms interviewed. The Hamburg Startup-Monitor offers an overview of all start-ups, most of which operate in trade and e-commerce. They include well-known Hamburg-based brands such as Foodist, a supplier of gourmet boxes of delicacies, the online fashion store About You and the gift platform

Top 2: From car rental comparisons to parking space finders

Some 17 per cent of the start-ups interviewed were founded in the service sector. The branch employs around 12 per cent of employees making it an important employer. Many interesting business ideas such as the market research app Appinio and the co-working spaces offered by Shhared and the car rental portal Happycar can be found in this category, as outlined in the Hamburg Startup-Monitor. It also contains new services such as FahrradGarderobe, a mobile parking space finder for big events or, a search engine for freelancers that originated in Hamburg’s start-up scene.

Top 3: Storytelling as a business model

The dominant role of media in Hamburg’s start-up scene is hardly surprising given the Hanseatic city’s renown as a media centre. Over 14 per cent of the start-ups interviewed are in that sector. Around 10 per cent of staff in start-ups is employed there. And the range of ideas for start-ups is vast, for instance, Pocketstory, which describes itself as an online kiosk for quality journalistic and literary texts. The virtual reality pioneers such as Spice VR and Noys VR can be found in this branch as well. The start-up audioguideMe recently made headlines with its storytelling concept.

Top 4: Equal number of start-ups in tech sector

Some 13 per cent of the start-ups interviewed were in the tech sector. Young companies there can rely on the TU Startup Dock and the founder’s centre at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH) for support. The branch now has 421 employees or an 8 per cent share of staff in all the firms interviewed. The FinTech sector forms a separate category in the live data bank. The number of start-ups in that sector at 4 per cent is low, but has an 8 per cent share of employees similar to the tech sector. Despite the separate view of the FinTech sector, the market has a broad range of business ideas. The Startup-Monitor lists companies such as the Internet-of-Things start-up bentekk, the smart city developer Floatility and the Industry 4.0 Cybus start-up.

Other branches in Hamburg’s start-up scene

More firms are being founded in the games, food and fashion sectors, according to the live data Some 10 per cent of start-ups were in the food sector and accounted for 4 per cent of employees. The gaming industry proves surprising as the sector accounts for only 4.5 per cent of start-ups. Yet the branch is the biggest employer in the start-up sector with around 31 per cent of employees. The other 13 per cent of start-ups were in fashion and other sectors not listed in the monitor.

Facts and figures in the Hamburg founders scene

The Startup Monitor by the private initiative Hamburg Startups offers an offer of facts and figures in the founders scene. Apart from live data on the spread of start-ups, it includes the lates figures in diverse sectors or the share of women in a respective sector. Categorising start-ups is no easy task as their business ideas often link up to other sectors. The division of branches was drawn up following talks with founders, representatives of urban initiatives and the Chambers of Commerce.

Sources and further information:

About Hamburg Startups

The Hamburg Startups Team, founded by Sina Gritzuhn and Sanja Stankovic, is committed to effective networking and visibility in the city’s start-up scene. They have set up a joint platform called the Hamburg Startup Monitor offering an overview of 550 start-ups in Hamburg. The team aims to raise international awareness of the city of Hamburg as a metropolis for founders by monitoring the start-up scene regularly. More information can be found on: and

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