Digital Top 50 finalists selected

Organizers
Organizers
Organizers
In partnership with



We are proud to present the 2021 Digital TOP 50 finalists

Best Consumer Business Model Innovation

Best Enterprise Business Model Innovation

Tech for good

Best Technology

McKinsey, Freshfields, 468 Capital, Finsbury Glover Hering and TeamViewer have joined forces to organize this year’s Digital Top 50 Awards to reward and celebrate the bold and trailblazing work of tomorrow’s top entrepreneurs across Europe.


Since 2016, the Digital Top 50 Awards (DT50 Awards) have recognized Europe’s top entrepreneurial talent, endorsing the continent’s thriving tech scene. The DT50 Awards cover the full spectrum of the business and technology landscape. Startups from all over Europe (the European Union, EFTA countries, and the United Kingdom) can apply in one of the four categories:

  • Best Technology (Software, AI, Automation, IoT, Analytics)
  • Best Enterprise Business Model Innovation (SAAS, Marketplaces, Open Source)
  • Best Consumer Business Model Innovation (Marketplaces, D2C- Brands, E-Commerce, Services, Software)
  • Tech for Good (Double Bottom Line: solve social and/or environmental problems)

 

Applications are evaluated by the DT50 Awards' executive jury, a hand-picked panel of experts- and veterans in venture building and growth mentoring. The jurors will choose the winners in their respective categories.
Fifty applicants will be selected as this year’s top 50 cohort, which will be publicly announced in November.

This year’s special collaboration with Bits & Pretzels means the award ceremony will be held at the Bits & Pretzels Festival in January 2022.

This collaboration also means that you can apply for the DT50 Awards and the Bits & Pretzels Pitch Award at once. Check out our "How to apply" section.

What our previous winners say

Who are we celebrating?

The DT50 Awards are awarded to start-ups from within the European Union, EFTA countries and the United Kingdom that have a digital product or service as the central element of their business and have received cumulative funding of below $100m.

We are celebrating winners in four categories:

  • Best Technology (Software, AI, Automation, IoT, Analytics). Advanced technology services or products are the focus of your start-up concept. You are likely to have achieved product-market fit in your first markets and are focusing on the expansion of your business to new markets and on further product advancement.
  • Best Enterprise Business Model Innovation (SAAS, Marketplaces, Open Source). The provision of products or services to other businesses is the focus of your start up concept. You are likely to have achieved product market-fit in your first markets and are focusing on the expansion of your business to new markets and on further product advancement.
  • Best Consumer Business Model Innovation (Marketplaces, D2C-Brands, E-Commerce, Services, Software) The provision of products or services to consumers is the focus of your start up concept. You are likely to have achieved product-market fit in your first markets and are focusing on the expansion of your business to new markets and on further product advancement.
  • Tech for Good (Double Bottom Line: solve social and/or environmental problems). Your business has a lasting positive impact on society and/or current environmental challenges. Your product or service helps promote a sustainable cause.


For further details on the requirements, please also check out our terms of participation.

 

Our evaluation criteria

1
Value proposition
Innovative value proposition
Do you have an innovative product/service/technology?
Defendable value proposition
Do you have an economically feasible, sustainable business model?
2
Magnitude
Growing and/or large market
Is there potential to transform whole industries/reach a high number of people globally?
Scalability and replicability
Can the business model sustain an increase of customers? Can you replicate it in other geographies?
3
Performance
Financials or impact to society
Does the model have proven revenues or robust economics? / Is there significant impact on society?
Team fit and passion
Is the team passionate and can it drive the success of the business? Is the team diverse in background and skills

Frequently asked questions

What are the DT50 Awards?

The annual DT50 Awards were co-founded in 2016 to recognize the trailblazing work of Europe’s top entrepreneurial tech and digital talent across the full spectrum of the business and technology landscape, endorsing the continent’s thriving tech scene and providing support for four winners.
McKinsey, Freshfields, 468 Capital, Finsbury Glover Hering, and TeamViewer have joined forces to build on the increasing success of the last four events, which attracted more than 2,000 applications.

Categories and entry criteria

Startups from all over Europe (the European Union, EFTA countries, and the United Kingdom) can apply in one of four categories:

  • Best Technology (Software, AI, Automation, IoT, Analytics)
  • Best Enterprise Business Model Innovation (SAAS, Marketplaces, Open Source)
  • Best Consumer Business Model Innovation (Marketplaces, D2C-Brands, E-Commerce, Services, Software)
  • Tech for Good (Double Bottom Line: solve social and/or environmental problems)

Each category will have one winner. Entrants must have a digital product or service as the central element of their business, which must be incorporated or resident in the European Union, EFTA countries, and the United Kingdom, and have a total financing to date less than $100m.

Selection process and evaluation

Winners are selected in a multi-stage evaluation process:

1. Deadline for entry (10th of October 2021)
2. Announcement of top 50 (mid-November 2021)
3. Announcement of winners at Bits & Pretzels in January 2022

The initial scoring will be based on clear evaluation criteria and is undertaken by all organizers in a joint process.

Prizes

One delegate from each shortlisted participant will be invited to join the Bits & Pretzels event on 21 and 22 January 2022. Winning the award boosts exposure and provides concrete benefits such as workshops from partners, an individual mentoring and consulting package, and various other services delivered by the organizers. This could include any of the below prizes granted to the winners of the 2021 DT50 Awards:

  • McKinsey offers a Start-up Club consulting and mentoring session and support package, including a McKinsey workshop and coaching session, an individual problem solving session for a topic of choice with the McKinsey Start-up Club, and an expert interview within the McKinsey network (eg, McKinsey consultants, alumni, or start-ups).
  • Freshfields provides a legal and compliance workshop on the preparation and what to consider when raising capital. We will tailor the workshop to the specific business needs and potential regulatory challenges of the winners (eg, IP, data, antitrust, corporate governance, structuring, finance, and mergers and acquisitions).
  • Finsbury Glover Hering will offer the winning teams a comprehensive communications strategy workshop designed to meet their individual business needs and communication challenges (eg overall positioning approaches, storylining, funding communications), providing guidance on the most important communication issues likely to be on the winners’ radar now or in the near future.
  • 468 Capital is offering a workshop tailored to the individual needs of the winners’ business to increase visibility and shape brand, a feedback session from a 468 Capital general partner on the pitch deck for further fundraising efforts, or advice on fundraising strategy and on go-to-market, growth and internalization plans.
  • TeamViewer will offer tailored sparring and mentoring opportunities with senior management to discuss strategic topics important to the winners.

Executive jury

We are proud to present our jury of industry experts, veterans in venture capital and growth mentors:

Tina Müller

Tina Müller has been CEO of the Douglas Group, Europe’s leading Beauty Platform since November 2017. Previously, she was member of the Management Board at Adam Opel AG/Opel Group GmbH and CMO and Corporate Senior Vice President at Henkel AG&Co.KGaA. She is the author of two books Warum Start-Ups und Produkte floppen (Haufe Publishing) and Zum Jungbleiben ist es nie zu spät (Südwest Publishing).

Vargha Moayed

Vargha Moayed is the Chief Strategy Officer at UiPath. He is a seasoned consultant, entrepreneur and top management coach. He previously worked for Ernst & Young amongst others as advisory leader. Throughout his he has advised and coached the top management of multinational companies as well as high tech companies on both sides of the Atlantic on strategy, sales management and organizational effectiveness. He has worked in a wide range of industries from high-tech, telecom, to retail and heavy industries in many regions of the world.

Georg Beyschlag

Georg Beyschlag is Executive Vice President Strategy & Corporate Development and responsible for key strategic initiatives at TeamViewer including M&A activities and sport sponsoring partnerships.

Florian Gschwandtner

Florian is a serial entrepreneur and startup investor. He has founded runtastic in 2009 which he led as CEO until the exit to Adidas in 2015 after which Florian stayed on with Adidas to lead the Digital Leadership group. In parallel to runtastic, he founded the pet tracking company tractive in 2012 where he is now back as Chief Growth Officer. Florian has also invested in 30+ startups with his investment company 8eyes as well as 6 Start-up funds.

Georgie Smallwood

Georgie Smallwood is Chief Product Officer at Tier Mobility and Founder of Auxilia- a network for women entrepreneurs with the aim of increasing the diversity of funding across the globe. Formerly she was the CPO of N26, in charge of defining, leading and implementing the company’s global product strategy as they grew from 800k-6 million users. She is a Founder, Board Advisor and Investor and has led large teams at fast-growing companies mastering the challenges of scaling a global business with a focus on communication and respect.

Elizabeth Varley

Founded TechHub, the home of 400 high-growth tech companies in London that's worked with thousands of companies to support their growth. Members have exited to Google, Facebook, Oracle and others, and raised over $1billion. Elizabeth’s been selected for Computer Weekly’s UKtech50, Debrett's 500, Vogue UK’s Generation Tech. Advisory boards: Imperial College, Silicon Valley Bank.

Harriet Green

Harriet Green is the former Chairman & CEO, Asia Pacific at IBM. She is a global executive with extensive, multi-channel business leadership experience, having lived and worked on four continents. She was CEO of both Thomas Cook Group plc and the leading high service technology distributor Premier Farnell plc. Harriet is a current board member for the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and King’s College London. She was awarded an OBE in 2010 for services to industry, and most recently named one of Fortune's most powerful women internationally in 2019.

Liz Ericson

Liz Ericson is a Partner in McKinsey’s London office. She leads the Firm’s Alliances and Acquisitions, overseeing technology alliances with Amazon, Microsoft, Google and more, as well as the Firm’s collaboration network and M&A activity. She spent her first nine years at the firm in McKinsey Digital and Marketing and Sales, where she focussed on digital transformations. Prior to McKinsey, Liz worked at Google for six years in London, Paris and Mountain view, next door to Stanford, where she studied International Relations.

Malte Brettel

Malte Brettel is a professor and vice-rector at Germany’s largest technical university, RWTH Aachen University. He founded the university’s business incubator “Gründerzentrum”, one of the leading university incubators in Germany. Prior to his university career Malte Brettel has worked as a consultant and successfully founded the online used-book platform ABEBooks, which is now owned by Amazon.

Henriette Schmidt

After having founded her own social enterprise "Wefugees gUG", that connects german newcomers to legal and social consulting services, Henriette got in touch with Ashoka through participating in two of Ashoka Germany's former youth programs (PEP, CMXC). Since 2018 she is responsible for managing Ashoka Germany's community and is leading the Ashoka Support Network.

Peter Zemsky

Peter Zemsky is the Deputy Dean of INSEAD Fontainebleau. He holds the chair of the Eli Lilly Professorship for Strategy and Innovation at INSEAD. Peter graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with Summa Cum Laude and holds a PhD in Business from Stanford University.

Felix Haas

Felix is Host & Chairman of Bits & Pretzels (Germany’s largest founders festival), Co-Founder & Executive Chairman of IDnow and a Founding Partner of FLEX Capital. Previously he was Founder & CEO of amiando, which he led to trade sale to XING in 2010. He served as an advisor to the German Vice-Chancellor for the “Young Digital Economy” and got awarded as “Technology Pioneer” by the World Economic Forum as well as “Entrepreneur of Excellence” by Technical University Munich.

Lubomila Jordanova

Lubomila Jordanova is the founder and CEO of PlanA.Earth, winners of the DT50 2019. PlanA.Earth is developing an algorithm which predicts where and how climate change will hit the hardest and a software that helps businesses reduce their emissions by 50% within a year and save money while doing so. She also recently founded the Greentech Alliance, a collection of 300+ startups which are connected to over 200+ advisors from VC, media and business. She was recently announced as 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneur of 2020 by Forbes.

Alexander Kudlich

Alexander Kudlich is the General Partner and Co-Founder of 468 Capital. He has 15 years experience in tech investing and business building. Prior to 468 Capital, Alexander joined Rocket Internet in 2011 and has served as the company’s second most senior executive since. He started his professional career as the Chief of Staff to Dr. Mathias Döpfner, Chairman and CEO of Axel Springer SE during its digital transformation.

Lars Meyer

Lars is a partner and Global Co-Head of Tech, Media and Telecoms at global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and a senior member of the European technology, media and telecommunications team. He advises companies and financial investors on M&A transactions and other investments across the world, with a particular focus on transactions in the tech and digital space.

Raphael Neuner

Raphael Neuner is a partner in the Tech&Transformation Practice at Finsbury Glover Hering in Berlin and advises both, startups and global market leaders, on their strategic positioning and on communicating their transformation. He has more than 15 years of experience in strategic communications: as a consultant, for companies, political parties and federal ministries.

Karel Dörner

A leader of McKinsey Digital in Germany, Karel also leads McKinsey’s fast growth tech client initiative in Germany. Before joining McKinsey, he cofounded and was managing director of eBay Europe. Karel also established Aventeon Inc., a European last mile delivery software provider where he served as CEO. While he enjoys staying in close contact with business founders and entrepreneurs, he most cherishes his role as father to four true digital natives.

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