Speed Dating Hamburg’s Start-Up Community

Five impressive companies that won our hearts at the Reeperbahn Festival Conference


Trailers line a side street in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg. Sitting inside each are representatives from emerging companies in the city’s start-up scene, ready to present to investors and journalists alike for a quick five minutes. This is speed dating the tech community, dubbed Startups@Reeperbahn 2014 Pitch, and exists as part of the Hamburg Startups collaboration with this year’s Reeperbahn Festival, a music and technology festival much like SXSW, only in a former red light district where parties still last 24 hours a day.

Speed dating start-ups is just one portion of the festival’s greater programming series, which is aimed at calling attention to the work going on in Germany’s second city, and potentially distribute funding to some. However, it provides a unique opportunity at getting up close and personal with local talent. The following five caught our attention and, while diverse in their offerings, they round out a nice glimpse of Hamburg’s small business community—and easy happiness is their through-line.



With information security a big issue on everyone’s mind, Protonet has proposed a solution: a personal cloud service. Their individual servers—small orange boxes with only one button (designed and built in Germany)—come complete with software that allows for communication, file sharing, task management and a top tier integrated infrastructure. It’s a smart and very easy way to own your personal information as a household or small business, with excellent encryption. Protonet also set a German crowdfunding record, raising €3 million in just 133 hours.


Sofa Concerts

Billed as couch-surfing for bands, sofaconcerts aims to connect musicians with intimate performances in one’s home. This is primarily for small acts to get greater exposure, but has already been used by larger acts looking to pick up shows in cities around their main performance. Bands and musicians can register, as can anyone who’s looking to fill a private space with music. Sofaconcerts isn’t the only company out there doing this, but their easy sign up process and friendly interface have meant rapid growth, especially outside of Germany.



A new location-based storytelling app, audiguideMe places registered users on a map, and allows them to tag voice recordings and personal stories of their experiences and history at that spot. Whether it’s a venue with wonderful coffee, or an apartment where a grandparent lived for 30 years, each story is tagged and filtered. Users can browse all the stores, for either an intimate listen or a good recommendation. New organizations and radio stations are also presently providing content. The only downside: right now it’s only available in Germany—and in German.

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A few different family-tracking apps exist already. However, many of them are over-complicated or even stalker-like, with constant updates and a moving pin on a map. The
familonet app for iOS and Android is all about ease. Individuals build their family within the map, and also their locations (home, work and other frequent stops). Members of the family can then group chat, send location details or even request an update. There’s no over-the-top tracking; it’s all about communication and simple sharing.



Around 30 million people across Europe claim to suffer from tinnitus: hearing a loud and consistent ringing noise in their ears. Established German medical company Sonormed GmbH approached start-up technology firm Tinnitracks and a new service was born. Their web-based application applies an algorithm to users’ personal music collections and builds playlists of songs that function as neuroacoustic treatment. Through clinical trials, it has been proven that certain music devoid of the tinnitus frequency, by way of repeat listening, actually quiets the symptoms of tinnitus. And that’s exactly what Tinnitracks aims to do through their easy-to-easy software.

Lead image by David Graver, other images courtesy of brands