Startups in the Benelux — Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg — have seen increased attention from VCs in recent years. According to European Startups data, 2020 was a record year for VC investment into Benelux startups — at a whopping €2.7bn, up from €1.9bn in 2019.
As a result, Benelux startups have had a good year. In Luxembourg, the growing and vibrant startup ecosystem remained resilient as companies continued to flourish during the Covid crisis. Meanwhile, the government leaned on startups for their support as much as startups turned to the government with the ‘StartupsvcCovid19’ initiative, a call for projects focused on solutions for the pandemic.
When it comes to specific companies, Luxembourg’s global data centre developer and operator Etix Everywhere was acquired by US-based Vantage Data Centers as part of its move to expand into Europe. Elsewhere in the Benelux, Amsterdam-based cloud communications platform MessageBird reached unicorn status and Belgium’s tumour and cancer drug-discovery startup iTeos Therapeutics began eyeing up global expansion and an IPO.
However, flashy valuations and bulky funding rounds aren’t the only things that demonstrate a startup's potential — the growth of its team says a lot too.
Using employee data from European Startups and LinkedIn, we’ve compiled a list of the fastest-growing startups in the Benelux region by headcount. Here they are.
Despite only launching last year with a team you could almost count with your fingers, escooter sharing system GO Sharing has already tripled its team size to nearly 50.
It kicked off 2020 with a €10m funding round and is backed by big investors such as Rabo Corporate Investments, the strategic investment arm of Dutch financial services conglomerate Rabobank.
Team growth over past year: 318% (11 to 46)
Investment raised: €10m
Three-year-old startup Trengo is a platform allowing businesses to integrate all their communications channels into one inbox. Since late last year it’s shown an impressive growth trajectory and more than doubled its team.
Its clients — like Google and Volkswagen — are raving about it too. Could it have the potential to go against leaders in the sector like Slack?
Team growth over past year: 242% (12 to 41)
Investment raised: €1.8m
Effect.AI provides a decentralised platform for AI development and the creation of AI services. It last received €11m funding in 2018, but despite not reporting any new funding since then, it’s still managed to grow its team three-fold this year.
Recently, the startup landed an interesting partnership with American singer Akon’s cryptocurrency startup Akoin, with the aim to build opportunity hubs around Kenya to educate and provide work opportunities for people in the cryptocurrency space.
Team growth over past year: 210% (29 to 90)
Investment raised: €11m
This two-year-old startup designs and builds model farms to teach farmers across the globe how they can move towards sustainable agriculture with specific crops, such as cocoa or citrus.
One of its biggest backers is the DOEN Foundation — an initiative supporting a green and inclusive economy — and has reportedly reduced over 66,000 tons of CO2 and regenerated 3,300 hectares of land.
Team growth over past year: 146% (13 to 32)
Investment raised: Bootstrapped
Another startup more than doubling its team size is Deliverect, which makes software to help restaurants manage food orders. Its clients are today’s food delivery leaders like Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Glovo.
After only two years of operating, it’s already raised a Series B round — of €16.3m in April — and in October, Deliverect reached a milestone 10m orders (just 13 months ago, it had reached 1m orders). Notable investors include OMERS Ventures and SmartFin Capital.
Team growth over past year: 185% (40 to 114)
Investment raised: €19.9m
Covid-19 has boosted the demand for digital tools across many sectors. This has come to Nodalview’s advantage; it’s a photo tech service to help real estate agents sell properties by providing panoramic and 360º pictures on their sites. It says that 80% of its revenue comes from outside of Belgium.
Also, the startup bagged a €4.1m Series A round last month meaning growth shouldn’t be slumping any time soon. The startup expects to hire 35 more people in the coming months.
Team growth over past year: 156% (18 to 46)
Investment raised: €6m
Intigriti is an ethical hacking platform which has built up a network of over 15,000 ethical hackers across 130 countries in four years. Its growth has recently been recognised by Deloitte in its Fast 50 Rising Star Awards, which ranks startups based on growth potential and scalability.
Hiring doesn’t look like it’s slowing down, as it’s currently advertising several positions in Belgium and London. Its latest funding round was a €4.1m Series A round in June 2020.
Team growth over past year: 118% (16 to 35)
Investment raised: €4.1m
This startup has developed a platform to help local governments across the world connect with their citizens and improve decision making. From Utrecht to Vancouver, it’s wooed more than 200 public authorities globally and is pushing into the US, recently opening an office there.
This year it also snapped up some heavyweight talent, including Beth Noveck, a former member of the Obama administration, to help grow its presence in the US.
Team growth over past year: 92% (24 to 46)
Investment raised: €2.7m
This six-year-old startup provides software that helps businesses with talent acquisition, and it works with big names.
It recently integrated its technology with the Indeed.com job platform and formed a partnership with Rotterdam-based recruitment data service VONQ. In 2019, Skeeled grew turnover 120%.
Team growth over past year: 62% (29 to 47)
Investment raised: Undisclosed
Founded two years ago by four Luxembourgish banks — BNP Paribas, BCEE, Banque Raiffeisen and POST Luxembourg — LUXHUB helps finance professionals learn about open banking. It’s already won over impressive clients like Japan’s Rakuten Bank.
Team growth over past year: 36% (25 to 34)
Investment raised: €7.4m
International shipping platform Eurosender has attracted enough attention to land investment from Luxembourg’s biggest mail company POST Luxembourg.
Its logistics partners are amongst the world’s most well known, such as DHL and DPD.
Team growth over past year: 35% (51 to 69)
Investment raised: Total funding undisclosed, last funding round Feb 2018.
This startup has built a platform to help investors produce and manage their financial documents. It has a long-standing partnership with the University of Luxembourg and has over 500 funds in Luxembourg, Belgium and Liechtenstein using its software.
Team growth over past year: 29% (24 to 31)
Investment raised: Bootstrapped
Hiring doesn’t look like it’s slowing down.
Startup Luxembourg is the brand of Luxembourg’s growing and vibrant startup ecosystem. Its aim is to reflect the dynamism of the Grand Duchy business environment, ideal for startups to settle and grow from the heart of Europe, but also to connect, support and promote the startup ecosystem. Startup Luxembourg is a public initiative supported by the Ministry of the Economy. Make sure to check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.