Berlin-based data start-up wins Atomico and Insight as investors

Hamburg Jay Gatsby stands for debauchery, luxury and the escape from rural poverty. Nevertheless, the fictional character invented by F. Scott Fitzgerald brought the Berlin start-up founder Hung Dang to the dry topic of data analysis. During his studies, Dang co-founded the event series “Party like Gatsby”, which spreads the flair of the 1920s in several metropolises around the world.

Dang’s task at the event start-up was to improve the party by analyzing data on visitor satisfaction and ticket sales, making advertising more effective and thus increasing profit. As a result, the margin has risen from seven to ten percent, reports Dang today, around six years later.

And in the meantime, Dang has made a lot more of the topic of data analysis: With his current founding Y42, he has attracted the attention of two world-renowned venture capitalists. Atomico, the London-based investment firm of Skype founder Niklas Zennström, and the New York investor Insight Partners are leading the start-up’s first growth round. With around 26.6 million euros, it is one of the largest Series A rounds for a software start-up in Germany.

Dang’s claim is high: “We could build a data tool in Europe that the world has never seen before,” says the 30-year-old.

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Y42 promises its first corporate customer to merge data from different sources – without the need for extensive programming knowledge. For example, online retailers can merge data from platforms such as Amazon, Shopify and their own stores in order to be able to collectively analyze customer needs. To do this, Y42 connects to the interfaces of the providers or pulls data from existing databases and files. “Y42 removes the bottleneck for data engineers and democratizes access to data tools. This creates a completely new category, ”explains Irina Haivas, partner at Atomico.

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Investors rely on “low code”

Such “no code” or “low code” solutions are currently popular with users and investors. They are an answer to the lack of programmers, which slows many companies in the efficient evaluation of large amounts of data, for example. They should also enable employees without IT knowledge to work with data or to build small programs, for example.

Last week, for example, the Munich start-up Bleenco announced a no-code platform for artificial intelligence. At the beginning of the month, the investor Frank Thelen poured money into the Swabian start-up Build.One as a seed investor, which aims to enable extensive business applications via low-code. Shortly beforehand, the Berlin early-stage investor Project A led a round worth five million euros for the Hamburg-based company Heyflow, in which, for example, marketing people at insurers can create customer dialogues for their websites without any programming knowledge.

In spring, the Munich software company Celonis took over the Czech low-code solution Integromat, which enables the analysis of internal company data.

Y42 founder Dang helps build a strong network in his company, which now employs 65 people. He studied at the Munich Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM) – in a year with later founders of Trade Republic and Personio.

“I was the youngest in a class of 25 people that made several unicorns,” says Dang. Unicorns is the jargon for startups that have been valued by donors at over a billion dollars.

Such contacts helped Dang to find the first donors: Personio co-founder Ignaz Forstmeier not only invested, but was also operationally involved in the development. “A business angel who helps out full-time for nine months is not the norm,” Dang praised his business partner.

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The early investors also included Foodspring co-founder Tobias Schüle, the La Famiglia fund of Jeannette zu Fürstenberg and the Habsburg scion Severin Meister.

From Vietnam to the business school

For Dang, the institute of the two Munich universities was not just a contact center, but the decisive step in the founding life. Here he found the start-up behind the Gatsby party. “I am very grateful to my parents for supporting me in this,” says Dang. Of course, that is not: “I grew up not very wealthy in Vietnam and only came to Germany when I was nine,” he says. His parents had previously gone to Germany as students.

“Security is often very important to the first generation of immigrants. It usually makes more sense to support a medical degree than to take the step into entrepreneurship, ”says Dang. Accordingly, it was initially important to him to be able to secure his family financially in Germany and Vietnam: “I succeeded with my first start-up.”

Dang sold this foundation, Mitra, to the event group CTS Eventim in 2018. Back then, too, it was about data analysis – specially tailored to events. Dang gives a vivid example: From customer satisfaction surveys and repurchase rates it has become clear that although many visitors are annoyed by bad toilets at festivals, this hardly contributes to overall satisfaction. From an economic point of view, it makes little sense to spend money on additional Dixie toilets.

With the first successful exit with Mitra behind him, he is now more concerned with self-realization and building a large company, says Dang. After the first year of product development, he now wants to get more involved in sales. Usually, personal persuasion and training are still required.

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One of the customers is the eco-detergent manufacturer Everdrop. “Y42 is very easy in everyday work,” says Everdrop data specialist Charlotte Veitner on request. “New data sources can be integrated and moderated within a very short time using the drag-drop interface.” The solution thus helps to analyze the success of marketing measures in terms of sales figures. However, the early product stage still shows itself in many major changes.

The fact that the Y42, which was founded in 2020, is still in its early stages, is also reflected in customer reviews. For example, Y42 receives very good reviews from users on average on the “OMR Reviews” rating for B2B software. However, some complain that it is difficult to understand the software at first. In addition, some visualization options were still missing.

Dang wants to move forward quickly with the fresh money: In six months, Y42 should be ready for customers to test the software in a freemium model on their own. Until then, Dang wants to set up sales teams not only in Europe, but also in the USA. The Berlin founder hopes that in a year 120 to over 200 people could work for Y42.

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