HYGH AG is currently expanding its billboards from Berlin to the rest of the country - despite the corona pandemic. The founders have set themselves ambitious goals.
Fritz Frey is one of those people who prefer to look to the future rather than the past. The 25-year-old does not even like to talk about the initial financing of his start-up. At the time, things were quite turbulent.
Frey and his co-founders decided on a Security Token Offering (STO), a kind of crowdfunding on a crypto-token basis. They were able to drum up 2,000 investors in this way, promising them a share of nine percent of sales. Such financing channels are still a rarity in cryptocurrency-shy Germany.
The fact that Frey doesn't like to talk about their financing path so much could also be due to the problems the founders had with it in 2019. In the crypto forum "coinforum" it went high when they announced their STO. There it hailed partly clear criticism. Some users called the offering of the start-up unserious. The STO was not an STO at all, but rather an unregulated Initial Coin Offering (ICO). The criticism became so intense that co-founder Vincent Müller apparently felt compelled to clarify a few things there, and his post can still be read there today. The problem: Müller did not write this statement himself, someone had impersonated him, says Fritz Frey today. That's just the way it is in these crypto forums. "We currently prefer to look to the future, want to be available in all major German cities with our offer," says Frey. After all, everything turned out well.
HYGH wants to create a global network for digital outdoor advertising. They started in Berlin, quickly Samsung became a partner. They are currently putting up digital billboards in every major city in the country. It doesn't sound sexy at first, but digital outdoor advertising is a booming market. From 2012 to 2019, revenues for digital outdoor advertising increased from 62 million euros to 229 million euros in Germany alone. Despite Corona, experts expect further growth in the coming years.
According to founder Fritz Frey, HYGH can already count Netflix, Universal, Fritz Kola and food delivery service Wolt among its clients. HYGH wants to do things differently than big competitors such as Ströer. The plus points the start-up advertises are being faster, cheaper and more flexible than the competition. "For us, it was important to build a platform with which anyone can place outdoor advertising in a few minutes," he says. The startup sees itself more as a tech company and less as a marketing firm.
For example, HYGH promises on its website that it takes only five minutes from booking to campaign launch. Customers do not have to purchase prefabricated packages like with other providers, they can choose exactly where their advertising should appear and where not. Hyperlocal it is supposed to be with it, theoretically also attractively for the baker from next door. In addition, campaigns can be pre-booked for desired time periods. Via an app, customers can adjust these again in real time, whenever they like.
For this purpose, the start-up relies on its own stand spaces on the one hand, but also on those of potential partners such as hotels, restaurants or shops. Those who are willing to set up a screen in their store receive a monthly "rent" from HYGH in return.
If Corona hadn't intervened, they would already be profitable with their concept, says Fritz Frey. "Now we're stepping on the gas as much as we can." HYGH is currently ramping up big time; by the end of the year, the start-up plans to set up 1,050 screens in Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg. After that, the next smaller cities will follow suit.
"In the long term, we want to be represented in all of Europe's capital cities," says Frey. Because he is convinced: "A lot will happen after Corona, people will then spend money again, by then we want to be represented as widely as possible."
To this end, according to the founder, another round of financing is on the cards soon. "We plan to start with a Series A financing by the end of the year," says Frey. So this time, it will be completely classic, without crypto financing and hopefully without lively discussions in various Internet forums.
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