Tenants in Germany receive a utility bill once a year. On average, the costs of water, heat, and garbage disposal make up 25 % of the rent. Consequently, some people also refer to utilities as the “second rent.” Tenants can hardly determine whether or not such bills are correct, for very few of them are aware of the relevant legal requirements, and most tenants trust in the values listed in the bill and pay without checking them. But, as Berlin-based start-up Mineko has learned, 9 out of 10 utility bills are incorrectly calculated. Mineko, short for Mietnebenkosten, the German term for utilities, helps tenants keep track of their utility costs.
To continue growing, Berlin-based Mineko partnered with Companisto for its an equity crowdfunding campaign, which has quickly secured over 75,400€ from over 102 investors toward its 300K€ goal in the campaign’s first hours. Mineko plans to use the funds raised to further automate its website and to hire additional personnel to target the large market: there are roughly 20 million privately rented apartments and roughly 35 million tenants in Germany. Based on the utility bills checked so far, the start-up estimates that tenants in Germany pay a total of €5 billion too much on their utility bills each year. This is why Mineko wants to grow even faster – together with the investors who may invest in the start-up through Companisto.
Mineko co-founder Chris Möller had the idea to launch the company when he received an unusually high utility bill in 2013. While talking to friends, he soon recognized that many people apparently had the same problem, so he founded the start-up in 2014.
Here’s how it works: Tenants simply upload their utility bill to www.mineko.de or through the start-up’s app. Afterward, the Mineko’s legal experts check the bill with the help of a digital and semi-automatic process and provide users with the result within 24 hours. “On average, each private tenant in Germany can save roughly €260 per year by uploading a single file to Mineko,” Co-founder Daniel Schlör noted. Tenants can have their bill checked for free and do not have to purchase any subscription. If Mineko finds errors in the utility bill, the company notifies the tenants and offers them to collect the refund from the landlord on their behalf.
“Most landlords react immediately,” Schlör observed. Mineko is a licensed debt collection agency. If tenants receive a refund, the start-up receives a success-based commission of 35% of this refund. “We make utility bills transparent and show tenants what they really have to pay for.”
According to Schlör, the high frequency of errors is due to the fact that many bills are created through standardized processes and that individual cases are not properly taken into account. Because landlord and tenant law changes frequently, not all landlords are aware of the most recent rules and regulations.
Mineko is part of a new generation of service-oriented start-ups that automate checking processes through algorithms and that have even started focusing on the application of law. Unlike conventional landlord and tenant law experts such as lawyers, tenant organizations, or other experts, Mineko digitizes the entire process from checking the bill to collecting the refund for a success-based commission at the request of the client. Since 2014, Mineko’s legal experts have checked 4,500 utility bills, thus enabling clients to obtain €1.1 million in refunds. Each month, 30,000 people visit the start-up’s website for more information on utilities or bill checking; the start-up has grown nearly 150 % since 2015.
To date, Companisto has more than 53,483 registered investors who have invested a total of over €28 million in 60 financing campaigns for start-ups and growth companies. Co-founded by Tamo Zwinge and David Rhotert in 2011.Companisto is the most active private venture capital company in Germany as measured by the amount of published financing rounds (Source: BVK).
Have a crowdfunding offering you'd like to share? Submit an offering for consideration using our Submit a Tip form and we may share it on our site!