Europe’s newest unicorn is a process-mining startup founded by German students

Celonis founders Alexander Rinke, Bastian Nominacher, and Martin Klenk
Celonis founders Alexander Rinke, Bastian Nominacher, and Martin Klenk
Image: Celonis
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Munich’s status as Germany’s second tech hub got a boost today after process-mining startup Celonis announced it had secured $50 million in venture capital to become the newest unicorn in the country. That brings the total number of privately-owned German startups with billion-dollar valuations to five, according to CBS Insights data.

Celonis was started in 2011 by Alexander Rinke, Bastian Nominacher, and Martin Klenk, when they were students at the Technical University of Munich. Celonis’s goal is to help its clients optimize their business operations, by using what it calls “process mining” software to find flaws, for example, bottlenecks in supply chains, and eliminating them.

“Celonis acts like an MRI for businesses that instantly shows how processes are running and prescribes recommendations for improvements to make processes more efficient, more compliant, and more effective,” Rinke said, adding that their new tech can do what it takes consultants weeks or months to finish.

He says what makes their tech so exceptional is that it is “the first time that business data has been put into the context of processes, and instead of just being representative of static information, can be used to really tell a story of how a business is functioning.”

Celonis is on fire: It says it has grown 300% over the last 12 months, and 5,000% over the last four years. Its clients include the world’s largest companies, such as UBS, Siemens, Bayer, Lockheed Martin, Uber, and ExxonMobil.

For the first five years of its life, the three founders didn’t take any investor funding at all, as they were growing fast enough and have been profitable since 2011. Accel and 83North’s 2016 Series A investment of $27.5 million in the young firm allowed it to expand in the US. Its New York office has grown from four to 150 employees in the last 18 months.

Those same investors today boosted the Celonis coffers with another $50 million on a valuation of $1 billion. It plans to use the money on research and development, expansion, and hiring more staff. Rinke said that the funding “really is a testament to the great work of our passionate employees.”