How Celonis Became Germany’s “Most Valuable Start-Up”

June 2021

Among a spate of huge recent financing rounds, this one took the cake. Munich business software provider Celonis hauled in a cool USD one billion, taking the valuation of this innovative young company up to more than USD 11 billion.

That makes it Germany’s first “decacorn” (tenfold unicorn) and, according to Forbes magazine “the most highly valuable tech start-up in New York and Germany.”

The company’s meteoric rise only took a decade. It was founded in 2011 for a mere USD 15,000, but to achieve success it had to convince clients that its “process mining” solutions were a more effective way to boost productivity than the traditional practice of hiring outside consultants. Celonis’ algorithms allow giant companies to analyze massive amounts of data to optimize processes at every level. The idea is to solve, not just identify problems.

“It’s important for our clients to recognize what problems exist in their business processes,” Celonis co-founder Bastian Nominacher told German business newspaper Handelsblatt. “But it’s much better to get suggestions for solutions.”

Among the heavyweights that use Celonis software are Siemens and BMW.

“Celonis has been very successful at translating German virtues into the digital age,” says Germany Trend & Invest (GTAI) Innovation Scouting Director Kim Zietlow. “Attentive to details as only German engineers can be, the founders recognized process mining as a hidden source of extra value in companies right from the start. And over the past ten years they’ve perfected it.”

No wonder investors have been impressed. Celonis has had four rounds of funding, starting in 2016, with each new representing a quantum leap: from USD 27.5 million to USD 50 million to USD 290 million to USD 1 billion.

Forbes estimates that company revenue will exceed USD 400 million this year, but Celonis co-founder Alexander Rinke told the magazine he thinks that it can “unlock more than trillion dollars in value if we get to scale.”

GTAI Digital Economy Senior Manager Oliver Wilken says Celonis’ success reflects the general strength of the German start-up environment.

“This brand new financing round is part of the trend toward German start-ups among investors and confirms their ability to win international financers over to their business models,” Wilken says.

The founders of Celonis © Deutscher Zukunftspreis