- A German data mining startup is the newest unicorn, raising $US50 million from Accel Partners and 83North at a $US1 billion valuation.
- The technology uses a combination of a data technique called “process mining” to gather information about a company’s operations, and it uses artificial intelligence to suggest ways to make those operations better.
- The company says it has grown 5,000% in the last four years.
Celonis, a data mining startup that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help make companies more efficient, has raised $US50 million in a series B funding round that values the startup at $US1 billion.
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The round was led by existing investors Accel Partners and 83North.
Celonis technology examines how a business operates – it’s akin to running a “full body scan” – and surfaces recommendations to, for example, find bottlenecks in a company’s supply chain or cut down on the number of steps it takes to process invoices. The technology uses a combination of a data technique called “process mining” to gather information about a company’s operations and artificial intelligence to suggest ways to make those operations better.
The $US50 million will be used as a “strategic war chest to expand globally,” Celonis co-founder Alexander Rinke told Business Insider. “We didn’t raise this money to keep the lights on and pay the bills.” Rinke added that he plans to expand from 400 employees to more than 1,000 in the next 18 months.
The Munich-based startup, which was founded by three German university students in 2011, has seen massive growth since it was founded, driven by gaining customers from some of the world’s largest companies in the world, including UBS, Siemens, and Bayer.In the last four years, Celonis says business has grown 5,000%, with 300% in the last year alone.
“It might be expected for a consumer product to see this much growth this quickly,” said Harry Nelis, a partner at Accel, told Business Insider. “But on the enterprise, growth like this doesn’t happen often. It’s grown so much faster than we ever expected and that’s how we know we have something special here.”
For the first five years, Celonis was entirely bootstrapped. The company didn’t see a need to raise money because they were profitable and had no trouble landing big customers. But in 2016, Celonis took money from Accel and 83North, which allowed them to expand further into the U.S. and net customers like Merck, Lockheed Martin, ExxonMobil and Uber.
Customer service tickets
Rinke, Bastian Nominacher, and Martin Klenk were all students at the Technical University of Munich when they were tasked with decreasing the time it took a local media company to resolve its customer service tickets, which took nearly five days at the time.
But the task was harder than they thought. When the team was interviewing employees to see what they thought the problem was, Rinke told Business Insider he saw firsthand how office politics affected how people thought who or what was responsible. He thought there had to be an objective way, using data, to find out what was wrong.
Rinke eventually found a way to decrease the time from five days to zero using some data mining, and it “completely transformed” the company. After that, Rinke thought he could use his degree in mathematics and interest in data to turn the idea into a business.
After that, Celonis started gaining traction through word of mouth from customers. In its first year, the company was profitable and has been ever since.
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