Interview

Meet Celonis, Munich’s first unicorn

Munich-based start-up Celonis helps companies refine their everyday processes.
In June 2018 Celonis became one of the rare start-ups in Germany to hit “unicorn” status by achieving a $1 billion valuation. Created in 2011 by Alex Rinke, Martin Klenk and Bastian Nominacher, the company offers technology to companies that seek to refine their everyday processes. Celonis has 400 employees around the world, its turnover grew by 300% in 2017.

Technologist: How did you come up with the idea?

Bastian Nominacher: Our company was founded on the campus of the Technical University of Munich. As part of a research project, Alex Rinke, Martin Klenk and I analysed a set of process data and found that the available analytical methods could not provide the required findings. The theoretical approach known as “process mining”, researched at the Technical University of Eindhoven, appeared to be suitable, so it seemed obvious to develop the first software for companies. The results of the first applications were phenomenal, and we were able to quickly win the first customers.

Celonis companies unicorn customers Bastian Nominacher - Meet Celonis, Munich's first unicorn
Bavarian unicorn
Celonis co-founder Bastian Nominacher wants to make his software available to costumers all over the world.

T: How did you succeed in working with big companies?

B.N.: The first and most important step to success is gaining customers’ trust. With Bayerischer Rundfunk [the Bavarian public-service radio and television broadcaster], we had a well-known customer who was enthusiastic about the results – improving their customer-service response times. This initial success attracted other large companies, and we were able to quickly expand our customer base. The high return on investment of our solution certainly helped a lot. Now Celonis has more than 400 clients across 22 industries – including Swiss robotics company ABB, railway operator Deutsche Bahn and consultancy Deloitte.

T: Now that you’re a unicorn, the first for TUM, what’s next?

B.N.: First and foremost, we’ll keep innovating and delivering additional value and services to our customers. We’re determined to not only meet but exceed their expectations. Another focus is spreading into new markets as we’ve done with North America and the opening of our New York office. Our clear ambition is to make our software available to customers all over the world.

Bastian Nominacher (Co-CEO of Celonis)