Startup Targeting McKinsey, Bain With AI Raises $27.5 Million

  • Munich-based Celonis to use funds to market cloud-based system
  • Venture firms Accel, 83North lead large initial funding round

Celonis, a Munich-based startup that uses artificial intelligence to help companies improve their business processes -- lessening the need to hire high-priced consultants from firms such as McKinsey & Co or Bain & Co. -- has raised $27.5 million in venture funding.

The money will allow Celonis to expand to more countries and invest more in marketing, said Alexander Rinke, one of the company’s co-founders and managers.

The software -- which customers buy on a subscription basis and which does its analytic work in the cloud -- crunches data generated by a client’s business operations software, including systems from companies like SAP SE, Oracle Corp. or Salesforce.com Inc. Using this data, it can automatically map a business’s operations and suggest improvements.

This allows customers to gain insights into questions such as which salesperson is working most efficiently, where is customer complaint handling breaking down, and why is the process a company designed for purchasing supplies not being followed in practice?

“We want to automatically figure out how you mess up and where you can become better,” Rinke said. “In the past, a company would have to hire consultants and spend millions with McKinsey to answer these sorts of questions.”

Rinke and two friends at the Technical University of Munich started Celonis in their dorm room in 2011. Since then, the company has grown, funded entirely from its own revenues, and now counts 80 employees with offices in Munich, the Netherlands, Palo Alto, California and New York. Its attracted a number of large global corporations as customers, including
Siemens AG, Bayer AG, Nestle SA and Vodafone Group Plc. SAP resells Celonis to customers of its HANA database system.

Wednesday’s investment, one of the largest initial funding rounds in Europe in the past two years, was lead by Accel Partners, the venture capital firm with offices in London, San Francisco and Bangalore, India and which in the past has backed Facebook Inc, Dropbox Inc, and Supercell Oy. Also participating was 83North, the venture firm formerly called Greylock IL, which has offices in Tel Aviv and London and has previously invested in the likes of Just Eat Plc and Wandera Inc.

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