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Personio becomes TUM's third »unicorn«

Hanno Renner
Hanno Renner is Personio's CEO.
© Personio

For the third time, a TUM spin-off has been valued with at least one billion US Dollar before going on the stock market. After Celonis and Lilium, Personio is now also one of these so-called »unicorns«. The start-up's success is based on software.

»Unicorns« are start-ups that exceed the value of one billion US Dollar without going on the stock market, alluding to the rarity of the mythical creatures. In Germany, only about a dozen of them have been spotted – but three at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) alone: Celonis reached this mark in 2018. With their process mining software, companies can analyze their digital business processes. In 2020, Lilium, which is developing an electric air cab, broke that sonic barrier. Both companies were founded by graduates with TUM support.

Personio offers software that enables small and medium-sized companies to digitize their HR processes. A new round of financing raised 125 million US Dollar and a company valuation of 1.7 billion Dollar, making the startup the third TUM »unicorn«.

Digitization for medium-sized businesses

Personio's founders, Hanno Renner, Ignaz Forstmeier, Roman Schumacher and Arseniy Vershinin, noticed during their studies that many small and medium-sized companies still handled HR management in files or long spreadsheets. Common HR management programs seemed to be entirely tailored to large companies.

The team of business administration and computer science students came together at the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM), a joint institution of TUM and Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU). In the interdisciplinary collaboration, Renner, Forstmeier, Schumacher and Vershinin developed the prototype of a software that makes both recruiting and personnel management faster, clearer, and more efficient. From job postings to vacation requests to payroll, small and medium-sized enterprises can digitize the various processes in one system.

Offices in Madrid, London, and Dublin

Founded in 2015, Personio currently employs around 500 people in Munich, Madrid, London, and Dublin and has so far acquired more than 3,000 customers in Europe. In 2020, the company even doubled its revenue. »The past year has seen a rapid acceleration in digitization, especially in small and medium-sized companies, « says current CEO Hanno Renner. 2020 has also shown what a crucial role HR teams play – precisely because many will increasingly work from home in the future.

Personio has already raised a total of 250 million Dollar in capital. With the money from the latest round of financing, the start-up plans to further develop its software and expand into new markets such as France and Italy. Before the end of the year, the start-up plans to double the number of employees and customers.

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