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The story behind CELUS

It all starts in the innovation stronghold of Munich. UnternehmerTUM is the leading center for innovation and business creation as the largest of its kind in Europe. This is where the founders of CELUS met over 5 years ago. Co-founders Tobias Pohl, Alexander Pohl and André Alcalde have since built CELUS from the ground up. But Tobias Pohl didn't even think about founding a company when he started his studies in automotive engineering. However, during his studies, he realized how much the functionality of printed circuit boards (PCBs) interested him, but there were also parts of the electronics development process that Tobias quickly grew tired of - something many electronics developers can probably relate to. "I thought to myself, ´It can’t be possible that an industry on which all of our modern technology is based has such manual and tedious work processes!’" recalls Tobias. Those were the moments when the idea arose that it must be possible to do this better...

The idea was born

After consulting with his brother Alexander Pohl, they ventured to grow the idea - how about creating a software support for electronics developers? Automation algorithms that could select electronic components, taking into account restrictions such as compatibility or voltages. All this with a user-friendly interface... the idea never left the brothers Tobias and Alexander.  

“The best ideas are the honest ones. Ones born out of personal experience. Ones that originated to help a few but ended up helping many.” — Simon Sinek.

They started to speak with experts from the industry. The feedback was disillusioning. If it could be done, someone would have done it already, they said. But the Pohls' founding spirit was ignited and a lot of thought and strategic consideration went into the project until they finally took the step of founding the company in 2018. In the process, the third co-founder and electrical engineer André Alcalde joined them. CELUS was born.

Everything is possible

They have had big goals. Tobias says, "Our mission was and still is to fundamentally change the electronics design process by empowering people with decision automation and data access." To achieve that, CELUS developed the CELUS Design Platform. But it has been a long road to the current platform. After the founding - as with so many - first followed a time full of all-nighters and many expert discussions. The co-founders met many doubters and skeptics, all of whom spoke of an impossible undertaking. But they didn't let themselves be discouraged and were able to investigate, research and develop with the help of various start-up and incubation programs, such as the EXIST start-up grant and programs from XPRENEURS, LMU Entrepreneurship Center, gate in Garching and later Intel Ignite.

Tobias recalls: "We wanted to show everyone that it is possible after all. You simply have to be convinced of your own idea, but of course, we also had to convince many others...". And the three founders managed to do that and were then able to secure very good pre-seed and seed funding in 2018 and 2019. In the time that followed, we were able to bring new talent on board and put together a great team. But even with a dedicated team, a good idea takes time. The biggest success so far came 4.5 years after founding with the Series A investment round of €25 million, which has now enabled a significant increase in growth. The additional resources enable us to achieve our goals for the product more quickly.

Up to the present

In 2023, impressive milestones were achieved. We opened a second CELUS technology office and could welcome more team members. As of July 2023, we have over 70 team members from 33 different countries working together to shape the CELUS Design Platform and the company. This has had an impact on various new features and improvements. Also, our database is filling up, by now there are already >1000 CUBOs available - functional design blocks filled to the brim with all the information you need. And this is just the beginning. Curious about the CELUS Design Platform? The Community Platform is about to be released! You can already sign up for the waiting list to get access as one of the first users.

CELUS and innovation

It is in the nature of a deep-tech startup to be excited about innovation. That's why we are always looking for new ways to improve the CELUS Design Platform, based on current know-how. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are already an integral part of the CELUS Design Platform. Whereas CELUS was a pioneer 5 years ago, we now contribute to the current state of research by participating in Public Projects and pushing technology forward. Projects like KIREsys and progressivKI are examples of exciting innovation projects.


More about CELUS

CELUS Startups Magazine interview - in print


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