Start-up Entrepreneur Hanno Renner

“You should never be too proud to knuckle down”

Hanno Renner paid for his studies by working as a skipper on sailing yachts. Today the TUM Alumni is the captain of a 500 million dollar start-up. TUM provided him with the necessary tailwind.

During his studies, Hanno Renner worked where others spend their holidays: in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Being a trained skipper, he took tourists on sailing boats through the seas during his semester breaks. The leadership skills Hanno Renner now brings to the table as the head of a multi-million-dollar start-up have been tested at sea. “In both jobs you have to take responsibility for your team and your customers”, the young entrepreneur explains. “Both require you to guide your boat and your crew and you need to be willing to get your hands dirty.”

Holding Course

Already during his bachelor studies in Industrial Engineering, Hanno Renner knew that he wanted to work on digital products that would offer solutions for genuine problems. Furthermore, he wanted to start a company in which he would like to work himself. Systematically the Offenburg native worked towards this specific goal by opting for the master’s degree programme Management and Technology at TUM. “In Management and Technology I found an appealing programme”, says Hanno Renner. “I was able to expand my technical knowledge and at the same time pursue my interest in management-related topics”.

Another decisive factor in choosing TUM was the opportunity to be able to attend the Center for Digital Technology and Management’s (CDTM) programme at the same time – which is now known to be the talent incubator for Munich’s start-up elite. For Hanno Renner, the interdisciplinary add-on study programme Technology Management of CDTM, a joint institute of TUM and LMU, was a way to gain valuable practical experience in the field of management and entrepreneurship alongside his studies.

On Board Together

By chance, a friend pointed out to Hanno Renner that even today many companies still handle basic processes of human resources management manually or via sprawling Excel sheets and thus in a cumbersome and time-consuming manner. “We quickly realised that this was a problem for which we could offer a solution”, Hanno Renner says. “That was the initial spark.”

In Management and Technology I found an appealing programme.

Full of enthusiasm he told his fellow students at CDTM, Roman Schumacher and the TUM Alumni Arseniy Vershinin (Bachelor Informatics 2015) and Ignaz Forstmeier (Bachelor Management and Technology 2013) about the promising idea of a software for human resource management of small and medium-sized companies. With this software payroll accounting, applications and hiring, applications for leave and sick leaves should from now on be processed digitally. In no time at all and as part of a group assignment the four of them worked out a solid concept, developed a prototype of their software Personio – and established a start-up company with the same name in 2015.

Full Speed Ahead

As CEO, Hanno Renner holds the rudder of his company safely in his hands and navigates its unprecedented success story. Well-known international investors are practically lining up and have so far invested 130 million dollars in the company. Around 2,000 businesses with almost 164,000 employees, including the Who’s Who of the German start-up scene, are already using the software – which Personio or course also uses to manage its own rapidly growing team. And that is definitely necessary: around 17,000 applications have been submitted in just the last year. The company now has almost 400 employees from over 40 nations. Recently, branch offices in Madrid and London have been opened.

The fact that he put his lifeblood into his business becomes clear when Hanno Renner talks about his workload. “It would have been extremely difficult to establish the company on just fifty hours a week”, he acknowledges. However, he is far from wanting to cut back. “We are keen on playing an active role in shaping the future of HR and becoming the market leader in Europe.” In order to achieve that, Hanno Renner has to maintain, or even increase this rapid pace. Yet after all, the passionate sportsman is used to speed and endurance. He is planning to run two triathlons in 2020.