In their search for skilled workers, companies have long since moved beyond their own national borders. But attracting talent from all over the world usually involves considerable bureaucratic effort. Localyze, a Hamburg-based startup founded by three women, makes the process much easier and has become an internationally successful company.
2018 is considered the official year of Localyze's founding. However, long-time observers of the Hamburg startup scene first heard the name in November 2016, at the UniPitch. At this event, very young startups were able to present themselves to the audience, often for the first time ever. Afterwards, they received intensive feedback from experts and then had the opportunity to deliver a new, improved pitch. Hanna Asmussen and Fabian Jacobson were also on stage and presented Localize (at that time still with "i").
The idea back then was already to create a platform that would make it easier for workers coming from another country to integrate into their new living environment. Hanna knew from her own experience how helpful such an offer could be. She had her first extended stay abroad at 15 as an exchange student in Argentina. Her studies in industrial engineering took her to the Dominican Republic, China, France and Italy. Attending a startup seminar in Berlin first gave her the idea of incorporating her experiences into a business model.
In 2015, she graduated with a master's degree, and in 2016 she became an associate at the Boston Consulting Group. She always kept the idea for her startup in mind, but her potential co-founder Fabian dropped out of the joint project and founded the agency NAVIGATOR onboarding. Instead, Lisa Dahlke, whom Hanna has known since childhood, joined the team. Lisa studied international management and is an HR expert. Among other things, she was responsible for onboarding at Goodgame Studios. Franziska Löw also comes from the circle of friends. She holds a doctorate in economics and contributes her extensive knowledge of software programming.
So the trio is broadly positioned in terms of expertise, always a good prerequisite for a successful startup. As already mentioned, Localyze was officially launched in 2018. In March, an EXIST startup grant provided the first financial support. One month later, the company was accepted into the Next Commerce Accelerator (NCA). Localyze underwent a six-month support program there and was able to establish valuable contacts with large Hamburg-based companies.
This was particularly helpful because companies make up Localyze's clientele. At the very beginning, employees were the intended target group, but it quickly became clear that the chances of success were much greater with employers. Due to the shortage of skilled workers and the battle for the best international talent, companies must be able to make onboarding as easy as possible for their new employees. Localyze's software platform, which has evolved over the years, does just that. It simplifies the entire migration process, from applying for visas and work and residence permits to official registration, arranging housing and setting up a bank account. The platform keeps everyone involved up to date and provides helpful tips.
Word quickly spread about what a valuable service Localyze was developing, not only in Hamburg, but as far away as California. The Y Combinator is considered the most important accelerator in the world and has already supported thousands of startups, including such famous ones as Airbnb, Dropbox and reddit. The focus is clearly on emerging US companies, German startups only make it very rarely. Therefore, it was like a knighthood for Localyze when it was able to secure a spot at Y Combinator in 2019. For a company where internationalization is part of its DNA, the three-month stay in Silicon Valley was a crucial step.
Joining the Y Combinator program also involved funding, but the million-dollar rounds were to follow. In 2020, Localyze received a seed investment of 2.1 million US dollars, with Frontline Ventures (UK and Ireland) as the lead investor. This was followed by a Series A round of 12 million US Dollars in July 2021. The round was led by Blossom Capital (London), with Frontline Ventures again involved, plus several international business angels. At this point, Localyze's track record already read quite impressive. The team had grown to 25 people and had achieved 300% year-over-year revenue growth in Q1 2021. More than 2,000 workers from over 100 countries had been helped to relocate.
Finally, the biggest exclamation point to date was the Series B funding round that Localyze announced in September 2022. A number of international VCs, led by General Catalyst from the USA, invested a total of 35 million US dollars. The founding team of Taxdoo, another successful Hamburg-based startup, was also involved. At the same time, Localyze said that since the previous round, its revenue had increased six-fold and its customer base had more than tripled.
That's how Hanna Asmussen comments on the latest development at Localyze, the launch of its new talent platform in February 2023, which aims to make it even faster and easier for employees to navigate the often difficult immigration journey. This includes quick access to key elements - appointments, knowledge and partner offerings, documents - via a dashboard on mobile and desktop, as well as personalized, transparent step-by-step guidance. This is also good for companies, which, according to Localyze, can almost double the number of qualified applicants in this way.
At the beginning of 2023, the Localyze team consists of around 100 members on four continents and continues to grow. So does the number of customers, which stands at around 500, including companies such as Free Now, Babbel, DeepL and Personio. More than 10,000 workers have been helped with onboarding, Localyze is now active in 15 countries, and the startup has already won its first customers in the US as well. The startup has grown to an international size, but it remains firmly anchored in Hamburg.