What do participants say about TechFounders?
“We received much advice about the problems we could face, and that was not general but specific information that helped a lot”
Lena Honsberg – Marketing.
Idea: “Cheaper and safer: 48V high power electric drive for electric vehicles.”
Business Target Audience: Worldwide.
Can the new electric drive influence an industry?
The sphere of electric vehicles is gaining momentum and focuses on resolving issues like cheaper and better batteries or spreading of charging stations. However, that is not the only aspects that should be improved, and many technologies are on the way to more ecological carrying. In this case, the appearance of cheaper and safer electric drives for diverse transport can become another trend in this industry.
“We developed the first 48V high power electric drive, which is efficient, cost-effective, and much safer than competitors’ engines,” began Lena Honsberg, Marketing VOLABO GmbH. “Normally, electric motors for cars or boats require 400-800V to provide high power, but it increases danger during both assembling and using high power vehicles. However, our Intelligent Stator CAge Drive (ISCAD) with aluminium bars instead of copper coils brings more reliable and flexible usage. Furthermore, bars are much easier to produce than windings, which reduces production costs and increases scalability. Also, the drive is very economical, as we can use low voltage components which are more efficient.“
Free consultations are valuable
It is quite unusual to see purely scientific ideas as startups, but UnternehmerTUM and TechFounders program is open to such solutions and can help them on practice. “The educational part consists of workshops on general topics like HR, sales, legal issues, but such courses are available anywhere,” the interviewee started to explain the situation with the assistance they received. “Nevertheless, startups also have one-on-one meetings with experts and tutors, who give precious feedback for free. We received much advice about the problems we could face, and that was not general but specific information that helped a lot.”
Preparing to DEMO day starts immediately
Continuing the discussion about the assistance that Volabo claimed in the accelerator, Lena Honsberg switched it smoothly to the financial side. “As the final stop of the program is usually a DEMO day where you can find investors, they begin to prepare you just after joining. Coaches and mentors go through Unique Selling Propositions, so you have to rethink them and improve. Also, startuppers participate in the sessions about design and rhetoric of the pitching process and receive a lot of feedback. Thus, we polished our pitch to the extent that it was later sent to potential clients and partners.”
“Startuppers participate in the sessions about design and rhetoric of the pitching process and receive a lot of feedback. Thus, we polished our pitch to the extent that it was later sent to potential clients and partners.”Lena Honsberg
Corporate partner is not an obstacle for adjustment
Another unusual aspect related to TechFounders is the presence of a corporate partner and the obligation of every startup to have an appropriate pilot project to cooperate with one of them. That is how the interviewee explained it in their example. “We had a project with Knorr-Bremse after joining, which gave a lot of opportunities to widen the network. Moreover, after the project, we maintained contact with this company, and it was also beneficial, so that I can say this initiative with partners is really valuable.”
Even though the team of Volabo didn’t have a demonstration car before joining and only a prototype, they are storming the market of innovations for electric vehicles and seems to be on the beginning of their way. Their technology looks exciting and prospective to change the balance in the already growing industry, so don’t be surprised if you see them at the top of breakthrough solutions that will change the world.
“The program also helps to set and adjust the cooperation with the partner and keep him involved. It is crucial for young entrepreneurs“
Francesco Pessolano – co-founder.
Idea: “Smart sensors for heat detection.”
Business Target Audience: Worldwide.
One technology – multiple appliances
Modern people are too busy to notice all the diversity of developed technologies around us. Bill Gates once said: ‘The advance of technology is based on making it fit in so that you don’t really even notice it, so it’s part of everyday life.’ This phrase precisely describes the principle of Xetal heat detection sensors, which can be used in diverse spheres and make our life more comfortable and safer.
“The idea was to build a product for healthcare, based on the new technology of developed temperature sensors for tracking, detecting, and monitoring human activity,” explained Francesco Pessolano. “Those controllers can define if the person is alone or not and determine the position with an accuracy of 40 centimetres. This technology allows detecting heat emitters and can be used for control over the human activity, cargo transportation, or as a fire sensor, so it is dedicated to human protection.”
The most scalable part of the conversation with Francesco Pessolano was related to partners, but he came to it, starting with advice on how to join TechFounders. “A startupper should have a concrete idea and understand why he or she joins the program. To me, they are not like startup boot camps that help to figure out the direction of your work. Here you have to focus on the specific partner and establish good relations with it for further growth.”
In the continuation of our talk, the interviewee expanded his thoughts about the partnership. “For instance, we wanted to enter the healthcare market and see if the cooperation with the partner is possible after the pilot project. Thus, we learned a lot about the market as our partner was an insurance company, so we understood things like economic dynamics and trends, which helped to launch a new project after graduation.”
Answering the question about TechFounders’ strongest sides, Francesco shared an interesting mind. “The only reason to join them could be even a belief that you’ll get the knowledge after collaboration with a corporate firm. However, the program also helps to set and adjust the cooperation with the partner and keep him involved. It is crucial for young entrepreneurs as after getting 25k grant and couple of meetings, one can lose drive or passion, and everything can end rapidly.“
“To be frank, if you are not from Germany or close to Munich, it’s hard to use their network of investors.”Francesco Pessolano
As our interviewee is from Belgium, he shared how things are going if the startup is from abroad. “To be frank, if you are not from Germany or close to Munich, it’s hard to use their network of investors. However, it is also a matter of our business specifics as the implementation of our idea relies more on local insurance and healthcare institutions, so one should understand such an aspect before joining.”
It is always a pleasure to talk to startups who try to improve the quality of human being by making it safer. We hope that the idea of smart temperature sensors will confirm the words of Bill Gates and transform them into the invisible but inevitable part of our life.