Foundation of the month: Spotium
Founder of the month
What does your company stand for?
We develop the most specific Market & Sales Intelligence platform for the mechanical engineering industry and its suppliers.
With the help of Spotium, sales strategists and their sales representatives no longer have to do time-consuming research, but receive all relevant data on the most exciting markets at the touch of a button. True to the motto: Search less. Sell more.
In concrete terms, this means that a sales representative learns from our AI which end customer, such as DHL, is investing in a new logistics centre. We enrich this news with the mechanical engineering companies that supply, among other things, the conveyor belts for the logistics centre. Through our contact data, the sales representative learns which buyer he should approach in order to place his drives for these conveyor belts at an early stage. In addition to these specific sales opportunities, our customers receive granular target customer lists for their marketing campaigns and specific market sizes to analyse the potential of their markets.
Where and how did you come up with the bright idea to found the company?
The idea came to Nico during his dual studies at a mechanical engineering supplier:
“I remember how I had the assignment in a sales department at the headquarters to provide the worldwide sales department with market information. What I experienced there was the nucleus for Spotium: First, I read Wirtschaftswoche and Handelsblatt, then took screenshots of them and sent them to a sales representative by email. The colleagues gave me feedback that the news needed to be enriched with more information to make it relevant for their everyday sales work. At that time I asked my supervisor, why don’t you just buy the market news from an external provider? He laughed and replied that they already had many providers in-house. None of these vendors offered customised news for mechanical engineering. That was a real AHA moment for me. My goal was to solve this problem with the latest technologies from Artificial Intelligence, like Natural Language Processing.”
How did the founding team come together?
In itself, Baden-Württemberg brought us together. We got talking through a mutual friend at the DHBW and quickly realised that we had similar experiences in different industries: Everywhere people talk about digitalisation, but the new technologies are often not used practically. We wanted to act instead of just talking about it. “Nico inspired me with his idea and thereupon we were on our mission together to develop an AI-based Market & Sales Intelligence platform and to become self-employed with a start-up.
Where do you see the hurdles in the start-up process? Where did you get support?
There are good events for future founders, especially in incubators and accelerator programmes, to get an overview of the start-up process. We got support from CyberLab and from our own networks. It is a challenge to get a notary appointment in a timely manner. It is best to approach notaries early on.
What was one of your biggest challenges during the founding phase?
Do you know the A38 pass from Asterix? With some bureaucratic issues, you really feel like you’re being sent from one department to the next, only to have to complete yet another formality. Fortunately, we have always been helped by dedicated employees of the various institutions. Their mindset is mostly on the side of the start-ups. The bureaucratic processes get in the way of the employees as well as the founders. Unfortunately, you have to go through it – preferably together.
Has anything changed for you since the formal founding? And if so, what?
Since the formal foundation, we can enter into contracts with our customers and employees and write invoices 😉 .
Did the Corona pandemic have an impact on your start-up/industry and if so, what was it?
The pandemic has made remote meetings the norm. For us as a start-up, it creates the advantage that we do a lot of initial meetings with potential clients via teams. Before the pandemic, this was not normal and would have meant much more effort for us.
From your point of view, what qualities should a founder bring with him or her?
There is no one skillset that you should necessarily have in order to be a successful founder. Stay true to yourself and go about founding with passion. No matter what you do, you need qualities like perseverance everywhere.
Question for our start-up community: Do you have any practical tips for other young entrepreneurs?
Go through the (business or university) world with open eyes and ears. Have the courage to try out ideas. Be aware that founders open up a whole new world and that at the same time you are saying a clear “no” to many other options – at least for a while.
Question for our start-up community: What would you perhaps do/approach differently from today’s perspective?
We often read in such questions that tech start-up teams should quickly seek contact with the market and customers. We can only agree with that. We talked to potential customers very early on. Now comes our follow-up tip: Talk about prices promptly. Only then will you find out whether companies are willing to pay for your solution and whether the pain is big enough for them.
What are your plans for the future? What are your next big milestones?
We want to further develop our Market & Sales Intelligence platform so that our customers only receive relevant, high-quality information for their market decisions. Everyone knows that the information overload is too great these days and that the really exciting data for good decisions is missing. For the mechanical engineering industry and its suppliers, Spotium changes that. Specifically, our next steps are to pour more company data and market sizing into our current UX design, and then reach out to more potential clients. With our current clients, we are looking forward to the many meetings: there is a lot of listening and learning to do.
Thanks for answering the questions!
Here is the podcast episode of our Spotium Foundation of the Month on Spotify.
Have fun listening!