Foundation of the month: Valoon

Sandra Schöttelndreier
Founder of the month

What does your company stand for?

Valoon stands for digitalisation and increased efficiency in the construction industry. We offer innovative construction management software that integrates seamlessly with popular messaging services such as MS Teams, WhatsApp, Telegram and others. Our aim is to simplify the flow of information on construction sites and reduce manual labour for site managers without workers having to get used to new software.

Where and how did you get the brilliant idea to found the company?

The idea for Valoon came about as part of the Smart Design and Construction (SDaC) research project at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). In SDaC, we were looking at the application of artificial intelligence in the construction industry. There, we realised that messaging services such as WhatsApp and MS Teams are particularly widespread in construction projects. This realisation, along with the observation that other industries such as retail, parcel delivery and airlines were also successfully using messenger services to automate communication, inspired us to harness the potential of these platforms for construction management. We saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between construction workers’ usual communication channels and advanced technologies to effectively drive digitalisation in construction.

How did the founding team come together?

The founding team of Valoon consists of Janis Büse and Marvin Rosian, formerly from the Fraunhofer Institute for Software and Systems Engineering, as well as Diego Cisterna and Jan Wolber from KIT. The team worked together for more than three and a half years on the SDaC research project, which led to strong collaboration and a shared vision.

Where do you see the hurdles in the start-up process? Where did you get support?

One of the hurdles in the founding process was the willingness to take risks and the total commitment to the project. Another challenge was getting from an idea to a product quickly and iteratively. To achieve this, we sought support from our network, particularly from research and industry, and thus continuously adapted our product to the needs of our customers.

What was one of your biggest challenges during the start-up phase?

One of our biggest challenges in the start-up phase was the lack of time and the bureaucracy.In the initial bootstrapping phase, from the conception of the idea to the realisation of the first MVPs, time was particularly tight as everything had to be done alongside our main job. This regularly led to work at night and at weekends.
It was also a challenge to familiarise ourselves with the various bureaucratic processes, legal matters and tax issues. Ultimately, every new phase brings new challenges, and learning how to deal with these challenges is an essential part of the start-up process.

What qualities do you think a founder should have?

As a founder, you should have flexibility, perseverance and the ability to adapt quickly to change. It is also important to be open to feedback and have a clear vision.

Question for our start-up community: Do you have any practical tips for other young company founders?

Always stay on the ball, work consistently on the idea and take customer feedback seriously. This is crucial for the continuous improvement of the product.

Question for our start-up community: From today’s perspective, what would you perhaps do/approach differently?

Work with hypotheses right from the start and thus continuously adapt your product vision. Don’t try to answer the hypotheses yourself, but let the customer answer them (indirectly). It is particularly important to write them down and not just talk about them loosely.

What are your plans for the future? What are your next big milestones?

We are now focussing on achieving a good product-market fit. Many customers are already enthusiastic about our product, but we now need to consolidate this enthusiasm in the form of concrete added value. A major milestone will be the official market launch of our first software version in the first quarter of 2024.In the long term, we are striving to become a global leader in the digitalisation of the construction sector.

Thank you for answering the questions!

Here is the corresponding podcast episode of our Foundation of the Month Valoon on Spotify.

Have fun listening in!

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