„Visionary thinking, an in-depth understanding of the industry and partnership based cooperation are what make Gründerfonds Ruhr unique. Their distinctive network in the Ruhr region combined with competent support we received in the development of our corporate strategy was and continues to be of enormous value to us.“ – Sebastian Kowitz, CEO Talpasolutions
Technology and software company, talpasolutions, was founded in August 2016 by the two engineers, Sebastian-Friedrich Kowitz and Artem Zitzer, the IT and data analysis specialist, Kai Meschede, and the business economist, Philipp Lorenz. Talpa, stemming from the Latin word for “mole,” aims to revolutionize mining and manufacturing industries. Currently, these industries generate vast amounts of data from machine sensors and other external data sources, but only 1% of this is used, thereby leaving a significant opportunity untapped. talpasolutions offers a holistic solution that connects machines and captures the collected data to optimize machine performance and increase efficiency. The founders’ mission is to make the previously untapped data comprehensible and accessible, and to make their scalable and vendor-independent solutions available to the entire heavy industry.
talpasolutions & Gründerfonds Ruhr – A deep-down success story
Initial Meeting and Objectives
The initial contact between Gründerfonds and talpasolutions was established at a start-up event in the beginning of 2017. Due to mutual interest, the exchange was subsequently maintained and resulted in a productive collaboration. The main objectives of the early-stage company were to continue the development of the product approach to create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and validate the product-market fit with initial customers. The initial target group was focused on medium-sized companies in the mining industry, such as individual quarries, which would enable talpasolutions to gain a foothold in the industry and demonstrate the added value of their unprecedented approach. In the long term, the offer, as well as the areas of application, were to be continuously expanded to also reach large international companies in the entire manufacturing industry. Gründerfonds pursued various validation points for talpasolutions over several months and, in May 2018, provided a seed financing of €1.5 million together with High-Tech Gründerfonds.
With their extensive know-how in key areas such as mining and data analytics, as well as their strong commitment to the company’s ambitious goals, the founders of talpasolutions demonstrated the organization’s clear potential to the Gründerfonds team. Even before the financing, they conducted independent market and product development for a year and were already able to validate an initial product-market fit through first customer and partner activities, such as with a mine operator in Estonia. talpasolutions’ partnership approach, which is based on added value for both parties, creates a deep understanding of relevant problems and an optimal basis for solution-oriented product development. This novel product strategy offers attractive opportunities for investors and the digital economy segment in traditional industries.
Support from Gründerfonds Ruhr
Gründerfonds Ruhr enabled talpasolutions especially at an early stage to form valuable connections with highly relevant companies from key industries, e. g. with renowned companies that are part of the the Initiativkreis Ruhr, a close partner of the Gründerfonds. This gave the talpasolutions founders the opportunity to introduce and highlight the practical use of their novel entrepreneurial idea and build a foundation for initial business relationships. The deep roots of the Gründerfonds in the Ruhr area and extensive knowledge of the industry located in this region also contributed to a strong partnership with talpasolutions. As a partner, Gründerfonds provided value not only for coaching and business-related questions, but also to review and provide guidance and feedback on key operational and commercial decisions. In doing so, the Gründerfonds has always been and continues to stand at the side of the young entrepreneurs, for example to challenge critical aspects in business cases or operational and commercial decisions and to examine them from an external perspective in order to arrive at the best result for the company’s development.
Since the seed funding round, talpasolutions has achieved a range of milestones including a demonstrated product-market fit, further developed business model and scaled customers and revenue, while also being financially efficient. With their attractive B2B Saas business model, they are considered one of the up-and-coming start-ups of the Ruhr region and are now working with major international corporations as one of the leading companies in the mining and heavy industries.
Now that talpasolutions has been able to prove its market relevance by successfully implementing solutions for its international customers, the next step is to further develop the versatile software platform to fully exploit its market potential. To this end, talpasolutions intends to deepen its existing partnerships with leading companies in the mining industry and to push ahead with joint product development. On top of that, due to the good technical positioning of the software platform created by talpasolutions, other branches in the heavy industry can be addressed in the future. This is intended to promote talpa’s operating system becoming the leading solution worldwide, both for machine manufacturers and end users.
Gründerfonds sees great potential in this approach and is pleased to continue to actively support the dedicated team of talpasolutions on their successful journey.