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Investor Frank Thelen on Unified Namespace – New data standard for the industry with UMH

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IoT Use Case Podcast - Frank Thelen, Freigeist Capital + Alexander Krüger, UMH Systems

Frank Thelen, the entrepreneur, bestselling author, investor, known from the TV show “Die Höhle der Löwen” (“Shark Tank”), is a guest of Madeleine Mickeleit with his latest IIoT investment United Manufacturing Hub (UMH) in the 122nd episode of the IoT Use Case Podcast! Together with Alexander Krüger (CEO and Co-Founder at UMH), they discuss topics such as the use of open source software, the importance of data standardization and the role of community-driven developments.

Podcast episode summary

The Cologne-based start-up United Manufacturing Hub has set itself the goal of establishing a new data standard in the industry. The company is supported by Frank Thelen’s venture capital fund Freigeist and the existing investor DnA Ventures. The open source platform they have developed enables engineers to seamlessly integrate all data sources in the factory to promote data-driven, more efficient and more sustainable production.

The Unified Namespace plays a central role in the United Manufacturing Hub concept. It is described as a kind of central data hub or message broker through which all work orders, data points and temperatures within a factory are routed. This architecture enables uniform access to data from different sources, which forms the basis for standardized data communication. The Unified Namespace enables the separation and targeted routing of data, making it an important tool for integrating and analyzing production data. United Manufacturing Hub uses this approach to enable efficient and comprehensive use of data in production environments, creating the basis for data-driven decisions and process optimization

United Manufacturing Hub was founded in 2021 by Jeremy Theocharis, Alexander Krüger and Christian Proch. The team has set itself the goal of making the best IT and OT tools accessible to engineers and providing a basis for the exchange of knowledge and experience. To date, the company has worked at over 50 customer locations and is active on six continents.

With the seed funding from Freigeist and the support of DnA Ventures, the company plans to further expand its product and engineering team to meet the growing needs of large enterprises. In addition, investments are being made in the rapidly growing community around the United Manufacturing Hub, which already comprises more than 2,000 developers and engineers.

Podcast interview

Hello Frank and hello Alex, welcome to the IoT Use Case Podcast. I’m really glad that you’re here. First of all, Frank, how are you? Where are you at the moment? Where are you?

Frank

I am currently in the Bonn office, where I prefer to be. I’m not really the remote type. I have just come from a meeting with the team and am in Bonn.

I am very pleased that you are here today. I think we’ll talk a little bit about you today and, of course, about your investment in Freigeist. First of all, I have to say that I was totally excited when I saw your message on LinkedIn, and I’ve been looking forward to the interview ever since. Especially because I already knew United Manufacturing Hub from the network. It was kind of a nice surprise that we came together today. So thank you very much for joining us today, Alexander. How are you? Where are you at the moment?

Alexander

I’m doing great and the weather is fantastic too. I am currently in Cologne, more precisely in Ehrenfeld. I’ve just come out of a meeting, but I’m really very happy to be here with you now. Thank you very much for your time, I look forward to it.

Many greetings also to your founding team. The first contact was in 2023 with Christian, best regards to the founding team. It’s really exciting for me to have you here today in this constellation. How did you actually get together? How did it come about? How did you first meet?

Alexander

So, let’s start by telling you a bit about us: Before we founded UMA, we were part of a technical systems integrator that we set up together with a large management consultancy. We were the ones who carried out the implementation after the strategic planning. Back then, Alexander, who now works at Freigeist, basically brought us together. We worked with him about five to six years ago. Last year was my birthday, as it is every year, and Alex was very keen to have a coffee with me. That’s how we came to meet and talk about our current projects. It was not a planned process, but rather a natural step due to our mutual interest and getting to know each other better. We already knew Alex and it was cool to repeat this moment with him.

Frank, how was it from your side?

Frank

Incidentally, this is atypical for us. Some people might think that because I have a certain reach and a certain level of recognition, that the deal flow, i.e. what you simply get in as a venture capitalist, is automatic and of course everyone contacts us and because we are so great and well-known. The opposite is the case; the deals we receive are often really nonsense, I’m afraid to say. In other words, we are very, very active in screening software and other things ourselves. What is currently going on in the major universities? What is happening in the important incubators right now? And also on social media, where suddenly a WHU student meets someone from Aachen and so on. And the fact that we now know UMH in the classic way, if I may call it that, or have found the deal again, is very, very unusual, but normally it really comes from a software and a very clear process that we do here at Freigeist.

I would like to explain right away who you are from Freigeist. Frank, you are known as a European series founder, investor, bestselling author and from television, e.g. from the German version of the Lion’s Den. You are here today on behalf of your venture capital fund at Freigeist. This is one of the latest investments you have made, especially in the context of IoT. You are known as a venture capital company with a focus on technology-driven start-ups, especially in the early stages. Is that right?

Frank

Absolutely, the thing that sets us apart is that we really go into crazy topics. We are completely driven by First Principle Thinking. We invest exclusively with our own money, mainly that of the founders – Alex Koch, Marc Sieberger and myself. We also have two other partners whose money we are also investing. We are independent of external investors and strive to build relevant companies in Europe. This is of course a major challenge, especially up to a market capitalization of several billion euros. But that is exactly what drives us. Having successfully sold a number of companies, we want to continue to drive forward important projects in Europe. We have everything from Lilium Aviation with flying cars to energy storage, power blocks, satellites, robots with RobCo and many other topics where you can really say that if it really works, then it can generate relevance.

Do you have an example of one of your well-known start-ups with an exit on the market?

Frank

The exits are all in the past, so to speak, because it takes some time before such deep tech start-ups work. In the past, for example, we have built up KaufDA, Wunderlist, MyTaxi and then also, that was a sidebar, german TV show “Höhle der Löwen”, which has already been mentioned, where we sold some food start-ups, Ankerkraut to Nestlé and other exits. Lilium is now listed on the stock market, so we could already sell it, but we are holding on to our shares because we simply continue to believe in the company. We have not yet had a major exit from this crazy mission “Deep-Tech”. We have already done great deals, built up great financing and the companies have a very, very high value. But we haven’t liquidated anything yet and we certainly have plenty of time.

Okay, I would now like to talk a little about the United Manufacturing Hub and also about the vision you have for this investment. I believe you said in the Handelsblatt that if we want to prevent a complete decline in industry in Europe, we need to make more intensive use of data. Can you explain a little more about why UMH in particular, why this investment, and what is your vision for it?

Frank

From our side at Freigeist, our goal is to strengthen Europe and to believe in it. When we look at how manufacturing is done, especially with companies like RobCo supplying robots, it’s amazing how much analog work is still being done. On the one hand, we see that people are being deployed where robots could do the work, and on the other hand, there is still paperwork. This may sound unbelievable, but Alex can report on this from practical experience. We actually have a lot of paperwork, whether in Excel spreadsheets or other external systems. What you would actually expect is a seamless integration of all systems, in which machines, production units and other sensors automatically feed data into a common data stream and state-of-the-art AI models control production fully automatically, ideally even networked with partners. Unfortunately, this often remains an unfulfilled dream, as production is either based on paperwork and Excel or expensive, outdated industrial solutions. However, UMH has used innovative open source software and developed a product that makes it possible to bring production onto a common database in order to control it more intelligently.

You have developed an open source software platform with which companies can collect their data from production, but also transfer it to a uniform standard so that the data can be reused there. What exactly do you do?

Alexander

Let’s take a step back maybe. I think this point about how undigitalized we actually are was very frightening back then. So in 2018 and 2019, when we started, we were of course totally motivated. Industry 4.0 is now taking off, and all the players were virtually there with a great offer, whether it was Siemens, SAP or PTC. Virtually everything was now digital and then the first orders came in. Then there was a steel cutting company, so I have large plates and make small plates out of them. The work preparation was, I print out slips of paper, make a stack of 150 pages and that’s basically my handover to production. It then goes into some container. At the end of the shift, i.e. after 24 hours, a count is made of how many of these slips of paper are still there. That is my unfulfilled service, so to speak. The finished slips of paper are then stuck to the cut parts that were lying around somewhere on the factory floor. We were commissioned at the time and had no idea what was going on. I’m sitting here in my office, which is 100 meters away. It could also be, I don’t know, somewhere in India. I have no idea what production is doing here at the moment. That was our journey, so to speak. In principle, we were the ones who provided the data, completely agnostic. Then we began to tap into data sources with a systems integrator. This is the UMH now being explained piece by piece. There were then lots of old machines. The existing machines in Germany are not new. This means that data had to be extracted from old machines to establish connectivity. However, the data was super inconsistent and had to be processed with logic. The machine from one manufacturer had a completely different language to the one from the other manufacturer. We had to translate them into a uniform data standard, so to speak. But the data also had to get into the cloud somehow, because that’s where all the applications were running. We then used various technologies such as MQTT and Kafka to transfer the data and ended up building an infrastructure. In principle, it was actually our own need to realize this use case. It was just really frustrating because you have the solutions on the market I don’t want to name a specific provider because that’s common practice. Here is the sales department. Please let’s talk about it again. We are launching a pilot now, but it will be six months before you have a pilot or see the product. We were on a consultancy project and only had three weeks. We now had to deliver and have virtually plugged together open source. That was truly great. Then we realized that we are not the only ones who have this problem. So we made it available to the community, our users and our open source version. This has resulted in a product. This is an open source tool that is also really important because we believe that we need to create standards. This should not be an exclusive standard set by committees, but a democratic process. Everyone has a voice and can contribute their opinion. That’s why we have more users than customers, which is great.

Before I get to the community and the open source standard, as you’ve already mentioned, it’s all about use cases. Can you explain a little about which use cases you are now implementing exactly? There are the business use cases, where the business added value is created for the company, and the technological use case. You deal with data architecture, with the integration of data, you could say data hubs. What are your use cases?

Alexander

In principle, use cases are the thing we don’t do. We are the business case behind it. We have no idea what the user might invent tomorrow. We have customers in the pharmaceutical industry who have to record the entire production of medicines digitally because they are currently still doing this on paper. The FDA says: this is not possible, please record it digitally, otherwise it is not tamper-proof. That’s what we enable. We have a large manufacturer, Sonnländer, who make the Aldi breakfast juices, orange juices, apple juices and with us they create continuous improvements in production, i.e. with lean, OEE, bottleneck analysis and so on. Then we have an energy company, E.ON, as a customer and they actually only work with us…

By the way, you also have some great brands, great references that you already have at such an early stage.

Alexander

They also come back to us. But we’re also super honest about that. I think we have somehow…

Frank

I think sales is really important here. UMH isn’t coming from the executive suite, as might be expected, but rather from the grassroots, where it originates nowadays. In other words, from the developer community, from the administrator community. People see that I have this legacy system here, which is getting more and more expensive, more and more difficult, and then they say there must be something else. Then they get there via the open source route, so to speak. Today we will of course soon also address the CIOs and so on, but that’s where the company comes from, and then suddenly an E.ON or other big names from the operational level, if I may call it that, are interested in exactly this solution.

Alexander

But that’s actually exactly how you sell software. So manufacturing or the industry has actually taken a different turn somewhere. When I buy a database, buy data streaming, buy some kind of observability platform, i.e. IT, I always buy through the developer and the marketing is tailored to the developer. Great content, good content, good documentary. In the case of manufacturing, it’s usually about nice slides, about a salesperson. We try to sell to ourselves, i.e. to the technical person, and to be open and honest about the documentation and the product. That’s also how we manage to crack big brands, because we have somehow bought this leap of faith through openness.

Exactly. Yes, it really is a battle of fancy slides. You see a lot at the trade fairs, but what’s really behind it is the underlying subject. Now you’ve already said that it will also be expensive for the, shall I say, engineering people or for operations, especially when it comes to legacy systems. I would like to understand the business case, what customers are really losing here today in terms of time and money, and so get a bit of a push towards community and also open source. What is the business case for your customers and also to some extent the challenges that customers would have to solve without you?

Alexander

I think there are two things. On the one hand, what are they paying for software for which it might no longer be necessary to pay? What would they have to do to enable this themselves now, i.e. to rebuild, so to speak? I think this replacement or where can they save money is currently a complete parallel society that has developed. Time series databases are virtually a complete commodity in IT. This is completely free, TimescaleDB, InfluxDB. But at the same time, millions are still being paid to large manufacturers of time series databases and that is simply no longer in keeping with the times. You can simply save money now. We are the product answer to an architectural problem, so to speak. Normally you would go to an extremely large system house, IT system integrator, and tell them to build me something like this. Then there will be some workshops, and something perfect will be derived for you there. We are essentially the approach of “Hey, this is best practice,” which is currently being benchmarked by various customers, regions, and verticals. Just take this, it’s a product and you can bring down the entire lifecycle and total cost of ownership by not doing it one-off, but by sharing the costs with others. This is the business case or the idea behind our infrastructure.

What is the community relevance of all this? Just for fun, I registered in your Discord community and there are some very specific questions being asked. What is the relevance of the community for you there?

Alexander

The right answer is probably, who else do you ask? And that’s just this huge problem in manufacturing. In IT, you have forums, you have expert groups, you have Cloud Native Compute Foundation conferences. But you usually only have a handful of real software people at these industrial companies and they completely lack the exchange and perspective of what others do. We create this space for these people to exchange ideas, share best practices and ask questions. In the long term, we want to avert this long tail of problems. If you think about IoT in the home, for example, there is the refrigerator. However, someone has already connected the refrigerator at some point and then put it into Homebridge, i.e. into such an open source product. It’s the same with our community. In other words, this one machine, this one type of machine, this one MES system has already been done by some guy in South America and shared with the community. That way, you can simply build better products, create a pool for high-quality people who can eventually become customers, build the product better and then actually have significantly better traction on the product and also have a larger installed base. This is also a major problem with manufacturing software.

Can you tell us a bit more about what exactly your offering is and the solution behind it? You said that it’s all about the architectures behind it. You provide the platform for this, so to speak. How does that work exactly?

Alexander

Exactly, we are the data infrastructure. Of course it’s a cumbersome term, but what does it mean in concrete terms? That is also open source and will always remain open source. Everything you need to get data out of machines, clean this data, distribute the data to different systems, store it and visualize it. Once through this entire journey and then optimized as a product. What are we actually selling now? What is the product on top? As an open source project, you can either sell storage space, computing power or “easier”. We have opted for “easier”. This means that we have developed lots of additional tools that make our product even easier to use. Standardized, automatic deployments, monitoring, configuration and so on. Everything automated, standardized and, for example, usable through our SaaS offering. On a small scale, it’s also available for free, but then especially when scaling up, it follows an enterprise licensing model.

Can you draw a parallel to the Unified Namespace, which is something that should form a kind of standard. What exactly does that mean in this context?

Alexander

This is not yet a fully established term. Jeremy has also just written a great blog post, check it out. It is an event-driven architecture in the factory. All work orders, all data points, all temperatures are sent through a central data hub, through a central message broker, and are accessible there. This is basically a Unified Namespace, made from a strict format, from a certain nomenclature. In principle, our answer to the Unified Namespace is the United Manufacturing Hub. This is our standard implementation of this principle.

It’s not an official standard, so to speak, but more of a concept or an architectural practice, you could say, which is used in the development of software and also in architecture and infrastructure in your community. Can you put it that way?

Alexander

That’s right, some guy on the internet made it up. Normally it would be some committee in Germany that spends three years working on it and then comes out with a white paper that you can only get behind a sales wall or buy for 10,000 euros. There was a guy on YouTube who had produced an absurd number of YouTube videos, but he also edited them well. He coined this term. Walker Reynolds is his name and he has gathered a relatively large following around him.

I’m trying to categorize the topic a bit. Imagine having a smart home system that controls various devices. You mentioned the fridge earlier, thermostats, lights and so on, each of the devices uses different data. The current structure basically allows each device to process its information in isolation, as is often mentioned in the technology, even with Docker containers. Each application runs in its own container so that the thermostat cannot directly access the refrigerator or the lights, for example. Is this the architecture you are referring to?

Alexander

Exactly. I think an accessible example is a news agency. You can think of the Unified Namespace like Reuters. They have reporters all over the world, so to speak, who provide information or would like to have information. They have a reporter in South America, in North America, in Europe, in Asia. The Unified Namespace is the one in the middle, so to speak, which then passes on information from Asia to Europe. In other words, I am now a reporter in Brazil covering a presidential election and the whole world is interested in it. In other words, the European reporters all said, please give me all the information on the presidential election from South America and the Unified Namespace or the event-driven architecture then enables this division and separation of data, so to speak. You can imagine it exactly like this in the factory. You have machine controls that can throw errors, and all relevant programs, Docker containers in the factory that are interested in errors, so an MES system or some analysis can subscribe or alternatively, for example, also write back setup processes. This means that the machine is interested in all new set-up orders and then the MES can say, please change this from blue to green and this would then be communicated bidirectionally by the Unified Namespace. Hopefully this is explained in a reasonably accessible way.

Frank

But the crucial thing here is that you simply have completely different production machines, which is just the way it has grown. There is not one manufacturer that has all the machines. Now I need a common data standard, just like we agreed on Wi-Fi at some point, regardless of whether it’s a MacBook, a Windows notebook or a mobile device. Now you have to build these smaller data bridges on the one hand, which we then deliver as open source or from the community. Some of these are still serial interfaces, i.e. very old cables, so you first have to get each individual system onto the data bus. Then you have to have a commonality of these events, of the data packages, where everything that happens comes onto a common data bus, which is then securely stored again, made available and then also read-write, so that I can then, for example, run my dashboards, my AI models or whatever I want on the data. That’s also the super interesting thing afterwards, once you have this shared data bus and then subsequent storage that can also be accessed via an API, then I can make lots and lots of very, very important business decisions. UMH provides the basis for this and the respective company can then map its business logic and applications onto it, which it cannot do today because the entire production simply does not know each other. They’re somehow all completely unfamiliar machines standing around and nobody knows what the machine is doing unless a person goes and writes something down on a piece of paper. That’s really crazy. That is crazy. I mean, Alex and his team, that’s where they come from in practice. We know this from RobCo, where we install our robots. It’s amazing how much is done manually and not digitally. You would think that couldn’t be the case in industry. We all live in our own bubble – we have podcasts and the like – but not everyone has access to such technologies. We all use smartphones, cloud synchronization and Notion, but for most people this is not the standard. Unfortunately, unlike in other parts of the world, production in Germany still likes to work with outdated methods such as fax machines and routing slips.

Collecting this data in a standardized way, especially from old machines, is a major challenge. It’s not all Greenfield, you don’t have the latest controls, they’re old controls. Maybe you still have an S5 or some devices that don’t provide any data that I need to retrofit. That’s also a topic, to collect these data and to provide them in a standardized way. Alexander, how exactly do you collect the data? You have various connectors that I can now use in the brownfield, for example. How do you handle this? How is it possible to collect this data in the first place?

Alexander

We have two standard approaches. One approach is through highly standardized and extremely high-availability standard connectors. In our case, that’s 80-90 percent of all the machines we work with that support this. This is either OPC UA or Siemens S7. That’s the 90 percent, so to speak. The problem: it’s not enough. You still need that one special scale, that one special CNC machine that can’t do exactly that. Now you need the Swiss army knife. You have your surgical tools, so to speak, our containers for OPC UA or S7, which then transfer this from the controller to our event-driven architecture Unified Namespace. It’s getting more and more and it will never stop. That’s when we decided to work strategically with Node-RED. This is also a community project and originally comes from the home automation sector. Someone always sat down at the weekend and wrote this connector, the Euromap connector, the connector from Mitsubishi or Hitachi, whatever. This tool includes an absurdly high number of drivers and yet it can be mapped in Docker containers, is configurable and is not a Windows legacy program. This allows you to connect this long tail, these super many, always different protocols.

To think in terms of dimensions, that’s tens or hundreds of millions of data points, probably even per second, that you’re recording. It must be scalable somewhere to rely on such a standard. Interesting that you chose Node-RED. I think many people in the industry already use this and it may already be familiar from that area.

Alexander

It is so accessible. This should not be underestimated. If you take a highly specialized tool that only speaks Kubernetes, the automation technician in Brazil can’t do that without training. But on Node-RED, there are videos in Portuguese and lots of tutorials for and that’s really, really accessible. Even data points per second, you would think that’s a huge amount. This is also due to the fact that the current tools are unable to handle this. These standard historians, Pi systems, can’t manage more than X thousand per second, but in IT you think in megabytes, gigabytes per second, which would be a million data points per second. That’s not really a bottleneck, it’s no longer a problem thanks to the various developments in IT. Even a tool like Node-RED is relatively scalable.

Frank

The industries are always lagging behind. You can also see it in the automotive industry, for example this CAN bus as a standard, which is ancient and super slow. You could use Ethernet. Tesla was the first to do that, but you’re just on these old standards and it’s very difficult to change an industry like that.

Yes, absolutely. It’s really nice to see that you are building on the standard. What exactly makes your solution special now, also in comparison to what is already on the market or what is currently being developed?

Alexander

If companies are already using NATS, congratulations! That’s a good choice. Internally, we also considered whether to use NATS or a combination of MQTT and Kafka. This central component, this message broker that distributes the data, is crucial. What we are specifically doing differently is choosing a more accessible protocol. MQTT is widely used and is even supported natively by many control systems. That’s why we decided to opt for it. Although NATS also supports MQTT, it is not a specialized MQTT broker. Kafka is the standard in the IT industry, so we combine these technologies as a kind of outward-facing product. We also have much more before and after the NATS, for example data preparation with stream processing and the visualization or storage of data in a standard protocol. But if you are already using NATS, you are already quite advanced. At least that’s my impression.

Frank

What UMH delivers is the complete package, which is also constantly updated. Then there are more and more modules added, which later on become chargeable. You can assemble all of this yourself, but here it’s always really about the current vision, that it simply seamlessly fits together, and that’s what UMH delivers.

Alexander

Above all, why would you want to assemble it? That’s exactly the point, because many of our customers do it because they have to and not because they want to. They really want to build use cases, they want to realize business cases that really add value to their company and they have to use something that is open source in order to get there somehow. But our approach is, hey, this is more than just NATS. Here is the entire kit, here he takes the complete product and starts on it. Then, if you need something commercial, we can talk again later. But, yes.

Exactly, that’s the business case at the end. It also ties up personnel and IT resources, you want to scale the whole thing. This brings us back to the keyword “community”, which is simply a huge lever. You are also developing a kind of standard for the industry here, which is quite exciting. Ihr entwickelt hier auch eine Art Standard für die Industrie, was ziemlich spannend ist.

Alexander

Yes, exactly, that’s basically the problem. The situation is more or less that engineers like me – I’m completely unqualified in terms of IT, even on paper – are tasked with building such digital factories. This means that those who are familiar with machine operations often don’t understand IT either. Our approach is to abstract technologies like Kubernetes and Kafka to the point where an engineer can use them because they need scalability, security and reliability in an easy-to-use product to implement it. Because he is usually the person who ultimately has to implement it. After all, an industrial company doesn’t normally have many architects who could implement this.

That’s another issue, I always rely on hyperscalers. Are there already offers from the big players, such as Azure, AWS, Google Cloud and so on, are they also heading in this direction? Especially now in terms of architectures, or how do you see this issue?

Alexander

Relatively similar, although I think their bias is “be as fast as you can in the cloud”. They also offer a lot of connectivity that gets the data into the cloud quickly, because that’s where they do their business, that’s where they have their products, so it all makes sense. Our approach is a bit more agnostic, we also work with all hyperscalers and say you can host everything on AWS, on Azure, on Google. But we say, hey, doesn’t it perhaps even make sense for you to keep a large part of the data on-premise, because it’s probably cheaper and also more available for you, because the content connection in your industrial company is not the very best. In this way, we create a little more flexibility for production operations.

Okay, I see. So, you basically carry out the data acquisition via the connectors with Node-RED, then have the entire topic of data processing and architecture available in a really scalable way by relying on open source here too. Just as you just described, you enable the exchange and storage of data with MQTT, Kafka and so on. The final step would then be to analyze and evaluate the data. How is this data visualized and do you do it at all?

Alexander

Most of our customers also use tools such as Grafana. I would say it’s very low-threshold for displaying a few process data. But the actual analysis is no longer within our remit. We ensure that all data is highly sorted and pre-filtered in a database. Customers can then access it via REST or SQL or even take all the data directly from Kafka. For example, these can also be stored in a blob storage in the cloud, such as S3 or another preferred service. Then there are specialists at the customer who carry out analyses. At E.ON, for example, this task is performed by external software. We are effectively just the intermediaries who provide the data and guarantee that it is highly available. Customers can then build on what is most useful to them.

Okay, I have to hold back a bit now, because I have so many more questions, but I think it might be possible to get in touch with you directly. I would simply link the information in the show nodes. I have two small questions at the end, Frank, perhaps also in your direction. You explained the vision, growth and scaling a bit at the beginning. What milestones do you want to achieve over the next few years in terms of scaling together with Freigeist and UMH? What’s next?

Frank

The foundation has been laid. We have an outstanding product. We are now working on making installation and maintenance even easier. As it is of course a complex installation, there are always certain challenges. We want to minimize these so that more people can scale more quickly and easily. We will also check where we can offer further modules. For example, we could improve the visualization of the data or make the data actionable, possibly through partnerships or our own developments. We are only at the beginning of establishing this data bus standard in the industry, and from here we can certainly leverage a lot of value in production.

You work together, so to speak. What does that look like in practice? You probably provide resources and also your knowledge. How does this affect your corporate culture? Alexander, what is currently changing for you as a result of this investment?

Alexander

That’s great for a start. In principle, we are first time founders, i.e. the very first time as a company or the first time a software company has been set up. There are also pitfalls, there are mistakes that can be avoided, expensive mistakes that you could make but don’t necessarily have to. Freigeist is a great partner at the product level in that we have the right people, make the right architectural decisions and perhaps don’t hire the right people on the sales side yet, but only later. We also speak to the Freigeist team almost every day. I would say that the culture is still great and they are not perceived as investors hovering over us in the team, but actually as new team members who are keen to take this forward with us. So I’m actually quite happy with it.

Frank

I’m pleased, we only make two investments a year and then we really go in hands-on. I also think that with you Alex, from design to branding, communication, even software development, we are really involved everywhere and feel more like co-founders than investors. This is what we do and what we enjoy. We are very lucky to be doing this out of pure passion, not to earn money. We simply enjoy seeing this X-factor come into play at such an early stage in order to simply increase the chances of success.

That was a nice closing for today. First of all, thank you very much from my side for presenting the joint product here today, also as part of the investment. I think it’s very clear how the technology works, why open source, community, the idea is so important and how scaling for your product will work in the future and is already working today. From my side, thank you very much for being here today. I would give you the last word. Great having you here today.

Alexander

Thank you, it was really great to be here. Come to the community, another call to action. There can’t be enough smart people with perspective in there. On the other hand, we also work on different roles. If you would like to influence the product not only on the community, but also in terms of content, then take a look at our website, there are great roles on it. Once again, many, many thanks for hosting here.

Frank

Exactly, thank you for doing this podcast, for promoting the topic of IoT and we are delighted that we were able to be part of it. Maybe we can come back when we have bigger updates. We will of course continue to follow your podcast and the topic. Thank you very much.

I would be delighted if we could do another session. Many thanks to you and have a great week. Take care.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Questions? Contact Madeleine Mickeleit

Ing. Madeleine Mickeleit

Host & General Manager
IoT Use Case Podcast