One year of IoT Venture GmbH at Hub 31: Start-up develops new type of service world for e-bikes

Darmstadt. Some 50 guests drank a toast together with the IoT Venture GmbH team on its first anniversary at Hub 31 on 14 December. The three founders, Jürgen Veith, Holger Trautmann and Thomas Ullmann, looked back on the year as it drew to a close, reported on current developments and looked to the coming year. Almost twelve months exactly to the day, on 13 December 2017, Tarek Al-Wazir, Hessian Minister for Economics opened the modern technology centre at Hilpertstrasse 31 in Darmstadt.

New type of service world for e-bikes

“We’re creating an innovative range with our service world for e-bikes of a type that has never existed before,” stated Veith on greeting attendees. “Our IoT module captures data and establishes an Internet connection. This transforms a bike into a constituent part of the Internet of Things.

In the future, the company will be offering services through the IT’S MY BIKE platform, such as an innovative GPS-based anti-theft protection, affordable insurance and an emergency alarm. “We’re seeking to expand our offer further,” continues Veith.  There are plans to include service interval notifications and a bike-sharing system, which will enable platform users to make additional income.

The more than ten start-up employees have been developing an IoT module and a data platform for this purpose over the last 18 months. In doing so, IoT Venture GmbH opted to use the new narrow band technology NB-IoT. This innovative radio standard is currently being rolled out and impresses thanks to its low costs, wide range, highly robust design and deep building penetration. It also offers the advantage that it is based on the global 3GPP standard and uses existing networks. IoT Venture GmbH’s technology partners in this venture are Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.

High market potential worldwide

The three-person management team comprises experienced managers from industry. Jürgen Veith founded his first digital start-up in 1992, building it into a successful global organisation with 500 employees.

Holger Trautmann is an expert in strategy and innovation and owner of Blue Ocean Strategy Partners. He has already assisted over 50 renowned companies in introducing innovative solutions and developing new markets.

Thomas Ullmann completes the management team. The experienced executive manager most recently successfully built up a medium-sized medical technology company as a CEO over 13 years, overseeing the development and manufacture of more than 100 innovative products.

“We see an extremely high market potential for our solution. More than 300,000 bikes are reported stolen every year in Germany alone. Only around five per cent of these cases are solved,” states Ullmann. “This figure is bound to be even higher since many victims do not even report bike theft to the police. The annual insurance losses total 120 million euros in Germany alone. We deter thieves with our solution and increase the number of cases solved,” affirms a convinced Ullmann.

Digital ride experience

“As an IoT company, we create a digital ride experience by connecting riders with the Internet and offering platform-based services worldwide,” says Trautmann, defining the company’s mission.

Trautmann explains the purpose of the emergency alarm: “In Germany, some 80,000 bike accidents are reported on roads every year with around 60,000 riders sustaining injury. This is where our service comes to the rescue. Algorithms and artificial intelligence detect an accident situation and trigger an alarm to a person or people who users have previously indicated as an emergency contact on our platform.”

The IT‘S MY BIKE service world allows e-bike drivers with a built-in tracking module to take out an attractive insurance policy to cover the unlikely event of total loss. This service takes care of everything for the e-bike rider: from preparing a report for the police through to communication with the insurer.

IoT Venture GmbH customers are bike manufacturers who install the module directly in the factory and bike retailers who retrofit the module onto existing bikes. 3½ million e-bikes were sold over the last five years in Germany alone. Besides module sales, the service platform portfolio provides manufacturers, retailers and IoT Venture with additional, recurring sources of income. Business partners also include fleet operators for new environmentally friendly transport means and concepts.

The first 2,000 modules on the market

E-bike manufacturer Riese & Müller has been installing the first 2,000 series production tracking modules in its facilities in Darmstadt, Germany, since October 2018. “We warmly thank our development partner for their trust-based working relationship. We enjoyed developing a new business model together and literally bringing it out onto the streets,” said a pleased Veith, who expects to make sales to different customer groups within a six figure range from 2020.

“We’ve managed to develop a completely new service range and launch it onto the market within an extremely short period of time. We have also built a fantastic, highly expert team comprising experienced employees and young, upcoming talent,” summed up Veith. “We’re proud to have won Deutsche Telekom AG and the magazine Wirtschaftswoche’s Regional Digital Champions Award Midwest.” The award was presented to the start-up in June 2018.

Expansion is planned to international markets from 2019, mainly focusing on the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and the Benelux. The company is also planning to sound out the US market extensively from mid-2019 with the aim of entering the market in 2020. Initial steps have already been taken. Growth plans also include to extend the e-bike application to e-scooters. “IoT Venture GmbH is positioning itself as an IoT specialist in micro-mobility,” summarised Veith.

Investors are also taking interest in the IoT Venture GmbH business model. An investor group has held a five per cent share in the company based on seed funding since December 2017.