Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are the subsets of technology that we keep hearing about. While we know VR is basically entering a virtual world, AR, on the other hand, layers the virtual world on top of the physical world. From modeling to design and placing virtual products in the physical space, AR is used in a variety of tasks.
Scaleup Oculavis, that’s based out of Aachen, Germany, has come up with an AR based approach to simplify customer service in the manufacturing industry. It also won the first prize at the EIT Digital Challenge in the Digital Industry category. The EIT Digital Challenge is a competition organised by Europe’s leading accelerator, EIT Digital, to identify innovative ‘deep tech’ scaleups of the continent.
Markus Große Böckmann, co-founder of Oculavis, received the prize at the event where over 279 scaleups competed. At the end of the competition where candidates from 33 different countries gathered. An award also accompanied by a grant and support in development.
Silicon Canals was present at the conference and our founder Remco Janssen sat down with the company’s co-founder Böckmann for a quick chat to know more about the company’s future plans.
What Oculavis is all about
Oculavis started off from the Fraunhofer Society and RWTH Aachen University in 2016. The company develops a remote service platform that aims to change the way customer service is performed in the manufacturing industry. Currently, machine manufacturers supply their complex devices globally and in case of a problem, numerous service technicians are required to travel around the globe.
“We are changing this by providing a digital service via our platform that can range from technical documentation of the machines and augmented reality, to helping the operator remotely. With this we want to prevent unnecessary traveling and machine downtime,” says Böckmann. Currently, Oculavis is operating in 10 countries and with over 30 employees, it has won 10 awards.
A bootstrapped startup that made it!
We rarely hear about a scaleup that has thrived without any external funding, but you can add Oculavis to that short list. The company is bootstrapped and as one might imagine, it was not easy to do so. Böckmann reveals that the scaleup first headed over to the bank to secure a sizeable credit and boot up. Acquiring some public funding was the second step and it received the funds from ‘Existenzgründungen aus der Wissenschaft’.
When the company started, it already secured some projects from clients from the industry. It went on to sell on its platform and says it is profitable from the first year. “We have to (be profitable) because we’re growing organically and the only external money we get is from public funding. There’s also no equity involved,” notes Böckmann.
However, with ambitions of scaling up, the company will most likely require additional funds and this is what it aims to achieve with EIT Digital. Böckmann says: “We’re thinking about this as an opportunity and while we are not in the position that we need it, it can be really helpful for us while scaling. Expanding abroad, maybe to the US, might be quite expensive and It’s something we are considering. Additionally, it can help with networking as well.”
Challenges and more
The biggest challenge that Oculavis is facing right now is their accelerated growth. “We are growing notably fast and from an early startup, we are developing into a professional company. What this means is that we have to keep an eye on our internal processes and how we work together. Preserving the culture and the spirit of a startup is challenging, but we really want to because it’s also important to have fun when you’re working hard,” says Böckmann.
Currently, the scaleup is serving around 130 clients, most of them machine manufacturers from the manufacturing industry. Since Oculavis is a Germany based company, its primary customer base resides in the country and makes up for 90 percent of its business. With the big win at EIT Digital Challenge, the company aims to expand its footprint in the European market. France and Italy are two countries in Europe where it might first set up new offices.
Image credits: EIT Digital
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