Carployee is a carpooling app for the daily commute to work. We increase the number of passengers per car and thus reduce the number of vehicles on our roads. By creating intelligent carpools, colleagues with similar routes are brought together.
Our company was founded in spring 2018. The biggest challenge at the time of foundation was mainly the development of the optimal algorithm for the creation of meaningful routes and the associated incorporation of real-time road data. The perfection of this matching technology in combination with strong further development of intermodal routes (several means of transport along one route) is still an essential part of our daily business today.
As for many companies, the Corona crisis represents an enormous challenge for us: Especially from March to the end of May, the market was paralyzed and usage decreased. In the meantime, however, we can now offer a clear advantage in the context of the crisis: The standstill has broken daily habits and is causing changes in mobility behavior. Old patterns are being questioned and alternative options evaluated. Subjective safety is highest in one’s own car – nevertheless, attention is paid to economical measures and home office increases enormously, but in the long run it will remain at 30-50% office work. This optimal combination is created by Carployee – with the big plus: through the efficient use of cars, the environment also benefits.
The idea was born when the founding team observed during their daily commute that rarely a car with more than one passenger is on the roads. Research quickly showed that this is not just a local problem: commuter traffic generates 650,000 tons of CO2 emissions every day, and 90 % of these come from cars. It was soon clear: The mobility behavior of commuters needs an innovative change.
Our team consists of six young and motivated people who share the same way of thinking and bring different skills. The Carployee core team has more than seven years of experience in entrepreneurship and software development. Additional strategic team members such as business angels share their expertise in geoinformatics and business development.
Our customers are sustainably acting employers/business parks and educational institutions that want to offer effective solutions for commuters and at the same time think about the environment.
Currently, Carployee is active in the German-speaking area (DACH region) and is constantly receiving inquiries from other countries. Preparations for deployment in model regions and business parks are also currently underway, and pilot projects with the public sector are also being planned.
The Carployee business model is B2B2E (business to business to employees) and aims to reach companies and, in turn, their employees. The acquisition of B2B customers is an enormous multiplier for our user growth.
With our clear USP, the combination of mobility, HR and CSR, we were able to gain acceptance in the rapidly growing market. The reason for this is that companies as a target group are a multiplier for users and our advantages are also suitable for companies. Savings in infrastructure costs, informal employee communication, measurable CO2 savings, etc. are convincing for companies.
At the moment, we are working on the optimal interaction of innovative mobility software (intermodal ride-matching), behavioral economic motivation factors for corporate mobility use and measurable effects for companies and the environment. For this purpose we have used the Corona time and could secure a research grant of the FFG (Forschungsförderungsgesellschaft) in the amount of more than EUR 600k. In addition, we are working hard on our international growth with a primary focus on the entire German-speaking region.
When looking at the current market, it quickly becomes clear that there is a high demand for a solution in the multimodal MaaS area in connection with B2B2E business models: coming generations are strongly questioning the status quo of individual transport, which definitely requires its reinvention.
In the long term, our goal is to roll out our solution to all types of private mobility, thereby applying Carployee as a comprehensive tool. The strong endorsement of our solution as well as the positive cooperation with existing partners and customers confirm our vision of becoming the leading platform for corporate mobility. “Building efficient, environmentally friendly and healthy mobility habits for employees”.
Austria offers a good starting market for many products and services, as it is similar to Germany, but very compact and easy to play on various platforms. Using Austria as a so-called “sandbox” for start-ups with a desire to scale up can be an ideal way to evaluate market acceptance.
Another big advantage is the government support. There are not many countries that provide start-ups with subsidies and assistance as well as Austria. However, one disadvantage of the small market is the availability of private capital on a large scale. Start-ups with large expansion plans in advanced stages or with very expensive development only find few suitable private investors or venture capital providers in Austria. Exceptions like Speedinvest or Capital300 are of course possible.
Team: Find the right team and try to form a heterogeneous mix of specialists who have the absolute will to build a product or service. This is so important because there is not always just business fair weather. Stormy times show who has staying power and who can be trusted, despite enormous pressure.
Network: Find trusted people who are so enthusiastic about the idea that they become multipliers even without payment and commit themselves to it. It is also important to have a network of experts who have access to the market, financing or important detailed knowledge.
Development: If points 1 and 2 exist sufficiently, it should be possible to develop directly with customers. These so-called “friendly customers” enable immediate market feedback and the chances for a long-term existence of the idea become apparent very quickly. Special products e.g. from the pharmaceutical or medical sector are of course an exception.
Pictures Copyrights: Carployee
The interesting thing about the festival this year was the global aspect: Ars Electronica took place not just in Linz, but in over 120 cities around the world. We like the festival for the ethical use of technology it promotes and for the inspiration it never fails to provide. Current trends and their impact on the society are what the festival is about and we are always eager to see how the artists express themselves in innovative and creative ways.
A couple of major trends have been spotted at the festival: sustainability, tech-nature, AI & virtual experiences, and limitless communities.
In fashion, sustainability becomes more and more important and artists found new ways to create and express themselves in a sustainable way. Ideas included clothing made from water bottles based on a specific body scan using the newest camera technology or creating clothing pieces from several other old pieces, which were braided together to create the new garment.
The duality of technology was expressed at the festival: using technology, more specifically sensors, to help nature, discover how it communicates and even foresee future changes on one hand and the negative effects it can have on humans on the other hand; from insomnia to addiction and dependence.
AI has been presented at the festival from a critical point of view: the possible dangers it poses when it comes to privacy for example or the way AI can read eye movement and create different scenarios and endings for a story based on those movements.
Virtual experiences through AR and VR have been another highlight of the festival. Using 360° projections coupled with sound and other visual effects offer a fully-immersive experience that goes beyond entertainment to express meaningful content.
It was clear from the very beginning that Ars Electronica itself is a limitless community, considering the festival has taken place in over 120 cities around the world. Precisely because of the current conditions the world is in, we have seen that the community can still thrive and stay connected. In this sense, with the help of technology, communities really are limitless.
It was a wonderful experience, one that we will definitely repeat each year. We hope to see you there next time!
Written by Ana-Maria Salcu
At Impactory we support companies in making their social commitment interactive, digital and measurable. In this way, non-profit organizations not only receive more donations, but also a greater reach.
One example of how this works: In recent years, a bank in Lower Austria has been giving away donation vouchers instead of the usual Christmas presents. Thus, thousands of goodies with sense have already been given away.
The basis for our work is our donation platform impactory.org, which can also be used by private individuals to donate quickly and easily online. Our donation vouchers are also a great gift for private individuals!
We founded Impactory in summer 2018. A very big challenge was the financing of the platform. We are now supporting over 160 non-profit organizations and more than 20 companies, and it was important to us that everything ran smoothly right from the start. To achieve this, we decided to work with strong partners. Two grants from the FFG (Austrian Research Promotion Agency) also helped us a lot in the implementation!
My co-founder and I have experienced the challenges of donations within non-profit organizations first hand. It is expensive and difficult to reach the younger generation. On the part of the companies, there was a lack of innovative tools that make a long-term commitment attractive for companies. We were able to solve both with our platform!
Behind Impactory there is now a team of 6 people. We have our headquarters in Vienna and support organizations all over Austria. Impactory was founded by Elke Pichler and Emanuel Riccabona.
We support non-profit organizations, companies and private individuals can also use impactory.org
Companies pay an annual fee for long-term support. This fee depends on the turnover of the respective company.
For non-profit organizations, we are risk-free and there are no fixed costs. Only if a donation is received, we retain 5% for the operation of the platform. This is up to ten times cheaper than other fundraising channels.
We have very large and strong corporate partners with whom we have already achieved a wide reach. We are also pleased about the broad coverage in various media, such as ORF, Kurier or the press. In the meantime, we also have very active social media channels where we report on current developments and inform our users.
We had a big relaunch in the last weeks, which we could finish at the beginning of summer. This makes us happy and helps us a lot, because now the hot phase begins for us! The strongest weeks for us are around Christmas and we are already preparing for this.
Entrepreneurship in Austria has managed to be perceived as more than just a niche topic. There is a wide range of support available and the willingness to cooperate with established players is growing!
Ask questions- to experts on various topics and to potential customers. Time is what entrepreneurs usually have least and it is good not to have to reinvent every wheel.
See their Website HERE
With the COVID-19 pandemic starting earlier this year, companies have been facing several challenges and problems. However, a lot of opportunities turned up as well. In this post, we want to show you, how your company could adapt to the crisis and might even benefit from it.
The Low Touch Economy is the new state of society and economy that is altered by the Corona pandemic and most likely will stay further on. It is characterized by “low-touch” interactions, health and safety measures, new human behaviors and permanent industry shifts. This new form of economy also offers unseen opportunities for innovations. This said, we recommend to take a step outside the comfort zone – now.
The Low Touch Economy concerns not only our professional but also private and social lives. New approaches on established industries and ways to work as well as consume were already developed in order to adapt to the altered circumstances. Here are some examples that:
The two main problems of social distancing and other measures in the wake of the pandemic are broken relationships with customers and the instant drop of demand.
In order to operate, many service businesses need to rethink how they can meet their customers’ needs without having large groups of people interacting with each other. The following solutions are examples to be inspired from:
Clients might have concerns about the safety of using your product or service. This could be a reason for them to not even purchase your products in the first place.
Solutions to be inspired from:
Concerning the drop of demand, we should differ between products and services where the underlying needs are still existing (e.g. Restaurants and bars, tourism) and products/services that will not recover that soon since the priorities of customers changed (e.g. fashion or automotive).
Regarding products and services where the underlying needs are still existing, offering alternative solutions for the same service/products for your existing clients is the way to go. To do so, you will have to identify the specific needs of and the “job to be done” for your clients in order to come up with new approaches within or even outside your core industry.
Due to the change of priorities of your customers in some industries, demand will not recover soon. As a company, you might want to switch to a new client segment and/or product by exploring white spaces and new niches. Coming up with new ideas, products and business models not only could be crucial for your company’s survival during the crisis, but also broadens its portfolio and know-how. On the long run, this will open new opportunities.
In the next post, we will show you, how to find white space opportunities.
The Russian telecommunications company Beeline, in cooperation with the marketing agency Leo Burnett, has developed the “Bee in Touch” platform to combat bee mortality in Russia. The free service will enable farmers to report by phone that they are treating their fields with pesticides. An algorithm will then determine which hives in the vicinity could be damaged and notify beekeepers so that they can move their hives to safety. The campaign has inspired a legislative proposal on beekeeping, which includes the establishment of a communication system between farmers and beekeepers.
Read more innovation news HERE
The Swiss computer hardware manufacturer Logitech uses a carbon seal to inform its customers about the carbon dioxide emissions of a purchased product. The logo consists of a capital C, with the carbon dioxide emission indicated in kilograms inside. The company calculates the value based on the minerals and natural resources used as raw materials for the production of computer mice and similar products. Transportation and the type of packaging are also taken into account. Logitech’s initiative is intended to encourage other technology companies to communicate their environmental impact transparently as well.
Read more innovation news HERE
Florida-based software developer ID Plans offers real estate companies the opportunity to virtually present their retail spaces with detailed 360-degree views. In times of social distance, spaces can be marketed and rented without direct contact. The web platform enables virtual tours in which clients are presented with the exterior view and the all-round view of the interior. Details such as floorboards, electrical installations and sanitary facilities can be viewed directly.
Read more innovation news HERE
The pilot project is being developed together with fashion designer Stella McCartney, who will integrate the platform into her design process for the first time. The platform is intended to make supply chain data available to decision-makers in the industry. Machine learning and Big Data will be used to determine the environmental impact of textiles such as cotton and viscose.
Read more innovation news HERE
It is called “Erica”, was developed by the Japanese scientists Hiroshi Ishiguro and Kohei Ogawa and was presented to the public for the first time in 2015. According to its developers, the first artificially intelligent actress was trained in individual sessions using Method Acting to move and show emotions according to the role. In the 70 million US dollar film, she will play an android made of artificial DNA, which must flee with its creator.
Read more innovation news HERE
The so-called C-Mask is visually reminiscent of a classic mouth-and-nose mask, but has a built-in speaker above the mouth. The mask can be connected via the associated application and used as a hands-free system. For example, users can record a short message, which is formulated by the application and sent to the desired addressee. The mask is intended in particular to reduce the risk of infection when using mobile phones in public places.
Read more innovation news HERE
The shared living quarters are extremely luxuriously furnished and include fitness rooms, a bar or a supermarket. All residents can use a mobile application to view their upcoming events or organize one themselves. For example, joint painting courses are offered. In addition to two houses already built in San Francisco and Los Angeles, the third house is currently being built in San Jose.
Read more innovation news HERE
This allows users to discover the features and variation possibilities of the mid-range saloon from the comfort of their own home and also personalize the car. Once the app has been installed, the Lexus can be projected into your own environment. Users can virtually explore the car inside and out by opening the doors and the trunk. As users inspect the car, they hear details of the 2021 IS’ technical features. The car can also be driven virtually via a gamification function within the app.
Read more innovation news HERE
The store is located in the “Haus der Materialisation” on Alexanderplatz, where you can find various other initiatives concerning sustainable use of resources. The assortment of the Zero-Waste DIY store includes wood, metal, fabrics, paint, foils and cardboard that come from overhangs or have been used before. In addition, the DIY store offers educational opportunities such as upcycling workshops and a repair café.
Read more innovation news HERE
For three days, those interested in fashion had the opportunity to experience the presentation of the Cruise Collections, for example by Chanel. The traditional fashion shows had to be cancelled due to the Corona pandemic. They were replaced by videos, live streams, podcasts and webinars. Viewers at the monitor could interact with the videos and call up exclusive content about the designers. An online directory of young designers was also provided.
Read more innovation news HERE
The Finnish start-up Logmore wants to achieve greater transparency in food logistics through sensors. Temperature, humidity and the avoidance of shocks during the transport of fresh food are particularly important, although this is difficult to control in conventional transport boxes. Logmore’s transport boxes use built-in sensors to measure the individual temperature conditions and are provided with a QR code. This code can be read by the next person in the logistics chain via app. The data is all transferred to a cloud via the database.
Read more innovation news HERE.
The Berlin start-up Outside Society offers mobile conference rooms in nature to promote inspiration processes outside familiar office spaces. The mobile box can be driven by trailer to almost any place in nature and can be set up and unfolded in no time. It is equipped with solar panels, which generate green energy that is used to charge laptop batteries and operate the WLAN. In addition, cool drinks and a coffee machine ensure that the team members are well supplied during the meeting, the networking afterwards, or even during joint sports activities.
See more innovative business models here
Picture source: Outside Society
The Swedish company Wayout has developed a micro-brewery that allows soft drinks, beer and other beverages to be brewed and sold in the same place. The microbrewery is only 6 meters wide and has customizable taps at the front. Inside, there are brewing facilities that can, among other things, brew 500 liters of beer or cider within a week. Extracts provided by the company serve as the basis for the drinks. In this way, drinks can be brewed on site and as required, instead of being transported around the world in plastic bottles.
Read more about innovative business models here
Picture source: Wayout
The German start-up SINN Power combines wind, solar and hydro power to generate renewable energy on floating platforms. The Ocean Hybrid Platform consists of individual brackets on whose four vertical stilts pontoons move up and down due to the vibrations of the waves, thus generating energy. At a higher level, solar panels can be mounted between the individual stilts and wind turbines can be mounted on the stilts. This complete unit can be extended at will with other units and has sensors that continuously transmit data to prevent malfunctions.
Read more innovation news HERE
picture source: SINN Power
The project was developed during the shutdown in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic in cooperation with the Alphabet subsidiary Wing. The aim is to encourage children to read more books. An employee of the school library started the project together with the Google sister company. She hopes that the method of transport will generate a great deal of interest among the students. Ordering and delivery is done via Google form. Wing already delivers medicine and food by drones.
Read more innovation news here
Picture Source: Wing
Therefore, US start-up Maptician has developed a planning software to help companies implement social distancing measures in the workplace. The software enables a floor plan of the office building to be completely personalized with simple operations. In this way, employees including social distance rings of 1.50 meters, can be entered at their workstations. The search for a workspace can also be carried out independently by the employees, so that it is directly visible how many people go to the office in one day.
Read more innovation news here
*picture by Maptician
Freebiebox is a surprise-box filled with various high quality and cool products. The focus lies mainly on the categories fitness, food, beauty and fashion.
I originally founded the company in 2017. At that time, I was 13 years old and it was a really big challenge for me to be taken seriously. Most people thought I would never make it happen anyway.
I got the idea for Freebiebox because I just love Christmas and was looking for an idea to create this Christmas experience several times a year.
In the beginning I founded the start-up all by myself as “Austria’s youngest founder”. After about one year, however, I looked for a co-founder and today we already lead a team of 6 people together.
Our customers on the consumer side are mainly young couples between 25-40 years of age who love surprises and are always open to new things. On the corporate side, we focus primarily on innovative products that are healthy and sustainable.
We distribute the surprise-boxes by subscription and consumers pay about 30€ per box. However, the products in each box have a value of over 100€.
Freebiebox has grown mainly by doing a lot of online marketing. In addition, we rely heavily on Influencer Marketing.
Currently we have launched a completely new product under a new brand name called “Lifestylebox“. At the moment, the focus is completely on the Lifestylebox and we have received great feedback so far.
We want to become the largest subscription-box service in Europe and also gain a foothold in the USA. A big dream for me would be to work in Silicon Valley one day.
Fortunately, entrepreneurship is already strongly promoted in Austria. However, compared to many other countries, we still have a lot of catching up to do.
If you have an idea, just put it into practice. Don’t think about it too long, just do it. Get started right now and start founding!
The app is currently offered free of charge and is in great demand due to lockdown and the relaxation of regulations for telemedicine. According to the company, it will cost around 10 Euros per month in the future, which users will have to pay privately. The app’s target group is young parents who have many questions about dealing with teething problems and are looking for professional answers. They can now obtain these answers from pediatricians and general practitioners via app.
Read more about innovation news here
MIT researchers have succeeded in integrating electronic sensors into stretchable, washable fabric. The development creates the prerequisites for producing clothing that can measure vital signs such as temperature, respiration and heart rate. This would make it possible to track the health of patients from a distance, as the sensors transmit data to a smartphone. The sensors consist of long, flexible strips covered with epoxy resin and woven into tight meshes. They can also be removed from the textile if necessary. We are curios, for what else this feature might be used in the future.
Read the research paper here
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Scientists at Cornell University, USA have developed a method that uses carbon dioxide to make ice cream. Five years after the patent was applied for, it is now officially recognized. During the process, a sweet syrup mixture is added to the machine, which is also the basis in conventional production processes. Liquid CO2 is injected into a closed container via a spray nozzle and a pressure drop is generated. This results in an immediate freezing of the liquid. This method could also make the supply chains for refrigerated goods simpler and more energy-efficient.
Read more about innovations here
Therefore, software company Microsoft is cooperating with the US state of North Dakota as well as with farmers and companies to test new methods for the agriculture of the future in their “Grand Farm” project. The aim is to help achieve sustainable and efficient food production. In addition to AI algorithms for data-based cultivation, IoT (Internet of Things) solutions, broadband radio links and drones are to be used. The goal is to enable farmers to monitor their farmland better, to find the right time for sowing, water supply and fertilization as well as to obtain harvest forecasts. We are genuinely curios how the food of the future will be supplied.
To do so, they are using Allbirds’ life cycle assessment measurement methods and Adidas’ carbon footprint analysis. The production process will be completely renewed. The supply chain will be adapted, from materials to processing and transport. Instead of between 11.3 and 16.7 kilograms of CO2 produced during the production of sneakers, the goal is to reduce emissions to 2 to 3 kilograms and ultimately to zero.
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In cooperation with the High Performance Computing Center Stuttgart, the small German town has created a digital twin of itself that people can explore in virtual reality. In principle, the comparison was set up as a form of data collection, so that citizens could view and evaluate potential urban development projects integrated into town life even before they are built. On the basis of these decisions, some transformations have already begun. In the future, virtual tourism in the digital small town should also be made possible.
Read more innovation news here
Public libraries in Finland are now offering people BBQ grills to borrow this summer in cooperation with the Scandinavian food producer Atria. In the country’s libraries, people can generally borrow tools or musical instruments in addition to books. At the suggestion of the Scandinavian branch of the creative agency TBWA, the range has now been expanded to include barbecues sponsored by Atria. The aim of the offer is to give people in the country’s urban centers the opportunity to barbecue without buying their own barbecue grills.
Read more about innovative business models here
The Tokyo Women’s Medical University started to live stream surgeries in virtual reality. The hospital wants to give students insights into medical practice during the corona lockdown. The operating room is equipped with an 8K-VR camera. Prospective physicians can thus follow medical interventions from home via VR headset. Since the camera is installed above the operating table, students have a better perspective than when they look over the shoulders of the operating doctors as before. However, the streaming does not replace the lessons learned when assisting during operations.
Read more about remote solutions here
Therefore, the US Start-Up Firstbase offers companies the opportunity to equip remote teams at home with the necessary equipment and furniture through a subscription model. In this way, employees can be more productive in their home office. For a monthly fee per employee, Firstbase ensures that the equipment is set up, maintained, updated and the necessary apps are installed. The company also ensures that remote employees can deduct taxes on energy and Internet costs. Firstbase also plans to build an online community by connecting local remote teams.
Read more about innovative business models here.
With “Party Royale”, the game developer Epic Games has created an event area in the computer game Fortnite, where films and concerts are shown. Since then, trailers for new films such as the sci-fi movie Tenet have been shown there. The trailer is repeated hourly in the virtual space. Epic uses the gaming platform to promote artists. In addition to live music and dance club, there are game and film announcements to be seen. In April, the famous rapper Travis Scott performed on Fortnite’s virtual stage. Through the non-violent space, the transformation of Fortnite from a computer game to a social network is being pushed forward.
Read more innovation news here
Large technology firms such as Facebook and Google, but also Twitter and Square, are allowing their employees to work from home, even after the end of the restrictions imposed due to the Corona pandemic. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, estimates that by 2030 only about half of all employees will go to an office to work. Twitter and Square have given their employees the freedom to work from home, even after the lifting of exit restrictions, if their respective areas of responsibility allow it. Google employees will no longer need to come to the office until the end of 2020.
Read more about home office and innovations triggered by the pandemic here.
In cooperation with the advertising agency Instinct, the Russian branch of the furniture manufacturer IKEA has published various instructions for blanket castles that can be built with everyday objects. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, strict exit restrictions apply in Russia, which can be particularly stressful for parents working from home. To counteract this situation, the instructions have been developed in the classic IKEA design and, of course, with IKEA products. Children can choose from templates based around castles, caves and tepees, or be inspired for their own design.
See more innovations here.
Researchers from Apple and Carnegie Mellon University have presented the “Listen Learner” technology, which allows AIs embedded in smart homes to learn about their environment independently without training data by listening to acoustic sounds, and to become smarter all the time. By asking specific questions about heard sounds and in interaction with humans, the system increasingly learns about the surrounding sounds and can derive actions from them. The technology could be used not only in smart home devices, but also in various wearables such as smart watches.
Here you can find the research paper
See more innovations here
The Swede Klas Tryborn has transformed a hotel in the city of Lidköping into a pop-up restaurant to give people in Corona times the opportunity to experience a restaurant-like visit. Up to 67 hotel rooms have been transformed with tables and chairs into so-called “pop-up restaurants”, which can be rented by interested people. Food orders can be placed from the room via the hotel reception using a predefined menu and delivered to the room, where it can be consumed in a relaxed and private atmosphere, infection-free
See more innovative ideas triggered by the Corona pandemic here.
The small device is the size of a postage stamp and is attached to the neck. It uses chest vibrations, records cough, heart rate and breathing, and also measures temperature. The data is then sent to a cloud application where it is analysed by an AI for signs of disease. The results are sent to a physician who can adjust the treatment accordingly. The wearable is manufactured by the researchers themselves and is currently being tested on Covid-19 patients.
Read more about innovations triggered by the corona pandemic here.
Therefore, Presto has launched a “Contactless Dining Kit” to help restaurants maintain social distance in the wake of the corona pandemic after reopening. In order to establish itself as a standard technology in the future, Presto is making the kit available free of charge, while supplying a mix of hardware and software that primarily supports the area of contactless ordering and payment. For example, restaurants can apply QR code stickers to tables, allowing guests to view the menu card and place orders via smartphone. We are curios, how innovations like these might change the near future of eating out.
Read more about innovations during the Corona pandemic here.
Space-as-a-service concepts take place in both private and commercial contexts. Here, apartments (Living as a Service) or shops (Retail as a Service) are completely furnished and equipped with the necessary technical infrastructure – and can thus be used by the tenant directly and for flexible periods of time. Living-as-a-service concepts are particularly exciting for high-income, mobile singles who, in the early stages of their careers, pass through various stations at different locations.
Long-distance commuters who live away from their families during the week, but neither live in a hotel nor want to furnish a complete apartment, also represent a suitable target group.
In the retail-as-a-service segment, entire retail spaces are fully equipped. The boundaries between offline and online are becoming increasingly blurred. Retail-as-a-service is an opportunity for existing online-only retailers to rent a fully equipped shop for a certain period of time on a trial basis and test their products in a physical environment. This enables them to significantly reduce an unmanageable financial risk. This is especially true for Instagram-only businesses, which come into real contact with their customers through pop-ups.
Co-working space providers such as WeWork are of course pioneers in providing perfectly adapted office space for rent and are moving further into the retail sector, where they provide employees with display areas for product presentation. The provision of industrial co-working spaces and work kitchens are further Space-as-a-Service concepts.
In this month’s “Start-Up Made In Austria” we want to introduce the innovative Viennese company “Robo Wunderkind“. One might know them from the Austrian TV-show “2 Minuten, 2 Millionen” or have found them on Kickstarter in the past. Their goal is to teach new technology and coding to young children through playing.
Motivated by the vision of inspiring children at an early age for the future topics of robotics and coding, Ukrainian-born Anna Iarotska founded the Startup Robo Wunderkind with Yuri Levin in 2014. The robot sets of the Viennese start-up are now used by educators in more than 500 international schools and educational institutions and inspire more than 5,000 private users. Anna has received dozens of awards for Robo Wunderkind: last year, she won the Female Founder Award of the German Digital Prize – The Spark as well as the Digital Female Leader Award in the IT-Tech category, among others. In addition, the Robo Wunderkind kits were able to meet the strict criteria of the Education Alliance Finland and were awarded the “Certified Pedagogical Quality 2019” seal of approval. As a member of the Global Executive Panel on HolonIQ since August 2019, the 36-year-old founder is one of the top opinion leaders in digital education trends. Recently, Robo Wunderkind also just won The EdTech Cool Tool Award 2020 in the category of “of robotics (for learning, education) solution”, which is a highly reputable award in the US edtech market.
We have developed a robot building set that improves the way children play, learn and create technology at school and at home with digital tools. With our modules, children between the ages of 5 and 14 build robots according to their own ideas and program them easily via app. The motors, switches, connection cubes or wheels can be plugged together as desired and connected with Lego bricks. So, there are no limits to creativity – and kids learn programming with lots of fun.
Together with Rustem Akishbekov and Yuri Levin I founded Robo Wunderkind in 2013. With our EdTech company, we wanted to develop a new approach to cross-sectional technologies and education that would inspire kids as early as kindergarten age. In the year we founded the company, our biggest challenge was therefore the development of the prototype and the associated innovation loops: We underestimated how much time it would take to readjust the individual modules. From the very beginning, we paid attention to developing a high-quality learning toy. This has paid off – Robo Wunderkind has been awarded several times as a pedagogically valuable tool and has won many other prizes. Today, we strive to recruit talented people in engineering, marketing and sales to push the development of our products and our growth into new markets.
I worked in consulting and investment management for several years, followed by a second master’s degree at the London School of Economics. During my studies, I noticed how quickly technology changes the way we work. When I joined the organization team at the Pioneers Festival in Vienna, I met my co-founders Rustem and Yuri and together we decided to work on a learning robot for children.
Meanwhile our team consists of 15 employees from 9 countries. Among them are passionate educators, engineers, designers and sales and marketing specialists who share a common mission and vision to inspire children to be creative with technology. As CDO, Yuri is mainly working on the technical development of our robots. I frequently attend relevant EdTech events and international conferences to establish Robo Wunderkind in other countries.
Our Robo Kits are suitable for private use and for educational institutions. Thanks to the intuitive user interface, young and old can easily start programming at home. In school lessons, the kits can be used interactively with teaching materials developed by and for educators, without any previous IT knowledge being required. This is fun for students and teachers.
With our online shop and sales partners such as Betzold or Christiani, we supply primary and secondary schools, kindergartens and youth hostels with Robo Wunderkind kits as well as teaching and learning materials. We also offer webinars and workshops for pupils, educators and parents. During the quarantine period, we have organized a free Makers Marathon: we code and tinker with kids and parents via digital live workshop and motivate them to take part in Home Challenges. All videos can also be watched afterwards on the Robo Wunderkind Youtube channel.
We launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2014 and have gained many fans and supporters in the recent past. Among them are investors and media who have reported about us or invited us to the Austrian Startup TV show 2 Minuten 2 Millionen. We didn’t get a deal there, but we did get the opportunity to introduce ourselves to a wide audience. Afterwards, we received a lot of test inquiries, including many curious and motivated educators. They liked the simple introduction with Robo Wunderkind, which can be integrated into any school subject – they have always been missing such a tool.
Currently, the launch of our third product generation is imminent, which will include a new app and different levels of difficulty. In October last year we launched a second crowdfunding campaign to push our product development. The campaign was a huge success. We reached the desired sum of 50.000 USD in less than 13 days and with 342 supporters!
In the near future, we want to be the leading provider of EdTech toys in Europe and equip educational institutions nationwide with robotics kits to integrate programming languages as a fixed component in European curricula. We see the greatest potential especially in children from the age of 5 years on, as the cognitive awareness window is running at full speed at this age. Newly learned skills are stored particularly well and for the long term, and childlike curiosity unleashes endless fiddling fun.
Austria may be a small country, but it has a huge innovative power and large investor volumes. The start-up scene is booming. Austria is a pioneer and a role model for other European countries, especially in the education sector. The Austrian universities are very committed and bring teachers up to date with innovative solutions for teaching in numerous further and advanced training courses. Coding and robotics are no longer foreign words and are slowly finding their way into the classroom.
Simply start with your own project. Network with like-minded people, get feedback and grow with the project. It’s an indescribable feeling to see how your project develops – and you gradually acquire a certain expertise. For me there was no better school.
Find more Start-ups made in Austria and recent innovation news here.
Remote X manifests itself in two basic phenomena: Digital services, which existed before the Corona crisis, are now being used massively, e.g. online food shopping or the aforementioned example of video conferencing in private and professional environments. At the same time, everyday, analogue activities are being digitalized at a rapid pace and transformed into services, some of which are completely new. No matter whether a visit to the dentist from a distance, independent hair cutting guided by the hairdresser via video chat or a visit to a museum by robot. All these are characteristics of “Remote X”.
In times of “Remote X”, product and service offerings must be revised and transformed as quickly as possible to ensure that they can be easily accessed and continuously used from home. There are no limits to creativity. The use of technology and innovative concepts makes it possible, among other things, to transfer restaurant visits to the home, to take advantage of medical care outside the practice, to experience a visit to the cinema and clubs with friends digitally or to visit sights virtually with a remote tour guide.
“Remote X” also transforms certain forms of work and will in future enable new forms of working from home through the use of technologies such as cloud computing and robotic systems. In addition to the familiar remote working outside of office premises, laboratories for R&D purposes (Strateos) and semi-autonomous trucks (Einride) will be able to be remotely controlled in the future. Via new user interfaces, robots in production halls can also be operated by remote workers from home
Read more about innovations triggered by the Coronacrisis here.
The US company Terminal has developed an artificial intelligence-based platform to support Start-Ups in staffing remote engineering teams. The company uses an automated referral sourcing tool called Terminal Talent Graph, which can scan job descriptions and resumes to help recruiters identify suitable top talent in various integrated networks. Integrated communication tools are also used to get in touch with relevant candidates and initiate interviews.
Read more about innovative ideas here
The Danish company MeetinVR enables people to work together in digital space in an interactive way from home. The platform of the same name can be accessed via VR headset and can be redesigned as desired. In contrast to video conferencing, the environment in VR worlds appears more tangible and interactive, which increases the employees’ attention. In addition, every user has a virtual tablet at his or her disposal, which can be used to project presentations, spreadsheets or other files onto screens in the VR world. These can also be used on shared tablets to collect and discuss information.
Read more about innovations in our blog here.
“Whatever it takes!” is the common slogan by the governments all over the world. The economy must be saved at all costs. To get everything back to the way it was. But this is exactly a one-dimensional approach – and therefore too little. The decisive factor in looking at post-corona ecology is a systemic-sustainable way of thinking that sees the economy as a sub-system of society and also examines the interdependencies with other sub-systems such as politics, science, law or religion. For the Corona crisis has not only massively affected the economy: all systems of society have been brought to their knees, in an unprecedented global simultaneity. The profound change that Corona is bringing to society also has an impact on the economy. And with the shift in society’s values, value creation is also changing. The phase of “Whatever it takes!” is therefore not automatically followed by the hoped-for “comeback”. Rather, the corona crisis initiates a protracted process of renewal. The 2020s will be a decade of resilience.
With the Corona Crisis, our world is now experiencing not only the much-cited process of “deceleration” – or, in the olden days, also: the emergency stop before the crash – but above all a gigantic deconstruction of everyday life with all its economic effects. It has become more visible what holds the world together – and what does not. What strengths we had – and what weaknesses. It is important to recognize this. But not for a linear future, because there is no going back into this world. The shutdown has triggered developments that are not reversible. Nostalgia is a private matter, but not a program for the future. Therefore, the motto “Let it go” applies: Let the world before Corona go. The continuation of the past is not our future.
In the phase of economic first aid and revision, companies are still beginning to seize new opportunities. In times of massive upheaval, gaps and opportunities arise that will not return so quickly. The phase of crisis becomes the most enterprising time of many decades. Because the Corona crisis affects all systems equally, now is the time for new entrepreneurial thinking and action. Because at the end or after a crisis is the time of visionaries. Every visionary idea of the world and economy is now in pole position. When the world asks, “When will it end?”, visionaries say, “We’re just getting started.” Many good designs can be observed where creative people have already implemented their ideas of another possible world. Anyone who has thought such ideas through, now has the best prerequisites for entrepreneurial success. Because the post-corona economy is developing new networks at a speed never imagined – and suddenly, what hardly anyone thought possible before is now possible:
In order to stay in the business world after Corona, companies need the ability to adapt as a basic competence. They must equip themselves for this structurally, strategically and culturally.
Structurally: Self-organization of the employees is the order of the day. This also requires trust. Managers who believe they have to control everything will end up in burnout within weeks. But self-organization is not an end in itself. The purpose of the company provides the framework. It is within this framework that people move and structure their work. Glocal, digital and equipped with models and tools of complexity.
Culturally: The basis of modern organizations – and the basis for self-organization of employees – is trust. Exchange, meta-communication and intelligent handling of resistance are also crucial for success. Self-organization is not a brave new world. There are always conflicts and diverse opinions.
Strategically: The strategy uses future business models to remain integrative and situational. The necessary adjustments require “rough data” (based on the definition of Harald Katzmair) – data that is not always detailed and not exclusively computer generated, but well-founded and above all: thought out in context. The strategy is about thinking and mindsets, about context and understanding feedback. Future business models must take this into account in order to achieve strategic effectiveness. Strategy is a perpetual design process whose product is decisions. The quality of strategic decisions is measured by their connectivity. Every decision must be able to refer to previous decisions and enable further decisions. Strategy is the flow of the employees in making decisions.
Companies are there to solve problems: What problems do we solve now and in the future? Entrepreneurial identity, including vision and concerns, is becoming a prerequisite to avoid stumbling. Because: If you are only quick, you can also quickly do the wrong thing. But now it’s all about doing the right thing quickly. Therefore, the idea of this time is to act fast – but always with an eye to the bigger picture. It’s a question of attitude and mindset, not just commercial skill. “Ingenuity, not just financial muscle, will become a source of advantage, allowing cleverer firms to operate closer to full speed,” writes the Economist (Economist 2020). Ingenuity is the source of the future. Ideas are needed – but not just any ideas.
The Danish brewer Carlsberg has published an advertising campaign calling on people to fill a virtual keg that can be enjoyed in their favorite bar after the relaxation of the lockdown. The campaign aims to provide financial support to small bars and pubs to help them cope with the Covid 19 pandemic. Those interested can drink a Carlsberg beer in their own four walls and scan the barcode. Four scanned codes are equivalent to a virtual keg, which can be drunk free of charge in the preferred bar when the doors open again.
Read more about innovations during the Corona pandemic here.
In the view of the disruptive effects that the corona virus has had on society, the economy and culture, it seems unlikely that the post-crisis period will be marked by a “now-or-never” mentality. Rather, the crisis experience has unleashed a deep need for more conscious, social enjoyment – not at the expense of others, but in common with others. This new focus is an expression of a return to what really counts and what is important to you.
This does not mean that post-Corona consumption will express itself in a radical minimalism – but in the recognition that a pleasurable, fulfilled life does not depend on the number of consumer goods one owns or uses. Consumption for the sake of consumption will therefore fade into the background in the future. The Corona crisis freed consumption from its compensatory component to a certain extent: The function of the act of purchase as a kind of frustration, which one primarily practices to feel less lonely or to reward oneself, is increasingly becoming a phase-out model.
This is also due to the fact that in the time of the crisis a new level of solidarity developed, a new self-confident “we-culture”. People helped each other, went shopping for at-risk groups, sang and played music from their balconies and windows while in lockdown and made face masks on sewing machines at home. Companies produced disinfectants instead of alcoholic drinks or perfumes, made their IT solutions available to the general public and opened their source codes and networks. Everyone made a contribution, no matter how big or small, in order to make the situation more pleasant. The initial restrictions obliged people to show mutual consideration. The Corona crisis made it unmistakably clear that people are not alone in the fight against the virus and its consequences, but as part of a group, as part of society.
Even before the Corona crisis, the competition online versus offline had largely dissolved, as it had long since become clear that the interdependencies are highly complex and that either-or-thinking makes no sense at all. This process was strongly driven by the Corona crisis. After the crisis, we will therefore see more and more vital ecosystems in which the various players, small and large, local and global, cross-sector and closely networked, work together – even with supposed competitors.
This will also mean an upswing for all possible forms of community concepts, for example shops that not only sell goods, but are also event venues, repair workshops or co-working spaces. After the crisis, hybrid concepts that combine sales and experience locations and with new office concepts will increasingly be found everywhere. As the crisis has made it clear that hybrid concepts are more resilient, industry segments such as retail, gastronomy, event and office will increasingly merge. At the same time, the goodwill between them will grow: People appreciate and recommend each other.
The crisis fueled the trend towards contactless payments without having to hand over cash or swipe a card. Even before the crisis, there were already plenty of innovative concepts and solutions for making payments on the fly – in the future they will become more and more a part of everyday life. Even in countries such as Austria or Germany where people love to carry cash.
Technological innovations, automatization, Artificial Intelligence and digital tools have been showing their strengths during the crisis. They did not distance people from each other, but helped us to stay close to each other even over the distance – and to organize our consumption too. Supply chains have been optimized, click & collect saved us time when shopping, and bicycle couriers will continue to ensure local and fast last mile delivery.
Small shops and service providers in particular were able to use digital tools to create a new proximity to their customers. It became clear that it is often only about the most basic function of action – chatting as social interaction. After the Corona crisis, technology will be understood even more as a lever for human encounters.
In a crisis, the true character of people and companies is revealed. After the Corona crisis, it will be more important than ever for companies to get close to their customers and consumers and to enter into dialogue with them – also with the help of technological and digital solutions that were developed in the context of the crisis and must now be implemented sustainably. Even during the crisis, the signal was decisive: We are here for you, we will go through these hard times together – and we will be by your side even after the crisis is over. This promise must now be kept. After the pandemic, it will be crucial for manufacturers and brands to continue to play an important role as important pillars of society and make a real contribution to society.
The Corona crisis suddenly accelerates a trend that has been going on for years and is turning the markets of the future into more meaningful markets: purpose and resonance are increasingly becoming the new brand currency. Strong brands will form anchor points in a volatile world by providing orientation and making real resonance relationships tangible. More than ever, the focus will be on creating purpose, integrity and responsibility as well as addressing current social issues. Brands will see themselves more and more as “value creators” who are connected to people through shared sets of meaning and values. Touch Points will become Trust Points.
While the old brand world was strongly oriented towards the individual, collective identities are becoming increasingly relevant after the pandemic. Those brands which know how to bind people to brand collectives and build as well as activate communities around shared values and interests will be successful. All in all, brands are thus given a new task and a new purpose: they are no longer just part of the new, but an active driver of it. In the economy of meaning and enabling, brands themselves are becoming facilitators and constructive agents of social change, making social concerns tangible and tangible for consumers. Brands that face up to this new responsibility as enablers will be more powerful than ever in the post-Corona economy.
Source: Janine Seitz, 2020, Zukunftsinstitut
With “All World“, the artists Sebastian Errazuriz and Zander Eckblad have developed an online gallery where artworks can be viewed in augmented reality. “All World” invites artists to post their works and offer them for sale. Smartphone users can use augmented reality to display the art pieces in their personal environment and see what they look like in their home. If interested in purchasing, they can contact the artist. During the pandemic, “All World” is intended to offer an alternative to physical galleries where art is normally admired and purchased.
Read more about innovations triggered by the Coronacrisis here.
The US start-up for autonomous delivery vehicles “Nuro” has revised the software for the vehicles to help medical personnel in California contain Covid-19. The vehicles, called R2, are fully autonomous and can be opened to take food deliveries by entering a code on the vehicle’s exterior touch screen. Currently, however, the vehicles are delivering medical supplies to and from large sports facilities that have been temporarily converted into medical centers. A hand signal is now sufficient to open the loading flaps, as one employee is connected via livestream.
Read more about innovations triggered by the Corona outbreak here.
The US provider of team-building events Wildly Different has launched solutions to support team-building in remote teams. Wildly Different reacts to the increasing number of companies that offer home office or whose employees work in different branches of the company. The teambuilding specialist offers game shows adapted to the needs of interested company as well as the game “Manor House Murder”, in which a murder case has to be solved together in teams. In the course of the Corona pandemic, the company also launched the game “Getting To Know You”, which is designed to break the ice between employees in video conferences.
Read more about innovations during the coronacrisis here.
The Corona crisis came unexpectedly and hit markets that had previously appeared healthy in substance. Unlike the 2008 financial crisis, the problem was not home-made – and it hit the real economy. The society was confronted with a massive supply crisis. People wanted to work and consume, but factories, shops and restaurants were closed, supply chains interrupted. The Corona crisis was an extraordinary event in terms of its force and scope. Even in growth markets and completely healthy companies the bubble of their own invulnerability was burst. It would be absurd to keep a company in a permanent state of alarm in order to be prepared precisely for the unlikely event of such an event. However, serious changes often cast their shadows: not visibly, but indirectly, in the form of weak signals. Therefore, anyone who was paying attention had already recognized before Corona that a new kind of economy was on the horizon: that digitization was causing industries to whirl around, that unlimited growth and the solution to the climate crisis would be impossible to match, that young generations had completely different ideas about successful careers. In short: things cannot go on as they are.
The Corona crisis suddenly changed everything: toilet paper was suddenly in demand like never before, and the demand for face masks brought explosive demand from long-established rubber band producers. In addition, the imbalances in supply and demand led to unusual shifts: Formula 1 manufacturer McLaren was building ventilators instead of engines, manufacturer of spirits switched to sanitizer, luxury manufacturers such as Gucci, Armani and Prada were suddenly producing face masks, protective suits and disinfectants, and McDonald’s was placing its compulsively idle employees in the service of food retailers, where they were desperately seeking reinforcements.
When everything is thrown together and nothing seems certain any more, rapid reaction patterns are called for, pragmatic action, taking unusual paths. The crisis made it clear how fragile our systems are and how fatal it can be to rely on established processes. But also: how flexible people are. Because the crisis showed that too:
It is not the organizational structures that are the decisive factor, but a management culture that allows freedom and relies on the competence of the employees. Agility is not a final result, nor a structural state, but an attitude. The dynamics of the world derive from its unpredictability. What will be needed in the time after Corona is not more knowledge, but rather talent, courage and pioneering spirit.
Situations that cannot be explained with cause-and-effect principles lead the executive floors of even the best-run companies onto brittle terrain. In the search for clarity, sophisticated planning, budgeting and production models are brought to life and hosts of employees are assigned to them. The mission is always the same: to ensure future viability by perfecting the previous approach. As understandable as it is to focus on efficiency and restructuring in uncertain markets and fluctuating economic cycles, it is also short-sighted. The hot Corona-bomb showed: the ability to survive, depends on apparently unnecessary abundance, on intermediate storage, detours, redundancies. Diversity instead of streamlining.
What had been under discussion for years suddenly became relevant due to the Corona restrictions and lockdowns: the end of compulsory attendance in the corporate world. Corona proved to be a test bed for the New Work – and showed how steep the learning curve of companies can be in some cases. Online meetings and webinars were tested in a hurry, and it quickly became clear that the decisive factor for success is not so much technology as for changing social behavior.
The quick implementation of Home office solutions is accompanied by a crash course in the use of technology. While the online meeting service Zoom had about 10 million users daily at the beginning of the year, by April it had already reached 200 million. The forced isolation puts an end to long cherished ideological issues. While working at home was avoided for years because of trust issues between managers and employees, it has now become a reality overnight. This crash course has many side effects: More and more can be imagined digitally. The use of digital whiteboards or automated research processes is no longer a problem. The crisis is the strongest digitalization catalyst we have seen so far.
After the Corona-home-office-marathon, offices will not be closed en masse or space reduced. Rather, new working models have been agreed upon and have become a standard operation. This has also highlighted the need to catch up in terms of competence and culture – and with it a number of to-dos in the area of HR and organizational development. Technologies that were taken for granted, but were still considered exotic in many companies, have now been introduced and are being further optimized – and will not disappear in the future.
For the time after Corona, it will become clear that many new things should be tried and approved again and again in the area of new working models. The spontaneous transformation not only boosted our ability to work from the kitchen table at home, it also made us very aware of what we missed at the office – and what we didn’t. On the contrary: only since then, there has been a real sensitivity to what modern offices can and must achieve and what we need to be productive – individually, for ourselves and in collaboration with others.
The Corona crisis made clear that even seemingly invulnerable companies should never be lulled into the false sense of security of being immune to disruption. Companies that want to emerge stronger from this crisis therefore need to have willingness and confidence to actively shape the future. Challenging times are always a fertile ground for fresh ideas – in this sense, the crisis was also the beginning of an almost prototypical period of awakening. It may sound paradoxical, but it is important to think and act courageously at this time and drive innovations further.
London Business School is currently researching about home office since the Corona pandemic forces a vast majority of employees to work from home.
First experiences what people really think of remote work is only revealed by experience after a few weeks of practice. When asked which of several statements best describes their experience with virtual work, the 3000 participants of an online course answered:
According to Linda Gratton, Professor of Management at London Business School, the following factors contribute to successful virtual work: