What’s next for start-up pitch winner LineMetrics?
By Adam Tinworth
15/05/2013 | Three weeks ago, Wolfgang Hafenscher stood on stage at NEXT Berlin, accepted a case containing €10,000 and the acclaim of being this year's start-up competition winner.
The last few weeks must have been super busy for the LineMetrics co-founder, right?
"Well, actually, I'm just back from two weeks' holiday," laughs Wolfgang. "But I'm all caught up now."
That's not to say that the win hasn't had an impact on the Austrian startup. The most significant outcome so far can be summed up in one word: motivation.
"The award really motivated the team, it really accelerated them," says Wolfgang. They're not a big team - nine people working from in the Austrian countryside - so the award felt like a really vindication of what they're doing. Wolfgang notes, as he did from stage, that the media in particular kept telling them that the field they've chosen to try and disrupt - industrial production monitoring - just wasn't sexy. Why weren't they competing the mobile or app space? That sort of criticism was something that the start-up could ill afford at a critical time in its development - the main product launch actually co-incideded with NEXT Berlin. No wonder he needed a holiday.
Wolfgang suggests that the award vindicated the team's work - and their belief that the impact of digital can be felt in far wider ways that the traditional app economy. It's been a platform for them to start spreading their message of industrial disruption, and given them reassurance that launching an industrial product with a start-up approach was the right thing to do.
"We've had interest from the media, from partners, from incubators and from investors," says Wolfgang. "There's been some interest from customers, but our customers aren't really ones we can reach through the start-up world."
That's no slam on the start-up world - just an acknowledgement of a reality for the fledgling company. "I love the start-up world and events like NEXT," he says. "They're nothing but positivity and people who are actually doing things."
The team are in the process of following up the interest they've had as a result of winning the pitch competition - but don't expect big announcements quickly. "We're pretty well funded already, so we're in no rush," says Wolfgang. "We can take our time and really get to know potential partners and investors."
Indeed, they've got a bigger priority right now: getting out to meet potential customers. Given that the big manufacturers don't tend to hang around with start-ups right now, that means some serious groundwork. Wolfgang and his co-founder are effectively "on tour" at the moment, going out to present their product to potential users, to build a solid, German-speaking customer base as quickly as they can. They're not planning on building slowly - they'd like to be spreading beyond the German-speaking world by the end of the year. I put it to Wolfgang that nine months from product launch to internationalisation is an aggressive schedule.
"It's a huge target!" he says. "But we'd rather aim high and push hard, if we can. It might take us longer, but we can try."
We'll be checking in with LineMetrics every few months over the next year, to see how our Start-up Pitch winner prospers.
Photo: Marcus Dewanger