Last week, an interview of ours about the founding of Nerian Vision was published by “Startup Region Stuttgart”. As part of the Startup Portrait series, various start-ups in the region are presented.
“Startup Region Stuttgart” is a joint initiative of the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation, the state capital Stuttgart, Business Angles Region Stuttgart e.V., Startbase, bwcon and Startup Stuttgart e.V..
The aim is to provide an overview of the start-up scene in Stuttgart.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Startup Region Stuttgart e.V. once again for allowing us to tell our story and hope you enjoy reading it.
The original interview (German) can be found under this link.
From the PhD thesis to a business plan. Denise Müller from Nerian Vision talked to Startup Reion Stuttgart about how an idea from Dr. Konstantin Schauwecker became a product and how it is now helping industrial applications to achieve vision. Nerian Vision’s 3D sensor systems are based on the principle of stereo vision, which opens up previously undreamed-of possibilities for industrial applications.
Can you describe in one sentence what Nerian Vision does?
DM: “Nerian Vision is a young company “made im Ländle” that specializes in industrial 3D image processing for real-time applications. This includes, for example, use cases such as autonomous vehicles, logistics and automation technology or agricultural robotics. The whole thing is based on the principle of stereo vision – comparable to human depth perception.
We are firmly convinced that passive stereo vision will continue to grow in industrial applications. With our sensor systems, we want stereo vision to be suitable for everyday use and to be usable in almost every application that requires fast and robust 3D measurements!”
How did the idea of founding your own company come about?
DM: “The impulse to found our own company came from the dissertation of our managing director Dr. Konstantin Schauwecker. Enthusiastic about technology, robotics and machine vision, he looked into the possibilities of autonomously flying quadrocopters during his doctoral thesis. Our current products, the 3D stereo vision cameras, would have been exactly the sensor solution Mr Schauwecker wanted for his quadrocopters back then.
Convinced of the market potential of his idea, he chose the time to found the company true to the motto “now or never” following his doctorate. In 2015, the company was initially founded as a sole proprietorship and became a limited liability company in 2018.”
What makes your product so special?
DM: “Customization is part of our Nerian philosophy. To ensure that our systems fit all requirements, we offer a wide range of image sensors, lenses and baseline distances between the cameras. This flexibility allows us to adapt to almost any application.
What were the fears at the beginning of the founding process? How do you assess them from today’s perspective?
DM: “As with most start-ups, the concerns were financial, closely followed by all the unknown bureaucracy and the unexpected challenges along the way. In addition, it was a question of working a market that was only discovered through Mr Schauwecker’s doctorate. We had to create a demand and of course without actually having a customer base.
At the same time, we were busy with the further development of the product. These were both business and technical challenges. A start-up really demands a lot of discipline, because you also have to deal with topics that you don’t enjoy as much or that you haven’t had anything to do with before.”
What contact points or tips can you recommend to other start-ups?
DM: “Fortunately, there were also many contact points at our start-up where we received both financial support and help in other matters. With so many start-up programs, every team can find one that suits their start-up and offers tailor-made support. It’s great that the funding opportunities for start-ups keep expanding.
From today’s perspective, we say that it is worthwhile, both professionally and humanly, to take the step of founding a company and to make use of the start-up assistance provided. However, one should be aware that there will always be challenges to overcome in the everyday life of a start-up. That is part of it and ultimately characterizes one’s own company as well as the company culture.”
Do you work with investors or are you looking for them?
DM: “Basically, as Nerian Vision grows, we are looking to grow on our own – although that is probably the more difficult path. Growing on our own means that when working with external investors, we are not looking for Silicon Valley-style venture capitalists. Rather, we want to find suitable partners who also strive for long-term value creation and optimization – and not just for a quick buck. In the past, this has resulted in joint development projects from which each party could benefit technologically.
We are currently on the leap between start-up and more established SME. Therefore, this is a good time for us to look for further partnerships and investors. In our opinion, this phase of the company is still poorly covered by funding opportunities.”
How do you envision the future of Nerian Vision?
We would like to continue our steady growth in the coming years. For example, by further increasing our turnover, hiring employees and continuously improving, diversifying and cheapening our technology. In the long term, we want to establish ourselves as “The” 3D sensor manufacturer for robotics and machine vision applications.