TUM Spin-Off Soley Takes Advantage Of Smart Data To Master Complexity

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"We can more or less solve any problem that deals with linked data and complexity", says Soley's co-founder and executive Bergen Helms. To us, he explained how:

How would you describe Soley in a few words?

We help companies to master complexity. Especially manufacturing companies lose a lot of money due to unmastered complexity. We tackle this by analyzing existing data, like engineering data about the product portfolios. For example, we helped the FESTO to significantly reduce the number of cables in their product portfolio and to realize massive savings.

TUM Spin-Off Soley Takes Advantage Of Smart Data To Master Complexity

f.l.t.r. Max Kissel, Peter Grüner, Bergen Helms, Alex Golovatenko

What inspired you to create the startup? How did it all start?

We are a spin-off of Technical University of Munich (TUM) where our four founders met. During our PhD theses, Max discovered the field of applications and I developed the technology base. Alex and Peter were still students in computer science and helped me to build the very first prototypes. The great response from companies like TetraPak and Hilti motivated us to start the business.

A lot of your work is based on big data, which has been described as both the holy grail and a nightmare. What’s your take on this?

We actually prefer the term Smart Data. Big Data often implies high investments in IT infrastructure. Smart Data is an approach that analyzes existing data in a smart way for immediate customer value and allows to start right away in a very agile way.

As you mentioned, Soley is a spin-off from the Institute of Product Development at the Technical University of Munich. In what ways do you think this academical background influenced your solutions and the process of founding a company?

Our profound tech background is definitely a great advantage in terms of building cutting-edge software products. The network around TUM helped us a lot to get in touch with new customers, employers, and investors. It’s a very thrilling ecosystem, especially for tech startups.

Are you using Soley’s solutions internally? How does that affect the viewpoints of the development team?

Absolutely! It’s very important that we have internal power users. They help us a lot to quickly iterate over new features and to validate them in an early stage. Of course, our internal users are very helpful to help our external users. In that way, we build up our user community.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced?

With our generic software platform, we can more or less solve any problem that deals with linked data and complexity. That made it very difficult in the beginning to restrict ourselves to one crisp use case. Now, we have very tangible solutions for specific use cases in product portfolio optimization, supply chain management, and phase-out planning.

What is the most memorable moment throughout the history of Soley?

It’s hard to say what is THE one moment. Of course, there were great moments when we closed a new customer or investor. But what makes Soley so enjoyable and a great place to spend much time are all the great people. Whether it’s team events or just the normal everyday craziness in the office, we have a great time together and strive for cracking the real tough nuts in the industry.

If there is one thing you could wish for in improving the European startup ecosystem – what would it be?

The very structured approaches towards building startups, e.g. the Lean Startup movement, must be more stressed. Especially universities, public funding agencies and entrepreneurial centers should improve on teaching founders to fail fast but fail cheap.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

Start with sales from the very beginning. Even with the most awesome technology, without sales, you will not be able to sustain your business. Whatever you have, try to sell it. Especially in B2B, the sales cycles are so long that you have a lot of time to optimize your minimum viable product.



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