November 08, 2016
Public service announcement: We are WATTx — a new kind of company builder. Why new? Because we develop deep tech and rigorously kill our own ideas to make sure we found startups who themselves can make a killing in the big IoT universe.
After ten months of hard work, two strategic pivots, relentless prototyping with customers, and a steep learning curve across our entire team, we’ve arrived at our true identity and are ready to make an impact. We’re WATTx — a new company builder based out of Europe’s number one startup ecosystem Berlin. And with our first prototypes set to leave our launchpad and become standalone startups, we’re excited to share our story with you.
The idea for WATTx started in August 2015 with Max Viessmann and myself staring at an almost white piece of paper over a bottle of red wine (it sounds too cliché to be true, but it is).
The minds behind WATTx (from the left): Bastian Bergmann, Martin Unger, and Max Viessmann
The Viessmann Group, an almost 100-year old family business and one of Germany’s globally relevant “Mittelstand” companies was just about to enter a phase of the most fundamental change to the industrial firm — digitization. With that came questions around how to transform the core business, what technologies would affect the strategy, and how to enable 12,000 employees. Another looming question: what does the future look like? A big part of that equation is WATTx.
We started out as an independent innovation lab looking for new ideas and testing those quickly. But after a few months of successful and fast prototyping, we found ourselves repeatedly asking the same questions:
So instead of answering these over and over again, we shifted one more time and complemented our ideation and prototyping skills with company building capabilities. So meet WATTx — a full-fledged independent company builder focused on the industrial and consumer Internet of Things (IoT).
Company builders have been on the rise for the four to five years now — some more, some less impactful. We didn’t just copy an existing model, but rethought the company building model entirely to create a focus and structure that we believe will give our ideas the best shot at becoming successful ventures on their own.
Tatiana (UX designer), Rafael (Data engineer), and Alex (UX)
First and foremost, we focus on developing deep technologies to create new industrial and consumer IoT products, services, or applications. In simple words: we build actual tech, hardware as well as software. Especially in an e-commerce dominated Berlin ecosystem, but also on a European scale, this fills a gap on the company builder map.
Secondly, our model and how we go from an early idea to a startup strives to bring proven methods of founding startups from the Valley to Europe while adding our own spin:
In-house talent - currently 25 people strong, our team has the capabilities to generate, research, and prototype our ideas. With UX researchers and designers, engineers, data scientist, and business developers on board, we can take an idea all the way.
A rigorous ideation approach - we scrupulously follow a battle tested and refined 5-step ideation process with clear metrics and questions that need answers in order to advance an idea from one stage to another. This early and continuous testing and evaluation forces us to spend time on the ideas that really matter.
Killing ideas - spending too much time to get the prototype to work? Kill it. Is the technology not far enough to help us solve a problem? Kill it. Is the market not ready for what we envision? Kill. It. Aborting what’s not working is just as important (if not more so) than promoting ideas, as we were inspired by Astro Teller, the man leading X.
Peeking into the future: Yasmin Fahimi (SPD) and Marcin (Software developer)
Deep connections - one major aspect that sets Silicon Valley apart as a startup ecosystem from the rest of the world is the seamlessness between academia and the tech world. We strive to deeply connect with European universities and create mutually beneficial partnerships on recruiting student talent, commercialising academic research, or jointly building the next big thing. Additionally, we also look for corporates to fuel our ideation and ensure access to early pilot customers and partners to help our ventures get off the ground.
Founder focus - we want the best founders on board and we believe in ownership as a key motivator and driver of future success. Hence, our incentivation and equity model is very founder friendly, resulting in a cap table that almost all VCs will feel comfortable with. We even got positive feedback from the notoriously “founder first” driven community in the Valley.
Launch capital - we provide the first stash of money to build the early version of the product used as a basis to raise external capital with.
Our goal is to spin out three to four deep-tech based startups per year. Our first two ventures fit the bill perfectly. We’re tackling the major issues around energy waste in large commercial buildings due to inefficient systems, negligent behavior (admit it, we’ve all left the heater on full blast while having the window open), or human error. These are not just major issues, but also pretty spectacular market opportunities. With our first venture, we’re rethinking building management systems by providing an open IoT infrastructure as well as using machine learning to cut the inefficiencies, increase comfort and arrive at what the IoT has promised us up to now: intelligent and adaptive buildings.
These startups are ready on our launchpad waiting for the first founders to take control and accelerate. So if you want to build actual tech in a truly entrepreneurial setting, join us and help us turn WATTx into the premier tech-driven company builder in Europe.
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