15th & 16th of May
Maribor, Slovenia
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Dewesoft is using all its infrastructure and know-how in the Katapult accelerator to support young companies!

DEWESoft is one of the leading manufacturers of measurement solutions in the world, founded in 2000 and since then grown into a multinational corporation with 12 companies in Europe, Asia and the US. Their measurement programmes and devices are used by tech giants such as NASA, SpaceX, Bosch, BMW, Audi and many others. “One day we were looking at the graph of revenue growth and realized that for the first seven years, the curve rose rather slowly, but then went steeply upwards. What we needed for success was a whole bunch of things and, consequently, time – we needed to buy equipment, establish infrastructure, strengthen the team, and penetrate foreign markets. We realized that with our experience, knowledge, infrastructure and connections, we can effectively help young companies. That’s where the idea for our business accelerator Katapult came from, the main goal of which is to support young entrepreneurs and with it decrease unemployment in the Slovenian Zasavje region,” explains dr. Jure Knez, the founder and CEO of DEWESoft, coming to this year’s PODIM Conference as a PODIM Challenge corporate partner. Are you interested in how Katapult and DEWESoft can help you? Read on …
 
How many companies are currently in your Katapult accelerator, and what are they working on?

Currently ten. Amongst the first teams was the well-known Slovenian scaleup Chipolo, developing and manufacturing smart keychains for finding misplaced and lost items. QuickShoeLace, known for its resounding Kickstarter campaign, is making innovative shoelaces that do not need to be tied. Aereform is developing a VR-supported flight simulator. Tobiar is making a device that eases wrist pain that’s the consequence of the carpal tunnel syndrome. Hillstrike is a bike with three skis whose special rear enables carving. Spacelink is making a rocket engine, and later on they wish to make a rocket that will be capable of getting micro- and nano-satellites to space. SOS Šola is an online portal that helps children better understand math. ZOYO is making a smart device that keeps track of baby’s breathing, heartbeat and temperature. Hangar aviacija is developing carts for moving planes in hangars, and MonoDAQ is making one-channel measurement instruments supported by DEWESoft’s software.
 
Does DEWESoft, although it is an incredibly successful and rapidly growing company, face any problems or challenges for which it counts on solutions that come from Katapult and collaboration with startups?

The biggest problem we have is obtaining suitably qualified staff. Besides various joint projects, we also hope to find new staff through Katapult. Our team has already been joined by two engineers that used to participate in one of the Katapult projects, but were afterwards looking for new challenges and found them in DEWESoft.
 
How are you tackling the search for suitable staff and flow of fresh ideas otherwise, besides what’s happening in Katapult?


For several years, we have been collaborating with different faculties, for example with the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering within the Formula Student project, and other R&D institutions. Most of these connections came to existence completely organically, when the individuals and institutions turned to us because they needed help. But it is also true that we have been actively looking for young talents for a long time – we collaborate with many university students as well as with students from surrounding high schools.
 
What are the criteria based on which you decide whether a certain startup will receive your support or not?

In selection, priority is given to tech companies with hardware products, where we see potential for the opening of new jobs. Of course, for every candidate, we check whether we can even help them with the services that we are offering.
 
What are the fields in which the startups you collaborate with need the most help?

It turned out that most companies need help mostly in sales. Besides sales, a lot of them also need help with industrialization. Considering that our accelerator doesn’t have preferred industries or technologies, the fact is that we can most help the companies that have parallels with our activity.
 
In your description of Katapult’s support services, you don’t list direct financial investments into startups, for example in the form of an equity investment or a convertible loan?

That’s true. We are not offering direct financial investments into companies, but we do have different ways of helping companies in Katapult. The companies that turn to us often say that they need such and such amount of money to start. But when discussing it, we find that they only need the right solutions or connections, and not money. With certain companies, we also have an agreement that we currently offer them services “on credit”, meaning we pay for them until they start doing business at a profit, after which they will be able to pay for their own running costs and start returning money.
 
How do you take care of Katapult’s pipeline, the fresh flow of teams that enter your accelerator? Do you regularly attend events such as the PODIM Conference?

In this short time of Katapult’s existence, we succeeded in connecting with the majority of stakeholders on the Slovenian startup scene, so that now they themselves refer projects to us if they seem suitable for Katapult. One of the activities is of course also attending this year’s PODIM Conference.
 
Which Katapult’s success story are you especially proud of?

Company Chipolo is probably the best known one, manufacturing the eponymous series of products for finding lost and misplaced items. They turned to us before Katapult was even founded, and confirmed that the market has a need for an accelerator such as ours. We realized that they didn’t need much until their final product was complete, but they needed help. At DEWESoft, we offered them facilities, access to our infrastructure, and the right advice at the right time. Today, Chipolo has more than 20 employees, they do business globally, and they have a turnover of several million.
 

What is your vision for Katapult’s future operations?

At first, we wish to open new locations of Katapult across Slovenia, later on also abroad. We also wish to establish our own fund, which will allow us to financially support the projects that come to us.
 
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Get in touch with DEWESoft & Katapult!
 
If you wish to introduce yourself to the DEWESoft and Katapult team just send an email with a short presentation of your project to jernej.pangersic@katapult.si or get in contact with them through the contact form on their website www.katapult.si.