If you want to work on innovative projects, taking part in an innovation challenge can be quite a door-opener. Our tenants Wien Energie/Smart Inspection went down this road. We have met with Michael Elias, co-founder of Smart Inspection, and Patrick Enzinger, project manager at Smart Inspection, to learn about their interesting journey and their life as a weXelerate tenant.
weX: Thanks for meeting with me. You have been tenants from the very beginning, if I’m not mistaken.
Patrick: Yes, we moved in even before the hub officially opened.
Michael: We actually came to the building site wearing our Wien Energie building site helmets for safety reasons. Immediately someone came to us, indicating that back there was the server that needed taking care of. (laughs)
Patrick (laughs): And we said that we were not here to work on the site but that we’d come to check out the place as we would move into the hub in a few weeks.
weX: Wien Energie is the official corporate partner’s name, but you call yourself Smart Inspection, correct?
Michael: Yes we do, we are a sub-group of Wien Energie, so to speak.
Patrick: Our group came into existence after winning the Wien Energie innovation challenge, an annual challenge of the company to find new and innovative startups. At the beginning, we only could dedicate part of our working time to the innovation project, but around the time of moving into the hub, Wien Energie had realized the potential and opportunity of this innovation idea and both of us worked full-time on it.
Michael: First, we only worked internally, but soon partners and clients became aware of our work and wanted us to support them. We then asked to offer our services externally and after some persuasion where given the permission to do so.
Patrick: It was tied to objectives, which, I’m proud to say, we have exceeded by the threefold.
Michael: Actually, we have been ice-breakers, there were quite a few obstacles we had to overcome on our way. But in the end it paid off and our idea became a successful business model. So successful that by now we no longer are just 2 but 5 people working for Smart Inspection.
Patrick: We were and actually still are a digital project or company. You see, there are no Wien Energie printers in the weXelerate space. All contracts are signed with digital signatures. In the beginning, Wien Energie was sceptical, but meanwhile they use this process internally more and more often.
weX: As far as I know, you work with drones. What is the innovative part of your work?
Michael: Well, the drones are basically the tools for the inspection. What is new and innovative about it is what we do with the material afterwards. We don’t simply produce pictures, but we take away a full report from the pictures. That is what we offer the clients. We are the first group offering that.
weX: How about working with startups? Is that interesting for you?
Patrick: Yes, definitely. Startups are quicker and more adaptable to projects. We ourselves are a startup. We have been working with a few startups. With Rubimo, a weXelerate alumni from batch 1, we have a cooperation. They did a 3D model of a chimney for us for free, because they liked our business model.
Michael: The nominations for the startups for the single weXelerate batches come from Wien Energie, but of course we get a say in it. For instance, if we need a startup specialising in something that could make our work better we opt for that startup.
weX: Why did you decide to move to the hub?
Michael: In our experience, innovation projects only work well if you are detached from the corporate company. As for the hub, it is much easier to get in contact with startups and other innovation players. There is a lot of networking. Some meetings occur by pure chance.
Patrick: Only last week I saw a woman watching our image video on one of the inhouse screens. I walked up to her and asked if she needed more information. It turned out that she works for a Swiss company and was on holiday in Vienna and checked out the hub. A few days later we arranged a meeting and we might work with this company on projects in the future.
Michael: We have learned a lot in the past 2 years. We are happy that Wien Energie has become more open to new ideas and processes as well. Old ways are thought over and if it makes sense, they are changed to a more modern, more innovative process.
Patrick: I also love the vibes here. Only last week I changed my white collar office clothes for blue collar workman’s clothes and worked in the sewer tunnel for a project.
weX: You mentioned a lot of positive things about the hub. Are there any negative sides or anything we as a hub could do better?
Patrick: We are really happy to be part of the weXelerate family. The only thing I would like to see again more often are networking events like there used to be such as Tech Breakfasts and after-work-events. I also think it would be great if there was an opportunity to connect more easily to other corporates.
weX: Thanks for the insights.
Michael, Patrick: Thanks for the opportunity to share our story.