Alumnus Armin Moin co-founds low-code platform DriotData

Support for medium-sized businesses in digitization

Digitization continues to be a challenge for Germany’s SMEs. When small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) want to develop digital services, they are often hampered by a lack of skilled workers: the right experts are rare and hardly affordable for SMEs. For example, projects in the Internet of Things (IoT) sector are delayed and the value of the data cannot be used to financial advantage.

Armin Moin, Software Campus alumnus of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), wants to solve this conflict with his fellow founders at DriotData (link to website). They want to enable companies to develop innovative digital services on their own. To do so, they have developed a low-code platform that allows non-computer scientists to create end-to-end IoT services by dragging and dropping abstract models of software applications. The platform generates fully automated codes, including artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, enabling automated software development and data analysis from a single source.

DriotData can be applied in many areas

For example, the service can be used by companies in the fields of smart manufacturing, smart grids, predictive maintenance and smart farming – the typical IoT applications. The bandwidth is wide. The founders are holding initial talks with pilot customers, including manufacturers of industrial machinery and household electrical appliances. “Industries and application areas for the same product can be very different, as long as the technology can support the customer. You always have to be ready to pivot and not fall in love with your “great” technology regardless of the market trend. The main questions are what problem it can solve and who is having that problem right now. These questions should be answered by interviewing potential customers. “This was a valuable learning from my additional degree of Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) in Innovation & Business-Creation at TUM and the University of California, Berkeley,” Armin recalls.

Experienced and strong founding team has come together

One of his team colleagues, who studied business administration and brings his experience in customer relations, sales and marketing to the team as Chief Customer Officer (CCO), comes from exactly this time. Armin met him in 2018 during his second master’s degree. Armin has known the other two co-founders, who have taken on the roles of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Technology Officer (CTO), for seven years from their time together at fortiss, the Bavarian state research institute for software-intensive systems. They are also TUM graduates in computer science. One brings startup experience to the table in addition to his master’s degree in computer science at TUM; he has already successfully founded a startup that was recently acquired. The other earned his doctorate at TUM’s Faculty of Computer Science and is proficient in machine learning and software engineering. In addition, the startup team is supported by Prof. Dr. Stephan Günnemann at the Chair of Data Analytics & Machine Learning (DAML) at the Faculty of Computer Science at TUM. He is Armin’s PhD supervisor and also supervised his project in the Software Campus, ML-Quadrat, in cooperation with Software AG. The spin-off in DriotData is an extension of the project.

Next steps: win pilot customers, grow team, secure seed funding

The team is growing and is currently looking for software developers as well as non-technical staff. They have already secured Bavarian and federal funding, as well as European funding through the Start?Zuschuss! startup programs, EXIST startup grants, and ESA-BIC from the European Space Agency, and are preparing for seed funding in early 2022. Currently, DriotData is looking for additional pilot customers, especially SMEs with Industry 4.0 use cases.

Particularly good conditions for founding at TUM

Of all Software Campus participants nationwide, those among the TUM graduates have become the most founders. Armin emphasizes the very important role of the TUM ecosystem: “On the one hand, the encouragement from my doctoral advisor’s side helped me a lot; on the other hand, the scholarship from the TUM Graduate School for doctoral students to participate in the EMBA program helped me to be an entrepreneur. In addition, UnternehmerTUM GmbH, especially my EMBA coach, Simon Kratzer, as well as the unique times in Silicon-Valley in 2018 and 2019 during my EMBA studies, thanks to my second EMBA supervisor, David E. Charron at the University of California, Berkeley steered my mindset significantly towards successful entrepreneurship.” Finally, Armin would like to thank the industry partner of his Software Campus project, Software AG, as well as the EIT ICT Labs in Berlin and the DLR Project Management Agency for their very good cooperation and support, respectively.

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