Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Try to push yourself to get something really unique

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

Luna solve the problems of bad scooter parking and bad rider behavio

Please introduce yourself and your startup Luna to our readers!

I’m Andrew Fleury, CEO and Founder of Luna. 

How did you get the idea for Luna?

We have been working in the area of vehicle telematics for almost 15 years. So we were fascinated to see the shared e-scooter market explode over the last couple of years. What we could see is that the technology being applied on the scooters was roughly the same as what we were using for telematics systems for cars/vans/trucks. What we also noticed was  that existing technology is not really fit for purpose. A scooter’s environment is actually a very difficult one for telematics and the limitations of a standard GPS telemetry system are going to leave real gaps. The team we assembled are all passionate technologists and we were intrigued and drawn towards the problem and what a solution might look like.

We were able to boil the problem down to two key elements or challenges to overcome:

Can we help scooter companies and operators to ensure their scooters are parked properly. We decided with very precise positioning and some other sensor fusion we could, in theory, fix this problem.

Can we help scooter companies and operators ensure that scooters are ridden more responsibly. We thought if we could take technology from the automotive sector we could detect some bad rider behaviours and eliminate them.

Why did you decide to start with Luna?

We worked for several months to see if we could get some of the elements working at a price point that would make sense for micro-mobility. High precision positioning has been around for years, but at a cost of thousands, we have been able to get this running with components that mean operators can afford to run this technology on scooters. In parallel, we worked on the machine vision side to give ourselves confidence we could get a result. Once we started to see enough progress we decided to push ahead and bring a solution to the world. 

What is the vision behind Luna?

We believe that there is a huge opportunity in the area of micro-mobility. Scooters are just the first vehicle type to get traction, but over the next few years we are going to see huge growth in unmanned autonomous and semi autonomous vehicles. These vehicles will be used for deliveries and we are already seeing the first of these hitting the streets. Additionally, there are a huge number of tasks that could be done by these vehicles. Everything from refuse collection, street sweeping and de-icing, grass cutting etc. There are hundreds of use cases.

There are a number of technologies that are maturing in this space and becoming affordable to make these vehicles both possible and affordable. To name just a few, centimeter level positioning, AI & machine vision, 5G (very useful for city based blended autonomy) and lower cost LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging – a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances).

Our scooter offering is our first solution, but there is so much potential and work to do in this area that we know ours will be the first of many. 

How difficult was the start and what challenges did you have to overcome?

Luna started off in the spirit of collaborative innovation. We pooled the skills of a number of companies. I come from Transpoco, a fleet telematics business and we are good at gathering and processing data. We did most of the early heavy lifting with Taoglas (providers of Advanced Antenna & Next Generation IoT Solution) and Firmwave, which Taoglas have just acquired. We all worked together to prove the concept of centimeter level positioning. 

And we all met under the same roof at the research-intensive innovation campus, DCU Alpha, owned by Dublin City University and which houses about 100 tech companies. One of the key objectives of DCU Alpha is to encourage collaborative innovation. Its Executive Director, Ronan Furlong was instrumental in maintaining momentum in the early days of Luna’s creation.

Once it was clear that we were making progress and delivering a solution that would be a real world-first, we knew we had to push on and develop a product, at this point we brought in Dolmen one of the leading design companies in Ireland. Dolmen moved the project form components in a blackbox to the sleek form factor of Luna. 

Who is your target audience?

We have a pretty tight list of potential partners initially. 

Looking from the perspective of our main, unique set of features, CM level positioning and machine vision/AI we want to work in partnership with mobility operators. 

Our goal is to become a sort of “Bosch of micro-mobility”. (Bosch is a key supplier to almost all automotive companies).

What is the USP of your startup?

Luna is launching an e-scooter device which is the world’s first application of centimeter-level positioning accuracy technology to scooters. As of today, all e-scooter companies rely on GPS to locate their scooters, which is a problem, because it is not accurate enough and delivers meter-level positioning accuracy. This problem is at the crux of the safety and regulation impasse which all e-scooter players are now facing. Companies do not exactly know where their scooters are and without this knowledge cannot say if a scooter is being ridden or parked correctly. Luna makes it possible to know exactly where scooters are and therefore regulate their safe use.

Can you describe your typical workday?

Normally, I’m up about 6am, have breakfast with my daughter and then bring her to creche before heading to the office.

We usually start the day with a series of update meetings on key projects. Then from mid morning onwards, we usually have meetings with partners and customers. I used to travel more than I do now, I think the video conferencing apps are getting much better which really helps to cut this down. It is certainly important to do face to face meetings, but also important to be conscious of our carbon footprint. 

In the evenings, I’m home in time for dinner with my family. I like to relax in the evenings if possible, but sometimes I need to take care of some emails. I think it is important to exercise – something I try to keep up.

Where do you see yourself and Luna in five years?

We believe that we will soon live in a world without traffic congestion, without pollution and without road traffic/vehicle accidents. If Luna can be part of making this world a reality we will feel like we have really achieved something. 

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

Try to push yourself to get something really unique.. 

Make friends.. Tell people what you are working on and see if there is potential to work together 

Focus on real world results, try and actually change things rather than focusing on getting rich.. Money is really just a concept of value, there is no trailer on a hearse (you can’t take your money to the grave) 

Find more information here

Thanks for Andrew Fleury the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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