Always be open to feedback, but do not lose track of your gut feeling

MOTIONTAG is in the top 150 of the European Startup Prize for Mobility

Please introduce yourself and your startup MOTIONTAG to our readers!

Today’s mobility is unsustainable, inefficient and inconvenient. The underlying problem is that mobility service providers do not have holistic data available on how everyday urban mobility works. Without a clear picture of actual demand, urban mobility is heading towards total gridlock and collapse. Increasing urbanisation leads to massive congestion problems on roads, public transport is outdated, overcrowded and unpleasant to use and new mobility providers are flooding cities in an uncoordinated manner.

Moreover, with more than ¼ of the world’s total CO2 emissions being transport-related, there is a pressing need to decrease our carbon footprint. The overall transport system in most cities consists of many silo perspectives by different providers. This kind of business conduct in silos makes it impossible to address passenger’s needs accurately and prohibits the creation of a coherent master plan that could make urban mobility more efficient and sustainable. A fragmented and inefficient mobility system is the result that causes an often confusing and disjointed travel experience to end-users.

MOTIONTAG’s operating system, Motion OS, develops a convenient and real-time IT infrastructure for transport mode detection that helps to first understand the existing transport chaos holistically and dissolve it. MOTIONTAG connects the silos and creates seamless, sustainable and intelligent mobility systems for smart cities, enabling a shift towards smart and sustainable mobility future.

As MOTIONTAG’s co-founder and CEO, I hold a degree in environmental engineering and was always fascinated by technological innovations in mobility and infrastructure related matters. Before starting MOTIONTAG, I worked at the Infrastructure and enterprises division of the Institute of applied ecology (Öko-Institut) and as a mobility consultant at the Innovation Center for Mobility and Societal Change (InnoZ). MOTIONTAG is a spin-off of the latter.

How did you get the idea to MOTIONTAG?

Florian Stock (MOTIONTAG’s second co-founder) and I had already worked together for two years in a GPS-Tracking project at the aforementioned InnoZ. Once we travelled to Munich and were confronted with the complicated and unfamiliar ticketing system there when it hit us how frustrating it is to use public transportation. That’s when we decided to do something that helps mobility systems to become more efficient and stress-free and convenient to the end user. We found the solution in precise and intelligent mobility data.

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

When MOTIONTAG started, we were lucky enough to already dispose of a wide network of contacts. The first client segment which we piloted our solution with were public transport operators. Yet, this market is a difficult segment to start business with as stands in a stark contrast to a young and agile startup. Traditional transport operators are not the most innovative and fastest moving clients and hence projects did not always move forward in the desired speed.

Another challenge we encountered as a tech-startup that collects and analyses location and motion data, were concerns about privacy and data protection. At MOTIONTAG we take data protection very seriously and are entirely GDPR compliant, operate via ISO-certified servers, only analyse pseudonymised information and explore Edge-AI techniques, where raw data is directly processed on the user’s phone before being sent to our servers, guaranteeing for even greater data protection. It was our task to convey this message not only to our clients but also their customers and in general, make our operations transparent.

Lastly, it is always a bit harder to sell a software product as is rather fuzzy. We thus try to get clients to test our product, as we have learned only through experiencing it,  they can understand its full potential and believe that what we tell them is not merely “hot air”.

Who is your target audience?

MOTIONTAG targets public transport operators, mobility service providers and other mobility operators but also any company offering app-based services that can benefit from improved location data. We started our operations in the public transport sector, as it suffers most from poor quality data, preventing it from any valuable optimization potential. Public transport operators do not dispose of big data departments, limiting their data collection abilities to little more than capacities of Excel sheets. Therefore, offering a clear understanding of service-usage, with one database at the centre of their system, is crucial.

What is the USP of your startup?

Our software solution, MOTION OS, doesn’t rely on any external infrastructure besides the smartphone and offers a scalable solution, ideal for modular future advancements, that is interoperable with mobility operators as well as adaptive to varying contexts and sectors. We can detect up to ten different modes of transport in real time, showcase a high precision of data while at the same time guaranteeing low battery consumption as we are not dependent on GPS sensors. Lastly, MOTIONTAG’s solution is extremely scalable and customizable, its technology works globally, on ground, below ground or above ground, and is highly adaptable to new use cases and market trends. The fact that MOTIONTAG relies on OSM, a third party data form available almost everywhere, makes MOTIONTAG’s solution work worldwide.

Can you describe a typical workday of you?

A typically workday is quite hard to define. Part of the adventure is, that everyday is different and therefore it is always exciting.  A day on which I am not travelling around to attend events or meet potential clients or investors, could look something like this:

I’m trying to get ahead of emails  before even arriving in the office by working during my commute to the office on Berlin’s S-Bahn. Once I have arrived at the office, I will finalize this stuff, and have a bunch of internal meetings and calls, followed by lunch with colleagues. The afternoon continues with calls, mails and the occasional workshop as well as planning the next day and discussing important topics and to dos with colleagues. If there is time, I enjoy doing sports in the evening and have some quality time with my girlfriend or friends.

Where do you see yourself and your startup MOTIONTAG in five years?

MOTIONTAG aspires to become the go-to operating system for intelligent mobility. The past years have brought valuable learning experiences for MOTIONTAG. For the upcoming year, big progress is planned on product and technological side and in the next years we want to expand outside the DACH region into the whole of Europe, China, the Middle East and potentially also the US.

You are one of the top 150 European Startup Prize for Mobility. How its going on?

We were very happy to be chosen among the best mobility startups from around Europe. Yet, we, unfortunately, did not make it into the these year’s final round. Our solution showcases a high ecological impact but doesn’t fit into the diversity requirements for business models and geographic locations. I guess we will just have to try again next year!

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?

Always be open to feedback, but do not lose track of your gut feeling. Try to balance work and leisure. Do something for yourself (sports, social events, hobbies etc) to balance pressure and disconnect from time to time. Aim at getting positive people with the best potential on board of your team- they will make the difference and create a working atmosphere that makes you look forward to every day at the office.

More information you will find here

Thank you Stephan Leppler for the Interview

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

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.

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