Saturday, May 28, 2022

Be optimistic with your vision, but pessimistic in your planning

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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.

Partium enables field service technicians and aftermarket service teams to identify spare parts in seconds

Please introduce yourself and your startup Partium to our readers!

My name is Philipp Descovich and I am the CEO of Partium (https://www.partium.io/). Partium enables field service technicians and aftermarket service teams to identify spare parts in seconds. In very large industrial environments. From anywhere. With their mobile. 

Partium saves customers time and money wherever machines need to be repaired or serviced. Our customers include companies like Deutsche Bahn (German Railways), Bosch and Home Depot (the world´s biggest DIY brand). Partium, as it is today, was founded in 2020 through a merger of 3 companies. Partium’s focus is 100% on Enterprise Part Search.

How did you get the idea of Partium?

The idea for Partium originally arose from a project with a large German industrial company. The goal was to drastically reduce the maintenance technicians’ search times for spare parts in the production plants. Despite good SAP databases, the average search time for spare parts was on 12 minutes, 36,000 times per year in each of the more than 50 production plants. With Partium we brought this number down to 15 seconds per search. 50 times faster.

Why did you decide to start with Partium?

During the project with this first customer, we found out that all the companies we talked to had a similar problem. So we knew we were onto something. But we needed to productize the solution. That was when Partium was born.

What is the vision behind Partium?

Wherever you look in industrial environments, people spend incredible amounts of time searching for parts in their systems and warehouses. With Partium our customers solve this problem. Fast and without having to enhance their master data. 

We offer a fast and reliable way to identify and find parts in those complex environments. Using an AI-based combination of visual and text search combined with smart filters. Partium identifies industrial parts within 15 seconds, regardless of whether they are worn out, dirty, or damaged. It´s a big deal for maintenance technicians and customer service agents around the globe. 

From a business perspective, the main advantages of Partium are:

Reduced search times

Simplified spare parts orders

Reduced downtimes

Minimized incorrect identification attempts and orders and

Skilled workers don’t need to help others looking for parts.

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

Our background is in computer vision. So we originally approached the problem with visual search technologies only. But in industrial environments that doesn´t do the trick. Two main reasons: a part really doesn´t look like its new counterpart after 3 years at the bottom of a high-speed train. And unlike in fashion or generally retail businesses, our industrial customers don´t have image data to train typical visual recognition systems.

We had to drastically enhance our system´s capabilities. We found a very smart way to combine visual search, text input, and additional information about the user´s environment. And we developed a patented way to visually identify industrial parts without image training data. All this didn´t happen overnight. It took time, effort, and money. But it was worth it. We lead the market. By far.

Who is your target audience?

Our target audiences are medium to large scale industrial customers dealing with spare parts – machine and vehicle manufacturers and operators within various sectors, and home improvement retailers.

What is the USP of your startup?

Thanks to our holistic approach when it comes to Enterprise Part Search, we have a couple of truly unique selling points. 

The most important one is that our customers can have visual recognition of spare parts without having image data of their spare parts. It sounds like magic … but we made it work. And this is highly relevant for our customers because a lot of them have images from their parts and components. Secondly, we can stand up a Partium setup in just a couple of weeks rather than the months and years it would take to generate image data.

I think that it really is a bit magic. But behind it is a very powerful AI model. 

Can you describe your typical workday?

Waking up early to have zoom calls with Australian customers. Then zoom calls with Europeans. Then zoom calls with US customers until late. Sounds a bit stressful. But it really isn´t. When you went through difficult times to build something, every moment you spend with people who like what you did just feels fantastic.

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

5 years is a long time for a company in a high growth mode. But with our product-market fit I believe that in 5 years Partium will be the de facto standard for any company who´s technicians or customers spend too much searching for parts. 

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

Plan for new cash early. Cash is the one thing that can kill your company no matter how great your ideas and work are.

Be optimistic with your vision, but pessimistic in your planning.

If the map and the terrain don´t match, always believe the terrain. Meaning, if you see the market behave differently than you want it to, don´t give up, but don´t ignore it and be ready to adjust your strategy.

Thank you Philipp Descovich for the Interview

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

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