Catch up with Xarion and Viewsy | Previous CODE_n CONTEST Winners

05/09/2018  |  CODE_n Winners, CODE_n18 Startup CONTEST, Entrepreneurship

The deadline for submitting your application for the sixth global CODE_n startup competition is just around the corner! Eager to get on the radar of established global companies, potential customers, and investors? Looking for free exhibition space to showcase your groundbreaking business model in one the following tech categories: Machine Intelligence, Beyond Reality, or Cryptographic Trust? As a CODE_n CONTEST finalist, you can have all this and more! But don’t just take our word for it. We recently took the opportunity to catch up with two past winners: the CODE_n16 winner Dr. Balthasar Fischer, Managing Director of Xarion, and the CODE_n14 winner Odera Ume-Ezeoke, founder and CEO of Viewsy. Here’s what they have to say about their experience at the CODE_n CONTEST. They also told us what the coveted award meant for their entrepreneurial journey. Check out their biggest insights and submit your application for the CODE_n startup competition by May 13!

Iulia: Now that you’ve won the CODE_n CONTEST, could you tell us why you decided to enter the startup competition in the first place?

Balthasar: Looking back at 2016, we mostly wanted to gain visibility and get international exposure. The CODE_n CONTEST was the right platform for this, especially when it came to connecting with international investors and extending our startup network.

Odera: Profile building to aid recruiting was needed at that time, so we decided to enter the startup competition to raise awareness of our product and start building a global community around our efforts. We found it impactful to participate in these kinds of competitions in order to attract talent to our efforts as an organization.

Iulia: Did you expect to win?

Balthasar: Not at all. Winning the CODE_n Award came as a big surprise for all of us at Xarion. I remember sitting there in the amphitheater when they started to announce the top ten finalists in reverse order. I kind of expected to be among them, but by the time it came to the top three, I’d already given up hope. I think what I’m trying to say is that “you never know.” It seems like the jury was really impressed with our technology.

Odera: No, we didn’t. We were only 1 out of 453 companies that had applied for the competition that year. We were just a small group in London, working hard on our project, we never thought our product would get so much attention.

Iulia: What impact did winning the CODE_n Award have?

Balthasar: As I mentioned earlier, it was really important to us to raise our profile and that’s exactly what happened. TRUMPF Venture, one of the main corporate partners at the 2016 edition of the new.New Festival, became one of our shareholders. It contributed to a Series A round of financing with a seven-digit investment. That was definitely a really good outcome of the competition.

Odera: An explosion of media and industry attention that came out of nowhere. We went from a low profile to having more than 100 articles published about Viewsy in over 30 countries around the world. We also received a lot of inquiries into what we were doing from potential customers.

Iulia: How would you describe the overall experience at the CODE_n CONTEST?

Balthasar: The whole event was very professional and well organized. I liked the fact that I could mingle with other international participants and then of course the venue contributed to the overall experience, thanks to the innovative infrastructure. It was a really cool event and it was great that I could discuss ideas with other people. We had a booth there so we could showcase our product – an optical laser sensor. We met other startups from different countries and I think it’s always good to talk to them because as founders, we all have things in common and things to share, or we face similar problems. Also, the trophy we won attracted lots of people and companies. It’s always good to be able to point to an award as it captures the attention of companies and it makes them want to get in touch with you.

Odera: The experience was very positive and it came with an unexpectedly large amount of media coverage. In addition, it was a pleasant surprise that we won. I think that just being among those 50 finalists who were invited to physically turn up is already a massive validation. There were a lot of attendees at the event and as a result, a lot of brand awareness was generated. The event also helped us enter the CODE_n community.

Iulia: What would your advice be for startups currently submitting an application to the CONTEST?

Balthasar: The longest application is not always the best – my advice is to keep it short, concise, and clear. Be self-critical. Of course, you need to believe in yourself, but it’s important to also stay humble and be open to other opinions and let your accomplishments speak louder than your words.

Odera: Focus on why you’re passionate about what you’re doing and what it is that you’re trying to change in the world. If you have the passion and drive to solve a certain problem, you will be able to convey that to the judges and the audience.

Iulia: What about the pitch at the new.New Festival? What makes a good pitch in your opinion and how would you advise startups to prepare for it?

Balthasar: Pitch your brilliant idea or product to completely different people from different backgrounds – experts, non-experts in the field – and be open to feedback. For instance, in my case I first pitched to other physicists and they understood everything perfectly and liked it. But when I pitched my idea to my English coach, who knows nothing about physics, I was a bit surprised to hear that my pitch wasn’t actually that good because he couldn’t understand much of it. He then gave me some good tips and made me realize how important it is to know how to present your business model to a non-specialist audience. And I have to admit, it’s not the easiest thing to do and you don’t get much time, but practicing it over and over again will definitely help you improve. So don’t give up! What I really liked about the CODE_n CONTEST is that the judges didn’t base their decision solely on the 3-minute pitch; they had previously analyzed our business idea in detail and they asked a lot of questions about our company, which helped them get an in-depth view of what we’re doing.

Odera: A good pitch is concise and it certainly has to do a lot with passion when communicating. You can’t communicate through bullet points. Nobody will connect to that. You need to connect with people on an emotional level. So, my advice is to pitch with passion and show your motivation – that’s how people will remember you and your vision.

Iulia: We’re also curious to know more about recent developments in your company. Can you give us a brief update on the most significant milestones?

Balthasar: Sure. There are now 20 of us at Xarion, which is headquartered in Vienna, Austria. Besides the completion of our Series A round of financing, we’ve had our product launch and this resulted in good turnover. We now also have world-renowned customers, including six different Fraunhofer Institutes, four leading car manufacturers from Germany, and a major American cell phone producer. But it’s also important to mention that we’re launching a hardware product, so it’s a product that needs time – things are slow, but we’re moving forward steadily. Despite this, we’re eager to accelerate development and it’s going pretty well at the moment.

Odera: As you’ve probably heard by now, we’re pleased to share that Viewsy has been acquired by Ipsos Retail Performance. We found that there were synergies and a shared aim to deliver the benefits of online analytics to brick-and-mortar retailers and beyond. So, I’m actually no longer involved in the running of Viewsy, instead I’m currently looking into new ventures and professional opportunities, especially around the amazing potential of blockchain technology. As soon as I have more insights to share with you and the CODE_n community, I’ll make sure I spread the word.

Iulia: Thank you very much to both of you for these inspiring and moving insights. We’re sure we’ll be hearing more from you in the near future. Stay focused on your goals and please get in touch if you want to share more insights with the CODE_n community!