In conversation: Thomas Kuckelkorn & Josef Süß
Thomas: Congratulations on the EIC grant! Can you briefly describe what’s behind it?
Josef: Thank you very much! The European Innovation Council, or EIC for short, supports startups and small businesses in implementing promising and still very risky innovation projects that have special value for the European community. We applied with the vision of “giving the world a help button”. By this we mean the development of a visual assistant for smartphones that will help people solve technical problems in their private and professional lives.
Thomas: The funding is mainly given to deep tech startups. What does BlinkIn do in the area of Deep Tech?
Josef: Our Visual Assistant will be able to guide people in their environment in real time by using computer vision to orient itself via the smartphone’s rear camera. Augmented reality instructions will be displayed for the user:inside via the smartphone screen, e.g. to help replace a spare part or guide through the independent detection of damage. To do this, we are bundling and integrating a variety of the latest web-based technologies, which we will bring together via a European ecosystem for our customers’ use cases.
Thomas: That sounds like a big R&D project at first. Do you already have validation from the insurance market?
Josef: Of course it is a development project, that is a prerequisite for the EIC funding. But you need sound validation of the market and of course the feasibility for the application. We have been working on this data for the last two years with numerous customers and partners – mainly insurance companies and OEMs – screening their customer service and deriving the optimal mix: a combination of synchronous and asynchronous customer experience, of self-help and support by service professionals, of specialized AI and intuitive collaboration.
Thomas: Do you have an insurance application example for this?
Josef: For example, we are working on the automated detection of image manipulation in damage images to prevent fraud. Via a partner from our ecosystem, we can integrate the corresponding skills on our collaboration platform. All images submitted by policyholders when reporting claims are then checked for anomalies, such as cropping or retouching, and reported to the responsible claim handler. Combined with the use of live footage and GPS tracking, we can effectively reduce the risk of fraud even for small claims.
Thomas: Did you already have external funding to get to this milestone?
Josef: We are one of the few EIC winners that have managed without external financing so far. We have financed ourselves through sales of our collaboration platform. Insurance companies and product manufacturers use the platform to analyze and document technical faults or damage remotely and at best even to solve them as far as possible. Bootstrapping did not make the path any easier, of course, but our shareholder structure is very clear, which is currently benefiting us in talks with investors for our seed round.
Thomas: What role did your participation in the InsurLab Germany Accelerator play?
Josef: InsurLab has given us practical insights into the needs of the insurance world and opened numerous doors to be able to have very open discussions with the right contacts about current problems. We also made excellent connections with other startups, among whom we already see future partners for our ecosystem – just like InsurLab and its members themselves.
Our top-class mentor in the InsurLab program was also an absolute asset, both humanly and professionally! And last but not least, we have made friends with the InsurLab team, which we value very much.
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