At the GTEC Grand Opening on 1st July we announced the four startups who have already gained exclusive membership to the GTEC | Lab. The criteria “technology-driven with the potential for global relevance” and selection process (passing under the scrutiny of GTEC’s directors and founder partners) were tough. The four that have made it have huge potential and we’re excited to start introducing them.
For today … meet Uvisio:
The nuts and bolts:
Uvisio is creating a wearable device which monitors your UV exposure helping you to enjoy the sun safely. It was founded in January 2015 by Larisa Kryuchkova, Igor Filippov and Roman Stavtsev.
We talked to Larisa about the origins of her idea and ambitions for it.
Where did the idea come from?
“Becoming an entrepreneur has been an organic process. Growing up in Moscow I had no entrepreneurial role models – my dad was a pilot and my mum works in finance. I studied industrial engineering and then worked in sales for a semi conductor distribution company in Moscow – great exposure to electronics but in no way entrepreneurial. I came to Berlin in 2009 – to ESMT – to do an MBA. I wanted to be a manager, but what happens when you come to Berlin is that you start to want to become an entrepreneur – and that’s what happened to me.
After ESMT I got a job in an energy business and then became fascinated with internet businesses and how they worked. That took me to Zalando, working on market intelligence. At Zalando towards the end of 2013, I read a report on wearable technology. It was from here that the idea for Uvisio – a wearable device which tells you when you’ve been in the sun for too long – took shape. I wanted to make a wearable device that would help people.”
What made you take the plunge and concentrate on Uvisio full time?
“Everyone has a business idea at Zalando. It’s very entrepreneurial and was the perfect place for me to get feedback on my particular idea. I started to develop the product whilst still there in early 2014 – I think that’s how everyone does it. I really believed that it could be great, but I didn’t want to just jump without doing a lot of background research. I used my vacation to develop the idea and to go on an organised “entrepreneurship tour” of Silicon Valley, which took me to all sorts of conferences and networking events.”
What about your co-founders?
“I wanted two people on the technical side – one for software, the other for hardware. Some people might have outsourced development, but I knew that wouldn’t work. I wanted it in house to have full control over the finished product.
Getting the right people was an absolute priority and has been one of the biggest challenges so far. I found Igor Filippov (android developer) through foundario.com, a cooperation platform for founders; Roman Stavtsev (hardware developer) I knew from Moscow. Both loved the product and wanted to join me.”
So why the GTEC | Lab?
“It was such good news that my old business school was going to be home to a new entrepreneurship center. It makes so much sense. Berlin is the startup capital and more and more ESMT alumni are deciding to become entrepreneurs. ESMT’s focus is tech and management; ultimately every entrepreneur has to become a manager at some point.
I could see how many aspects of the GTEC | Lab membership could help us: access to advice from GTEC’s founding partners (such as Henkel and the law firm Noerr), free use of Fab Lab Berlin – an innovation lab in Mitte, office space and the chance to plug into a network of advisors and potential investors. It seemed obvious.
In the immediate term: the next two essential steps are getting through the bureaucracy of incorporating the business (with Noerr’s help!) and building a minimum viable product – this is where access to Fab Lab becomes invaluable!.”
And what about money?
“So far we’re self-financed; thanks to the access to Fab Lab Berlin and the office space in the GTEC | Lab, developing the fist product won’t cost too much and we’re currently planning how to make a set of samples. But we are talking to VCs and angel investors to potentially help us produce the first commercial set of products by the end of the year.”
Thanks Larisa – we’re delighted to have you in the GTEC | Lab!