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SAP Data Space: Three Startup Success Stories

Feature Article | July 5, 2017 by Andreas Schmitz

SAP recently opened its latest location in Berlin, the SAP Data Space. Many teams are based there as part of the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program as they prepare their ideas to make them market-ready and scalable.

Here, Synfioo, Beiersdorf, and ruum talk about their experiences.

Whenever SAP customers enter the first floor of the SAP Data Space, Marian Pufahl, managing director of the startup Synfioo, can’t help but take the opportunity to introduce her company’s collaboration with SAP and the Synfioo platform.

“We take a dynamic look at the transport process, and are now able to predict the arrival time of deliveries at any moment,” says Pufahl, who founded the company with Andreas Meyer at the end of 2015. “Thanks to the accelerator program, companies are able to gain quick and easy contact with potential customers,” she explains. Synfioo will soon enter a pilot phase with the listed mining company K+S.

SAP Innovation Partner: Data Space as a Point of Contact

Other companies also benefit from the ideas of the small startup teams, as these ideas can help move their own business forward. It’s about creating a space where startups, SAP, and their customers can come together to develop new business ideas for the Internet of Things. This was the primary aim of the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program, which was unveiled at the SAP Data Space opening at the end of 2016. Just a few months later, it is already evident how many doors the accelerator program can open.

SAP customers have since become familiar with the SAP Data Space as a starting point for inspiration with SAP as an innovation partner. Startup collaboration, as well as an intrapreneurship program are in high demand.

Three Success Stories: Synfioo, Beiersdorf, ruum

The first of three success stories is Synfioo, a startup founded through the Hasso-Plattner Institute. Sitting a few tables away is the major corporation Beiersdorf, which has developed, among other things, a communications application for social institutions. Five employees from ruum are also working on a collaboration application. And what’s more, the creators of the app, Florian Frey and Stefan Ritter, are founders within SAP who work with their own team and their own budget.

Synfioo: Getting Business off the Ground

For Marian Pufahl, getting involved with the SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program was easier than she imagined. After meeting the program manager, Eva Zauke, Marian introduced his idea to Franz Hero’s logistics and transport management team.

“It turned out that SAP hadn’t developed anything like this, and that our solution was a good fit for the SAP world,” explains Pufahl.

The idea is straightforward: A delivery in en route to its destination. During this time, the customer could have changed the order, the lorry may be caught up in traffic, or traveling slower due to bad weather, the customs authorities may be overloaded, or there are delays with ferry departures.

“We collect potential malfunction data and information from the logistics service provides, and can determine the expected time of arrival of the delivery by using predictive analyses and machine learning,” explains Pufahl, who traveled from Holland to Berlin with the pilot customer Jan de Rijk Logistics with the aim of attracting more customers.

The pilot phase at K+S is yet to be launched, but Synfioo plans to present a deployment scenario at the upcoming SAP Leonardo Live event. “Without the accelerator program, it wouldn’t be possible to break into the market so quickly, and attract new customers,” affirms Pufahl.

Beiersdorf: Moving Away from Company Hierarchies

Ina Eberz and Sarah Bumann have been at the SAP Data Space in Berlin since March. The Beiersdorf marketing employees are working on an idea for a communications application for social institutions. They asked themselves how they could turn the app into a sustainable product that was suitable for the market.

“We wanted to approach our ideas from a different angle, and therefore did away with company hierarchies and conventional structures,” explains, Martin Böhm, Beiersdorf expert for marketing/sales technology and analytics. Böhm looked at “established” accelerators, such as Techstars and Alex Springer’s Plug & Play, and contemplated launching his own accelerator. The answer was clear: With its coaching options, its network of startups and spatial infrastructure, the SAP Data Space was everything that Beiersdorf was looking for.

“The great thing about it is that it involves both startups and customers. I have never seen a constellation like this before,” says Böhm.

The app has since entered the pilot phase. Eberz and Bumann’s decision to relocate the office from Hamburg to Berlin has certainly paid off. “We meet many people who are in the same boat as us,” says Ebert, who has benefited from the agile working approach, pitch trainings, networking with experts, and weekly exchanges with SAP. If the business plan develops and proves scalable after six months, and nothing stands in the way of additional financing, Böhm affirms this could possibly result to a joint venture between Beiersdorf and SAP.

ruum: Just Keep on Learning

When Florian Frey and Stefan Ritter became acquainted with the startups in the accelerator program, they could hardly believe it. A startup without individual investment. For Frey and Ritter this was unthinkable. They are both SAP employees, and together they are driving the startup ruum, now as a team of five. For them, the benefit of corporate startups is that with “the freedom and agility of a startup with the power of a global tech company, they can get the best out of both worlds,” explains Frey.

Last October, the two employees at the SAP Innovation Center in Potsdam transferred to SAP iO,the unit that supports promotion-worthy ideas. “It’s just like a ‘real’ startup, only that our employer is investing in the project,” explains Ritter. What they mean by real is “experiencing business as a whole,” undertaking full responsibility for a new product, right from the development to the piloting, the market launch, the marking, through to the final sale.

“It’s been a major learning curve for me, and my knowledge has gone through the roof,” says Ritter, who frequently resorts to English phrases following several years in the London startup scene. “When we switched to SAP iO, it was clear that we wanted to become part of the Berlin ecosystem,” explains Frey. The fact that the SAP Data Space was launched at the same time was in many ways a fortunate coincidence.

The “ruumapp” is specifically targeted at teams working on projects for one or two weeks. “The app aims to facilitate communication, since many collaboration tools lack the necessary structure, and project management tools are often too complicated,” says Frey.

The new solution provides a structure for content, manages tasks, and also utilizes the benefits of e-mails. Most of the 700 users who participated in the pilot are from SAP. But word soon got around. It’s no surprise that even the Beiersdorf team is using the pilot product.

To discover more about SAP’s digital innovation system and the SAP Leonardo Internet of Things portfolio, join the SAP Leonardo Live event July 11-12, 2017.

Top photo: The SAP IoT Startup Accelerator program was recognized by Capital Magazine as the best Newcomer Accelerator 2017.

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