Selected stories from TWAICE.
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Dr. Stephan Rohr & Michael Baumann
He is building the business around the technology
Lennart has gained business experience around the world: he has worked and studied in New Zealand, Argentina, Switzerland and Germany in recent years. Today, he is responsible for building the business model at TWAICE as Commercial Director. “We have the special case that our technology already existed before we had a complete marketing idea,” explains the 27-year-old. The technology for the company, which started in the summer of 2018, was developed by the two TWAICE founders Stephan and Michael at the Technical University of Munich. It consists of innovative software that helps to determine the state of health of modern lithium-ion batteries.
The fact that this technology is new and groundbreaking was always clear. But what does the business around it look like? That was the question Lennart came on board for. He builds the professional business structures for the idea.
In doing so, the native Hanoverian can rely on a solid skillset, learned at the renowned management school of the University of St. Gallen. He studied business administration and management until 2016. Unlike his colleagues at TWAICE, Lennart is not an engineer, but an economist. As such, after completing his studies, he initially worked for a strategy consultancy dealing with growth topics for companies. He developed business models for large companies – exactly the question that concerns him today at TWAICE.
His conclusion after several stops in large corporations: “I do not want to experience that again.”
Lennart loves the momentum in the young company without hierarchies. And the diversity of his tasks: “Here we have to build everything from the scratch, that means above all practical work,” he describes his everyday life. He spends a lot of time with customers and tries to understand their requirements. He then submits proposals for using the TWAICE product.
Its external partners build electric or electric vehicles, insure stationary power storage units or develop electrical tools. All have a common problem: The expensive batteries, the heart of the products, should be better monitored. Developers and operators want to understand what is going on inside the batteries, at any time. Only with this knowledge can you judge how long the battery will last and how it can be used better. So far, however, the engineers are still mostly in the dark.
The TWAICE software provides you with this knowledge. It creates a digital twin of the battery, with the help of which their health can be determined exactly – also for future use.
Looking to the future, Lennart has clear ideas: “We now have to quickly expand the organization of the company.” So create individual divisions, create reporting lines, and especially increase the number of employees. It is clear that TWAICE will grow strongly. Electromobility is about to make a breakthrough. For the next few years, old and new manufacturers want to sell millions of vehicles with batteries.
From 2020, TWAICE will probably ignite another stage: then the company should be ready to make the leap across the Atlantic. The huge US market that TWAICE is so attractive that TWAICE cannot miss out. But one thing is clear: “Munich remains our base, here we have a fantastic environment for our business.”
Scaling the TWAICE technology
Timo is one of the architects at TWAICE. He plans the technical infrastructure and keeps it running. He solves problems at short notice, if necessary even at night. “Our platform must always be available to both customers and employees. I’ll take care of that, “says the software engineer Backend / Security. He pursues his task systematically and with great meticulousness. “I plan ahead,” says Timo. This also means that he sets the system up for future growth at an early stage and rather plans to spend too much time on it at the moment. “With more and more customer applications, our system will soon be undergoing a major test. I am preparing it for that, “says the system specialist.
The two TWAICE founders had met Timo during his IT studies at the Technical University of Munich. They had developed an innovative software there, with which the batteries can be analyzed better. So they wanted to start a business and needed a computer scientist like Timo.
“I was the first employee in mid-2018,” he recalls. He had actually seen himself rather in a corporation, as a system administrator or security specialist. “Startup was rather not on my plan,” says Timo in retrospect.
But the founders inspired him and suddenly it was all about the startup: now or never! Since then, the work at TWAICE Timo surprises again and again. He has to make countless decisions every day. “I did not know I could do that,” he says. It is particularly important to him today that he can change things and help shape the company. He acquired the technical basics early on. “At home, we have always made a lot of technology,” says the Munich native. That’s why it soon became clear to him that IT would become his profession.
Unlike his colleagues, Timo has little to do with battery technology. For him, it’s always about the software that keeps everything going. For example, he writes programs for colleagues to transfer measured data from the batteries to other formats. Timo jumps in when the others do not know what to do. This fits in with his hobby Rope Skipping: Sounds like jumping rope, but it’s the professional version and much more sweaty. Twice a week Timo trains in the club and combines the jump over the rope with challenging acrobatics.
Above all, the HR and accounting manager must be versatile
Belinda knew right away that she wanted to work in a startup after her apprenticeship. “I have learned office management in a traditional company. Everything was done in the same way all the time, there was zero freedom, “recalls the HR and Accounting Manager today. After completing her apprenticeship, Belinda began studying economics and psychology and started her part-time job at TWAICE. “The perfect mix,” says the 21-year-old to the combination of work and university.
Belinda is happy about the variety of her tasks: personnel contracts, controlling, marketing: “I do everything here,” says Belinda. Her friends sometimes have little sympathy for that: “It sounds a bit too unstructured to them.” Being flexible and having a high improvisational skill are important skills in the startup.
In the young company, she particularly likes that everyone is working full-time on a joint project. The fact that she is still “alone among men” does not bother Belinda. “There are no better colleagues”, she praised the working atmosphere, “and more women are joining the team now”. She says she does not understand much about technology, but she still finds it exciting. Belinda calls herself “very ambitious”. That’s why she wants to get fully involved in TWAICE after graduating. Whether in HR management or marketing, she still does not know. That will certainly show during the further course of her studies.
He collects huge amounts of data directly from the battery
In the TWAICE team, Max works very closely to the customer product. The Embedded Software Engineer programs the software for processing battery data in vehicles, tools or stationary storage systems. Max’ software runs on a data box that records different parameters during operation: the state of charge of the individual cells, for example, or their voltage. A battery can contain 6000 cells, leading to huge amounts of data being generated. Based on these, the next step is the creation of a digital twin that can simulate the future operation.
Max is a passionate programmer and happy to be able to make a difference at TWAICE. “I have to develop the software for the telematics unit precisely to customer needs and keep it as modular as possible,” says the 25-year-old. Some users want to collect the battery data themselves; others use the data processing of TWAICE. Max is happy that he can apply his fresh knowledge of the university every day. There are still few specialists like him in the young field of battery technology. He studied mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Munich, in the field of automotive engineering, as did the two TWAICE founders.
“I want to pursue the development of the technology here”, describes Max his enthusiasm for the TWAICE product. It was always clear to him that he wanted to work on the breakthrough of electromobility. He has achieved that, today he continues to develop the data logger for lithium-ion batteries.
Born in Berlin, he taught himself skills and tricks with the software at an early age – he is a tinkerer. He writes programs since the tenth grade, today he is professional in it.
Max also volunteered with this ability: For a children’s clothing bazaar at his residence, Max wrote the cash register program and thus facilitated the processes enormously. He can be as enthusiastic about such tasks as for the daily bike ride through the city into the TWAICE office – Max does not need a car in Munich, at least not yet.
Arpit researched battery modelling across Europe
Arpit is the model maker at TWAICE. His works are not miniature landscapes, but virtual images of batteries. He makes digital twins of modern lithium-ion batteries, as they work in e-vehicles. With the help of such a model, Arpit can simulate future operating conditions of the battery. “If, for example, a car owner asks how long his battery will last, we can tell him exactly,” explains TWAICE Lead Battery Engineer. For developers and users, this is a great advantage because they still know little about the state of health of modern energy storage.
The software of TWAICE calculates them now based on the previous battery usage. This varies depending on the driver, climate or vehicle. The program uses the well-established usage data to simulate how the energy storage device will behave in the future and how it could be optimized.
The modelling of batteries was already the subject of Arpit’s thesis, which he completed in early 2018 in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. His studies led the native Indian across Europe: Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany: Everywhere the 32-year-old has been researching the young technology of Battery Modeling. The position at TWAICE is exactly what he wants and he is happy to be able to apply his special knowledge to the point. “Had I returned to India, I would have largely lost my knowledge. The battery technology there is far behind compared to here, “he says.
But Arpit also faced some administrative problems in Germany: Bank account opening and housing search are not so easy out of Italy. The work permit came only months later, even though the company urgently needed it.
Such initial difficulties are forgotten today, after half a year. The modelling specialist is happy in Munich. “My first experience in the company was a mountain trip together – that was great,” he recalls. In his work, he wants to “make a difference and not be a small number among many others,” he says. Therefore, an application to a large company would never have been imaginable, neither here nor in India. “I have a lot more freedom here, I need that,” says Arpit.
The chemist jumps into the cold water
Lukas likes to take the fast lane. That’s why he took the homepage of TWAICE very seriously. “It said that you could always come for a coffee,” recalls the chemistry student. So he appeared spontaneously in the Munich company premises – and immediately got a contract as a working student. “Above all, I want to learn something about business development,” says the 20-year-old.
At the TU Munich, Lukas also heard some lectures on management besides chemistry, which he wants to put into practice at TWAICE. And he was immediately challenged. One of his most important tasks in the startup: Lukas researched the chances for the marketability of the TWAICE product. For him, this means long and intensive search in databases, on the net, in media. Then, based on the data, Lukas had created a huge Excel spreadsheet and identified a dozen potential customer groups.
The task was demanding, the introduction brief, which was exactly what Lukas wanted. “I want to be challenged and always look for steep learning curves,” he says. This does not only apply to studies. If you google it, you will find the then youthful Lukas as German champion and World Cup participant in canoe racing. He seeks balance in the music, and, here again, he goes right to the point: Because he did not find any opportunity to sing at the student accommodation, Lukas founded a choir there.
Although the youngest in the TWAICE team, he personally wants to keep pushing up the pace. Master, doctoral thesis – Lukas would like to do everything at the same time.