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Flowbase, a start-up that can now save factories €500 000 a year with AI got a head start in our Elevator program, but their journey was not linear

Photo: Flowbase
Photo: Flowbase

The journey of a startup is seldom a straight line. Let´s discover the remarkable story of Flowbase—a startup that has redefined manufacturing efficiency through the innovative use of AI, and how ADM’s Elevator program played a pivotal role in their success. My name is Andres Laaspere, and as one of the key mentors in ADM´s Product Thinking Program, I’ve had the privilege of guiding and witnessing the transformative journeys of numerous startups.

The Genesis of an Idea

The narrative of Flowbase begins in the late 2018, when a dynamic team set out with an ambitious project named TADDY, aimed at digitalizing outdoor media. The concept was promising, and the potential for disruption was immense. Recognizing this potential, Jaak Ennuste approached the team, offering them a coveted spot in the second batch of our Elevator Startups program. Being part of this meant they could learn in workshops, get guidance from industry pros, and even get insights from major players like the IPG group, a leading media company in the Baltics. This was a big leap for them.

Adapting to Market Needs

As the team immersed themselves in the Elevator program, the landscape of their business model began to shift. The initial idea of a platform for booking billboards transformed into a more nuanced understanding of the industry’s needs. It wasn’t just about the billboards; it was about the data—the crucial insights into how many people actually see these billboards. This pivot marked the first of many evolutionary steps for the team, as they began to develop technology for gathering data from public spaces to estimate the reach of outdoor advertising.

The unforeseen advent of COVID-19 presented both a challenge and an opportunity. TADDY swiftly adapted, selling data on traffic information to outdoor media companies. This pivot was not just about survival; it was about understanding and responding to the shifts in human behavior brought about by the pandemic. By proving that traffic patterns had changed, but not disappeared, they helped outdoor media companies sell their spots more effectively.

The Birth of a Spinoff

By the end of 2020, the vision had expanded beyond outdoor media. Requests from diverse industries led to the birth of City Data, a spinoff aimed at harnessing their technology for broader data gathering applications. City Data’s enrollment in the third batch of the Elevator program was a testament to the team’s adaptability and the program’s support for iterative growth. The goal was clear—to validate a business case around a repeatable problem that could be solved with computer vision.

A Pivot Towards Manufacturing

The real turning point came from a conversation Markus, one of the early founders of TADDY, had with a family member involved in manufacturing. The insights gained from this conversation were groundbreaking, leading to a demo project that showcased the immense potential of optimizing manufacturing processes with AI. Thus, Flowbase was born, with a renewed mission to build a first-of-its-kind AI assistant for process optimization in manufacturing.

Achievements and Future Aspirations

Since closing its pre-seed funding round of €250,000 in January 2022, joining the Nvidia Inception and AWS Activate programs, and servicing over 20 manufacturing companies, Flowbase has been on an upward trajectory. Now, as they stand on the brink of closing their seed round, the future looks promising. The goal to save factories more than €500,000 a year by optimizing factory floor health is just the beginning.

The Role of ADM’s Elevator Program

Flowbase’s journey from TADDY to a pioneering startup in manufacturing optimization highlights the essence of the Elevator program. At ADM, we believe in the power of mentorship, innovation, and strategic guidance. Our program is designed to propel startups like Flowbase to new heights, providing them with the tools, knowledge, and network to achieve exponential growth.

Invitation to Transform Your Startup

If you’re leading a startup and aiming for groundbreaking success, ADM’s Product Thinking Program offers a path to realizing your ambitions. Join us to leverage expert-led mentorship, innovative methodologies, and access to an extensive network of industry professionals and potential investors. The journey of Flowbase is a beacon for startups navigating the complex terrain of digital innovation. At ADM, we’re committed to nurturing such transformative journeys, empowering startups to not only achieve their business objectives but to also make a significant impact on the world.

Reflections and Next Steps

As we look forward to the future, we see endless possibilities for startups willing to adapt, innovate, and grow. The story of Flowbase is a testament to what can be achieved with the right support, vision, and determination. Let’s embark on this journey together, transforming challenges into opportunities, and ideas into reality.

Join us at ADM to write your own success story.

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