A pitch competition was part of the Young Tech Enterprises area at Hannover Messe; image courtesy of Hannover Messe.
Founded by business partners Katharina Obladen and Tanja Nickel not that long ago, Germany's UVIS UV-Innovative Solutions GmbH (UVIS) (ELEVATOR WORLD, January 2017) has developed a patented system for escalator-handrail degermination known as ESCALITE. The system was initially sold only to public-transit escalator operators, but UVIS is looking to expand its reach. Key to that expansion will be getting the word out about its product, and Obladen and Nickel seized the opportunity to do that as part of Hannover Messe's Young Tech Enterprises area in cooperation with their regional government.
The Hannover, Germany, tradeshow is a big deal worldwide. It has been "showcasing the future" for 70 years and is, in fact, where the term "Industry 4.0" was coined (EW, July 2017, Focus on Robots and Automation). It draws hundreds of thousands of attendees to experience hundreds of elaborate exhibitor booths that this year included robotics displays that obviously cost a lot of money. But, one doesn't necessarily need a lot of money to benefit from Hannover Messe. Here, Obladen and Nickel talk to EW about their experience.
Starting Up in the Business
Trade fairs are always an experience — a positive one, an exciting one, an exhausting one. The first fair you attend is probably always special, especially when it is one of the world's leading industrial shows: Hannover Messe.
The fair combines different, smaller fairs, and the topics are widely spread: digital factories; industrial automation; motion, drive and automation; energy technology; industrial supplies and services, and R&D. In 2017, the partner country was Poland, and more than 225,000 visitors from all over the world came to Hannover, making it the most well-attended show yet. And we were a part of it with our patented degermination module for escalator handrails, ESCALITE.
Welcome to Hannover Messe!
UVIS was founded in 2016. Therefore, we had not taken part in big trade fairs until April 2017 with Hannover Messe. In cooperation with the Ministry of Environment of North Rhine-Westphalia and together with other startups from our county, we were part of a joint stand.
For a couple of years now, startups have become more and more part of the Hannover Messe and, therefore, got their own area: Young Tech Enterprises. This area is a melting pot of ideas, nationalities and entrepreneurs who are united by the belief in their own abilities and quest for success. This area enabled us to present our products, find new investors and business partners and, moreover, compete with other teams in a pitch competition.
Nevertheless, we did not view the other startups as competitors but as interesting new people with whom we could exchange and discuss ideas and learn. One of the first things you learn, even before you attend the fair, is to make appointments. The preparation for a fair can be tedious, but it is worth the effort. All our appointments saved us long days on the road across Germany. Additionally, we got very good feedback from customers just for the fact we were at the fair.
This is the second thing we learned: it is important to be seen and present your logo, company and idea to a broad public as soon as possible. We learned how to present ourselves to different people in multiple languages and how to arouse the interest of various parties.
Step by Step
Though we could not present robots that fought with laser sabers or dancing dragons, small things can attract interest, as well. One example would be the prototype we used to explain our technology; another, our brand-new product video, finished just in time for the fair.
This was the third thing we learned: use the resources you have, be creative, and draw attention to your booth. In the beginning, it does not matter how big your booth is. It is only important that you have one and present it in as friendly and professional a manner as possible.
Though we could not present robots that fought with laser sabers or dancing dragons, small things can attract interest, as well.
All in all, we are grateful we got the chance to be a part of Hannover Messe, to have these experiences and grow as a team. We are looking forward to our next fair – maybe even one with a focus on elevators and escalators.