Contract manufacturing of prototypes and mass-produced components is often a complicated, long and expensive process. Obtaining various offers often takes several days and communication with different manufacturers, often across national borders. This binds valuable working time and creates space for misunderstandings. The startup Neuform, founded by Jonas Haring, Sandra-Lorena Bahlmann and Burak Son, cuts through this and offers an easier solution.
As a participant of the DC-HUB Shanghai Start-up Class 2019 *2nd Batch spending a month in Shanghai this April we talked to Sandra-Lorena Bahlmann.
Sandra, you, Jonas and Burak are the co-founders of the startup Neuform. How did it come that you work together?
Jonas has an industrial engineering background and a great network of factories in China, where he lived for a couple of years. He was the one that convinced me to start Neuform, an online manufacturing platform with a global supplier network. As the B2B marketer I am, l found this business model with its B2B focus very interesting and the idea to build up a global supply chain - I lived in seven countries including China, so this was a clear match.
But to get this idea to life, we needed someone with great tech experience, and I knew Burak from my old workplace in the ad-tech industry. He was easily convinced to cofound Neuform with us and to build up the platform with its algorithms and tools.
We are very lucky to have this great combination of different skills already in our founders’ team.
What inspired you to start Neuform?
Out of his own experience as an industrial engineer Jonas knew, how difficult it is to get fast and cost-efficient parts manufactured in all stages from prototyping to production. And this usually starts with the ordering process that most companies still do manual. To make life easier for engineers, we founded Neuform.
Which problems does Neuform solve exactly? And, which products and services provides Neuform to solve them?
Neuform tackles the problem of slow and expensive production from different sides: With an online platform, where engineers can directly see prices for their on-demand products, we cut down the procurement process to a minimum. Everything is online and automated.
Second, with access to our global supply chain, customers can directly produce their prototypes, where they would go for large scale production – with qualified partners and for an affordable price, as we use free production capacities in a smart way.
Who are your main competitors? Which advantages do you provide compared to them?
In theory: Everyone who produces parts online for the German market. In reality: There are just a couple of companies doing that in Germany and most of them focus just on one production processes or early prototyping. The ones that offer a few production processes don’t work with a prequalified global factory network, which is our big plus as we can offer great value to the customers.
Which are your target markets do you like to reach and what are the main challenges to achieve that?
Our target market is Germany and on a later stage Western Europe. In Germany industrial companies are open for innovations and want to have this “producing in China” problem solved, so we run into open doors when it is about that. But Germany is also very regulated, so our main challenge is to adopt our platform to the needs of different industries, like quality part control on a company level and product assembly.
Are you looking for further investments? If yes, what is the most important thing prospective investors should know about your company?
We are fortunate to be funded by the EU & Berlin Senate with the Berlin Startup Schoolarship until end of this year and got the IBB Gründungsbonus. This gives us time to make revenue with our platform, but in order to grow, we want to close seed funding end of this year.
For investors it might be interesting that we launched the first functional version of our configurator in January and already see an increasing number of conversions. But additional to the numbers, we believe that our cross-cultural team and depth connections to Chinese factories are truly invaluable assets.
You are now going to Shanghai with DC-HUB. What do you expect from this trip?
Since we already onboarded several prequalified factory partners, one of our reason to go is to stronger bonds with them and onboard new ones. Additionally, we want to find out how to integrate them more deeply into our solution in order to create a higher value for our customers.
From the marketing perspective I will work on relevant content over there.
What are your main goals for the next 12 months? How does the Shanghai trip might help you to achieve them?
In the next twelve month we want to grow our client base, close seed funding and develop our solution further on the technical side.
Thank you for the interview and have a successful trip to Shanghai!