5 questions to... Heinz Luckhardt, co-founder of Konvoi in Hamburg
Goods worth around EUR 1.3 billion are stolen from just under 26,000 lorries every year in the German road haulage sector. Delayed deliveries, repair costs and production losses bring the total loss to EUR 2.2 billion. The Hamburg-based Konvoi start-up has developed a mobile security solution for lorries parked in the Startup Port. Sensors detect potential threats and initiate hazard prevention measures. Heinz Luckhardt founded the innovative start-up with Divya Settimali and Alexander Jagielo.
Hamburg News: What is the idea behind your business?
Luckhardt: The business idea emerged from the surroundings and my joint founder Alexander Jagielo's research into cargo theft in road haulage. Thieves slit tarpaulins or break open the lorries' rear doors to get an overview and then steal goods. We were aware of the problem early. Thanks to our respective master's theses in the first half of 2020, we were able to solidify various ideas on both the technical concept and business model. Konvoi is now aiming to set up mobile preventive security systems to foil thefts of cargo from lorries. Optimized sensors form a detection area around the lorries. Then, movement patterns can be analyzed and preventive, defensive action taken. We are not involved in technical product development, but in the service sector. We rent the security system to transport companies to keep their acquisition costs low. The security-as-a-service model guarantees permanent support, technical functionality and software updates, which is improved with every deployment.
Hamburg News: Why did you found the company in Hamburg?
Luckhardt: There were three obvious reasons for us to set up Konvoi GmbH with headquarters in Hamburg. Firstly, Alexander and I studied at the Technical University of Hamburg and also received our current funding through it. Secondly, Hamburg is the logistics location par excellence and we have access to all the stakeholders needed to combat cargo theft in a sustainable manner. The city seems to offer the right conditions for attracting talented, young IT staff. Indeed, our team of six, with roots in five different countries, feels very much at home here. We are now in talks with pilot customers and are planning the first test operations from July.
Hamburg News: Who supported and encouraged you?
Luckhardt: We approached the Startup Dock founding advisors in the beyourpilot network during summer 2019 and received funding as part of the EXIST Gründerstipendium. We moved into our office at Startup Dock last October and are working with our co-founder, Divya Settimali, and other software developers on implementing the preventive security solution. The start of the funding period and the drawing down of funds was very important for us as a hardware startup, so that we could concentrate fully on product development. Our next big goal is to build a prototype this year. In the long term, we also want to use artificial intelligence, i.e. self-learning software.
Hamburg News: What were the biggest hurdles to founding the company?
Luckhardt: The two biggest hurdles so far have certainly been getting start-up funding that frees up our minds for creative work and finding clever people with the diverse skills needed for developing an embedded software solution. Fortunately, both have worked out and we are now working in a wonderful team at full speed on the prototype for real operation.
Hamburg News: What else is needed for your business to become a success?
Luckhardt: Parallel to the technical development, Konvoi is looking for partners - especially haulage companies with their own lorries - to trial the use of the security system. In the distant future, as many lorries as possible should be part of a fleet and reliably protected from cargo theft by an updateable security system - with the nice side effect that drivers can enjoy their break times in peace. Our tip for aspiring founders is to talk about self-employment ideas. Sooner or later, you will meet the right people for partnering projects. Plenty of things emerge from talking to and being creative with others. That has helped us a lot so far!