We are very happy about the nomination for Founder of the Year! But what does it actually take to be one?

Courage and willingness to take risks?

Exceptionally good ideas?

Enthusiasm for one’s product?

All of our Peers, who together form a great company, share these qualities. That’s why we decided–bypassing the initiators of the award–  😉 that a fabulous 13 heads are nominated at Peerox alone. With this number of nominations, our only one-year-old company is on a par with cinematic masterpieces like “The Shape of Water”.

Now it’s up to you to finish the following sentence by casting your vote by Aug. 16:

And the Oscar Founder of the Year award goes to…

Every year, the “Stadtradeln” campaign invites cyclists to compete, evaluate their own CO2 emissions, and exercise together. Just in time for the company’s first birthday, Team Peerox is at the start for the first time! We are very proud of the fact that even though we now have twelve Peers in our Peero, we occupy less than one car parking space on average. Instead, we’ve made ourselves at home in the bike parking lot, and will pedal hard and add a few more bike kilometers to our usual workload over the next few days!

Edit:

In the meantime, the “Stadtradeln 2020” campaign has come to an end. We Peers have avoided 159 kg of CO2 in the past three weeks and have not behaved any differently than usual. If you extrapolate that over the course of the year, we’ve reduced our carbon footprint by over 2.5 tons just by commuting by bike. This makes us so proud that we spared no expense, ink, or effort to donate the first Peerox-Internal Challenge Cup.

The Golden Air Pump will be passed on each year to the Peer with the most kilometers ridden in the city cycling event.

And that’s just the horizontal…additionally, our “Peero” is located about 140 meters above the Dresden city center!

Office Essentials — so you can work anywhere.

Lack of job and planning security, hardly any liquidity reserves, missing cash cows, far-reaching upheavals in business processes, constant changing employees…these buzzwords describe companies in crisis — or a start-up. Seen in this light, our understanding of “crisis” is perhaps somewhat different than that of most companies. The currently changing personal boundary conditions due to Covid-19 are one of many new situations of the past few months, to which we try to react appropriately.

Our IT infrastructure runs completely in the Hetzner data center in the beautiful Vogtland region, and we have used only laptops as hardware from the very beginning. Therefore, technically nothing stands in the way of longer hours worked at home. The underlying working methods, for example with tickets and wikis in the development and project management software Redmine, are also established through many business trips and the part-time working models of some Peers.

With regard to our customer projects, hardly any restrictions are to be expected at present either. All pilot installations of MADDOX are accessible through secured VPN connections, and can be further advanced through updates and content. Since we rely on cloud-based SIP telephony, we can still be reached under the usual phone numbers. Only planned on-site appointments will have to be cancelled until further notice, as travel is currently not possible.

The postponement of Interpack 2020, at which we would have been represented as a co-exhibitor with well-known partners on three stands, has freed up a lot of our previously allocated internal resources. We have already responded to this situation by adjusting our development roadmap to focus on many other tasks which had been put on hold. We expect to be able to deliver new and improved MADDOX features earlier than originally planned.

These, along with other examples such as the optimized use of our collaboration tools (we now have a great video conferencing system!) and the stronger integration within the team, are just a few of the various opportunities that come with the current, seemingly adverse conditions. We hope that all of our Peers will come through the pandemic without any serious health restrictions and go by the start-up motto:

“Crises catalyze ideas.”

We are firmly convinced that success can only come through cooperation with the best. For us, dissociation, fear of imitators, or even deliberate misinformation are only signs of a lack of confidence in our own abilities. We believe in ourselves and our vision. We want to implement this with high pressure and quality, and for this we need exceptionally good cooperation partners. With a lot of trust in each other and a focus on our own core tasks, we can create something truly great.
In addition, working with external partners has two very decisive advantages. On the one hand, one’s own ideas and points of view are permanently subjected to an external stress test. Thanks to the trust that has been built up, you always receive strong feedback on your own results at regular intervals. On the other hand, working is simply so much more fun.
In view of this basic philosophy, today we can rely on a unique network of cooperation partners who want to help us realize our big goals, with a lot of commitment and passion.

Tyclipso.net

Tyclipso.net have been partners from the very beginning. With only a confused, barely thought-out idea and a budget that was far too small, we went in search of professional support in 2017. We wanted to develop first mock-ups as a basis for subject tests. Tina, Raja, and Claudia got directly involved and, despite many, certainly not always easy, loops, successively developed something like a first concept with us. In the process, we discovered how different the language and perspective on different things can be, due to our different backgrounds. This helped us learn a lot about our communication.
Together we visited machine operators all over Germany and had conversations with potential users. Our first mock-ups were then created in intensive workshops. These visualizations helped us a great deal with internal and external communication, and ensured that we were better able to engage in conversation with potential customers and partners. Building on this, the real implementation of our software prototype began in 2019.

While the Peers at Peerox took care of the backend, the algorithm and the infrastructure, our Peers at Tyclipso, building on their own CMS, further developed the existing screens with us and converted them into software.
We are still involved in a very close, intensive exchange and meanwhile have already implemented the second version of MADDOX. Today we can say with full conviction that we would not be where we are without the strong commitment, the high level of trust and professionalism, and the top skills of the many colleagues at Tyclipso.net.

Our advisory board

For many years we have maintained a very good, friendly network with Dresden entrepreneurs in various industries. After the foundation of Peerox, we decided quite quickly to merge this network into an official advisory board. Our goal is to be able to discuss our short, medium, and long term strategy openly and honestly with people with experience. Although their own added value is very manageable, we have been able to convene an extremely high-caliber group with Dr. Stefan Hennig (SQL AG), Prof. Marius Brade (FH Dresden, MindObjects GmbH), Ronald Claus von Nordheim (watttron GmbH), André Pinkert (queo GmbH), and Dr. Lukas Oehm (Fraunhofer IVV Dresden). In regular meetings, we present our ideas and receive very constructive, critical feedback. The preparation of advisory board meetings in a strategy day also always ensures (despite the intensive day-to-day business) that we do not lose sight of our entrepreneurial tasks. In particular, the interdisciplinary composition of software development, UX design, mechanical engineering, media design, and research are very valuable for us. The advisory board also helps us in its advisory role to resolve any stalemates between the shareholders.

Brand Team

Immediately after founding Peerox, we had an intense discussion within the team, regarding how much time and money we wanted to invest in public relations. With our B2B business and direct customer contact via the circle of consultants, the focus did not necessarily have to be on strong marketing.
Nevertheless, we decided early on to focus on core tasks in this area as well, and to work with professionals.
If MADDOX is to take over knowledge management in production operations, this requires a certain amount of trust on the part of the customer. That is why professional corporate management and a corresponding external image have always been important to us.

In Markenteam GmbH we were able to win a professional, creative, and very reliable partner for these tasks. Thanks to Markenteam, we now have a respectable homepage, an attractive pitch deck, and a (in our opinion) great logo. In close cooperation and through a lot of listening, their colleagues have helped us identify very well with our image. The speech bubble especially is as simple as it is ingenious. In combination with the colors red and blue, it conveys exactly the mixture of human communication and technical innovation that underlies our work.
It is also thanks to the work of the brand team that we were even able to win the LogiTech Startup Prize.

Even if our wishes and ideas are often much bigger than our budget, we work together fairly, patiently, and with a lot of fun, and look forward to our next steps together.

Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging, Dresden Processing Technology Branch

Our idea of a self-learning assistance system originated during our work at the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV, Institute Section Processing Technology. Since then, we have been and continue to be highly supported by the institute’s management in pushing the idea forward, implementing it, and even turning it into our own company. For the very founder-friendly atmosphere, the institute section head Prof. Jens-Peter Majschak even received 2nd place at the FutureSax Transfer Award for the spin-off Watttron GmbH at the beginning of 2020.

Then as now, the subject of trusting cooperation is the foundation of a joint, successful collaboration. Our mutual goal is to continue with the current close cooperation. At the Fraunhofer IVV Dresden, numerous innovative research projects are currently underway in the context of assistance systems and potential features. While we, on the part of Peerox, return suggestions regarding real needs from the industry to the institute, we are supported in research-heavy work and projects.

Chair of Engineering Psychology and Applied Cognition Research (TU Dresden)

We got to know each other in 2015 in a joint working group, and have been working very closely together since then, especially in research projects at the Fraunhofer IVV Dresden. Thanks to our colleagues, we have rethought our “engineering mindset” in many areas, and have adopted completely new perspectives. We were able to benefit from exciting research results and, in turn, contribute use cases from our industry. This strongly interdisciplinary work is often quite exhausting and discussion-intensive for all partners. However, at no time were there any doubts about the usefulness and the great added value for both sides.

In the meantime, the successful model of interdisciplinary cooperation has even given rise to a lecture module of its own that enjoys great popularity among students: the FLIK module.

Industrial Advisory Group

Even with our first basic ideas, we approached potential customers and partners very openly. In most cases, our very innovative ideas received a kindly smile, but were rarely taken seriously. However, there were also innovative partners at the beginning who believed in the possible success of our ideas. We brought together these partners from the fields of mechanical engineering and production in an advisory group. The members of the circle of advisors support us as discussion partners on the business model or technical implementation, but also with user interviews and tests with test persons. These collaborations are an essential cornerstone of our strategy to align our product strongly with the needs of our customers.

Prices do not make for satisfied customers, good products or functioning business models.

Nevertheless, we are of course very pleased that we have landed among Germany’s top 50 start-ups of 2019 at www.fuer-gruender.de. Out of 741 awarded start-ups from 145 competitions, we have achieved a (we think) great 33rd place. At least according to this ranking, we are among the top 5% in Germany and even No. 1 from Saxony.

Especially in view of the really great innovations from the ecosystem of Dresden, Leipzig, Chemnitz, etc., this makes us extremely proud. Prizes of this kind serve a good purpose after all. They are a small but very effective external confirmation for our team. Such an impulse can be important, especially during the strenuous lean periods. Sometimes nothing really progresses, or it even feels like things are going backwards. In these times, positive signals like these are very helpful. They show us that we can convince people with our idea and our vision and that people believe in us. Our team draws a lot of strength from this for the next (much more important) stage victories in customer and development projects.

Here you can find an overview of all start-ups, their profiles and backgrounds. The press release is available here.

“Who is the team of a StartUp? It’s not just the founders themselves and, if applicable, the first employees! It is also the development and pilot partners, mentors and financial supporters, tax advisors, marketing experts, bank and IHK advisors…in short: everyone who accompanies the StartUp a bit on its risky path and contributes to its success.”

(paraphrased from Jörg Schüler, CEO HighTech Startbahn GmbH)

“…and above all the families who suffer from the demanding start-up period”, we would like to add.
Therefore, we have invited our wonderful team to a big party – in connection with the IVV summer party – to thank you for the support we have received from all sides and to toast with you to a successful future together. In this sense: Cheers and Peerox (Saxon Anglicism: beer rocks)!

There were also gifts: cookies with Peerox cookie cutters.

True to the German motto We get it baked together! (Engl. equivalent: We will pull that off together!)

We are driven by the appreciation of unique human capabilities as a central economic success factor in digitalized production. With their experiential knowledge, creativity, and special cognitive and motor skills, humans are the ideal complement to the typical weaknesses of highly automated technical systems. We are all the more pleased to receive special recognition for our mission with a top prize in the “Digital Innovation” start-up competition in a context that could hardly be more machine-heavy: At the world’s leading trade fair for metal processing EMO in Hanover. We see the award as a mission to close the gap between the working world, which is in the process of transforming into a digitalized Industry 4.0, and the many years of experiential knowledge of our employees for the benefit of all sides. To this end, we are investing the prize money directly in limousines and beer the acceleration of our development and additional user tests at our pilot partners.

Gründerwettbewerb "Digitale Innovation"

The winners of the founders’ competition “Digital Innovation” of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy – Peerox received one of the six main prizes!

We need a connection to our electronic shift book. But this is an in-house development…

(Customer)

The research project to support machine setup and maintenance is going well. The results could be well used in the future as an extension of MADDOX…

(Fraunhofer IVV research institute)

Customer-specific wishes and the future integration of new, innovative solutions drive our product development right from the start. But how can we take these into account now, even though their exact requirements are not yet known?

Our solution is a modular system based on a service architecture. In our software, core modules, extension modules and customer-specific modules run as largely independent sub-processes. This makes the overall system resilient and very flexible. But how can this “zoo” be kept under control? Much like a project team of human colleagues: Each works largely independently. To keep each other up to date on the overall project, they use newsletters that can be subscribed to according to information needs.

We implement the same principle technically with the message broker NATS. Our individual modules send messages to the central broker, to which the other modules can subscribe. This allows future modules to simply plug in and subscribe to the messages that are relevant to them without requiring any changes to the existing system. This enables efficient development despite unknown future requirements.

“But the new quasi-industry standard is MQTT…”

That’s true, but we only use the message broker to communicate between the individual processes on our machine. Here, MQTT’s typical strengths, such as reliable transmission over unreliable networks, don’t come into play, while NATS plays to its advantages. These include, for example, its enormous speed, which we need for fast transmission of large amounts of machine data. For external communication, we rely – in keeping with the microservice architecture – on independent, protocol-specific modules; for example, for OPC UA…and of course for MQTT if required 😉

Interpack is the leading international trade fair for packaging technology and machinery and is held every 3 years at the Düsseldorf exhibition center. It represents the complete value chain. In 2017, approximately 2,900 exhibitors were joined by more than 170,000 visitors from May 4 to 10.

The preparation

In 2017, we had the opportunity to present our then still very young idea of a self-learning assistance system at the trade fair stand of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA). In this context, we were also financially supported by the VDMA with the creation of a video about our vision. Since we did not want to shoot an animated film, but a real film, the search for a suitable location for the shoot was our biggest challenge. The video shoot on disruptions in the production process was of course not possible in real production processes. This is where our long-standing partner GEA Food Solutions GmbH came to our rescue. In the GEA technical center in Kempten, employees and test products were made available to us for a whole day in order to shoot our film. The result can be admired here.

 The Story

In a butcher’s store, there are repeated production disruptions in the packaging of salami slices as a result of leaking packaging. The cause of the disturbances can only be found by experienced operators. The assistance system registers and stores this valuable experience knowledge. Since the assistance system learns to recognize conditions and malfunctions, it can proactively present the digitized knowledge to less experienced employees in the event of a similar malfunction in this or other plants.

“Smart Future” at the Interpack trade fair booth of the VDMA (Food and Packaging Machinery)

The result

We had an exceptionally exciting trade show and many interesting conversations. While the majority of our visitors dismissed our idea as a “nice, but completely unrealistic gimmick from research”, other conversations have developed into long-term, trusting partnerships.

At Interpack 2020 (May 7-13, 2020), we will once again be allowed to exhibit at the VDMA booth together with the Fraunhofer IVV Dresden. We are very much looking forward to being able to show in the same place that a prototype, a company and an extraordinary team have emerged from the “unrealistic gimmick” within 3 years.