A technology startup may be born even from diploma thesis consultations, and it was during such meetings when Milan Šimek and Lubomír Mráz from the Department of Telecommunications at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Brno University of Technology really clicked. They were both Internet of Things enthusiasts, a passion they discovered during their exchange scholarships abroad.
In 2014, they were given an opportunity to create a comparative study on wireless solutions for the European Space Agency and totally fell for the UWB technology which the current products of their company are based on. They took on another two colleagues and founded a company.
It took almost two years before they did their first comprehensive installation. In the end, they equipped a big shop in Germany with their wireless sensors to help evaluate movements of their customers.“And it was this reference from Germany what opened the door for us at the meetings to come,” as Milan Šimek remembers.
Technology companies based in Brno Medlánky interconnecting
Eventually, the company chose the premises of the South Moravian Innovation Centre (JIC) as its home. One of the first companies to enter JIC, at the time only recently established, was Y Soft in 2003. Within 15 years, this group of IT guys from a dormitory basement grew into a global company which now invests into other companies through a venture capital daughter company.
In 2015, Sewio joined it. “At the time, we were looking for a technology partner for our product, not exactly an investor,” says Milan Šimek. Besides the financial help, mentoring, and promotional support, the investor gave Sewio access to its production line it’s been using ever since.
The technologies by Sewio help in a wide range of situations. They can do precise real-time localizing of objects inside buildings, often monitoring fork-lift trucks or automatic robots, work tools or pallets, and they are known as “track and trace” technologies. The monitoring of moving objects in intralogistics helps optimize their use as well as prevent any damage to technology and – mainly – injuries of the workers.
Sports teams can use the sensors attached to the players’ bodies to better track their movements on the pitch in order to evaluate the performance of the whole team. In go-kart races the sensors and related analytics can display current positions of the racers as well as the winner’s path. If you attach a sensor to a singer, spotlights can better follow them as they move on the stage.
Sewio sells the technology whereas the applications are supplied to the end customers by its partner network. Companies such as Volkswagen, Toyota Peugeot Citroën Automobile Czech, Pirelli, Prakab, and Budweiser Budvar Brewery are among their biggest clients.
Well-maintained relationships help in business
Besides the above-mentioned major clients, in 2017 the company saw record-breaking revenue of one million euro. Also, its team of twenty members was reinforced by a number of senior members who’d experienced a rapid growth in their previous jobs. “Thanks to our growth, we can now afford to contact very experienced people,” said Milan Šimek. Moving to some other global metropolis isn’t an option for him.
“When I need to get some fresh air in summer, it’s only a fifteen-minute drive to the Brno dam where I can take a swim and get back to the office in an hour. Also, our partners keep coming to JIC on various occasions, so we can easily maintain much better relationships with them.”
Sewio cultivates these relationships also by organizing various regular events for all the companies based in the same building whose employees have joined their colleagues from Sewio at several barbecue parties. “We try to be as open to what’s around us as possible and this is how we demonstrate it. To those interested we show what we’ve gone through and learned,” says Milan Šimek and shows a text message he’s just received in which a friend is inviting him for a beer to discuss how to establish a company. He likes to help his alma mater whenever possible as well.
The Department of Telecommunications at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Brno University of Technology provided the founders of Sewio with theoretical foundations and in return the people from the company management have helped it win some grant projects. Milan and Lubomír like to come back from time to time to encourage other students to do business in technologies.