Successful entrepreneurship comes to those who play their cards the right way. With the world rapidly shifting towards digitization, so much that assets too are digital, technology solutions are found on every street. But to understand the needs of the clients and tailor the solutions that way is one trait of a leader.
Featuring in The Enterprise World’s this issue of Top 5 Successful Entrepreneurs To Watch In 2022 is Ulrich Walder (CEO) of AIONAV Systems.
In this interview let us find out more about his prominent leadership and the company.
1. Why it is said that the workforce plays a vital role in every business’s growth? Please tell us about your team.
Without a strong and dedicated team, innovations in IT are no longer possible today. The idea for a new technology is born quickly, but the implementation into a market-ready product today requires a huge effort. Even if one is able to manage this effort technologically, many IT projects fail in Switzerland and Europe.
The reason is primarily that there is a lack of awareness of the necessities of the digital revolution. This in turn results in a lack of subsidies and financing. It is therefore advisable to have partners or your own employees from the areas of financing and marketing on board right at the start of forward-looking IT projects.
2. What are the key achievements of your business journey?
I could mention many extraordinary projects all over the world in which I and my teams were able to achieve technological masterpieces. They have always involved encounters with extraordinary personalities from all walks of life, from the arts and sciences to military and civilian leaders. Many have become lifelong friendships and have outlasted the short-lived recognition of technical achievements.
The deeper insight into foreign cultures, especially my work in China shortly after the Cultural Revolution, broadened my horizons, but above all made me aware of the value of our Western democracies. My current commitment to a democratic, fair and independent use of new technologies has grown out of this.
3. Any client experience you would like to highlight?
Many of our customers have revolutionized their business models or created great works with our technologies. My best experience, however, was a training session for so-called lost young people, whom I was able to teach how to create apps in a social institution.
Seeing their self-confidence grow because they were able to create something that others had to study for years for was heart-warming, as was working with refugee children who created apps for their parents to help them navigate their new culture in Europe.
4. Brief us about your journey at the AIONAV Systems, what inspired you to start the company?
After a successful career as an IT entrepreneur, Division Commander of the Swiss Armed Forces and Professor of Building Informatics at the Technical University of Graz (Austria), I founded AIONAV Systems AG as a pure technology development company. AIONAV Systems purpose is to put the results of university-driven research into practice. Two technologies are in the foreground. On the one hand a fully autonomous indoor positioning system for First Responders based on inertial MEMS and on the other hand a new technology for mobile applications without programming and with the possibility to publish content independently. Both technologies and their practical implementations have received several international awards and some have been patented.
5. What are the initial challenges you faced and what are the reasons behind company’s long-standing success?
The AIONAV Systems was founded as a start-up and found around a dozen of investors right at the beginning to put the ideas into practice. Both technologies exist today as prototypes and, in the case of the mobile applications, have also already proven themselves well in practice. Just over a hundred apps in a wide area of application (insurance, project management, architecture, communication, art and culture, events, tourism and nature) have been created and experienced hundreds of thousands of downloads.
The success is based on the fact that we never see technology as an end in itself, but want to generate a broad added value with it. For example, very sophisticated apps can be created by non-professionals and this they can do ten times faster and by factors cheaper than programming conventional native apps
6. What are the products or services the AIONAV Systems focuses on? How are your services different from those in the market?
The autonomous indoor positioning system consists of a small sensor mounted on the foot that, starting from a known point, directly sends the relative coordinates of the moving person to a local or central visualization device, e.g. to a smartphone app with the corresponding maps.
The app creation is done with the AIONAV Systems App-Studio. The design, the desired functions and the multimedia content, as well as maps and plans are stored in a freely structured database. No programming knowledge is necessary. One or more databases are then connected to the AIONAV Systems app player (for iOS or Android), resulting in a single app (1 DB) or a cover app (1+ DBs).
These apps can be published in the known app stores, or used as a cover app, e.g. for internal AIONAV Systems purposes. The cover apps have their own QR code reader with which any AIONAV Systems databases can be loaded or updated. The apps run offline with interfaces to the web if required.
7. How do you decide to take the company a step further?
The AIONAV Systems has reached a point after 10 years where we have to decide whether we want to continue running it as a for-profit company or whether we want to make the developed technologies available to the public.
The loss of digital sovereignty of entire states and the fact that ever larger parts of our society are disconnected from the digital revolution have moved us to take the second path. At the moment, we are negotiating with various possible sponsors (foundations, government research agencies) who want to overtake and grow up the 30 person-years of development already invested.