Road to Success: Venture Validation Journey

By Katharina Göhl in an interview with Chemovator Venture Teams Momentum Transfer and Opteinics

Embark on a journey through the 'Road to Success' with our Venture Teams Momentum Transfer and Opteinics. Explore how they navigated challenges, adjusted strategies and formed crucial partnerships during their Validation Phase. Gain insights from their experiences as they share their path to entrepreneurial success!

Validation constitutes the first of the three phases in the intrapreneurship journey at Chemovator within the Evolve program, guiding teams from their entry point to spin-off. Essential for aligning ideas with market needs and refining strategies, this phase spans approximately three months and occurs between the Entry Pitch and the End of Validation Pitch. During the Entry Pitch, all teams present their ideas to a jury for evaluation against various criteria. Subsequently, validation, which we'll delve into shortly, commences. It encompasses activities such as testing hypotheses, refining initial assumptions, gathering early market feedback and building prototypes. Following this period, the End of Validation Pitch marks the end of the first phase, where teams present their validated business idea and submit an investment proposal detailing the intended use of proceeds from the planned investment.

As part of one of the three blog posts in our series explaining the intrapreneurship journey, we sat down with two of our Venture Teams, Momentum Transfer and Opteinics, to explore their validation journeys and gain insights into their experiences.

What specific problem or pain point does the idea address and how have you validated a market need for it?

Momentum Transfer: “Creating new materials requires a lot of testing. However, getting access to the best testing technologies is difficult and time consuming. We provide the best possible data for understanding the structure of materials at the hyper-scale. This enables the introduction of Artificial Intelligence into the world of materials discovery.”

Opteinics: “The problem is that our customers in the animal protein market need to calculate the environmental footprint of their products. Therefore, they conventionally provide data to a consultant, leading to delays and static PDF reports. To streamline this process, we developed a software-as-a-service solution. We validated that by interviewing companies in the animal protein market but also in the food value chain in general. We asked them how painful the problem is, and almost everyone mentioned that it's currently very challenging due to upcoming regulations and requests from customers in the value chain, emphasizing the urgent need to calculate the environmental footprint of products. Our biggest validation point is having paying customers for our solution.”

What adjustments or pivots have you made to your initial idea based on validation feedback?

Momentum Transfer: “Our idea has remained very much the same as it was in the beginning because the validation has confirmed and deepened our initial assumptions. We gained valuable insights and customer contacts that became paying customers.”

Opteinics: “Initially, we focused on footprinting for animal proteins such as meat, milk and eggs. We pivoted to cover the whole food value chain, catering to a wider range of products and customers.”

Can you share any notable success stories or positive feedback from the target group / customers?

Momentum Transfer: “Our validation feedback was overwhelmingly positive and the first customers are happy too.”

Opteinics: “We already have paying customers and quite a few in the pipeline, demonstrating our success in the market. Additionally, we have very valuable partnerships, such as with our partner, Evonik, who consistently brings in new leads for us.”

Are there any specific challenges or obstacles you've encountered during the Validation Phase? How have you addressed them?

Momentum Transfer: “We wanted to do a survey and were worried about getting enough responses. We decided to give away free measurements to the first hundred respondents. This worked perfectly and gave us our first customers as well!”

Opteinics: “During the Validation Phase, we encountered challenges such as the need for users to possess expert knowledge to effectively use our tool. To address this, we are redesigning the user interface to make our software accessible to customers with varying levels of expertise. We also faced challenges in scaling the software for the entire food value chain, which required us to develop a new architecture.”

What unique advantages do you believe Chemovator can offer your venture? Or how do you see Chemovator’s resources and support benefiting your idea's development and growth?

Momentum Transfer: “Of course, the core team and the phenomenal EiR network are the key advantages to getting our venture off the ground. I do not even want to think about where we would be without this support.”

Opteinics: “Chemovator's support functions, including HR, accounting and legal constraints management, enable us to dedicate our full attention to product development. However, we think that the unique asset of Chemovator lies in their Entrepreneurs in Residence, who are experts in numerous fields. We can consult them for technical aspects or networking in specific domains, making their guidance invaluable.”

Starting off, the founding team has to address all challenges themselves – what did you as a team learn from the Validation Phase?

Momentum Transfer: “Focus, focus, focus. It is important to keep the objective clearly in mind while you work on everything that goes into realizing it.”

Opteinics: “During the Validation Phase, we, as a team, learned the importance of identifying missing capabilities within our team and filling those gaps accordingly. This led us to adjust our team composition and ensure we have the necessary expertise to support our specific business case.”

What advice would you give to yourself if you were to start the three months of Validation Phase all over again?

Momentum Transfer: “Everyone you speak to in the validation about the idea is a potential customer. Get them excited about your product and understand what value it can add to their own work.”

Opteinics: “We would advise ourselves to think more from a commercial aspect and a growth mindset, and not only focusing on the technical aspects. Also, don’t stop the activities with customers just for the validation."

As we wrap up, always remember: Every step on the 'Road to Success' is a lesson learned. Keep moving forward with determination and passion!

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