© Motius

Profile: Motius – A Speedboat for Agile Project Implementation

The startup Motius is a research and development company. The Munich firm specializes in the latest technology and builds products and prototypes in the field of computer science, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. The company is exceptional, particularly in terms of its organizational structure – Motius is comprised of a core team as its competence center along with a very large community of freelancers, students and young professionals who work on projects.

With their innovative structure, the Motius founders have discovered an interesting gap. Large companies often do not have the proper structures or the right mindset to react to current challenges such as digitalization or accelerated development. SMEs often lack suitable branding, the right people or the appropriate focus for these new subjects.

At the same time, global players in Germany such as BMW have long since grasped the importance of doing things a bit differently in product development to be able to keep up with technological advancements and not be overrun by digital transformation.

A speedboat for agile project implementation

Sören GuniaSo where does Motius come in exactly? Sören Gunia, co-founder und Human Resources Director, said:

“For these companies, Motius is a powerful speedboat that is extremely agile at turning new technologies into prototypes and products to reveal the potential of their innovations.”

So how does it work in concrete terms? For example, a medium-sized hidden champion approached Motius because the company had realized it should make better use of its production data. Key words: machine learning and big data. A classic consultant wouldn’t have been able to help in this case.

The founder elaborated on what makes his company different:

“We sat down with our client and built a first product within just a few months that aggregated the data, processed it and made it useable.

Now for the first time, our client’s employees have an organized overview of what causes production failures. And the management team also knows how this kind of ‘hype technology’ can help them in concrete terms.”

The Gulf region: high innovation potential and budgets

Another interesting aspect of Motius is how the company is situated in regional terms. CEO Zièd Bahrouni was born and raised in Oman. Thanks to the founding history behind company, it is networked well in the Middle East and North Africa in addition to Germany. After all, 30% of the projects are implemented in the Gulf region, and the company has had an office in Dubai since 2017.

Wesley, Embedded Engineer at Motius, working on components of an urban farming container.
Wesley, Embedded Engineer at Motius, working on components of an urban farming container. © Motius

Sören clarified:

“In the Gulf region, there is a high degree of innovation potential and of course also big budgets for “Product Development & Engineering made in Germany.”

The area would like to become less dependent on oil, gas and tourism and build its own products. One of the first major projects in the region was an “intelligent prayer mat” for the Omani Research Council. Sören said:

“A major advantage for us is that a city like Dubai is not as held back by the past and is more courageous when it comes to creating a smart city.”

Their projects in Germany are of equal importance. One of the first milestones for the young company? Sören answered:

“Right at the beginning, that definitely had to be our first project and then our supplier number at BMW. That really gave us credibility at an early stage and also boosted our confidence.”

Motius additionally strengthened its position in southern Germany last year.  The company opened an office in Stuttgart to be closer to its clients in the region.

Permanent employees and a large pool of talent

Now back to another special feature, namely their organizational structure: They have roughly 45 permanent employees. They also have a large ‘talent pool.’ In addition to students, the community includes experienced freelancers and young professionals who Motius works with on larger and more complex subjects.

A team room at Motius
A team room at Motius: Project staff and the core team sit mixed together since there are no fixed working stations for employees, but instead rooms for different working modes. © Motius

From inside the network, Motius co-workers, or ‘Motees,’ can become full-time employees in the core team, where they work together in clusters as developers or project managers. The startup uses a web platform they developed for coordinating work as well as SCRUM for their projects. A multi-stage selection process guarantees the quality of their employees, while code reviews and pair programming are used during projects.

“Our persistence has paid off”

It was not always easy going. Sören is proud of what he and his co-founders have established:

“Our persistence has paid off in the end, because we truly have established a new kind of work organization with an awesome culture.”

Because the company is completely self-financed, the founders have been able to work with a significant focus on their vision so far. They didn’t have to focus on more scaling or increasing profit in the short term. And that is exactly what makes the company different. The founders believe that the only way to implement successful projects and have satisfied clients is when your employees are happy, can be productive and are able to develop their interests, inquisitiveness and skills.

Motius plans to take the next steps this year, added Sören:

“We plan to expand to additional locations, establish a technical venture arm that will allow us to spin-off technical ideas from Motius, and most importantly, to systematically pursue our objective to build one of the best organizations for techies.”

VR at Motius
Focusing on new technologies also means promoting the desire to play and be curious. © Motius

Despite their big plans and ideas for the near future, employee satisfaction will continue to be an important factor for sustainable and successful company development.

Cyborgs and crazy stuff

So where do you see it all heading in the next five to ten years? Sören answered:

“In five years, Motus will be a specialist in the new technologies of the future. Machine learning, virtual reality and blockchain might be state-of-the-art by then, but Motius will be much more active in biotech and cyborgs.

In ten years time, there probably will not be a company left on the globe whose innovation department has not worked with Motius yet. Or companies whose board meetings do not end with: ‘Man, for that crazy stuff, let’s just give Motius a call.’”