Munich Startup: What does your startup do? What problem are you solving?
Imero: Imero makes it possible for companies to upgrade their products digitally and to communicate directly with customers. Like everything else these days, this happens through a smartphone. The user simply holds their phone to the product and the entire digital offering for that product is immediately displayed (without any registration or downloading). This includes everything from basic product information and a certificate of authenticity to cool services, like a suitcase making its trips carbon neutral on its own.
Ben, Max & Jonas founded Imero in 2020 to help companies link their physical products with the digital world. These worlds are often still separate, which means that customers who want to book a service ticket, for example, have to perform lengthy research on Google and then still have to find the serial number, sales receipt or owner’s manual. The “mobile first” requirement has applied for quite some time, and Imero now makes it quick and easy to implement.
“You can think of Imero like a kind of app store”
Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!
Imero: Companies trying to upgrade their products with digital services is nothing new. But until now, you’ve had to download an app or access them by registering on the company website. Imero makes the product the main gateway.
We also make it easier for companies to find the right digital content for their products. You can think of Imero like a kind of app store where companies can add useful functions to their products or also remove them.
Munich Startup: What is your founding story?
Imero: Ben & Jonas met through their work as physicists. Outside of work, the two thought about how technology could be used to fight the global problem of product counterfeiting. The trade of counterfeit goods has increased over the years and puts a significant burden on both people and the environment, because it is performed without quality control and under the worst possible conditions. To give an example, one million people die every year from counterfeit drugs.
We wanted to give people the opportunity to check if something is original with their smartphones. While working on that, we realized that you need more than authenticity to get people to interact with products. People usually assume they haven’t bought a fake. So we started linking useful and interesting services with products. When the product is used, the authenticity is verified every time since the product itself is ultimately the gateway, and it’s also more fun and gives everyone involved added value.
To implement all of that, we needed a true software pro, and that’s where Max joined the team. Jonas & Max have know each other since they were little kids, so it wasn’t tough to get him on board with the idea.
“We had to make a pivot and adapt all of our existing developments”
Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Imero: Accepting that authenticity alone is not enough to engage customers was definitely a major challenge. We had to make a pivot and adapt all of our existing developments, take a new approach with customers and get partners on board with us for our platform. But it was all worth it in the end: After just six months of intensive work, we had made the transition and our first customers were starting to use the solution.
Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?
Imero: This year, we want to complete our funding round and then concentrate on getting even more customers to use our solution with their products. In five years, it should be perfectly natural for me to communicate directly with every kind of product.
Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?
Imero: The startup ecosystem in Munich has helped us a lot. The two major universities and the affiliated startup networks provide so many opportunities for exchanging ideas, coaching and mentoring. Thanks to the many co-working spaces and office space specifically for startups, you also come into contact with lots of other founders and can help one other.
Customers, partners and investors are often not far away and there are excellent employees to be found to carry our startup forward. In this case, however, we’ve taken a flexible approach and are working with people around the world.
Munich Startup: Hidden champion or shooting star?
Imero: As a tech startup, we work in the background and make it possible for our customers to improve their products and become digital champions. So that makes us more of a hidden champion. But, with shooting star qualities: We want to make the new opportunities that Imero offers as well known as possible.