Straightlabs creates learning apps and immersive 3D training worlds

Edtech Straightlabs offers gamified and virtual training worlds. The startup has already won several awards for this since it was founded in 2015. In the interview, founder and CEO Peter Niermann talks about the advantages of bootstrapping, pivots and the challenges of the startups. In addition to his entrepreneurial activities, Niermann is also active as a professor at various universities and wants to make education more accessible, effective, and relevant for everyone.

Munich Startup: What does Straightlabs do? 

Peter Niermann, founder and CEO of Straightlabs: We specialise in developing digital learning apps and virtual 3D training worlds. Our goal is to make learning an exciting and entertaining experience. We use the latest research findings and combine them with cloud technologies for digital applications as well as immersive technologies such as virtual reality (VR). In this way, we create realistic learning environments in which learners can immerse themselves in interactive and dynamic scenarios. 

Straightlabs wants to change the learning culture 

Munich Startup: What problem do you solve? 

Peter Niermann: Straightlabs solves the problem of providing learners with a unique and effective learning experience. We use modern technologies such as digital learning apps and 3D virtual training worlds to enable learners to apply their knowledge in realistic situations and acquire practical skills. Our focus is on transforming the learning culture and providing innovative opportunities for lifelong learning. Through the use of digital and immersive technologies, we create learning environments that are fun and enable sustainable learning outcomes. Our work has already been recognised by awards such as the eLearning Award and the ‘Red Dot Award’ or the Bavarian Digital Award from the Bavarian Digital Ministry. This motivates us to continue to develop innovative solutions and drive the digital learning sector forward. 

From a research project on the way to market leadership   

Munich Startup: What’s your founding story? 

Peter Niermann: Our founding story is closely linked to a research project together with a leading car manufacturer. The car manufacturer was looking for a gamified and virtual training world to convey knowledge in an efficient and motivating way. Our vision was to create an interactive, virtual learning world, and experience world in which artificial characters simulate real customer encounters in the car dealership. Based on research results, prototype evaluation and the demand for innovative digital training models, we founded Straightlabs in 2015. 

Munich Startup: How has your solution developed since its inception? 

Peter Niermann: Since our foundation at Straightlabs, we have had a strong focus on innovation and progress. We have evolved from a research project to a leading provider of immersive and gamified learning solutions based on the latest technologies such as cloud and spatial computing, VR/AR and artificial intelligence. Our solutions, including our digital learning and training app and XR-Trainer, enable learners to simulate real-life situations in a virtual environment and immerse themselves in interactive three-dimensional training worlds. We are proud of our continuous development and that we are revolutionising corporate learning and training. With passion and determination, we are constantly pushing the boundaries of learning and developing innovative solutions to meet the changing demands of the digital world of work. 

With a pivot to the current business model 

Munich Startup: How often was there a pivot? 

Peter Niermann: Since Straightlabs was founded, we have made a key strategic change. Originally, we focused on individual projects and developed customised virtual learning worlds and gamified learning games. However, we then realised that a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model would allow us to work more efficiently and deliver our solutions faster and at a lower cost, while ensuring a highly interactive and real-world learning experience. This transition to SaaS has allowed us to better meet the needs of our customers. This is because it allows us to rely on cloud-based pricing, eliminating software development investments and update and maintenance costs for our customers. Our solutions remain at the cutting edge of technology. And they always comply with the latest security requirements, regardless of whether they are accessed via a VR headset, a PC or a smartphone. 

Munich Startup: How is business going in the meantime? 

Peter Niermann: Business at Straightlabs is very successful. We have established ourselves as one of the leading companies in virtual training over the last few years, based on our scientific expertise, entrepreneurial finesse, and courage to invest in innovative technologies. Our solutions are used by a wide range of clients, from global corporations to educational institutions. One of our greatest successes is our recent partnership with Meta, the first German partnership in a long-term European research programme exploring the potential of VR and immersive technologies for lifelong learning and education. 

Niermann: “Digital learning is the future”. 

Munich Startup: What have been your three biggest challenges so far? 

Peter Niermann: The three biggest challenges we have faced at Straightlabs include adapting quickly to new and constantly evolving technologies, ensuring the privacy and security of our customers in an increasingly digital world, and promoting the adoption of new digital and virtual learning methods over traditional educational approaches. Despite these challenges, we have proven through continuous learning, rigorous security protocols and ongoing persuasion that digital learning is the future. Thanks to the commitment of our team and our belief in the importance of digital learning, we are confident that we will be able to meet future challenges. 

Munich Startup: How is Straightlabs financed? 

Peter Niermann: Straightlabs is proud to have been self-financed, starting with our founder’s personal funds and the development of a virtual learning platform. Over time, we have been able to finance our growth mainly from our own resources, supported by public funding and research projects. Our independence from venture capital investors allows us to consistently pursue our vision and values and focus on creating high-quality learning solutions. Our successful self-funding reflects our economic stability and confidence in the quality of our products. 

“Close cooperation with customers is crucial” 

Munich Startup: What lessons have you been able to learn in the founding team so far? 

Peter Niermann: Our learnings in the Straightlabs founding team are diverse and valuable. Firstly, crises like the pandemic and the shortage of skilled workers have underlined the importance of digital and virtual learning formats. This has shown us that practice-oriented learning transfer and skills acquisition through innovative technologies offer significant added value. Secondly, we have realised that early recognition of the potential of virtual learning spaces and their careful design are crucial to gain the interest of all stakeholders. Thirdly, we have learnt that continuously adapting and developing our learning formats and working closely with our clients are crucial to address their specific needs and build long-term relationships. We are proud to be able to use these learnings to actively shape the future of learning and make the benefits of these innovative technologies available to our clients. 

Munich Startup: What milestones are you working towards next? 

Peter Niermann: At Straightlabs we are working towards two important milestones. The first is the publication of the results of our groundbreaking research study in collaboration with Meta at a planned congress in autumn. This milestone will give us the opportunity to create new momentum and strengthen our position as an innovation leader. The second milestone is the further integration of artificial intelligence into our product portfolio to make our training formats even smarter and more personalised. Both milestones will make a significant contribution to the further development of digital learning and enable us to offer our customers even more effective and personalised learning experiences.