Becoming a company boss with Lab1886: Exoknox GmbH: from the initial idea to a start-up in a year and a half
- Pioneering spirit at Daimler alive and kicking: successful company foundation with the aid of Lab1886
- More efficiency and networking in the development of technical products through Exoknox
- From operative employee to company founder: thanks to Lab1886 Michael Baumann was able to develop his idea into a complete software product
Stuttgart. For 15 years Michael Baumann was a calculation engineer in model series and development projects at Daimler AG. Since January 2019 he has been Managing Director of Exoknox GmbH. The start-up company is his and his colleague Christoph Böhm's "baby" which they both brought into the world and developed into a market-ready spin-off with "birthing assistance" from Lab1886 in just a year and a half. The two graduate mechanical engineers put this success down to two factors: the idea for a new type of extended product data management system and Lab1886. In 2012 they embarked on a search together as part of their daily work for software that supports the entire functional data process chain in the development process for technical components. To this day this type of software is not available on the market.
From the idea to market maturity and spin-off company
The project gathered momentum in mid-2017. That was when the pair pitched their idea in the Lab1886 shark tank. Following critical appraisal by a jury of experts it was accepted as an incubation project. In this phase Baumann and Böhm received the support they needed to develop further. With mentoring by managers, in-house co-working spaces and workshops as well as a financial injection, all the necessary resources were made available for the project, enabling it to develop the Exoknox software to market maturity in just a year and a half.
"Implementing ideas from individual employees, teams and Business Units quickly and unconventionally is one of the philosophies behind Lab1886. We have all the infrastructures and skills required to do this" says Susanne Hahn, Head of Lab1886 Global. "This freedom allows employees to work in shallow hierarchies and a creative atmosphere. Exoknox is one of the examples which demonstrate that the Lab1886 ecosystem works."
Following a successful incubation phase the spin-off start-up was founded at the beginning of 2019. This year there are plans to employ four to five software developers. This opens the door to commercialisation for the Daimler subsidiary. "I am proud to have developed such a complex software product as Exoknox in such a short space of time together with the whole project team. Thanks to Lab1886 we had the necessary time, the material and financial resources plus motivated partners at our disposal, explained Michael Baumann. "With Exoknox we offer the developer community a completely new type of tool which makes developing technical components more efficient. For the first time we are in a position to make available existing know-how, which the experts have previously kept in their heads, to all developers on a digital platform, supporting them in networking as they go about their tasks."
Baumann has clear objectives for the future. In the short term the company and software are to be successfully established; above all he is aiming for initial licensing of Exoknox in Mercedes-Benz Passenger Car Development. In the medium term the aim is to extend to further Business Units of Daimler AG and complete licensing with the first external customers. Further fields of application are also to be explored through targeted expansion of the software.
In the first stage the Exoknox software will be available to engineers and selected suppliers at Daimler AG from mid-2019. The name Exoknox is derived from the Greek „exo“ for exterior/outside, the English word know from knowledge and an x, which stands for generalisation in mathematics. The name thus symbolises the availability of knowledge taken from the brains of individual people and made available to all the product developers in a company on a digital platform.
How Exoknox works
Exoknox is aimed at developers of technical systems (simulation and test engineers, designers) for whom functional component properties play a fundamental role. In particular spatially distributed development networks, such as those which arise through customer or supplier relationships, will benefit from the software.
Exoknox administers data on the functional properties of technical components and systems. The software connects users with these data in their joint work. Exoknox makes available functionalities such as versioning, requirements management with regard to functional component behaviour, automated quality checks, preparation and evaluation of functional data, ordering and delivery as well as import and export interfaces on the basis of a rights and roles model. This makes Exoknox an extended product data management system (PDM System) which goes way beyond the classic solutions. Exoknox makes the development of technical products more efficient and provides support in increasing the degree of product maturity. There is currently no other software on the market offering a scope of functionalities comparable with Exoknox.
Lab1886 is an independent innovation lab within Daimler AG. It is where new business ideas, including outside the core business, are identified, incubated and brought to market maturity. The aim is to proceed faster from the idea to the product or business model. By realising a portfolio of innovations, Lab1886 helps Daimler AG to secure a sustainable and profitable future. Lab1886 combines the best of the start-up and corporate worlds. With Lab1886, Daimler is committed to cross-divisional and cross-company cooperation and swarm intelligence. Lab1886 has all the necessary resources and skills as well as ten years of experience in the implementation of new business models. This freedom allows employees to work in a focused way in flat hierarchies and a creative atmosphere. The innovation lab operates at four locations on three continents: Stuttgart and Berlin in Germany, Beijing in China and Atlanta in the USA.