Scale with Sixth Sense: Are you investor ready?

Finding investors is an important moment in any start-up journey. Perhaps you need an injection of cash to support a big growth stage? You might also recognise the need for external advice and guidance as you grow the business. Perhaps you’re ready to sell off a sizeable chunk of the business you’ve grown for lifestyle reasons? Whatever the motivations, there are certain elements you need to be aware of as you try to prepare yourself for investment.  Get the story straight  However the investment process goes down, you will need to pitch and present yourself,  your team, and the company to investors along the way. To be attractive to investors, you will need to be able to clearly outline a number of things.  Hexagon’s Chuck Matthews knows a thing or two about investment and acquisitions. “I’ve done five acquisitions, two where I sold the company and three where I bought a company,” says Mathews. “Getting ready for it is all about having a very clear and compelling story prepared that balances the power of the technology, your team, the commercial outlook and then finances. This must be done without exaggeration but presented in a super positive way.”  Some key questions to start answering now are:  What are your growth ambitions, your vision?  Do you have a strategy to get you there?  Do you understand your market? Do you have product market fit?  Who are your competitors and what makes you different? Do you have a strong handle on your operational metrics and financial data?  How will you monetize the business?  Are you missing any key skills in the business?  Have you considered how much of the company you might be willing to give away?   Get everyone involved Securing investment isn’t the job of the CEO and the CFO alone. Senior figures across the business should understand what you’re trying to achieve, why and how – ready to be pulled into the process at any given time.  “Getting the management team involved early was very important to us,” says Mathews. “Our internal teams in the companies I sold were always very well prepared before the conversation even started. You want your commercial and technical leadership connected and keeping each other informed as you go through the process.” Do your homework so that investors can do theirs Due diligence is a crucial part of this journey – any potential investor will be asking you some in-depth questions as part of this process. “A lot of prep work needs to be done to make the process as smooth as possible,” adds Mathews.    Due diligence should broadly fall under the following categories:  Legal due diligence – matters such as corporate structure, contracts, assets, intellectual property, insurance, compliance, employees and any leases or other property Financial due diligence – the current financial status of the company, any accounts, any past performance of the company, financial projections and any debtors or creditors Technical matters – where a product or service includes a highly technical aspect,

By |November 30th, 2022|

Cohort spotlight: Augmentir

The mission:  “To empower workers to do their best work.”  Augmentir believes that today’s industrial frontline workforce, with a global footprint of over 350 million workers, has been underserved by technology. It intends to change that. “To allow an employee to do their best work, companies need to give them access to information, they need to give them access to knowledge, they need to give them access to tools,” explains Chris Kuntz, Augmentir.  The problem we’re addressing Augmentir believes that the most pressing issue facing the manufacturing industry today is the unprecedented level of workforce variability that had been brought on by a steep increase in employee turnover, absenteeism, and an overall shortage of skilled labour.  “Our focus is empowering workers to do their best work while also empowering the employers to meet their production, safety and quality goals with the limited resources that they have,” says Kuntz.  What we do  Augmentir addresses this by helping manufacturers understand and support their workers in ways that are specifically engaging, rewarding, safer, and easier for each worker. “We wanted to create something that really focused on helping workers at an individual level, allowing them to operate more autonomously,” says Kuntz. “We believe that this is more than just connecting workers with digital tools. There is also a data play. To understand the workers, you need to make sense of the rich activity data that connected workers generate, so we built an AI platform.” Augmentir is a connected worker solution that allows industrial companies to digitise and optimise processes that support frontline workers from “hire to retire”. The complete suite of tools, which include skills management, digital workflows, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, are built on top of Augmentir’s patented Smart AI foundation, which close the loop between training and work execution, delivering the data and in-line insights necessary to continuously improve operational excellence day-over-day, year-over-year. Our history  The Augmentir founding team has been at the forefront of three of the most important of some significant software technology revolutions in manufacturing – Wonderware Software in 1987, Lighthammer in 1997, and ThingWorx in 2008. In 2017, the founders of Augmentir recognised that the technology and market forces were aligned yet again, for a fourth industrial software revolution. A revolution focused on increasing the productivity and quality of processes by involving and enabling front-line workers. “We have a shared history of bringing software into the manufacturing space,” says Kuntz. “It was all about helping people control machines, making machines smarter and more connected but what we realised had been forgotten in this whole digitisation journey was the humans.” Interesting fact about Augmentir  Augmentir is officially cool. In 2022, it was named a Gartner Cool Vendor in Manufacturing Operations.  What we hope from Sixth Sense  “We joined Sixth Sense because Augmentir’s solutions are very complimentary to many of Hexagon’s, and this is a great opportunity to showcase how we can help Hexagon shape the future of industrial work,” says Kuntz “We are hoping to build connections and

By |November 30th, 2022|

Cohort spotlight: GelSight 

The mission: “Unleashing the limitless possibilities of tactile sensing” ​​GelSight is a pioneer in digital, imaging-based tactile intelligence. The proprietary technology enables digital tactile sensing with the sensitivity and resolution of human touch to transform industrial process efficiency, accuracy, and quality.  “The digitisation of sensors has created a positive revolution every time it has happened,” explains Youssef Benmokhtar, chief executive officer. “The digitisation of vision and sound have both changed the world. Now we are digitising touch and building a business around that core concept. We have a proven ability to translate our breakthrough science into well-engineered, easy-to-use products that solve real-world problems across a range of industries.” The problem we’re addressing  A large amount of quality control still happens manually in factories across the world because certain factors and faults can’t be observed by sight and need to be touched to test or measure quality. “Our sensor technology hardware enables you to have that precise understanding when vision doesn't work well or can't work,” says the CEO. “We provide you with that sense of perception.” GelSight’s technology is also especially timely because of increasing labor shortages. “Companies, especially in aerospace, have been relying on inspectors that have been doing this for 20, 30, 40 years and they're really good at it,” says Benmokhtar. “But now, nobody wants these repetitive types of manufacturing jobs. Our technology basically gives that augmentation by providing people with tools to perform tasks that traditionally require more training or manual inspection skills.” Meanwhile, companies across all sectors are expected to improve productivity. “We offer the ability to do more with less and show a very quick return on investment,” says Benmokhtar.  What we do  GelSight’s tactile intelligence technology digitises touch with human-like sensitivity and high-resolution using a breakthrough elastomeric tactile sensing platform. GelSight’s products create a soft, high-resolution, tactile sensor that conforms like human skin to the shape of an object on contact, precisely capturing the topography of the surface. “Wherever vision struggles or is not capable of giving you the understanding of the physical world, GelSight provides you that understanding through touch,” says Benmokhtar. “We're building a tactile intelligence platform based on the hardware that we have, and also adding software applications on top of it to provide our customers with different ways to leverage the output from those sensors.” GelSight allows you to inspect and measure any material regardless of composition, reflectivity, or transparency  – things that vision systems may struggle with. It is also agnostic to lighting environments and can operate in everything from bright light to complete darkness.  Our history  GelSight was born from leading-edge academic research. Its co-founders Professor Ted Adelson, Kimo Johnson, and Janos Rohaly, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have developed new technologies in the fields of 3D imaging, perceptual modelling, and signal processing, building a rich IP portfolio.  Interesting fact about GelSight  The Norwegian ski team has publicly acknowledged GelSight’s important role in their success as a gold medallist. The company’s 3D measurement device

By |November 30th, 2022|

Six lessons we’ve learned from the first Sixth Sense cohort

When Sixth Sense launched in January 2022, it was the first time Hexagon had created an in-depth engagement programme for working with start-ups. Of course, we had relationships with start-ups and collaborated with them on occasion but there was no formalised vehicle to help us meet and work with start-ups in our space. We wanted this to change.  What followed was an amazing 10-week programme for our first ever challenge, which saw us work closely with seven inspiring start-ups from across the world. Not only did we get to meet and get a better understanding of other businesses in our space – we also learned a lot about Sixth Sense and how we might be able to take a great thing and make it even better the next time around.  Here are my biggest learnings from cohort one – what start-ups need and how we’ll address these as we move into our second challenge with a fresh and exciting crop of scaling start-up businesses.  1. Start-ups are looking for more than money (but some do need it) We found in our original interviews when designing the platform that for most start-ups just being handed a cheque for equity doesn't cut it. It’s better to support product-market fit. But some companies do require the funding, which isn't originally what we were set up for. We don't have a venturing arm yet. Our focus is typically on acquisitions.  Instead, we have connected to half a dozen VC leaders in advanced manufacturing and are sharing opportunities with them. We hope to see some positive outcomes out of this soon. 2. We need to hit the ground running with intros We definitely knew that we wanted to be more intentional with our next cohort. We’re going to work to create outcomes for the companies from the start, by involving more business unit owners and including more of the management team from the beginning. We’ll connect them with the start-ups immediately and find that fit. 3. Global cohorts are hard to handle We certainly had a challenge around coordinating companies from all around the world, particularly when it comes to global events. Trying to coordinate Europe, Brazil and the US all at once took a while. Also the level of engagement from companies to the programme and coach/mentor offering varied. For cohort two, even though time zones will always be a challenge, we are offering more flexibility and adjusting schedules to accommodate everybody. As far as mentoring goes, we have a slightly different approach this time, we have three main mentors/coaches who are working with assigned start-ups and then leaning on a wider group of mentors when required for specific areas – IP, product, branding, etc. 4. European companies aren’t as accustomed to pitching  We discovered that European companies tend to have less investor pitching experience as quite a few of them seem to receive initial finance via grants through university networks or manufacturing institutes like Fraunhofer so they require a little more support to

By |November 15th, 2022|

Sixth Sense selects its second cohort

Our second Selection Day saw 12 brilliant start-ups from around the world pitch their businesses to a panel of expert Hexagon judges and an online audience on 02 November 2022. Each company highlighted the innovative nature of their technology, its potential return on investment, and the efficiency/productivity gains they could drive in manufacturing, with eight chosen to progress to Sixth Sense's innovative on-the-job scaling programme. For its second challenge, Sixth Sense invited companies working within two areas. First was Visualisation and Digital Reality. This means creating a real object's digital representation to improve productivity, test automated processes, simulate outcomes and improve planning. The second area was Intelligence and Automation. Specifically, Sixth Sense welcomed start-ups working on adaptable automation or hyper-automation, which has intelligence behind it. Using AI and machine learning, it can adapt to the changes in the process without prompting. The audience selection was an Israeli start-up, CASTOR, which also ranked highly on our judges' list. Seven further winners were chosen by the judging panel. From 07 November, they will be supported by coaching, funding and industrial use case references through Hexagon's customers. It is an intensive challenge, offering the second cohort various activities – working on practical projects prepared by Hexagon, meeting with clients and partners to learn more about industry challenges, and participating in fireside chats with global business leaders. Each company will also be supported by weekly meetings with mentors to get personalised advice and discuss the best solutions for the problems they face. On 02 February at Demo Day, the second cohort will present the project they have been working on to an advisory board of industry experts. The three best companies will receive Hexagon's support in bringing their product or service to a global audience. The selected companies were: CASTOR Our audience selection enables optimised manufacturing and increased profitability by using industrial 3D printing. The company solves the challenge of identifying where, when, and how it is beneficial to use 3D printing by automatically analysing each part within an existing product design. Threedy With its instant3Dhub, Threedy offers a unique infrastructure component that allows companies to meet the constantly growing demand for highly available 3D data in responsive and interactive applications. Oculavis The start-up offers the software as a service solution, 'oculavis SHARE', used for augmented reality video customer support. It claims to reduce mean time to repair by up to 50%; annual field service costs by up to 20%, and CO2 emissions due to less travel. 3YOURMIND  3YOURMIND is an on-demand manufacturing software that empowers companies to identify and produce parts when needed. With 3YOURMIND's help, OEMs operating companies and contract manufacturers can create digital inventories of qualified parts to reduce costs, shorten production lead times, and secure more efficient and agile operations. GelSight The company is a pioneer in digital, imaging-based tactile intelligence. The proprietary technology invented at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology provides exceptionally detailed and rapid surface characterisation, enabling several surface measurement applications and robotic sensing capabilities. Augmentir  Augmentir's Smart

By |November 3rd, 2022|

Meet the selection day judges

With our shortlist of companies chosen, we are excitedly heading towards selection day on 02 November when we will choose the final six or seven cohort members who will enter the Sixth Sense programme for challenge two.  Challenge two is all about: visualisation and digital reality and intelligence and automation. More detail on these challenge areas can be found in this blog.  Helping to choose this final line-up of start-ups will be our panel of expert judges – all senior leaders cherry-picked from across Hexagon. Their opinions will inform the names that go forward into our intensive scaling programme.  Our audience will also have the opportunity to have their say – with one cohort place allocated exclusively to the audience favourite. But guiding us every step of the day will  be our six judges. So let’s meet them! Arno Zinke  Arno is an experienced software leader with a strong background in digital innovation, software practice, and cloud platforms. In his role as SVP Software Engineering, he drives alignment and strategic innovation across all Hexagon MI business units.    Prior to joining Hexagon, he supported Autodesk’s platform transformation in various leadership positions, most recently as Chief Platform Architect. Arno is an entrepreneur who founded two companies and has worked on a wide range of technologies, products, and platforms in different industries throughout his career, from media and entertainment to manufacturing and construction.  He holds a PhD in computer science and has a strong academic background in computer vision, graphics and simulation as well as machine learning-based techniques. Arno is a startup mentor and investor.   Dhiraj Mohan   Dhiraj is the Portfolio Director for the Innovation Hub and Ventures. His role predominantly covers business incubation, M&A , portfolio management and compliance.  Prior to Hexagon he worked for Schneider Electric in engineering and product management serving clients in sectors like oil & gas, pharmaceuticals and power generation.  In addition to his professional experience , Dhiraj holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Honours)  and an MBA.   Daniela Handl  Daniela has a PhD in Computer Science and a background in software development. She has been with Volume Graphics for 20 years, having helped grow the company from a small team of less than 10 to a global team of more than 170 employees, with subsidiaries in the USA, Singapore, China, and Japan in addition to headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany. Daniela joined the Volume Graphics management team 10 years ago, with a special focus on customer relationships and providing pioneering solutions tailored to industry needs. She has served as Director of the US and Singapore subsidiaries for many years now, and recently took on the role of General Manager of Volume Graphics. In this new capacity, one of her main focuses will be to continue the successful integration of Volume Graphics into Hexagon as it continues its journey to empowering an autonomous, sustainable future. Jason Walker  As General Manufacturing Practice Lead, Jason is responsible for driving success across the small-to-medium sized manufacturing businesses that Hexagon serves. With over

By |October 26th, 2022|
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