Most founder stories start with the idea for a product. Not this one. Josef Seibl from Salzburg fell in love with computational intelligence systems while working with Prof. Mayer at the University of Salzburg. He found a target market by researching and seeing what industry most needed his favourite software. Now, his startup evSOLve provides timesaving routing solutions for all sorts of delivery-service companies.
Seibl is in his early thirties, but you’d never guess that by his appearance. Behind the boyish face, thick Salzburg accent and wide grin is a deeply organised mind, which has made the leap from software developer to entrepreneur thanks to his versatility and down-to-earth attitude. “It’s great to be able to work in an area that I’m passionate about and have the job of bringing it to the people in a way that they can comprehend,” Seibl says with a smile. “That’s not a given for IT professionals.”
Taking the road less traveled
It’s great to be able to work in an area that I’m passionate about and have the job of bringing it to the people in a way that they can comprehend. That’s not a given for IT professionals.Josef Seibl
It all began in 2012, when Seibl was completing his engineering masters thesis with Prof. Mayer. Mayer had developed a system that made it possible to organise deliveries by schedule and tour. Technically, the tool could be used to calculate almost anything, but “that doesn’t sell,” Seibl laughs. So the two began their market research and decided that the delivery of products and services would be an interesting place to start. They were able to secure a grant from the Business Creation Center Salzburg (BCCS) that came with an office, coaching and financial consulting.
“We were newcomers to logistics,” admits Seibl, so they began speaking with potential clients in their target market – small and medium size businesses that make at least 10-20 deliveries per day – and quickly found there is demand for the type of product they were planning. They found that many smaller companies still do much of their logistical planning “by hand.” Most medium-sized services use a rudimentary excel list of destinations or outsource their planning to larger logistics companies. Even larger companies which use logistics software merely group the destinations by postal code and leave it up to their drivers to find the quickest routes.
With demand for the product and launch support, evSOLve was officially founded on January 4, 2013. They called the logistics idea “evAlloc.” Their original team also had an IT manager, the retired Dr. Günter Steinegger, who had taken over the business and financial side. During the founding phase, however, he unexpectedly passed away. It was a sad setback for Seibl and Mayer, yet the duo decided to keep the company going. “That required a lot more from me,” Seibl says. He had already run his own business for several years as a programmer and software developer, so Seibl decided to take over the finances. They also had a valuable intern, Julia Altenried, who helped get the company on its feet.
Logistical child’s play
“People tend to plan graphically,” Seibl explains. “We’ll see on a map that one location is close to another, but don’t take into account a bridge, a river or a one-way street on the connecting route.” The program is able to minimise the travel time by merely a few percent per ride, but that can add up to significant savings over time. On an annual basis, a small company can save thousands of euros.
People tend to plan graphically. We’ll see on a map that one location is close to another, but don’t take into account a bridge, a river or a one-way street on the connecting route.
When evAlloc is used by companies delivering to between 50 and 100 destinations per day, “it gets really interesting,” says Seibl, “They can really save money.” A middle-sized company delivering to 80 destinations can expect at least 10% savings. In one year, the company’s vehicles will have driven 6,000 fewer kilometers, emitted 1.5 tons less carbon dioxide and reduced fuel consumption by 6,000 litres, which amounts to monetary savings of approximately 2,400 euros. Furthermore, drivers would spend 320 fewer hours on the road, the equivalent of approximately 30 workdays, which adds another 2,000 euros in potential savings.
EvSOLve introduced evAlloc at the “Lange Nacht der Forschung” (a nationwide festival for scientific research and development in Austria). They let visitors compete with the program to find the fastest delivery tour for 10 destinations in Salzburg. None of the 70 participants was able to beat the evAlloc system. One of the product’s selling points is its simple interface. Seibl remembers an adorable 10-year-old girl easily putting together a tour, even explaining it to her mother.
Life is a highway
Seibl realises that becoming an entrepreneur has changed him. “I’m more stressed-out,” he laughs. But he feels lucky to be working in technology, which is what makes him tick. “It may sound cheesy, but it’s also great to see the way the company has become something bigger than myself.” The business is not yet booming, but being a lean IT company, they have a relatively small overhead and the revenue stream is enough to minimise losses.
EvSOLve is currently operating in the greater Salzburg region, because – even with logistical planning by evAlloc – the team can’t yet afford to travel long distances. In the coming years they plan to expand to the rest of Austria and into Bavaria, with the ultimate goal being to serve the entire DACH region.
They’re taking it one step at a time. “We’re not planning on huge expansion.” Seibl explains. “For now, we want to let the company’s growth take its natural course.”
This story is brought to you in partnership with AplusB, a programme funded by FFG.