TerraLoupe is about unlocking detailed insights and boundless analytics in precise geo-imagery to offer solutions for real, industry-specific needs. The Munich company creates a new basis for autonomous driving through an intelligent analysis of aerial image data. Its technology utilises artificial intelligence and deep learning algorithms and allows for the efficient, and highly automated generation of digital map material.
ESA BIC Bavaria Manager Cornelia Gebath (CG) interviews Manuela Rasthofer (MR), CEO and founder at TerraLoupe.
Please give us a sneak peek of your product and the team behind it.
MR: TerraLoupe provides high-quality geo data by analysing aerial imagery via deep learning. All real-world objects are detected, classified, and described by desired features. Our intelligent algorithms allow for the automatic delivery of accurate geo information quickly and cost-effectively for large geographical areas. We produce smart maps that pave the way for a digitised world. Whether it be autonomous mobility or smart cities, we empower the applications of the future. Our team is made up of highly-motivated, young people with diverse backgrounds and nationalities. We have experts in deep learning and artificial intelligence, software and geo data engineering, as well as people dedicated to the business side. It is a perfect combination to grow and promote our technology.
CG: What has been your company’s biggest challenge so far?
MR: Our biggest challenge so far has been the data acquisition. As TerraLoupe sets itself high standards regarding data quality, we require high-resolution images. Such images are sometimes licensed and only delivered by a few companies at high prices. The costs have since decreased due to technological progress. Nonetheless, TerraLoupe pursues sustainable partnerships with image suppliers to achieve a cost advantage.
CG: Can you explain the three main ingredients of your recipe for success?
MR: The first ingredient is our team – without the right people, it will never be possible to build our product. We have the expertise and experience to develop an innovative technology. At the same time, we are a team that is incredibly motivated and eager to create something big. With a shared vision, we all know what we are working for.
Timing is also a very important topic. Even with the best product and people in place, a company will always fail without a market. It is important to have a network of people and build stable relationships. There are always mediators that lead you to the right people. Connecting to these people at the right time paves the way to reach customers and their pain points.
And, finally, tenacity is really important for success. There are always hard times, even so hard that you want to pack it all in. But you struggle through and never give up. It is important to focus on your target and reassure yourself that you are still on the right track. Sometimes it means reconsidering things and changing the path. It may cost time but will finally pay off.
CG: What did you expect from ESA BIC Bavaria?
How did the initiative and its network help you to kick-start your business case?
MR: We expected to enter an ecosystem of mentors, start-ups and investors that will be of huge value for our business idea. In our opinion, it was a great opportunity to learn about the market, benefit from entrepreneurial experiences, and get support in taking the first steps to create our technology. It is crucial to connect with skilled people, particularly in the beginning of a start-up’s life. The initiative provided a network that helped to foster our business and share knowledge. We gained some very important advice and insights that assisted with business development.
CG: How did the DLR support you?
MR: DLR was a valuable partner in terms of data acquisition and expert knowledge. It was the first source for our analysis. We were in regular discussions and they supported us, in particular, with their experience in handling geo data.
CG: Let’s reach for the stars – what is going to happen in TerraLoupe’s future?
MR: We are focusing on the autonomous mobility market and are going to further develop our technology in this direction. We want to create a significant share in data content for smart maps. We are working step by step to deliver the big picture. As TerraLoupe has the right partners on board, it will become a geo data supplier that enables autonomous mobility. Nevertheless, there is still a lot to do in order to digitise the world.