Using one successful collaboration to build the next was a smart strategy for Spotscale when they developed ground breaking technology with FLIR and then supplied it to Coor’s extensive market. Their collective success highlights what can happen when you combine global leaders in hardware, innovative new software and great market knowledge.
Building damage can be difficult to spot early and difficult to fix later so Spotscale worked towards a 3D imaging technology. They then joined forces with thermal camera manufacturer FLIR to create an innovative new product that added thermal imaging to their 3D. This thermal technology added immense value by letting building owners see issues such as heat leakage, early water damage while the traditional imaging allowed cracks and other structural issues to be seen without a physical inspection.
“By using FLIR’s cameras we could get much richer imagery, meaning thermal imagery. When we used their new cameras and worked together with their engineers, we could get a much more interesting solution with the heat leakage,” says Ludvig Emgård, CEO at Spotscale.
As FLIR is a world leading thermal camera manufacturer with a large portion of the global market share, it was a ‘no brainer’ for Spotscale to meet with them to discuss possible collaboration. But the innovation needed to find a suitable market. For this, Coor was also an obvious choice because of their extensive market network and knowledge.
A Winning Combination of Hardware, Software and Market Expertise
Spotscale began their journey just as drone technology was becoming more accessible in early 2013. They focused on transforming the real estate industry by providing high resolution three dimensional imaging of their buildings. However, at this time, 3D imaging and VR technology were practically unheard of in the real estate industry and Spotscale spent much of the next seven years educating others and developing their solution to include infrared thermal imaging. It was this new infrared thermal imaging that drove their collaborations with world leading thermal camera manufacturer FLIR and later, leading provider of facility management services in the Nordics, Coor.
While the companies didn’t all work directly with one another, one collaboration did enable the next. While FLIR and Spotscale’s collaboration focused on developing the product and a technical solution, Coor was a success at the customer and reseller level, through their joint customer journey and product validation in the right market.
First Spotscale worked together with FLIR on the highly technical thermal imaging product. This is something that has never been done before and it wouldn’t have been possible without the two companies coming together.
“It opened a new niche for Spotscale to bring their very capable solution into a new, world-first application. We were able to provide them with knowledge, equipment, some exposure and credibility in the thermal imaging domain,” says Katrin Strandemar, VP of Platforms & Innovation at FLIR.
“The product we put together, we could only do it because we could loan the cameras from FLIR. But it wouldn’t have been possible if our engineers at Spotscale didn’t also coordinate. They had to collaborate on the very deep bits and bites level on thermal imagery because it’s quite complex,” says Ludvig.
Once they had the product, it needed a market. This can be a challenging prospect for many startups who often don’t have the direct access needed to understand the exact needs of their market. Luckily Coor was already on Spotscale’s radar as a potential option because of their extensive contacts within the right market. Both Ludvig and Tomas Hultgren, Group Innovation and Solution Manager had similar ideas about what Coor would bring to the table.
“It doesn’t matter how good your product is if you don’t have the right market for it. Even if you have a great product and feel it really should fit a market, it’s not proven until you get recurring revenue from that market,” says Ludvig.
Tomas agrees saying that “from the moment we started to work on an official partnership, I started to work on how we could ‘Coorify’ their solution. My plan is that Spotscale’s solution is going to be a vital and fundamental part in our larger strategy.”
It’s also a matter of developing trust between customers and due to their long-term relations with their customers, Coor could open doors that may have otherwise been difficult for Spotscale to access.
“One challenge for startups is to establish trust both internally within the organization they’re working with but also on the customer side. This is the benefit of working with Coor because if we approach the end user with the startup’s solution, there is existing trust based on our long term relationship with the customer,” says Tomas.
Finding A Champion
Spotscale initially met FLIR and Coor through separate Ignite matchmaking events in Linköping in 2017, but despite some positive reactions and follow up meetings, it wasn’t until they connected to internal champions within the larger companies that things really started to develop.
“You really need a champion who is ready to put their reputation and role at risk because large companies are risk averse. If you do nothing, there are no negative consequences. If you take the risk to do something new, then you are also accountable if it goes wrong in some way,” says Ludvig.
The riskiness of beginning collaborations with innovative technology can make finding the right people difficult, but Ignite can help introduce companies to people who know who to reach out to. That’s what happened in Spotscale’s case with Coor. Through contacts, Ludvig was introduced to Tomas who became Spotscale’s champion at Coor in August 2019.
“Sometimes these innovation representatives at Ignite are spiders in the web, they are connected to a lot of people in the company. It’s always a people game. You have to find the right person with the right chemistry and they have to believe in you and your company for anything to happen. You need the right champion who has the guts, the internal charisma and the internal position to make the case and bring the budget. For us, that happened with two companies, FLIR and Coor,” says Ludvig.
According to Thomas it was also a matter of timing and product development that helped peak his interest in collaborating with Spotscale. When the companies first met, Coor didn’t have the business arena and Spotscale’s solution was not developed to a level that was interesting to Coor at that time. It was when they reached out again in 2019 that Tomas was introduced to the company.
“I saw potential both in Spotscale as a company and the competence within, but also very much with the actual solution they had developed and were pushing for,” says Tomas.
FLIR also saw clear potential advantages of working with startups to create new technical solutions.
“Working with startups is a great way to become a leading edge company because it allows you to focus on your core competences, while exploring new technologies and opportunities. This can also be a great way to enter smaller niches that are hard for us to develop custom solutions for on our own. We can learn and experiment in a cost effective way,” says Katrin.
Understanding Needs and Finding the Right Fit
Once Coor saw the technology that Spotscale had developed with FLIR, they saw how it could benefit their customers but needed to go through an extensive process to ensure that the collaboration would work on a legal and financial level. But according to Tomas, it wasn’t something they realised they needed until it was presented to them.
“In some cases, like with Spotscale, you suddenly see this type of solution and you realise that despite doing something the traditional way for 20-30 years, we now have the technology to do it in a much more efficient, safer and cost efficient way. That’s when you see a need for it.”
For Spotscale working with these two companies was something they envisioned long before they actually began collaborating.
“We have been attracted to them for a long time, so it was fairly easy to say to FLIR that we thought we could build a kick-ass thermal product together, that would be the best in the world with them, so that was an easy sell. It was similar with Coor, we have great technology, and they don’t have anything like it but they have a great sales network. It just made sense on so many levels, so for us they were the ‘easy’ ones,” says Ludvig.
Though working together was a mostly positive experience, pace is often brought up as one of the biggest challenges when moving from the initial meetings to an actual partnership. These collaborations were no different but both companies say that patience and flexibility were essential to making it work.
“Large corporates tend to have more bureaucracy compared to startups, however these processes do bring value because it is a sustainable way of working, but you need to find the flexibility to move at a faster pace. You need to be creative to see which processes you can skip and how you can reach the same results without always following the traditional way of working,” says Tomas.
The legal aspects were a key example of these types of pace issues because new technology often doesn’t fit cleanly into existing frameworks and it takes time to find the right fit.
“The legal frameworks we are traditionally working from are more or less based on selling a product or selling a service. The solution from Spotscale, and many of today’s new solutions, are based on hardware in combination with knowledge, in combination with services and to apply that from a legal standpoint is a big challenge,” says Tomas.
Despite these challenges, both Ludvig and Tomas see great potential working together and an opportunity for both sides to generate a lot of value.
A Long Term Vision For Success
All three companies have formed positive partnerships and have a long-term vision to develop further in the future.
“We worked intensively with Spotscale for a little over a year. We have since continued to work together in different ways. Spotscale is still in our Thermal by FLIR program and we help them out whenever we can,” says Katrin.
“We are not looking at just creating one limited pilot with a startup company, we are looking at integrating the solutions into the offerings we have and based on the company needs to be sustainable enough to get through good and bad times,” says Tomas.
Ludvig also notes that it is important for the collaborations to not only create value for their customers, but also encourage more sustainable development focused on repairing buildings rather than just replacing them.
“Our objective is to implement our technology as widely as possible. Maybe we don’t need to tear down so many buildings, we can preserve them longer, because we need buildings to live and work in. We can still build new buildings but we can refurbish the old ones as well.”
“With the technology from Spotscale, real estate owners can meet society’s demands on important issues like climate. It’s not only saving them money but it gives them the chance to contribute to a better world,” says Ludvig.
United Nations’ Sustainable Development (SDGs) addressed by the collaboration project
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