I am happy that Morteza Nokhodian Esfahani, had the time to answer our questions.
Have fun reading and leave a comment if you have feedback or questions.
Give us your 30 seconds elevator pitch. What is it that you are working on? And who are the masterminds behind your company?
Our main goal is providing Predictive Maintenance for railway infrastructure but what makes us different is our approach. Our first focus is pantograph and catenary interaction and we have made two standalone products. A condition monitoring system that collects real data and an analytical simulation engine that creates synthetic data. Using synthetic data in our state of the art Predictive Maintenance engine is the fact that will put us ahead of our competitors in the predictive maintenance market.
How did you find each other and what was the final moment, when you decided you’re going to found a company together?
It’s quite a story but to say it shortly I would say in fact the idea was initiated between Mina and Farzad and as Amir was the student of Farzad as he found him a real active and smart student he asked him to join the team. I joined a bit later, they came to me to seek some advice about generic startup know-how but I really found them bright and very motivated and as they didn’t have IT or embedded software expert in the team I proposed to join and they agreed.
Why did you decide to start working on a hardware idea?
Railway condition monitoring even though it’s very crucial, has not been evolved and the gap is obvious by many other recent players in market. We felt that all the current solution are not agile enough and more importantly as we had a patent on a measurement technique for pantograph condition monitoring, we decided to build our complete hardware solution. Something to mention here is our name PantoHealth, panto means all and by all, we mean all hardware. When we are daydreaming together we tend to think in the far future we will be a health estimator of all hardware or The Predictive Maintenance solution for all hardware.
Why did you choose the city of Berlin to found a company? Do you think the city has an impact of how successful your project will be?
In fact, we love Berlin, Berlin is a very vibrant city and the startup ecosystem is emerging rapidly. If you compare Berlin with other startup hubs in Europe you will find a lot of advantages such as lower prices, better accessibility to talents, and an International mindset. Access to the German and European markets and all the startup supports in this city makes me believe being in the capital of Germany makes us grow quicker than any other place.
If you could have one additional skill in your team, who would get it, what would it be and why?
In term of technical talents we will never have enough we have lots of validated ideas and we need many engineers to do them quicker but if you ask about a skill that doesn’t exist in our team I’d say a master sale and out reach person. So far, we have done all the outreach and selling within the team but having a proper sale person can make our process smoother.
What do you want to achieve with your startup?
Money!!! Not really, all of us have been successful engineers and have been active in more rewarding projects and companies. I’d say the biggest motive for us is to build. We are all geek engineers and nothing satisfies us more than creating something that helps. The beauty of seeing something that you have built is being used and solves problems is the biggest factor. However, we don’t hate money also 😉
What was your biggest fuck up during your startup career?
Well, depends what kind! we had an online meeting with a potential investor and we had one laptop with us to present and as we were sharing the screen it was giving the famous BSOD and it happened 3 times. Just imagine 3 times we were saying hello to this important guy and saying sorry for problems and again boom restart. At the end he left the meeting and we couldn’t meet him anymore. By the way if you don’t know what is BSOD google it!
Which is the part of running a startup, that scares you the most and which is most fun?
Scariest part is to live with minimum money and maximum effort, the maximum effort part can be a fun part as well because you are doing what excites you. Well! not always but in general when you feel your work matters it is always more fun. Apart from that flexibility of how, where and when you want to work and using your creativity to define what you want to do next is what I find it fun in running a startup.
When was the last time you really celebrated a success and what was it about?
Just like last week as we installed our second version of our MVP in Belgium. We have been fairly successful as we won few awards and as well also delivered a project for DB Netze.
If you could change your life with every person in the world right now - would you do it? And if yes, with whom?
I would say Barack Obama or Bill Gates, but I want my personality and ideas in them.
Why are you at MotionLab.Berlin?
MotionLab.Berlin is phenomenal and to us, it’s not only a hardware lab. One of the reasons Berlin is a good startup hub is places such as MotionLab.Berlin that not only enables creativity to come to existence, it also helps the creators connect and grow as a community.
Would you rather have the skills to see 10 minutes into your future or to reset what happened in the last 10 minutes?
Seems like an IQ question! Logically in the explained context, both are the same since if you know the effect of all you do in the next 10 mins is like you do it all in reality and turn it back. I like them both I think if I had either of them I wouldn’t have any regret of doing something wrong in my future.
What is your favorite song, that motivates you and brings you through a tough working day?
What is the current status quo of your project?
We have deployed our condition monitoring system in Belgium and have a simulation project with DB NETZE we are looking forward to making more customers for our condition monitoring system especially in Germany.
Are you currently looking for something specific? Investors, specific knowledge or positions?
We are looking for Investors, we have made two investment plans for interested parties. We also look forward to finding partners to further advance our condition monitoring system. We always like to get connected to sensor experts and people who have a deep understanding of pantograph and catenary to have a mutually beneficial conversation and find synergies.
If the 14 year old you would read this interview, what is the one thing you want him to know?
Future of public transport needs predictive maintenance to stay relevant. Predictive maintenance means we have to predict when we need to fix something to minimize the cost of maintaining infrastructure.
Who is probably the proudest person in your circle of what you have achieved in the last years?
This might seem a little bit self-absorbed to say but everyone tells us they are proud of us. But, what I have to say is we are just at start of a very very long journey. Having a proud family and our supporters made our hearts warm but I guess we should achieve a lot more to be impactful in this world.
When was the last time you got really sick of what you are doing and why?
I guess getting sick is too strong but it has happened sometimes especially when you are debugging platform issues, you might have a very hard time. More than that sometimes when you try so hard to win a customer or apply for something and after months of communication you get rejected it’s really painful.
If someone invested 1 million euro in your startup tomorrow, what would you use the money for?
We have a complete plan for it. Concisely, I’d say we will build both monitoring and simulation platform and build an active sale process for both of them. I guess that takes us to the stage that we can start our Predictive Maintenance product.
I’d like to thank MotionLab.Berlin and Imagine2030 accelerator program that hosted us and helped us with a strong start. I hope we make you proud. As well, I’d like to say as part of the Zebra community we like to help others grow as well and I’d welcome any question, asking for advice or help, simply you can reach out on LinkedIn.