Customer-centricity is often highlighted as one of the most important success factors for a company. If you don’t carefully listen to your customers, you can easily end up developing products without real demand. When it comes to Mevea from Lappeenranta, this is even more relevant than normally.
When the company started some 15 years ago, the founders applied for a loan with Tekes (nowadays Business Finland). The loan was not granted so they had to develop their business immediately and find customers in order to break eventually make a profit.
Retrospectively one can speculate whether the negative decision by Tekes was in fact beneficial for Mevea, because as a result of this, extreme customer-centricity formed a core part of the company’s DNA. Today it manifests itself as multiple interfaces for customers of various business domains to tap into Mevea’s system. New interfaces are developed as customers ask for them.
Digital twin at the core of innovation
What is Mevea’s business all about then? For the last five or so years there has been a lot of talk about digital twins. The digital twin concept refers to duplicating a system in the physical world with a counterpart in the digital world. Mevea’s CEO Tero Eskola specifies that their digital twin is based on computing and does not require building a physical system before it is put to use.
Eskola goes on: “Later in the product lifecycle, the digital twin can be complemented with a real physical machine equipped with sensors and based on measured data. Another important feature is that we simulate the environment and the process in addition to the machine itself. For example, an autonomic excavator can be enriched with various parameters from the terrain so that it can make more informed decisions on where to dig and proceed partly or fully autonomously.”
Mevea’s story can be divided into roughly three phases.
After spinning off the Lappeenranta University of Technology, Eskola and his five other co-founders spent the first ten years on developing the technology together with Finnish customer companies. After their technology matured, the second phase began: internationalization.
Mevea started to get billion euro companies such as Liebherr as its customers. At this stage the first external investors joined the ride and the journey towards becoming an Innovestor portfolio company took off.
Machine intelligence shapes the business
Now the company is on the verge of its third phase. The market is transforming fast and the business of heavy equipment is changing rapidly. There are two important reasons for this. First of all, environmental awareness is on the rise and customers replace their old diesel machines with electric engines. The other reason concerns Mevea more directly: machines’ intelligence is growing at an accelerating pace.
Heavy machinery, such as Construction Equipment or Port Cranes have sensors, they monitor their surroundings, and make decisions based on that either by themselves or together with humans. Mevea aims to adopt this technology and utilize it in its own solutions.
Mevea used to connect its system with more traditional processes. Now there are all kinds of new interface types available which can be used to connect the digital twin with various sensors. Sometimes these connections deliver relevant information for decision making, other times not.
“Our technology is currently where it is thanks to our customers. They have anticipated technological developments which have become reality and, back then, requested us to integrate them into our product design. So we have been able to prepare ourselves for the future. We have developed different kinds of sensors, interfaces, and real-time functionalities, because our customers asked us to develop them”, Eskola sums up.
Text: Santtu Toivonen
This is a feature in our monthly ‘Portfolio Insight’ blog series, where we showcase our portfolio companies and provide insights on their businesses. Mevea is one of our Innovestor Growth Fund I portfolio companies.
Innovestor is an early-stage venture capital investor, who actively offers direct co-investment opportunities and builds growth programs.