iNUI Riding The Wave Of Success

A month of great news for iNUI Studio. The company just announced the closing of a new funding round from Luxembourgish investors. iNUI has recently successfully exited Technoport after its incubation period. The company moved to the SISA center in Foetz, not far from Technoport facilities. We had a talk with the founder & CEO Olivier Raulot to recall iNUI startup journey since the incorporation.

Hi Olivier, could please tell us about iNUI products and the main milestones of your startup journey?

iNUI stands for Natural User Interface. We are expert in the development of software that recognize gestures for touch and touchless systems.

Everything started when I was the director of a Microsoft software development department at Getronics, and I felt this was the good momentum to create a startup specialized in Natural User Interfaces while touch devices where emerging. I found a local business angel to support my project and, thanks to his investment, we launched the company with a 475K€ funding.

Initially we released a Banking solution dedicated to interactive touch tables. The tool reached clients such as Banque Raiffeisen in Luxembourg and Banque Cantonale Vaudoise (BCV) in Switzerland.

In the last four years we felt the need of interactive shop windows. So, we built our first patented device allowing passer-by to interact with the screen, straight from the street: AIRxTOUCH® BAR. In 2017 we released the product in partnership with Samsung (who provides the screen). We managed to sell 100 units in 2017 and 2018.

In 2019, after more than an entire year of R&D, we planned to launch the second generation of the AIRxTOUCH® BAR at the beginning of 2020. Unfortunately, the go-to-market was hindered by the unexpected Covid-19 pandemic. Actually, the pandemic created a real need for touchless technology to reduce the spread of the virus, and the market opportunity for us to design a new product. So, we developed an indoor interactive touchless display which we called AIRxTOUCH® KIOSK. The first generation was launched in october 2020 with a renewed partnership with Samsung Europe, and we got one of the most famous brand among our customers.

“In 2022, we plan to open a production site in North America in order to facilitate our operations there.”

In the years we managed to make the AIR TOUCH® a very strong brand. Intel joined us as a partner at global level to embed its NUCs in our kiosk. AIRxTOUCH® KIOSK is quite unique on the market, we do not have much competition and we received already several pre-orders globally. To give some examples, our kiosk has attracted among the others a large Canadian restaurant chain, a Luxembourgish transportation group to bring information to the passengers and Norwegian major city that aims to equip airport and tourism office with our kiosk screen.

Our products are produced in Luxembourg. The software is developed by our team in Luxembourg, the hardware parts are supplied by our manufacturer in France and assembled in Luxembourg. Some pieces are cut by CLC Machining, a Technoport hosted company.

In October 2021, iNUI has closed a new funding round to accelerate the business thanks to Luxembourgish funds that joined the adventure.

The next milestone for iNUI is to implement a dual business model in 2022, in order to capture value both from the sale of the final product AIRxTOUCH® KIOSK and from the sale of their AIRxTOUCH® Component dedicated to licensed kiosk manufacturers.

In 2022, we plan to open a production site in North America in order to facilitate our operations there. To do this, we will initiate a new funding round.

You are also the Founder & CEO of Artnolens, what is it about?

Artnolens is my side project, my “coup de cœur”, a mobile App that I created in 2015 driven by my passion for art. I can define Artnolens as an art marketplace and social network where artists can connect with people interested in art. At that time, there was no digital platform for artists to showcase their artworks, sell them, communicate news and events in real time, and interact with fans. I wanted to offer something valuable to the artistic world.

Today the platform collects +5700 artworks by +600 artists and has 2500 active users globally. The growth has been 100% organic. As my current core business is iNUI, at moment the financial efforts are focused on it.

“The financial aid regime is very favourable, especially the R&D grant. It allows entrepreneurs to take risks to innovate.”

Are there some tips you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?

First, I recommend signing a very clear shareholder agreement, in order to avoid potential conflicts in the future, and to carefully choose the right law firm to advice on the legal aspects.

My second advice is to protect your technology, patents, and brand. It is extremely important.

Lastly, it is always important to build an agile and multidisciplinary team, strengthening the ability to adapt to the many unexpected events.

What are the main advantages of launching a startup in Luxembourg based on your experience?

Luxembourg is a small country, so the relations with partners, banks, Ministry are very easy. Proximity makes relational ease. Also, there is a clear support from institutional agencies like Luxinnovation. The financial aid regime is very favourable, especially the R&D grant. It allows entrepreneurs to take risks to innovate.

Moreover, in our case, I can say that the Technoport incubator where we were hosted always provided us with valuable connections and a professional workspace. Also, in the incubator we had the chance to identify and exploit synergies with other companies. For instance, the hosted corporate Guala Closures is providing us with 3D printed parts and CLC Machining is cutting our metal parts.

This article is brought to you by Technoport and reflects only the opinion of the author.

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