How can a company detect damage to buildings

yRunning forty hours every week, javelin and discus, running hurdles, jumping far and high – for many, this will be a full-time job. Especially if you want to be among the best in the world in decathlon. But 22-year-old Andreas Beckmann, who only became the European Under-23 champion last summer, doesn’t seem busy: He put in the rest of the week, at least 80 hours, at his company Preventio. Even if he wanted to, he would not be able to train 24 hours a day, says the athlete, who competes for Eintracht Frankfurt. So he has enough time to start his company – which recently received an infusion of cash from millions of investors.

The man from Frankfurt became the founder when he came to his apartment in the evening after sports training about two years ago. His pigeon was soaked in water almost to his knees: a burst pipe. The craftsmen stay in the apartment for several days to thoroughly dry and sterilize it. Beckmann wonders if there was no way to prevent such a thing.

“The best damage is the one that never happens in the first place”

It is fitting that Beckmann was a management student at the Akades University of Applied Sciences in Bad Homburg at that time. There he develops a project with two fellow students, which will then become a business idea and Preventio in the fall of 2021. “The best damage is the one that doesn’t happen in the first place,” Beckmann says. So Preventio wants to anticipate damage before it happens. To do this, the company collects countless data, for example about the age of the building and the date of its damage. With the help of an algorithm and artificial intelligence, data is evaluated and predictions are made about the risks of property damage. The tubes and wires can then be repaired before they break.

His predictions are a “win-win” situation for landlords, renters and insurance companies. It runs his company without its own sensor technology. Connecting a sensor to every pipe in an apartment building can be time consuming and expensive. Preventio works only with data the startup receives from property owners, insurance companies, weather services and other data providers.

Among the companies that Preventio already works with are the world’s leading pipe manufacturer Viega and Germany’s largest housing company Vonovia. But one is open to other partners from sectors related to real estate, Beckmann says. The better the Preventio system, the more data can be collected.

‘Emerging Sporthilfe of the Year Award’

The fact that Beckmann is a competitive athlete helps the company a lot when looking for investors. Many contacts came because he met contacts after sporting events. Last year, Preventio was also named “Sporthilfe Start Up of the Year” and the prize was awarded 12,000 euros. This causes stress, Beckmann says. But he knows it from sports. “And I’m convinced that you, as a founder, have to learn how to deal with it.”

Beckmann says he knows he can’t be an athlete his whole life. And as an athlete, you shouldn’t be hoping for millions of dollars either. So he asked himself early on what would happen after his sports career. The establishment of Preventio is an opportunity to secure yourself for the future.

And like any athlete, he’s always on the lookout for new targets: Although water damage accounts for more than 50 percent of damage to buildings, there are other types of damage for which preventive detection measures can be developed, he says. He can also imagine expanding into commercial real estate. And there will also be an international orientation, for example to America.

Not a 100m race, but a marathon

In order to realize its growth plans, Preventio recently managed to raise 1.35 million euros. The investor round was led by Future Capital, a technology investment fund in which the state of Hesse holds a stake. Beckmann says the money will be used primarily for employees. In addition, the software platform must be built, because the company wants to put it on the market at the end of this year. “At the end of the day, starting a business isn’t the 100m, it’s a marathon. It’s about sticking with it for the long term,” Beckmann says. But the need in the market is there.

But before that happens, Beckmann wants a second goal: the next track and field championship is scheduled for August in Munich. There, Frankfurter wants to become European champion again. Because sport has one thing before entrepreneurship: “You can’t win a gold medal when you start a company.”

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