KLU Talks Business ... with Frank Seeger

CO2OPT – The name says it all. The startup uses artificial intelligence and big data to find the optimal vehicle-tire combination, thus reducing carbon emissions and gas costs, ideally up to 10 percent. In addition, the prospect for companies of a full overview of their tire performance and contribution to the climate have, in CO2OPT co-founder Frank Seeger’s assessment, led KLU to select the startup for a one-year sponsorship.

Frank, how did you all come up with the idea for CO2OPT?

Frank Seeger: The idea came when I realized that digitalization was scarce in the tire industry. As a business administration graduate, I’ve gathered a lot of experience in the financial sector and publishing, and after my MBA I got into consulting. I spent the majority of my career at Continental, both at home and abroad. Professionally, I was involved with commercial vehicle tires, where I saw untapped potential. During some time off, I was advising an Israeli startup and ended up leaving my permanent position. I founded CO2OPT two years ago with Benjamin Bartsch, our tire expert, and Siddhant Tibrewal, our techie. We want to be the number one tire software and create a single point of contact for the industry.

What obstacles do you have to overcome?

Seeger:For one, there are the usual challenges of finding qualified IT talent to continually improve the platform, integrate more data, and protect us from imitators. On the other hand, the industry has to be totally convinced that an optimal tire selection via digitalization can contribute greatly to sustainability. We often have to overcome a company’s short-term problem-solving business focus. Low willingness to innovate and digitalization in the logistics industry are especially pronounced in Germany. And this amidst the legal requirements for vehicle manufacturers, especially on carbon emissions reduction, which will be tightened in the future. Tires afford a simple solution for carbon emissions reduction because no structural modifications to the vehicle are necessary. And our software conveniently takes care of the rest – that’s how easy the future can be.

And does it work in practice?

Seeger: A good example is our collaboration with VW Group Logistics and Spedition Weets. After our tire recommendations, they were able to reduce their CO2 emissions by four percent, which was above the forecasted target and documented in a 12-month field test. Through transparent, measurable successes like this we want to increase companies’ engagement with sustainable practices. That’s the nice thing. With cost savings we can lead companies towards greater sustainability, and we stand by that out of conviction.

Startups have to establish themselves in a world of big players. How do Digital Hub and KLU support you in this?

Seeger: The Hub in Hamburg’s HafenCity is a great location with pragmatic, solution-oriented industry relevance. In fact, the collaboration with VW and Weets started with the Digital Hub as a mediator, and helped us gain traction at an early stage. The membership with KLU’s support allows us to get to know interesting startups and companies, make important contacts, and benefit from a robust network.

What three words come to mind to describe KLU?

Seeger: Location, building, industry relevance – with “super” in front of each.