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About Airteam

  • Founders: Thomas Bücheler
  • Founded in: 2018
  • Employees: 18
  • Money raised: Bootstrapping and backing from Investment Bank Berlin (IBB Berlin)
  • Ultimate goal: -

It started with a couple of hobbyists from Berlin who were crazy about drones. They saw how construction workers were fitting and measuring everything out when installing solar panels and renovating roofs. “There must be a way to do that in a more efficient way, was the idea,” says Airteam Aerial Intelligence founder and CEO Thomas Bücheler in this instalment of start-up of the day. Why not use camera images and smart software (artificial intelligence) to map roofs out so accurately that it becomes a breeze for roofers and solar panel installers to do their jobs?

What were those early days like?

“We started testing drones for different types of customers back in 2018. The initial idea was to build a platform similar to Uber. You would call us up and have images taken. But we soon found out that this didn’t offer much added value. In order for our project to succeed, it was crucial not only to provide images and a drone service, but also to process the data with the help of smart software.”

Thomas Bücheler. Foto Airteam
Thomas Bücheler

Did you get any start-up support?

“The testing phase lasted a year and a half, and during that initial period we were supported by the Berlin Gründerstipendium and later by the Accelerator Startup Bootcamp and the IBB PROfit grant program.”

What are the main branches that you deal with?

“Our core competency revolves around creating digital models of buildings with the help of Computer Vision. This is of particular interest to roofers, solar panel installers, scaffold builders, architects and construction companies. Apart from all that, we also have a few land surveying projects, including the construction of pop-up bike lanes in Berlin.”

The idea behind artificial intelligence is that by collecting and analyzing a lot of data, a computer will at some point come up with the best solutions on its own. Has your AI already learnt everything there is to learn?

“No, the AI learns new things with each new image or 3D model. Right now, we have trained the AI with more than 2.5 million images, and tens of thousands more are added every day. It hasn’t been the case for a long time already that we take all those images either. In many cases, customers can take the images themselves with a drone after they’ve been instructed how to do that. We then handle the analysis of this images.”

You started out in Berlin. Where are you active now?

“We have business in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg. The number of projects has increased tenfold since the beginning of 2022. The solar panel sector in particular is growing exceptionally fast. Our promise to customers is that we can save up to 90 percent of the time and 50 percent of the costs involved in the planning of these installations.”

Foto Airteam

Has interest in your product risen due to the energy crisis and energy transition?

“That’s kind of hard to say. Our company was also growing fast before the onset of the energy crisis. My personal opinion is that the energy crisis did put the energy transition much higher on everyone’s agenda overnight.”

What is the next step?

“Thanks to the continual advances in automation, we will be able to provide our data to our clients on a daily or even real-time basis in the future. Our partners will then be able to discuss the results with their clients straightaway on the spot.”

Do you work together with any particular companies or manufacturers of, for example, solar panels?

“The climate crisis needs everyone to work together, which is why we are making our Airteam data available to all our partners. We are already actively cooperating with Valentin Software, ABS and MF Dach. We look forward to more partners opening up their interfaces to Airteam data.”

How did you manage to fund yourselves?

“We ‘bootstrapped’ (as in, funded from our own resources) Airteam as much as possible from the outset. We did receive help from IBB Berlin (the Berlin Investment Bank) who put us in touch with investors who are willing to help market our product to as many solar and construction entrepreneurs as possible.”