Ship inspections use divers or remotely operated ROVs (Remotely Operated underwater Vehicle). In both cases, the surveyor who ultimately reviews the video directs a diver or ROV operator to point a camera at areas of interest. Divers have much better camera control, however ROVs are cheaper. Our drone scans the entire hull, eliminating the camera controller and allowing the surveyor to review the scan separately from its collection.
Notice: both the presentation from the company and the following discussions will be in English.
Product / Service: Hull condition influences every major cost of ship operation, including fuel, cleaning, maintenance, insurance, and capital depreciation. Yet ship owners have very little data about the bottom of their ships because hull inspections are awful. They are expensive, require divers or human ROV pilots, only look at key structures, and result in long boring videos annotated by textual reports. Our solution is an autonomous drone that builds a 3D map from video collected of the entire ship hull. The original video is linked back to the map, think Google Street View but for the bottom of a ship.
Business Model: Ship scanning service at €10.000 per scan. This price is based on the cost of using divers for similar operations today which collect inferior inspections.
Market and Growth Potential: Most ship inspections are for the following reasons: 1) in-water surveys for maintenance compliance, 2) pre-drydock surveys for work planning and contract negotiation, 3) condition assessments before cleaning or other maintenance. We are focusing on pre-drydock surveys because they are non-regulatory, have a clear value proposition, and have a well-defined market size.
Globally there are 40.000 large ships which each complete one drydock every five years. At €10.000 per scan, this creates an €80m TAM (40.000 ships / 5 years * €10.000 = €80m). To make the TAM interesting, we must create a value proposition for frequent scans. Ship integrity is regulated by Classification Societies, who can approve our technology to replace the regulatory surveys performed by divers. We can also apply modern computer vision algorithms to automatically classify hull condition, a task currently done by manually watching hours of boring video. The goal is to move towards annual ship scans, a €400m TAM, and additionally profit from the data.
Classification Societies are a natural channel for expansion because they also set the technical standards for offshore oil&gas, wind and aquaculture. We estimate the TAM for all underwater survey work at €800m.
Competitors: We know of one other company working on underwater computer vision. They are an established ROV operator applying computer vision to their current operations. They do not focus on ships, and to complete a comprehensive hull scan using divers today would be prohibitively expensive.
Team: The team is currently the founder plus one employee. The founder is specialized in computer vision and worked four years at San Francisco startups, including as employee #1 at a now 30-person construction tech company. The employee is specialized in control dynamics in complex environments. He previously worked on full-scale autonomous racecars at RoboRace.
Board of Directors: The board is the founder plus two Danish investors. We have one additional US based investor who is a board advisor and has invested in over 60 startups including through a fund dedicated to drone companies. We are looking for a new member with experience and connections to ship survey and classification.
Economy/Finance: We raised a 750.000DKK pre-seed and have received 500.000DKK from Innobooster. We have runway until July 2020 and now want to raise 7.5m DKK.
Status: The prototype works for the vertical sides of a ship, and we can display this using our ”street view” interface. While the full, completely-under-the-bottom scan is a work in progress, the ship’s side is where most sea-growth and damage occurs. Therefore, we are already able to provide 80% of the value and are looking for pilot sales. The 7.5m DKK is to bridge us through our first sales until the results from our pilot programs allow us to pursue the Classification Societies.
Questions for the panel
Business Model: Does charging €10.000 per ship scan fit our researched customer value proposition?
Go to Market: Shipping companies are conservative and cost adverse. We are pursuing side channels, do you agree?
Fundraising: Selling scan services will not scale in a way attractive to venture capital. Does our long-term growth strategy make sense?
Board Search: Is someone in your network directly involved in ship survey or classification?