Country: Germany
Status: Graduated

Smartphone Navigation Indoors

German company offers advanced mapping technology for large buildings, and takes building management into the 21st century


  • Age of business: Three years
  • Name of business: contagt GmbH
  • Location: Mannheim, Germany
  • Team: : Johannes Britsch, Stephan Brandt, Niklas Bartz, and Johannes Schudt
  • ODINE funding: €66,000

What does contagt do?

We enable building operators to manage their buildings more efficiently. With our smartphone app, visitors can view a building map, navigate indoors and report issues like defects or obstacles by sending photos to the building operator – together with the indoor location information.

How did you meet?

Though the internet! I had read about a project of my co-founders in a tech blog and contacted them. They were students from another university, but from the same city. We met and agreed on starting contagt together.

Where did the business idea come from?

Issue reporting is very normal in the software world. However, in the “real” world, giving feedback is quite a hassle: you have to find the responsible person, explain the issue you have discovered, and show where it is. With contagt, we provide a much easier, direct channel to the building operator.

Are you working with any other partners?

We have graduated from the Merck Accelerator Programme which we took part in last year. Now during the ODINE project, we are working together with big facility management companies and transportation companies.

How has ODINE helped you so far?

ODINE is definitely a door opener. Through the programme, we could establish good relations with the Deutsche Bahn Mindbox team and are currently testing our solution together with them.

What advice would you give to other companies pitching to ODINE?

Consider the question: what you can give back to the open data community? For example, through our crowd-sourced issue reports, open indoor map data can be improved at the same time. Also, keep it simple and European – solutions just for one country are not fitting to ODINE.

How would you encourage big business to buy into the open data movement?

Co-operating with startups is a nice way to foster quick change in big organisations. Regarding open data and open software, one implementation hurdle is often usability problems. The good news is there are specialised companies out there – like us – that make open data very simple to use. And here lies a huge opportunity: easy data creation leads to more accurate data which then again can be used by companies to increase efficiency, offer better service, and make better business decisions.

What’s the key trend in open data at the moment?

We see the open map project OpenStreetMap (OSM) getting more and more traction. New business models emerge around OSM. One of the biggest advantages of this data basis in contrast to US-based commercial map providers is the full level of control it offers. No “terms and conditions may apply” – that is exactly what makes European companies look into OSM, especially since the Safe Harbor law.


[This story first appeared on the Guardian]