Interactive Robotics gives digital education in Germany a boost – and vice versa.

Published on / 04.12.2023

After taking the first major steps in the Dutch market, the founders of Interactive Robotics wanted to further scale their operations. And where better to do that than in a neighboring country with nearly five times the population? To enter the German market effectively, CEO Dinesh Persad enrolled in the Global Market Entry Program (GMEP), formerly known as International Market Entry Coaching (IMEC). He shares what internationalizing his company has brought and the unexpected benefits of the program.

Interactive Robotics is a spin-off of TU Delft and develops software for social robots in healthcare and education. “With our cloud-based software platform, we enable people without a technical background to collaborate with robots,” says Dinesh. “We explore how robots can support healthcare, for example.” In the GMEP, they focused on the educational robot: “A social robot that allows children to learn in an interactive and future-oriented way. And one that supports schools in their lessons on digital literacy.”

Waiting for the right moment

From the early stages, entering foreign markets was a long-term goal for the entrepreneurs from Delft. “Especially because a software product is excellent for scaling,” explains Dinesh. However, he patiently waited for the right moment: the company was almost six years old when he applied for the GMEP. “We needed that time to make our product scalable. We wanted to test and further develop it extensively in the Netherlands first, so that we wouldn’t encounter various pitfalls abroad.”

Searching for German partners

Why did Interactive Robotics choose to participate in the GMEP? “If you don’t know the market, it’s difficult to make the right contacts, especially with such a new, unfamiliar technology. In terms of digitization, the Netherlands has a lead over Germany. That’s why it’s important to establish contacts through someone’s network.” The initial focus was on educational publishers. “We did the same in the Netherlands. Publishers reach many schools through their teaching materials: our end customers.”

Different strategy

This strategy proved less effective in Germany. “The publishers there were not ready for robotics and programming lessons. That was disappointing, so we had to find a new approach.” They eventually found it with companies providing guest lectures in schools, such as TechLabs, and the online training platform “The founder of the latter is a well-known name in the German education sector and invited us to Learntec, a large fair for digital education. There, we made contact with many potential customers.”

Without the GMEP network, we would never have found the right partners so quickly.

– Dinesh Persad, Interactive Robotics

Sharper focus on the legal side

In addition to these crucial contacts, Dinesh and his colleagues gained valuable insights into culture and German laws and regulations. “They are much stricter in Germany,” he says. “Thanks to the GMEP, you have someone to turn to immediately. That saves a lot of research.” The culture turned out to be less formal than expected. “Maybe it depends on the industry, but I talk to our partners as I would with friends.”

Unexpected benefits

Dinesh is enthusiastic about the results. “We have found our way in the German market, but through a different strategy than anticipated. Without the GMEP network, we would never have found the right partners so quickly. And without the market research from the GMEP, we would have had no idea where to start. Even if you think you know the market, collaborating with a specialist can save you years of work.” Moreover, the program has an unexpected bonus: the lessons learned are brought back to the Netherlands. “We now follow the same strategy as in Germany, and it proves effective here too.”

Even if you think you know the market, collaborating with a specialist can save you years of work.

– Dinesh Persad, Interactive Robotics

The support of InnovationQuarter

Do you want to successfully enter the German market like Interactive Robots? Or are you considering Denmark, Sweden, or France? Contact Elisa.

Elisa van Maanen - Gentzsch

Elisa van Maanen – Gentzsch