For a startup dealing with logs, Timber Diameter has pulled off quite the impressive run through the past year. Winning a couple of rather intensive competitions against more than a hundred other startups got them seed funded and on national television. Since the business they find themselves in is global in a different sense of the word when compared to the usual internet startups, Timber Diameter has potential penetration in areas like Tanzania.
Timber Diameter started 15 years ago. Not literally of course, but the seeds of it’s birth were implanted in the mind of Vallo Visnapuu when he first started running a sawmill. Year after year he occasionally gets one of those “difficult” customers, with whom he has arguments concerning the volume of the merchandise. You see, apparently there are basically three ways of coming up with the volume of a large pile of logs: laser, ruler or your own pair of good ol’ eyes.
Laser scanners are out of the questions, at least for SME’s, since as you might guess they’re fairly expensive. The ruler also translates into manual measurement. Big piles, big measurements, or in other words, time consuming and barely worth the effort. This leaves us with the third method, which is perhaps the easiest and quite frankly the best way to do it, that is, if you have eyes for the job.
It takes practice but it’s far from being impossible. In fact, it’s one of the common ways to do it, and if you master the skill, you save a lot of time while keeping the money in your pocket. However, as we initially took off with the story, it was clear that trained eye or not, customers sometimes love to be right, even when they’re not, which meant the two parties would not always agree on the results of evaluations.
Hence, after a tiresome argument, Visnapuu probably gazed upon his piles of logs and thought to himself “how the hell haven’t we come up with a solution for this?”
Years later, Visnapuu’s longing took form in a Garage48 hackathon where Timber Diameter officially saw daylight. The team won the event, after which the app found itself competing against one hundred other startups in Estonias brainhunt competition (Ajujaht), one of the largest startup competitions in Estonia.
Timber Diameter eventually won the long competition, national media visibility as well as the €50,000 first prize.
The application has received €10,000 in angel backing (which will eventually total to €25, 000) and large amounts of interest from the lumber industry, but for now Timber Diameter needs to focus on improving the functionalities the app has to offer. At the moment, the app is all about one picture log pile volume calculation, but a panoramic pile calculator is on it’s way. Additionally, different models like logistics, warehouse and reporting models for sales are under development.
The app is currently available as freemium for the first one hundred cubic meters after which the app charges €5 cents for every cubic meter analysed.
What it all comes down to in the end though is how much can I actually save time using the app?
Well, the company offers the following reasoning (assuming everything goes as planned):
Small forest selling company, volume 5000 CBM per year
TOTAL: 6 man-months saving thanks to Timber Diameter
I'd say six times a monthly pay saved thanks to an app could lift a few eyebrows here and there.
Timber Diameter has some paying customers in Estonia and several others around Europe are test running the app. A lumber yard in Tanzania has also found the app useful, which according to Timber Diameter spokesperson Triin Üksvärav, might open the Estonian company a pathway to African markets.
“We have several types of potential clients around the world: sawmills, log house builders, companies dealing with lumber transportation and felling. Our first target markets are going to be here in Estonia, from where we plan to move across the Scandinavia and then to Russia. Africa has also become possible market”, Üksvärav commented.
Timber Diameter is far from being in it’s final form so to speak, but they do have the advantage of being mostly alone in the lumber app market. Üksvärav told us they've heard of a group in a German university working on a similar project, but though Timber Diameter is in a hurry to push their developments forward, they’re not afraid of competition just yet.