You can now buy a little bit of mantro in stores

Jenni Schwanenberg

We are extremely proud! After twelve years of software development we can now buy our very own hardware product in stores – at least in online at Baywa  and mobene.

The OilFox is an intelligent gauge for your heating oil tank that we started developing together with a big german power cooperation about 18 months ago.

As with most of our companies, the kick-off for this venture was an ideation workshop. Our goal was to identify new business models in the energy sector. We found more than 50 ideas in the workshop and validated the most promising ones with several strategies.

The OilFox fared well during our validation process, and our test audiences loved the idea of hardware device that could measure how much oil is left in the tank, coupled with an app that could visualize it, analyse prices and let you order new oil with just one click.

When we set out to build the first prototypes, we were unable to find any experts that were able to build the hardware as fast as we wanted to have it. So we simply decided to do it on our own. We went to the hardware store and bought the needed tooling and parts. We started building and soldering, and managed to destroy more than one 3D-printer, but after only a week we finished our “patient zero”.

With our first tests on small 30 liter tanks our idea became entirely feasible and we were able to ensure investment from our partner. With this we set out to validate the idea on the market. We did landing page tests with several sales channels and spoke to several companies selling heating oil.

Foxy 1.0 in our office. So proud to see her big sisters in stores now.

At the same time we managed to find some great new employees that were able to transform our do-it-yourself lab into a real hardware lab, and proceed with developing the hardware.

During the project we worked as lean, agile and on a tight schedule as we would on our software projects. After a year we did not only have a market-ready product, but also sales partnerships. Maybe madness was our best partner within this journey?

User centric development needs sprinters, not walkers.

Most of our early potential production partners insisted that developing an IoT product would take roughly seven years. This seemed crazy to us. After a lot of fruitless attempts, we finally found a partner that was willing to try working on our schedule. Our hardware developers did amazing work on improving the product and preparing everything for production.

Despite many late nights and big hurdles, we did it! Our OilFox is now available in stores. And it only took 18 months instead of seven years.

It is a happy moment for us and we are super proud. We were created an amazing team during the development and found great sales partners who both give great and valuable feedback.

Our next focus will be scaling the product. For that we onboarded great new team members, to free up our mantro product designers and developers for the next exciting projects.

Looking back at the project, we were riding an 18 month entrepreneurial roller coaster. We survived all storms and grew a lot of grey hair. But we discovered new land and this is the biggest prize there is.

We can’t wait do it again!