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The Global Pandemic: A Catalysator for Startups in the Materials Industry

jean pierre fumey



Stefan Grüll S1Seven

Stefan Grüll of S1Seven tells us how they are trying to digitize the materials industry by substituting the paper-heavy process of the industry.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Stefan Grüll: Thank you for asking. Everybody is doing fine at the moment, and there were the same COVID 19 cases in my closer family. I am really looking forward to the situation getting better in the upcoming months. 

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded S1Seven.

Stefan Grüll: During my studies, I focused on technology and IT, but after I graduated, I did a pivot in my career and joined an Austrian family-owned business in steel and metal distribution, which, in time, I ended up managing. In 2017, I created S1Seven as a technology startup dedicated to providing solutions to the steel, metal, and plastic industry.

How does S1Seven innovate? 

Stefan Grüll: We try to digitize the materials industry by substituting the paper-heavy process of the industry. The immediate benefits are efficiency, cost reduction, digitization. This enables new use cases in quality and supply chain traceability, adaptive process control in modern manufacturing equipment. Last but not least, the question of how we trace and account for sustainability attributes for specific batches or discrete parts & components arises in the industry, and we are catering to it. 

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Stefan Grüll: Full operation of the company started in 2020, and the first lockdown in March was a shock. Many potential customers came at a standstill, but soon we understand that the pandemic is an accelerator when it comes to digitization, which opened new opportunities for us. 

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Stefan Grüll: The most difficult choice was to decide at the early start of 2020 to keep going full-on ahead and not be intimidated by the outside circumstances. We didn’t do short labor, and we actually managed to expand our staff. 

What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?

Stefan Grüll: From the beginning, our set-up was also allowing for remote work. In terms of our solution, we understood that our big vision had to be split into different iteration or versions rather than implementing a big project at our customers’ site and adapt to the market’s resources and capabilities. 

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Stefan Grüll: When I first pitched S1Seven, nobody fully understood the concept, partly due to blockchain technology being an estranged term in comparison to today. Today, the story is different; more and more companies are hopping on the blockchain train and finding new use cases for it. As a company that caters to the steel, metal, and plastics industry, we understand that our competitive advantage is not the technology but the know-how of the industries, which leads to the appropriate application of our solution to meet the real needs and pain points of these industries. 

Your final thoughts?

Stefan Grüll: If I look back at the pandemic in 5 or 10 years from now, what will be my memory of it? The pandemic itself or the things it changed for the better. I think this is the outlook that helps us, humans and companies strive in these difficult times. 

I hope we strive to achieve things that we will remember in the future.

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Jean-Pierre is a polyglot communication specialist, freelance journalist, and writer for with over two decades of experience in media and public relations. He creates engaging content, manages communication campaigns, and attends conferences to stay up-to-date with the latest trends. He brings his wealth of experience and expertise to provide insightful analysis and engaging content for's audience.

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