Veit-Ander Aichbichler of testFRWD uses digital ID verification and AI result verification to enhance home testing systems
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Veit-Ander Aichbichler: The last year has been challenging for all of us, but we had the opportunity to work on our testing solutions with the goal of helping to prevent further lockdowns and get back to a normal life. It was especially hard for my kids—not seeing their friends, learning from home, no sports—but they did understand what we were doing and fully supported us.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded testFRWD.
Veit-Ander Aichbichler: My business partner and I were both directly impacted by the pandemic. My partner runs international festivals and works as an agent for international music bands. I run a hotel in Italy and a retail business in Austria.
When the first lockdown was announced, we both met and had the idea to find a solution for our own businesses. This is where it all started.
How does testFRWD innovate?
Veit-Ander Aichbichler: Last year, we were working on identifying new ways to fight the pandemic, with the focus on end-to-end testing systems.
We got an all-around understanding of what different industries such as events, airlines, festivals, and many more, needed and started to collaborate with manufacturers, players in the medical space, and IT companies to quickly find solutions for specific problems. IdentyMe is one of the answers we managed to deliver, as it makes testing and certification affordable, accessible, and easy to use.
The push for digitalization accelerated during the pandemic, and healthcare is no exception:
There, digitalization drives major innovation, too. Right now, we are
integrating more and more new technologies into our ecosystem. It’s a very dynamic time for us, with regulations changing on a daily basis and a lot of uncertainty on the markets. But it also opens opportunities to help and have a positive impact on testing—not only for Covid but also other tests that can be conducted at home.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Veit-Ander Aichbichler: As our companies operate in different sectors and countries, our businesses were affected differently, depending on their respective locations and sectors. Countries like Austria or Germany would mitigate the impact on the businesses with generous governmental financial support, while in other countries, like Italy, governmental support was only able to compensate for a fraction of the losses.
For us, the most important goal is to avoid the same situation that we saw in the last 18 months again.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Veit-Ander Aichbichler: We were lucky that we could keep our core team on board during the last 18 months. This is paying off right now, as it is easier for us to get back to normal operations.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Veit-Ander Aichbichler: The last year has been very complex in terms of relationship management. In-person meetings were off the table, and as everyone switched to video calls, entire workflows and professional habits were changed. The uncertainty around regulations and rules added more complexity to the already challenging situation. It was, however, interesting to see how quickly customers and partners would adapt to the situation. Somehow, as surprising as that is, I can say that our relations with some of our clients have grown deeper and closer even though we did not have the proper in-person meetings. This impact on “working culture” will be lasting.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Veit-Ander Aichbichler: Yes, we got government assistance in Austria that helped us a lot with keeping our employees onboard.
Your final thoughts?
Veit-Ander Aichbichler: We have to face reality, as uncomfortable as it may be: The pandemic is not over, and it will take months, if not years, to come to a point where we can just “live with it.” The arms race between vaccine developers and various virus mutations is already on, and it will take time for the good guys to win it. Immunization does help, the first-generation vaccines are already reliable and good, but they cannot solve the problem on their own.
We should have learned our lessons last autumn when some governments already declared the pandemic was over, but in reality, it was not. And I am afraid that the same mistakes will be repeated this year.
IdentyME can be part of the solution. It can help the authorities and businesses contain the pandemic, avoid further lockdowns, and giving the most impacted industries the certainty they need to start planning for their recovery.
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