Owners: Aaron Hornlimann, Fred Melki
Location: Melbourne, Vic
Industry: Healthcare and medical, transport and travel
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Having always focused on technology for the aviation sector, by all rights, Elenium Automation should have been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, startups have adaptability in their blood. And as air travel (and all travel) stalled, Elenium quickly repurposed its touchless and sensor technologies to create a Vital Sign Detection kiosk that can check a person’s temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate without making any contact at all.
Announcing the new product in the midst of the pandemic, the startup received more inbound leads within four weeks than it had in the previous four years, co-founder Ilya Gutlin says.
Now, the technology is undergoing government certification in Australia, the US and Europe, and Elenium is preparing for an IPO in 2021.
That’s not to say the changes came without a learning curve. The founders and their team had to quickly get clued up on respiratory diseases, what the symptoms are, and how to detect them from a distance, as well as learning how to develop sensors that work with different skin colours and types.
Then, there was the challenge of marketing to a completely new industry, and manufacturing, fast.
All of this was while operating in Victoria during its strict lockdown, and with almost the entire workforce operating remotely.
“And we are not done learning yet,” Gutlin says.
Moving forward, the aviation industry has likely changed forever.
“It will take the industry many years to recover to 2019 levels, and when it does, many of the aspects that were normal prior to COVID will be different,” Gutlin explains.
Temperature checks, health screening and social distancing will become standard, and there will be more focus on domestic travel for some time yet, he predicts. That will add not only cost but additional waiting times to flying.
Still, Elenium will be there. The startup is building touchless kiosks to complement its check-in technology, and the founders envisage seeing the healthcare kiosks in airports too.
But the startup is also doubling down on its pivot, and focusing on getting the kiosks into hospitals, to support nursing staff and make things a little more comfortable for patients.
The co-founders are keeping open minds, Gutlin explains. In startupland, you have to.
“Agility, attitude and resilience go hand-in-hand,” he says.
“You need agility to change direction and see what skills are adaptable to a new market.”