The Journey of an AI Startup to the U.S. and Raising a Seed Round

Nomitri Logo
Company Name:
Nomitri GmbH

Nomitri builds embedded deep learning vision AI for retailers and logistics providers that can run on everyday smartphones, tablets, and low-energy cameras.



Trinh Le-Fiedler, Max Fiedler, Moritz August  

Artificial Intelligence, Retail, Logistics

Founded in 2019, Nomitri is a deep tech AI startup based in Berlin. They build embedded deep learning vision AI that can run in one of the industry’s most challenging environments: everyday smartphones and tablets as well as low-energy industry cameras. Their solutions help retailers monitor self-checkout stations and help logistics providers supervise micro-fulfillment processes in warehouses.

Nomitri is an early mover within the broader artificial intelligence landscape as well as the more niche deep learning industry. Their solutions are some of the first to run neural networks using AI-enabled chips on handheld devices – rather than on huge cloud server farms half a continent away.

“Our idea was to move away from cloud deployments and bigger neural networks,” said Trinh Le-Fiedler, CEO & Co-Founder of Nomitri. “We wanted to build compressed, efficient networks so that we can then really deploy them directly on a user’s device – which isn’t just convenient but also protects data privacy.”

Before joining German Accelerator, Nomitri’s biggest accomplishment was the technical validation of their offering – crossing the chasm between academic theories and an actual working solution.

Headshot of Trinh Le-Fiedler

We were able to create one of the highest-performing embedded, deep learning vision AI solutions out there with the smallest kind of hardware size. In terms of technical performance, we are pretty good compared with the landscape.” 

Trinh Le-Fiedler | CEO & Co-Founder of Nomitri

That heavy research and development phase was made possible by a pre-seed funding round of €750,000 from a business angel investor in addition to an EU Innovation Grant worth €1,200,000.

Why Nomitri Chose German Accelerator to Expand to the United States

In 2020, Nomitri participated in the U.S. Market Access Program with German Accelerator because they were drawn to the size of the U.S. market and the willingness of American retailers to try new things.

“The market for AI-enabled solutions in the consumer retail space is much more advanced in the U.S.,” said Le-Fiedler.

But the Nomitri team wasn’t just after innovative retailers in the United States, but forward-thinking investors as well. They knew they needed a startup accelerator with the right investment contacts in the U.S.

“We’d been approached by a lot of startup accelerator programs like Berkeley SkyDeck, but they weren’t the right fit,” said Le-Fiedler.

The Nomitri team chose German Accelerator because it offered a strong reputation, a robust program, and a deep network of contacts – all without taking shares.

“We chose German Accelerator for two major reasons. First, it’s non-dilutive, which is good for any startup. Second, it was recommended to me by a friend and fellow startup founder who participated in the program and loved it.” 

Trinh Le-Fiedler | CEO & Co-Founder of Nomitri

How German Accelerator Helped Nomitri on Their International Expansion Journey

During their time in the program, the Nomitri team faced some major market-entry challenges. One of the biggest hurdles German Accelerator helped them overcome was pitching their startup to potential investors.

“I think as a European company, you rarely have this meta skill set of how to pitch your startup,” said Le-Fiedler. “I thought I knew how to pitch and tell a good story, but then I was humbled by seeing how much better I could get by being constantly challenged by the mentors at German Accelerator. That was really crucial for us.”

While Le-Fiedler as CEO has more experience in terms of running a company, her two co-founders – who come from machine learning backgrounds – found the program to be a steep learning curve. Together, they learned how to pitch Nomitri by looking at the bigger picture.

“You’re asked where your startup fits within the five-to-six major levers that could really change the world,” said Le-Fiedler. “That’s something I don’t really think about – usually I’m just trying to keep the company running – but I think zooming out was one of the most helpful exercises I could recommend to any startup founder. Take the time and find a good mentor who can help you zoom out and sharpen your pitch.”

The Nomitri team benefited from the range of mentors and experts they met during the German Accelerator program. For example, experts taught them how the sales process varies greatly between Europe and the U.S. and how to adapt accordingly.

“I would say one of the things that really impressed me was the high profile of the experts that they introduced us to.”

Trinh Le-Fiedler | CEO & Co-Founder of Nomitri

“Not only in terms of the ones who teach the group presentations and courses, but also the one-on-one mentors who dive deeper with you into the specific topics you’re interested in. German Accelerator has a real breadth to their network of industry experts and investors you can talk to as a sounding board,” said Le-Fiedler.

Le-Fiedler mentioned Olga Orda as one of the mentors who helped them the most during the program.

“Olga was really top notch in terms of telling us how to effectively run a PR and brand marketing campaign on a low budget,” said Le-Fiedler. “Her advice was tailored to us specifically, and it was the same experience with the mentors who helped us with pitching, with sales, and with investments as well.”

The program also gave Nomitri the opportunity to talk to potential U.S. customers.

“Given the 2020 lockdowns, it was all the more crucial to be introduced to and meet prospects in a virtual way,” said Le-Fiedler. “Otherwise, we would have just been stuck here in Germany and totally be siloed.”

Nomitri’s Lessons Learned as a German AI Startup

Nomitri faced some unique challenges – and opportunities – as an AI startup based in Germany. Their first lesson learned centered around having an early data collection strategy.

“In the beginning, any AI solution needs a lot of data, but right after we launched, everything got locked down during the pandemic,” said Le-Fiedler. “It was really difficult for us to collect data to train the deep learning model.”

Fortunately, one of Nomitri’s early investors connected them to retailers who allowed them to film and collect the training data when no customers were present.

“This could have been a killer for us,” said Le-Fiedler. “So one of the key learnings for any AI startup is to have a decent data strategy from the beginning.”

Nomitri’s second lesson learned was to have an early data privacy strategy in place.

“It was really helpful for us to have thought about data privacy early once we had to complete due diligence for fundraising,” said Le-Fiedler. “I know some other AI startups who only thought about the technical details, and data privacy compliance became a huge obstacle for them later on.”

The last major lesson learned as an AI startup was the major differences between Germany and the U.S. in approaching artificial intelligence.

“There’s a different acceptance and narrative about AI between Germany and the U.S.”

Trinh Le-Fiedler | CEO & Co-Founder of Nomitri

“In Germany, AI is seen as more of a threat, and there’s public discussion around minimizing the risks. Whereas in the U.S., consumers care less about their privacy if the AI delivers convenience – and American investors think along the same lines,” said Le-Fiedler.

Engaging with both perspectives as part of German Accelerator was a good experience for the Nomitri team, according to Le-Fiedler. But those differences also serve as an advantage to AI startups who are based in Germany.

“Europe might be more constrained in terms of what you can do with AI,” said Le-Fiedler, “but I think those constraints force you to be creative and innovative.”

Working within those data privacy constraints has given Nomitri the hidden advantage of attracting technical talent.

“An advantage of building a company here in Germany is that since we are one of the few cutting-edge AI startups, it’s much easier for us to get skilled talent,” said Le-Fiedler. “Before, if you were a really talented deep learning expert, you either had to go to London or to Silicon Valley. Now, we’re one of the few startups in Germany that promise talented engineers that they can work on something really cutting edge that moves and changes things. I think that’s definitely an advantage of building an AI startup in the heart of Europe.”

What Nomitri Has Achieved Post Program & Beyond

Overall, Nomitri considered their participation in the U.S. Market Access Program a success.

“I would say that German Accelerator was a super crucial experience that we needed to have in order to sharpen our product story and our company story.

Trinh Le-Fiedler | CEO & Co-Founder of Nomitri

After sharpening their startup pitch with German Accelerator, the Nomitri team closed a successful seed funding round in early 2022, raising €2.5 million from the high-profile VC firm FoodLabs, part of Atlantic Labs, as the lead investor. Other prominent business angels and family offices also joined the funding round.

Advice for Other AI Startups Considering an International Expansion

When asked what advice they would give to German startup founders about to undertake a similar internationalization journey, the Nomitri team had a few thoughts to contribute.

“First, German Accelerator is a good program,” said Le-Fiedler. “It’s free, and it helps you to get a different perspective, even if you aren’t expanding into the U.S. market right away. You should definitely consider participating.”

Le-Fiedler’s other advice was for AI startups specifically.

“Second, create a sound data privacy strategy early on,” said Le-Fiedler. “It helps you down the road, especially if you get into the due diligence of a financing round. And third, reduce – or even avoid – technical debt by being as agile and as agnostic as possible. Try to create a more modular structure of your tech.”

Nomitri’s next step is to ramp up their offerings to expand into other overseas markets.

“With AI, it’s all about learning,” said Le-Fiedler. “We need our AI to be as self-learning as possible, because we know that a supermarket in Poland or a supermarket in Brazil might look totally different than it does in Europe. This is the thinking that we need to do, in terms of going globally.”