We sat down with Christoffer Johnsson, co-founder and, now, CEO of Taigatech AB to discuss Taigatech’s origins, growth, the forestry industry, and Johnsson’s vision for the future of the fast-growing Gothenburg-based startup.
November 29, 2021
Johnsson (right), 26, is a former student of Chalmers University’s School of Entrepreneurship in Gothenburg, Sweden. After the completion of his studies that focused on driving tech-based businesses, Johnsson, together with fellow Taigatech co-founders, Erik Dahl, Arvid Viktorsson, Antonio Butkovic, John Randelin, and Professor Fredrik Kahl founded Taigatech in January, 2021 with the goal of solving the challenges sawmills were facing when trying to optimize their sawing process and the traceability of the logs going through their mills. “I have always been very interested in entrepreneurship, innovation and technology. I wanted to start Taigatech with these guys because I knew how talented they were from my studies, I liked the technology, and I thought it would be great to be involved with a primary industry in Sweden,” said Johnsson.
Kahl, Head of Computer Vision at Chalmers University, created Taigatech’s first prototype in the fall of 2020. “We had an initial meeting with the team and [Kahl] had an idea for our first prototype based on our customer feedback, so he developed it and it worked perfectly. From there, things really kicked off,” he said. Kahl now sits on Taigatech’s Board of Directors and engages with the team to help optimize their AI algorithms. “[Kahl] is one of the most prominent researchers in his field,” said Johnsson. “We are confident that, [together], we have the best in-house knowledge in the industry to create this product”.
Johnsson had originally joined the Taigatech team to work with the company’s business development, as well as help solve technical issues relating to the company’s AI-driven image-recognition software. However, with his move to CEO, Johnsson admits that his focus will now shift even more towards driving the business side of the company. “I have gathered a lot of key business insights about how to work with sawmills. They have a traditional way of doing business, meaning they like to own their equipment. There aren’t a lot of SaaS models being used. So, we need to work a lot with how we will package and deliver our product,” he said.
Since the development of their first prototype, Taigatech has had an ongoing pilot project with Moelven DalaTrä, a major sawmill company in Sweden, to perform early tests. “Overall, there are about 140 sawmills in Sweden, and Sweden will be our beachhead market. Of these mills, there are about 60 larger sawmills that produce a minimum of 60-100K cubic meters of sawn goods per year. This size of mill is interesting to us because we’ve seen that smaller sawmills typically don’t have the requisite equipment to measure the logs’ internal parameters”.
Johnsson is also planning to take Taigatech globally to markets such as Canada, the US, and Australia. “The global industry does share the same challenges and they are striving to solve them with our type of technology,” said Johnsson, who has had ongoing conversations with a large Australian sawmill.
The forestry has become more technology oriented and advanced technologies are being developed, but there are still parts of the value chain that are obsolete. Therefore, Johnsson is confident that it is a perfect time for digital companies like Taigatech to succeed. “There are new regulations coming from the EU that may limit how many logs companies can harvest, so they aren’t able to harvest as much as they used to. So companies are more dependent on the resources that they have,” he said. Furthermore, Johnsson said that due to recent environmental crises in North America, such as the wildfires and an increase in pine bark beetles that attack and destroy pine trees, there has been a boom in prices, which has resulted in increased profits for European sawmills. “Sawmills in Europe have much more cash than before, so they have the opportunity now to improve by investing in new equipment.”
Johnsson plans to run parallel pilot projects through 2022 to iterate on their prototype, gather performance data, and work on optimizing the speed of their algorithm, hit rate accuracy of matching individual logs, and increasing their data storage capacity. In addition, the team will work to mitigate the challenges of operating their equipment in the winter months when snow could impact performance. Johnsson is confident that Taigatech’s upcoming challenges are well within the team’s capability to solve and said, “we expect our first paying customers in spring 2022”.
Taigatech recently received a small equity investment from local, Gothenburg-based IT consultancy, Annevo. “We picked them because they have great knowledge in business development, IT, and software development. So we receive a lot of support from them,” said Johnsson. Aside from this investment, Taigatech has been funded primarily through non-dilutive grants from Chalmers Innovation Office and Almi, and loans from local agencies, such as Västra Götalandsregionen (VGR). Johnsson said that Taigatech currently has a runway of one and a half years, at which time they may look to build their first investment round to finance the growth and expansion of the company.
If you’re interested in learning more about Taigatech’s solution, visit their website, or contact Christoffer Johnsson directly for business inquiries.
CEO, Taigatech AB
Phone +46 (0) 761 963 430
Taigatech AB is a Swedish startup based in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company develops digital solutions based on artificial intelligence to optimize the cutting and traceability of logs within sawmills.