Startup of the month: traide

Every month we interview a European Supply Chain Management startup to shed some light on its business, provide a platform for visibility and overall support the European Supply Chain Management startup ecosystem. This time we interviewed Leonie Althaus, CEO and co-founder of traide, headquartered in Berlin, Germany. traide aims to automate customs handling and eases import and export processes.

Company Base Data

Company Name: traide AI GmbH

No. of Employees: 5

Headquarter: Berlin, Germany

Funding: 130,000 EUR

Operating Markets: DACH                                                               

Founders: Hendrik Niemann, Philipp Friebertshäuser, Leonie Althaus


Reference Customers: Exporto, Rohde & Schwarz, Igus, Granit Partner

E-Mail Contact:

Company Name


No. of Employees



Hannover, Germany


>10M EUR

Operating Markets

Coming from the high performing German automotive market, we are constantly expanding our markets also internationally


Dr. Wolfgang Hackenberg (CEO)

Dr. Lennart Bochmann (CPO)

Tobias Gagern (CTO)


Reference Customers

VW, Connox

E-Mail Contact

Today it is our pleasure to interview Leonie Althaus, CEO and co-founder of traide.


Leonie, can you give us a brief dscription of what traide does?


At traide we’re building the backbone of global customs processes, starting with the base and most crucial process of product classification.


Product classification translates products into the harmonized system of the WTO. Companies and authorities worldwide can derive further information, like restrictions, taxes, and duties by these 6-11 digit codes. We automate this process through our plug and play SaaS solution based on the newest technology and AI.


When and how did you start building the product?


Traide was born july 2021. After a long explorations phase where we focused on data extraction.

In customs there is a huge, undigitized market which is already overdue to be disrupted. Product classification is the start because it is the part that couldn’t be solved until now but also the beginning of all the processes. That’s why it’s so interesting to approach from a tech and process perspective. Through the newest deep learning technology, we are able to solve the problem of product classification in a scalable way.


Tell us a little more about the people behind traide, your personal backgrounds and motivations.


We are 3 Founders: Philipp, Hendrik, and myself.Luckily, Philipp and Hendrik are both engineers.


Philipp started as an engineer and self-taught himself deep learning. With this skill he was part of an AI team at Charité and also owned an AI agency prior to traide. Now he is responsible for all the AI and data topics at traide. He loves to explore ways to solve problems with new models.


Hendrik has been into software engineering for over 15 years already and focuses on frontend and DevOps topics. Also, he takes over the biggest part of product management. Before traide, he has been part of Kiron, Deutsche Bahn and has been lecturer at code university.


I’m the only one who is not a techie, taking care of everything else, especially sales, operations, finance, and investor relations. I’ve joined the first startup when I was 18 next to my studies in management and economics.


In December, Lilla will join the team to bring more customs expertise into the team and make our skill set complete. Until now, she was customs manager at EY. She knows the processes, the industry, and our customers by heart.


Let’s stick at your customers then: which specific problem are you solving for them.


Every company in global trade needs compliant customs master data for the customs declarations. The classification number is mandatory and the base for static customs data like taxes, duties, dual use, or restrictions.


We saw two problems:


1. Efficiency
Companies facing new volumes and complexity of products and regulations. That’s why their resources with the current manual processes are just not able to handle the tasks anymore. Companies can not scale due to manual processes and will not stay competitive.


2. Compliance
The consequences of wrong classification are far-reaching: Wrongly applied customs regulations, wrongly calculated taxes and duties, which can lead to repayments, penalties, and removal of licenses to just name a few. Nevertheless, at the moment 30-40% of the products are wrongly classified by the companies.


With traide we not onlay optimize the efficient and correct classification of new products but are also able to run audits with the master data of the company. That’s how we provide compliant customs master data with a minimum of manual effort and resources.


What would you describe as your USP, the secret sauce behind traide?


What is special about traide is that we have the first plug and play solutions which can classify products of every commodity group. Also, we don’t need a certain type of description. Traide is pre-trained, generalized and flexible.

Companies of all industries and sizes can start from day one working with traide, without providing any training data or a certain data structure. Our solution is robust against wrong historical data and can easily be adapted, when changes in the system are made.


Who are typically your target customers?


We can solve different use cases. A typical customer has a minimum of 2-3 different product groups or more. Normally, we’re starting with companies which classify more than 100 products per month.


At the moment we are also focussing on companies where the data is already structured within ERP systems or where we find a web shop with a product database, as our data extraction module is not there, yet.


The nice thing about traide is that the tool works for large volumes of data, smaller volumes, customs experts, but also people who just have to take care of customs from time to time and who need help with customs expertise.


If a potential customer wants to use traide, how does the setup process look? Are there any requirements in terms of existing technical infrastructure, integration, etc.?


We don’t require a certain format or type of description.
Accessible data which includes information in all variants is perfect. It’s not necessary that the data is without mistakes or complete!

When we just get numbers or product descriptions, like FUZE657 our deep learning AI won’t be super useful. For this type of company, our intelligent historic matching is perfect.

We have the option to use our rest API or our very intuitive and flexible bulk upload.

So we’re super flexible 🙂


In today’s world trade restrictions are a major political instrument – think about the trade war between the US and China, or the world’s sanctions against Russia. Do you see that rather as a chance for your business as traide can help its customers to maneuver through these challenging times or are trade restrictions rather a challenge and risk for you as well?


If you’re building something new there are always a lot of risks. But in this case it’s definitely a chance, as the current situation will impact our global trade for the next decade. We will see stricter borders and regulations. Companies have to be more aware of them than ever before. Maybe we will see a slight decrease in growth of global trade. In the end global supply chains will never go away again, they will just get more restricted and complicated. 


This is why companies have to optimize their processes and are in need of new compliant and efficient software tools. 


From today’s world to the future: what can customers and partners expect from traide over the next year? Are there any exciting new features planned?


We will be the scalable customs expert within the company. Next year we will concentrate our product development on data extraction and completion of required customs data, to bring even more value to the companies. 


In the last step we will have an AI control/ Audit of the complete dataset based on product and shipping information. 


We will automate the customs processes within the companies of all industries and sizes!


What are the greatest challenges on your way of establishing the business?


One of the biggest challenges is the data quality within the companies. Sometimes it’s kind of difficult to get the right data. But we see a lot of potential there to help companies with traide. We have a bunch of ideas on how to enrich data through technology and AI. 


It’s a challenge but also a huge potential!


Thanks for the interview, Leonie! The last words to our readers are yours.


At the moment, we’re looking for a Head of Sales and Engineers who would like to join our team. As we are quite early, you will have a strong impact on the company and the culture while you’ll have an extraordinary learning curve. 


Our new Office is located in one of the best areas of Berlin, Torstraße in Mitte. It’s lovely, but still we’re flexible and also remote work is common in our team.



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