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Mannheim alumna successful with sewing app

Mannheim alumna successful with sewing app Pattarina GmbH

Nora Baum likes to sew. But there was one thing that annoyed the alumna of the University of Mannheim about her hobby: before sewing, the contours of the garment have to be drawn elaborately on the cloth using a paper template and pencil. To improve the process she developed an app that uses augmented reality to draw patterns on the cloth within seconds. And apparently, this not only makes her sewing easier: The app has already been downloaded almost 100,000 times. And Baum even was able to make a commitment in the fight against covid: Since the beginning of the pandemic, patterns for everyday masks have been available on Pattarina for free.

"Sewing has never become out of fashion: Even in countries such as Great Britain, the US or Russia, people are busy sitting at their sewing machines," says the social scientist with a doctorate. According to estimates, around five million people in Germany sew. After Dr. Nora Baum and her co-founder Markus Uhlig had received the coveted EXIST start-up grant, they launched the Pattarina pattern app in May 2018. Sewing is very easy with this app: click on a garment in the app, select the size - then the required pieces - for example the sleeves and body of a T-shirt - are displayed for being sewed together. The virtual patterns can then be projected onto the cloth with the smartphone using augmented reality. In this way, the contours can be traced easily with a simple pen - without annoying paper stencils.

The app itself is free of charge. "However, the users have to buy the patterns from us. They all come from designers we work with," explains the founder. They can be loaded into the app via a code.

Nora Baum is often asked whether there is a market for her app. "Of course there is. It just lacks the visibility for sewing, especially for men, but we want to change that too," she says. A big step for sewing into the public eye was also the participation in the founders' show "The Lion's Den" a year ago. A financing by Frank Thelen did not come off: The market was too small for him and Baum and Uhlig had nothing to sell yet. "We had just finished the app and had hardly any cooperation with designers and only a few patterns to offer. A year later we could have used the app more effectively," says Nora Baum. "But it was still worth it: 40,000 downloads during the show."

That the 38-year-old has embarked on such an unusual career is only surprising at first glance: After graduating in banking at the University of Cooperative Education in Leipzig, Baum began studying sociology and political science at the University of Mannheim in 2004, became involved in the student council as well as the English drama group, then went into management consulting at McKinsey and later earned a doctorate at the University of Cottbus on the digitalization of trade services. "My doctorate is most closely connected to the Pattarina app, where it's basically about nothing else - the digitalization of sewing," says the all-rounder.

The app has now been downloaded almost 100,000 times. And more projects are in the pipeline: The aim is to make it even easier for designers to upload patterns. The two founders also want to offer Pattarina worldwide. "It would be a waste of potential if we only made the app available in Germany," says Baum. But entering other markets would be challenging because sewing habits have to be adapted locally and regionally. "We are even thinking further: The model of augmented reality can also be applied to materials such as wood or tiles". So the Mannheim Alumna has a lot more to do.


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