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Rockstart’s Smart Energy Program Demo Day: ‘Why Not?’

What has become of the startups from the second edition from the Rockstart Smart Energy Program? And why did Rockstart get into the energy game? Time to find out during the Demo Day.

It seems only a short time has passed since I wrote about the start of the second Rockstart Smart Energy Program. Yet there the nine lucky ones all stood – presenting their refined pitches and businesses to a room full of investors and journalists at DemoDay. The last minute location change to the Kromhouthal in Amsterdam Noord proved to be a great move in setting the mood. The large hangar was split up into a massive catwalk, a stage and a conference hall where the startups had their own island after the event.

Smart Energy over FinTech

The global startup town is bustling with new niches popping up all over the place. Whether it’s FinTech, MedTech, Internet of Things or even still in plain old software – the sheer amount of technological innovation is greater than even Bill Gates could have predicted in the nineties. So why smart energy? Don Ritzen (founder of Rockstart) phrased it nicely – the question is not ‘why smart energy’ but ‘why not’? The financial sector might very well be beyond disruption, whereas energy is a sector where innovation is already in motion.

Heavy on the software

I was personally a bit disappointed with the type of startups on stage. Considering the name I had expected a lot more hardware based companies to be presenting their innovative ideas today. Instead, four out of nine were actually building software or even apps. Of course, there’s a lot to be gained in the energy sector by upping their software game, but it still felt as if some belonged to the web and mobile program rather than this one. All that aside, there was a lot of quality on stage today.

The startups

Capacity Energy

First up was Capacity Energy. What they do is quite simple: most energy providers have expensive and cheap energy. It’s humanly impossible to optimize your usage, simply because you can’t predict when the wind is going to make the turbines spin. That’s where they come in, they strive to balance the grid by matching supply and demand. It’s a fully automated platform that lets companies vary their electricity consumption over time without disturbing their core business. It lets their machines work harder when energy is abundant (and prices are low) and turns them down or off when scarcity and prices increase (instead of having them run at the usual, constant rate).

They’ve partnered up with Scholt Energy Control, Ortec and Alliander to invest and help take them to market. They’re looking for one million in total funding in convertible notes.

Wirewatt

By basically playing the middle man between institutional investments and installers, the Mexican contender is looking to bring solar panels to developed nations. By connecting solar projects with the capital markets through it’s online marketplace, Wirewatt aims to accelerate the deployment of solar into homes that are not yet dependent on existing power grids.

They’ve started selling licenses for their proposal tool in Mexico, and have secured one of the top five solar installers that is now processing projects on the platform worth a hundred thousand dollars.

Zenodys

With a heavy Slovenian accent and a warm smile, the front-man of Zenodys started explaining how they’re planning to take down the tower of Babel that stands in the way of a true smart home. They’ve built an easy drag-and-drop system where you can place appliances in a flow chart and the big connector box to… you’ve guessed it… integrate your household appliances in the Internet of Things.

They’re launching their beta on Monday, have so far raised 80.000 euros and are looking to close another 500k seed round by August.

Viridom

People tend to spend more energy (and thereby money) than they really need, simply because they are not given the proper insights. Viridom provides b2b SaaS software that energy providers can white label. Their software uses existing data on the households’ energy usage and adds more data along the way.

They’re looking for a total investment of 500.000 euro

Finch Buildings

The dramatic entrance, blue suit and brown shoes did their magic – even though the microphone messed up three times during the pitch it went like a charm. Finch Buildings makes healthy, sustainable real estate that’s basically an adult’s version of Lego. They develop and build modular buildings which can be adapted to surroundings and circumstances. From student housing to hotels and from care to holiday homes, their Lego-like system enables them to construct different types of buildings all based on one particular circular module.

They’re starting their first pilot project in Amsterdam and I’ll be very honest – after seeing the sketch of their version of a beach house, I want one.

Swuto

Nobody likes a big energy bill, but there’s few people who have the energy and stamina to keep comparing to get the best deals around. That’s why the guys at Swuto decided to automate the whole shebang. They automatically compare and switch your energy supplier so you only use the cheapest energy. Swuto’s vision is to help alleviate fuel poverty and increase the uptake of green energy, by automating the comparison and switching process for the end user.

They go to beta in September and after which they want to raise 350.000 euros funding for their pilot.

Entelligo

Entelligo is a mobile app designed to assist sales professionals of renewable energy systems in the residential market: it provides a fast and easy way to generate optimized commercial proposals, ready to be signed by the customer.

The company is already generating revenue in Italy and is ready to enter the rest of the European market. They’re looking to raise 600.000 euros to help them scale.

Masar

The founder of Masar asked himself a really simple question: what is the best place on earth to harness solar energy. The answer is Northern Africa and a part of the Middle East also known as the Sun Belt. There, Masar partners with private landowners to build medium-sized solar installations that produce solar power close to major cities, where consumption is high.

It helps that the founder is Egyptian, so they’ve managed to make major strides in that country to get their panels on the ground. One may wonder whether the conflict ridden region is worth the investment, but by making the region the largest solar energy provider, maybe, just maybe, their can be a bit of well-deserved economic trickle up. They’re looking for one million to finance their first proper power plant, and I’m rooting for them.

Bleeve

Ever wanted to upgrade your house to solar panels or anything similar? If you did, you probably quickly discovered just how much of a hassle it is to actually figure out what you need, who can install it and how much it’ll cost you. That’s where Bleeve comes in – they’re building a online marketplace that empowers local communities and homeowners to lower their energy bills and upgrade their houses to make them more energy efficient. It also allows you to invite your friends and neighbours to join your project in order to enjoy group discounts.

The startup has about 300 people on the waiting list to start using the platform and have connected twenty-one installers and fifteen municipalities. They’re already backed by Stichting DOEN before they’ve even launched and are looking to raise 1.5 million euros to get their marketplace going.

 
Photo by jhenry82 (creative commons via Panoramio)

Adine Rooyackers
Wandering writer of copy and stuff. Geek in disguise. Sometimes more disguise than geek. Hazard of enjoying sports like kitesurfing and skiing. Still get regular #nerdgasms.

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