For the third time in its existence, the Rockstart Smart Energy batch of startups presented their businesses during a Demo Day. A summary of the 10 pitches.
Program director Smart Energy Freerk Bisschop explained the focus of this year’s startups: Internet of Things and (to a lesser extent) Artificial Intelligence. IoT of course is relevant to energy – the more devices connected, the more energy will be consumed. AI can be used for the virtual assistance in, for instance, energy management and in chatbots.
A look at the ten pitching startups (in order of appearance):
Pitch by Simon Bushell, CEO
As a real Briton, Bushell started by boiling water for a cup of tea. When everyone does that at the same time, for instance during half-time of a football match, this creates peeks in energy usage, he explains. Sympower places a box between power outlets and appliances to balance the electricity grid. This way such demand peeks in energy can be handled.
Grid operators pay Sympower and the startup shares 25 percent of the revenue with its users. The company is focusing on B2B right now but expects to enter the household market in 2018.
StartupJuncture: Great and current example of the tea during football matches. This makes it understandable for laymen.
Pitch by Juan Pablo Jimenez, CEO
eGEO is an e-meter that compensates, monitors and predicts spikes that EV’s will introduce to the electricity grid. The startup promises to make the grid 30 percent more efficient and claims that competitors cost four times more.
StartupJuncture: In the pitch we’d liked to see less numbers on the market (we get it, it’s booming) and more info on the product. The startup itself however is interesting, already ‘preparing’ for a possible future problem.
Pitch by Fausto Bernardini, CEO
“Energy will become the new gold”, Bernardini started his pitch. DAJIE lets people share energy (and data) P2P in their neighbourhood. Consumers and prosumers this way can save up to 50 percent, the startup claims. A key part of this is the blockchain as it will have “a huge impact in the energy sector”. Consumers pay 5 euro per month , grids pay 20-30 euro per user per year. In December 2016 the first blockchain will be released, in March 2017 a project starts in The Netherlands.
StartupJuncture: This pitch was nice and quick. Really like the blockchain in this platform, because it makes the energy sharing process fair and trustworthy.
Pitch by Antonio Ialeggio, CEO
GEOLUMEN believes becoming a smart city begins with lighting. So it created a box that makes street lights smarter. Of course this means real time energy monitoring. But the startup also offers location-based services like parking management and environmental monitoring. GEOLUMEN expects to go break-even mid-2018 and is currently looking for a 400.000 euro investment to expand the team. The startup confesses it has a lot of competitors like Philips and Tvilight.
StartupJuncture: Quickly go find that CTO for your product!
Pitch by Philip van Houtte, CEO
Van Houtte begins with a phone call on stage: “Where are you? You can’t find a parking spot? Well, then I have to present myself.” Yes, parking space in city centers is a pain in the ass. So Monal came up with a “PayPal for mobility”. It offers residents a fee to park their car on predefined places, so visitors have a spot. Residents put a device in their car, so when they enter the predefined placed (equipped with Monal beacons), the system automatically knows who and how much to pay. The startup calls it “location-based transactions”. The company wants to exit in 2023. At the end, the other person in the phone call finally find a parking spot and jumped on stage.
StartupJuncture: Although this seems a bit circuitous (as there are several personal parking sharing startups in The Netherlands), we do like the fact Monal creates their own infrastructure (bonuspoints!). Maybe it makes more sense in other markets. Also don’t do that cringeworthy little acting show.
Pitch by Thanos Daskalopoulos, CEO
Should data on energy usage be only be for energy managers? Employees should have insights ánd influence as well. That’s where Wapo comes in, a chatbot for Slack, Yammer and Skype Business. The AI bot can perform commands like raising or lowering the temperature and learns from people’s interaction. A nice example of the latter was given by Daskalopoulos: when Wapo notices the elevators are used too much, it encouraged employees to take the stairs. The bot is expected to officially launch in the first half of 2017. The startup plans to scale internationally in the second half.
StartupJuncture: As we didn’t hear anything about sensors in the pitch, we got curious. Turns out Wapo can be used on top of existing solutions. We also played a bit with the Slack bot. Wapo clearly only listens to a very specific set of commands right now, so it might be a while for you can call it ‘AI’. The presentation was great, easily the slickest pitch of the day.
FlowBox (Czech Republic)
Pitch by Jan Drdla, CEO
FlowBox provides a centralized management system for medium-sized manufacturing companies. Drdla claims he has traction in larger companies as well. The box can lead up to 40 percent in energy savings. In four years the startup expects a revenue of 12.5 million euro.
StartupJuncture: Too bad this pitch came right after Wapo’s, because it felt kinda ‘dry’ compared to their pitch.
Pitch by Lucas Coelho Figueiredo, CTO
Newatt is an energy management system (sensors, a box, a dashboard, you know the deal) focused on retail stores and supermarkets. That’s because they traditionally have low margins. So there’s a lot to gain with saving energy, explains Coelho Figueiredo. The dashboard is tailored per role in the team, so it offers the right insights to the right people, and let them take actions accordingly.
StartupJuncture: Although nothing new, this was a very good pitch. Simplicity and clarity is all you need.
Pitch by Anne van Rossum, CEO
A clever solution for parents: when they’re not around, electric devices turn off so little kids can’t get hurt. Crownstone is a switch or can be build into any socket. It tracks where the user (or the user’s smartphone) is with Bluetooth. Of course it also lets you save energy. Crownstone is looking for a 800.000 euro investment, from which 25 percent already is committed.
StartupJuncture: As was said in the pitch, there are a lot of competitors. That’s why we really liked the focus on children safety, so this business can stand out. It feels like it should do well on crowdfunding platforms.
Pitch by Antonia Imre, CEO
Vebbu “makes your house breathe” by controlling the indoor air quality. The system consists of two heat recovery ventilators and a sensor per room, and an mobile app. Vebbu focuses on the retrofit residential market, starting in 2017 with The Netherlands (“most developed market”), Germany (biggest market) and Ireland (because of a subsidy). The startup is raising 600.000 euro. Joris Jonker (Quby) entered the advisory board.
StartupJuncture: How are you going to market this in the B2C market? We’d love to see more of that.
Smart Energy Demo Day
Overall all the pitches were tight. We couldn’t help but notice that most of the businesses build an intermediary device for energy management. Of course that’s inevitable in such a sector, but we’d like to see some variety next time.
Photo by Rockstart.