Getting funded still remains an eternal challenge for a number of startups around the world. With investor sentiment turning sour in recent months, startups have faced a monumental task when it comes to getting properly funded. However, there are startups like Greener Power Solutions, that are not only trying to defy these odds but are doing so with great responsibility.
Every month we talk to a founder on their quest for investment. This month, we connected with Dieter Castelein, CEO of Greener Power Solutions, an Amsterdam-based impact startup looking to lower CO2 footprint with mobile batteries and smart energy planning.
What does Greener Power Solutions do?
Founded in January 2018, Greener Power Solutions is building technology solutions to make an impact on the CO2 footprint of on- and off-grid energy markets by providing services to the temporary energy industry. The idea, according to its founders, is inspired by festivals and dates back to 2014 when the idea of bringing mobile battery systems to events emerged at some of the biggest festivals in the Netherlands.
Lukas Kuijken, Dieter Castelein, and Klaas Akkerman, the co-founders of Greener Power Solutions, saw the lack of planning for energy efficiency in areas like construction sites and grid maintenance. This drove them to start a company focussed on providing energy solutions to areas where there is no or limited power available.
“We believe in transparency, so we start by inventorising the project, and analysing what the best solution for that job could be. We only have 1 mission in mind: how can we minimise the carbon emissions on this project, and still supply a solid solution for this client,” says Dieter Castelein, CEO of Greener Power Solutions.
In order to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of energy solutions, Greener has built its own planning, monitoring, and EMS software optimising power supply. In reality, Greener Power Solutions was ahead of time with its concept of building sustainable energy solutions with technology. However, the high oil prices and the need for sustainable solutions, has driven the entire energy industry to look for “new and innovative” solutions.
Castelein says the market was conservative initially but it is seeing more traction and clients are even discovering them through the website. The primary product of Greener Power Solutions is a mobile battery energy storage solution. The current fleet consists of 60 batteries with a total operating capacity of 20 MWh. Castelein says they chose to offer a mobile battery solution because it will act as a buffer in the energy mix of the future.
He says solar, wind, or hydrogen power will act as energy supply but there will “always be a need for a battery to keep the grid stable during the peak loads.” Castelein also sees these mobile batteries as the way to maintain that stability. According to Castelein, these batteries can be combined with any other asset, whether it is a wind turbine or a diesel generator. They can also automatically use the right asset to minimise the carbon emissions.
How much are they raising?
On July 12, Greener Power Solutions announced raising €45M in a fresh round of funding. The funding came from DIF Capital Partners, a Dutch investment company with over €11B under management. Greener plans to use the new capital to strengthen its market position in the Netherlands and beyond.
In a statement, Klaas Akkerman, COO of Greener, revealed that a portion of the funds will go into research and development to facilitate the introduction of new products and services. They also plan to invest in hardware, software, and innovation necessary to expand its fleet of mobile batteries. Lastly, the new funding will help support Greener’s plan to expand its team.
How did they complete this funding round?
Every startup or an organisation has its own way of approaching their funding goal. Some may bootstrap their way to success while some others may chase aggressive capital building to scale their product. Castelein says they approach funding with focus on “what is important for the company.”
For this €45M raised from DIF Capital Partners, the co-founders looked at their goal and how they will get there. Castelein says if a startup focuses on its goal and how to achieve that goal, the rest of its ambitions will automatically fall in place.
“DIF found us on LinkedIn through all the nice posts that we did about our projects,” he says.
However, it is an universal truth that no funding comes easy and the challenges vary from company to company and even the size of capital being raised. For Castelein and Greener, the challenge was restricted to the fact that they are a young company with a management team without much experience.
To bridge that gap, Castelein says they raised funding from an investor with much more experience. It is rare to get such raw and honest facts from a startup founder but Castelein doesn’t shy away from admitting about their lack of experience and shining light on their ability to overcome that gap.
He says they were able to find a common ground with DIF Capital Partners, who bring a wealth (literally) of experience to the startup. While the investor brings experience, Greener will keep its entrepreneurial spirit that attracted DIF in the first place.
What’s next for Greener Power Solutions?
For Greener, the immediate focus is to strengthen its technology and the differentiating software it has built. COO Akkerman sees opportunities for wider use of the self-developed software used by Greener for its mobile battery solution.
“Our software is what sets us apart from other players in the market. Not only can we provide insight into usage from the battery, we can also control various power sources such as solar, wind and hydrogen,” says Akkerman in a statement.
Castelein sees this expanded use case for its software as part of its R&D effort. “We will focus on integrating more renewables as an on-site generation together with the batteries,” he says.
One other area where Castelein wants to focus is the planning tool for its clients. This tool allows Greener to inventorise depending on the energy needs of its clients. The tool will also allow Greener to better predict the amount of peak power and total kWh needed by its clients. “This will make us better in providing the ideal and affordable solution for our clients,” Catelein adds.
The need for cleaner, greener, and sustainable energy solutions is a global phenomenon. However, it will require the collective efforts of government bodies, corporations, energy companies, and individual citizens to drive such a change. While that may be a tall order right now, it is easier to tackle the temporary energy needs with sustainable energy solutions. Greener is doing just that and it could soon emerge as the most important startup in the field of delivering mobile energy in a sustainable way.
Catch our interview with Paul Down, Head of Sales at Intigriti.