“Participating in Cleantech Camp has allowed us to prepare a Project of greater value, obtain excellent advice and a network of contacts throughout Europe”.
Starke Energy has been the winning start-up of this year’s edition of Cleantech Camp. After having followed the program, Rolf Bastiaanssen, current CEO of the Company, Ivan Mayordomo CTO, and Maarja Meitern COO, tell us about their project, their plans from now on, and how their time at Cleantech Camp has been.
What is your project about?
Starke aims to be the leading provider of smart batteries in buildings. It creates pools of local energy storage across cities that can store sustainable energy when it’s abundant and cheap – and redirect it to users when they need it. This makes electricity cheaper and avoids the use of dirty power plants – thus reducing CO2 emission in the process. The storage is ´as a service´, Starke invests in the batteries while suppliers and users get rewards as they make use of the local energy market. The automated energy management system combines advanced energy trading AI with a deep understanding of battery health, ensuring maximizing lifetime value out of the energy storage assets.
How did the idea of starting come up?
Rolf and Maarja are consultants specialized in energy innovation, with deep contact with many sector stakeholders across Europe, but also worked with large housing providers across Europe. They identified the structural imbalance between energy supply and demand across time scales as the next bottleneck in the energy transition. Developing a new product-service concept, they engaged in a research project with InnoEnergy where they met with Ivan. The outcome of the project was the confirmation of the need for local energy balancing and the feasibility of batteries as a solution for such a challenge, and Starke Energy was born.
What stage is the Project in?
The concept has gained attention from several major engineering firms, with whom we are developing the first large pilot projects, operating in Spain, the Netherlands, and soon the UK. Within its first year of existence, commercial contracts we signed. As the business model has been validated, we are now working on increasingly large local investment projects while improving our energy trading software solution.
Who is your team?
We are very driven people, with a variety of backgrounds but sharing the same vision. Currently, a team of 10 people with different levels of engagement, and located between Spain and The Netherlands, accounting in total for 5fte. The brains of the team are based in Barcelona, where 3 software engineers further develop AI and trading systems, and from where we control batteries. Commercially, we focus on northern Europe, where we work with a cloud of experienced freelancers to develop new projects.
What would you highlight about your participation in Cleantech Camp? What is the best thing that you take from the experience of these weeks?
The CTC has really been a watershed moment for Starke Energy. Interacting frequently with industry specialists, we came out with a better value proposition, a handful of excellent tips, and a wider network of relevant contacts across Europe – including commercial opportunities. As a start-up it often feels overwhelming – there are so much to do, and too many opportunities that need to be carefully considered. Working with the other CTC start-ups and mentors was very motivating and helped me stay focused. And of course, winning the competition has given us a motivation boost and lots of visibility! We can recommend any start-up in the energy business to become part of the CTC program.
And from now on…What will be the next steps?
Starke is now evolving from a product concept to a solution provider. It is so exciting that we can now offer commercially viable clean energy investment propositions – the client feedback is amazing. In 2021, we will expand our activities to two more markets, and if all goes well, we will have several million € of storage assets under management by summer. But we want to grow quicker, so we will be looking for an investor that can help us further expand the product development team and our commercial presence in our core markets.
The promoter of the project:
Rolf Bastiaanssen, CEO of the company,
Rolf holds an M.Sc. in Business Administration from Rotterdam School of Management and has 15 years of experience in innovation consulting, focusing on energy systems and the built environment. Rolf has supported cities and housing providers across Europe to develop large-scale energy efficiency investment programs and worked with start-ups and industry majors on developing and piloting new smart grid solutions. As an industry insider, Rolf leads the strategic direction and maintains a wide network of relevant stakeholders.
Ivan Mayordomo, CTO
Ivan holds a bachelor’s in Energy Engineering with a double master’s degree in Energy for Smart Cities from Innoenergy. Before joining Starke Energy, Ivan has worked in different fields from the energy sector, including Energy Storage, Demand Response, and Energy Audits, in countries as diverse as Spain, Norway, Sweden, and Uruguay. His field of expertise covers energy storage, demand response, and electric mobility. Ivan is the CTO of Starke Energy; within the team, he is passionate about creating ideas on how to make the most out of technology.
Maarja Meitern, COO
Maarja is acting as a COO at Starke Energy since September 2020. She has a strong background in digitization and deregulation of energy markets. Her experience ranges from EU- level think tank work on energy communities, to hands-on management of the first experimental deregulated local energy markets. Furthermore, Maarja has 4 years of experience in managing complex multi-actor energy innovation projects across Europe on behalf of both governmental as well as corporate clients. She is committed to contribute to the design of future fair energy polity through her Ph.D. candidacy work at the Free University of Brussels department of Political Science.