Wind power – it’s a no-brainer. It’s clean, reliable and affordable, but it’s hard to imagine how it can be as accessible as solar power. Not for b.ventus, one of our :agile accelerator startups, that provides onsite and inland wind power for customers’ own consumption.
The name b.ventus derives from two words. B stands for Bavaria – a place where the idea was born, developed and first applied and ventus – a Latin word for wind. “Bavaria was our starting point,” says co-founder Christoph Esche. “Our clear ambition was to make it work even with the very difficult wind conditions down there.”
The co-founders Christoph Esche and Julia Arco-Valley met at E.ON Group Management, where they worked in the same team. It was quite clear for both of them that the energy world is heading to a decentralized clean environment in a long-term. Therefore they started developing a product for industry and business customers using the lowest cost renewable energy source – wind.
Both co-founders claim: "we started developing our product backwards”. Putting customer in focus, they started working with real customer power consumption profiles and conducted almost 100 interviews to find out the key criteria for development of the product. After looking at the regulatory environment laws, they set the goal to be the cheapest clean energy self-consumption provider in the market and defined three main compromises to achieve this: keep the turbines below 50 meters high; combine small generator with a huge rotor and keep the cost of production under 300.000€.
One is clear – extremely high goals have been achieved. In 2016 b.ventus designed an innovative wind turbine ideal for business customers. As it’s only 30 meters in height, in comparison to a wind farm turbine at 100-200 meters, it can be installed quickly on-site and without a lengthy permitting process and be available for use 95 percent of the time with a payback period of max. 10 years
As a mark of belief in b.ventus, a number of companies within and outside of E.ON invested into the startup.
Alexander Montebaur, CEO of E.DIS, explains E.ON´s investment: “We chose b. ventus as a partner because the company has developed a promising, innovative business idea that we want to ramp up. This also gives us the opportunity to work closely with other E.ON companies, a renowned medium-sized enterprise, and one of our regional partners.”
The road there hasn’t been easy. Christoph defines working at b.ventus as a rollercoaster: “We found our first sponsor after a month, but given the high risk and the substantial investment needed, he decided to withdraw 2 months later. We got back on our feet, found another partner at E.ON and six month later failed again. Never giving up, we have finally reached our goal and found three investors from E.ON – Avacon, e.dis and e.Kundenservice Netz – as well as two external investors, FEAG and Leitner. Constant ups and downs were very hard to handle emotionally, but it also what helped us and b.ventus to mature.”
Despite the huge investments and a rapid growth of the company, b.ventus kept the team small. “We were two from the beginning and always stayed the same size,” says Christoph. “We have got some reinforcement this year July as my co-founder Julia got her baby. Now she is one of Mompreneurs handling two kids at the same time, making sure they both grow up quickly. With proper planning, flexibility and a healthy team spirit, it proved to work out just fine.”