With dozens of suppliers and countless energy products, the energy market is becoming ever more complex. What if you could filter and reduce this complexity so that buying energy was as simple and convenient as, say, ordering a book on Amazon? And what if there was a service that automatically switched you to the most cost-efficient supplier available at any given moment?
Enter White Grid. The project applies the concept of an open, secure, and convenient marketplace to the world of energy supply. “We believe that an open marketplace for a wide range of energy-related products can and will add greater value than a single utility company can with its own products,” says White Grid co-founder Tormod Hirt. Instead of focusing on selling their products to existing and new customers, White Grid widens the perspective. As an open marketplace, its scope transcends the traditional corporate product range. In other words: White Grid helps sell other suppliers’ products and participates in those earnings.
How did this idea come to life? “New concepts are often born from everyday frustrations,” Tormod Hirt explains. His idea for White Grid was sparked when he failed to switch to a new energy supplier in time and missed out on the annual bonus payment. In June 2016 Tormod met Stefan Malcherek and Alexander Gebauer, whose independent metering operator project followed a similar approach. “Realizing that we share the same vision, we teamed up to pool our resources,” Tormod says.
Being a former E.ON’s employee, Tormod is currently enjoying a startup life. “What I really love is the team spirit and that everyone feels responsible. It is a great mix of highly productive chaos, fun, and inspiration,” he says. What is more, working for a startup allows a close cooperation with customers – testing new solutions with them is crucial for every startup.
In January 2017, White Grid went live with the switching service “Wechsel-Bo”. To market their project, the team created “Wechsel-Bo”, a lovable, bearded hipster/Viking character. In a guerilla marketing initiative, they hung Bo-branded tote bags with attached postcards on apartment doorknobs as an encouragement to switch energy providers and save money.
What are the next steps? “We’ll do what startups always do: keep evolving our product and look for new investors and partners who share our vision,” Tormod says. While focusing on establishing a switching service and rolling out smart metering, White Grid sticks to the plan of reaching 10,000 new customers in 2017. Lucky they - after getting an external investor White Grid’s challenging goal seems to be closer than ever.