Pionierkraft founders Nicolas Schwaab and Andy Eberhardt
photo: Pionierkraft

Pionierkraft: Energy Sharing Solution for Green Energy

Using local green energy without your own photovoltaic system on your roof — is that even possible? Yes, says the Munich startup Pionierkraft. We wanted to find out how exactly from founders Andy Eberhardt and Nicolas Schwaab.

Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do? Please introduce yourself!

Andy: I’ve been working in my parents’ photovoltaics company since I was 14 years old. It was there that I quickly realized how much potential lay on unused roofs that we unfortunately couldn’t take advantage of, both in technical and regulatory terms, to share renewable energy with other households. When I then had the opportunity during my studies in electrical engineering to work on a solution to make renewable energy accessible to people without their own power generation units, the idea for our energy sharing solution was born.

Nico: I met Andy at a startup event at the Munich University of Applied Sciences. We quickly realized that we perfectly complemented one another both on a professional and personal level. With the necessary technical and economic know-how and an innovative startup idea, there was nothing stopping us from a successful founding.

Peer-to-peer trading of self-generated energy

Andy: What makes our product stand out is that our new, innovative solution composed of hardware, software and service makes peer-to-peer trading of self-generated energy possible in economic, legally compliant and user friendly terms between private individuals and/or businesses. That increases the amount of energy consumed locally, gives more people access to affordable renewable energy and makes the operation of existing and new photovoltaic systems more efficient and profitable.

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Andy: That’s true, energy sharing solutions are already on the market. The advantage we offer in comparison is that the energy we share is truly local energy, not just on a virtual or financial level. Instead of gray energy or an energy mix, our energy community shares real renewable energy. And we do so on significantly more attractive financial terms compared to our competition. Our business model benefits not only homeowners with photovoltaic systems, but also people who are not as well off and who don’t own their own homes or a power generation system, who can obtain affordable and real green energy.

Munich Startup: What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Nico: The period in which we bootstrapped, i.e. financed ourselves with our own money, was a major challenge. Building a team with limited means and without financial security while also making investments and continuing to develop our hardware was a huge risk for us and extremely stressful. In retrospect, it was the right decision to take that route and it was a time that taught us a great deal.

Munich Startup: Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: How is business going?

Andy: Business is going very well. We now have solid financing, will be implementing our first pilot tests under real conditions soon and have noticed a growing demand for our solution from industry and customers. We also just moved into our new office in the Munich Technology Centre and are continuing to grow our excellent team, whom we are very proud of.

Munich Startup: What does Munich mean to you?

Nico: Andy is from Nördlingen and I’m from Freiburg. So that makes us both “newcomers,” but we feel very much at home in Munich. First off, the quality of living is very high, and secondly, the conditions for founding a startup are excellent here. We have very much benefited from the offers and support from the local university landscape. Moreover, Munich as a region is an excellent location for founding innovative greentech startups thanks to its large network of companies, organizations and potential customers for whom sustainability is of growing importance.

Companies with impact

Munich Startup: How will your startup become the next unicorn? Or will we be seeing you at an Epic Fail Night soon?

Andy: We are working continuously on ourselves, our product and our business model, which means we’re creating the best conditions to continue to grow. Our product is also right in line with the spirit of the times. An increasing number of people want to actively support the energy transition, decentralized energy solutions are of growing importance and the necessity to give people affordable and clean energy is one of today’s biggest sociopolitical challenges. Whether we become a “unicorn” or not — we’re convinced that we’re on the right path to becoming a successful company that will have a sustainable impact on the energy transition.

Munich Startup: Isar River or English Garden?

Nico: Without a doubt, the Isar. We both live near the Flaucher (pebbled shores along the river) where we like to meet up to jog along the Isar. We also spend lots of time with our families and friends at one of Munich’s most beautiful destinations.