Pump replacement made easy: Startup Perto closes gap in energy market
House builders and companies know: Obsolete pumps can consume an incredible amount of energy. The Berlin startup Perto supports them in switching to more efficient devices. From a free consumption analysis to applying for subsidies to installation, everything is available from a single source. Perto founder Sebastian Schröer tells us how the team was able to convince even Berlin-based Immobilienmanagement GmbH with this all-round service and why public-sector orders create some hurdles for start-ups.
Sebastian, when it comes to pump replacement, the first thing you think of is a craftsman’s business. What defines you as a startup?
(Laughs) Yes, that may sound unsexy at first. But it’s totally obvious. The subject of energy efficiency is a huge area and we have discovered a gap for ourselves here. The market structure in Germany has developed in such a way that small craft businesses are often responsible for pumps. But that doesn’t have to be the case. In England, for example, the largest craft business is an energy supplier that has employed over 5000 craftsmen. The current transformation in the energy market allows even small companies with a lot of technology and innovative services to grow.
What advantages do you offer your customers?
Without Perto, customers wishing to have pumps replaced would first have to commission an engineering company and pay for the corresponding analysis. Depending on the size of the project, a planner and one or even more craftsmen are required. In order to benefit from the current subsidies of 30 percent, someone must also take care of the paperwork. We offer everything from a single source. In doing so, we handle a lot of things via standardized, scalable IT processes and cooperate with regional craft businesses.
Yes, they wanted a single point of contact who would take care of the entire service, from analysis to installation, so that as little additional work as possible would be required and that different companies would not have to be contacted. That’s why we’ve joined forces with two other start-ups to form a joint venture. Egain was responsible for optimizing the heating control and myWarm for the hydraulic balancing. We have appointed a contact person for our customer who represents all three startups. We didn’t have to bother our client with the coordination among each other. That worked very well.
Is it difficult to convince such institutions of your qualities as a start-up?
In this case, we quickly realised that we were being trusted and that the negotiations were taking place at eye level. This is by no means a matter of course for start-ups in such a context. But it has shown us that we can handle such an extensive project. Of course you have to learn a lot. And of course something goes wrong sometimes. Nevertheless, you can move big things very quickly.
Meanwhile we are doing this more and more. It doesn’t happen that often that such tenders fit perfectly to us. Everything that is in public hands has to be put out to tender, but is usually not very startup-friendly. Typical clauses that prevent us from applying are, for example, “The company must be older than five years”, “The contract value must not exceed 30 percent of the annual turnover” or “The company must be a crafts enterprise”. – Which we are not.
For a company that has to pay not only personnel costs but also craftsmen and materials, the question of pre-financing certainly remains, doesn’t it?
Yes, financing can be a massive challenge for start-ups. Especially if there are many months between order acceptance and payment. Even banks do not usually offer interim financing in such cases.
After our foundation at the end of 2016, we initially accepted rather small orders, used different financing methods and gradually built up an image and references. In this way we also show the bank that we are growing, making more sales and paying all our bills.
On the other hand, BIM is also very progressive here and has found ways of interpreting the specifications in such a way that we can fulfil them as a young company. For public clients, there is a certain degree of discretion here. A central prerequisite is therefore personal openness and the will of the decision-makers.
This are great news from Berlin!
Yes, the public sector in Berlin is really progressive and fulfils its role model function. It complies with climate protection regulations and shows private companies how to achieve success. BIM has even recently won the European Service Award in the field of climate protection.
LinkedIn: Perto GmbH
Ambivation connects innovative companies and startups for cooperation and innovation partnerships. As an innovation consultancy and matchmaker, Ambivation promotes cooperation between established companies and startups within the framework of concrete customer, supplier and research partnerships. We support companies in the identification of needs, startup identification, startup evaluation and cooperation initiation with startups. Formats such as research on relevant startups, startup monitoring, strategic cooperation consulting or event formats such as startup tours serve this purpose. Our monthly newsletter also provides information on current examples of cooperation and events.