Two years ago, Paul Geluk and Henk Jan Braggaar were just two Dutch guys with respectable finance jobs in the renewable energy industry. Buried under a pile of chaotic Excel spreadsheets, they experienced first-hand just how annoyingly tedious the industry’s finance operations were.
The reason was that stakeholders were pulling data from different sources. This meant there was mega confusion on a daily basis when it came to agreeing on quotes or invoices. Still, the pair didn’t expect that in a couple years they would be the very people solving these infuriating problems.
Things changed in 2017 when Henk Jan had a lightbulb moment at the 21 Blockchain Hackathon in Groningen focusing on blockchain in the energy industry. He realized the blockchain could finally get everyone on the same page, and even better, get everyone using the same data.
Soon after, two guys with no IT background ended up founding the blockchain-based company, Clearwatts. As Paul explained to me gingerly: “We like a challenge.”
Since then, the company has grown by one more co-founder, Koen Wolters, and has turned from a side-project into a full-time job for Paul and Henk Jan. They’ve just successfully completed a round of pilots for two apps that facilitate generating agreements and invoicing for power sellers and buyers — making life much easier for their former selves. Now, these first products are ready to enter the market.
Clearing up the data confusion
As Paul explained, the main problem that the renewable industry is facing is information confusion. When stakeholders like utility companies or power suppliers invoice an agreement, all parties pull their data from various sources, such as production figures or market prices. Stakeholders then end up with different data which holds back payments and wastes everyone’s time.
Clearwatts solves this problem by building a trusted data layer with all kinds of data relevant to the industry. By encouraging all key stakeholders to participate in the database, Clearwatts hopes for more transparency for the entire industry.
We propose one database so you have a single source of information to work with and you don’t duplicate each other’s work.
Transparency with one database
To show the possibilities of the data layer, Clearwatts has developed two apps: One that generates power purchase agreements and another that automatically creates invoices based on them. Clearwatts also has more products in the making but eventually, they want to enable others to create their own apps on the data layer.
Thanks to blockchain technology, the company is introducing trust and reliability into the chaotic data environment. Individual stakeholders can’t manipulate data so negotiations are transparent from the start. The full automatization also ensures information is always up-to-date, which is especially important for a fast-changing industry like renewable energy.
So, what’s next for Clearwatts?
“For a long time, Clearwatts was just a few presentation slides. Our biggest achievement so far was actually getting our platform up and running, and being able to show it to clients and test it,” told me Paul proudly.
Now that Clearwatts have their proof of concept, they're working on acquiring commercial clients. The company is running workshops to explain how the platform works and to better understand potential clients' needs.
For a challenge-driven founder like Paul, the process itself is exciting: “The great thing is that I do sales for my own product and I really believe we’re offering a good solution.”
This optimism is well-justified. With years of experience in the renewable energy industry and technology to back their solutions, Clearwatts is clearly set up to offer unique value to the market.
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