Interview With Radoslav Štompf
Describe your product or service:
“FUERGY is a technology company providing solutions for smart energy optimization. For this purpose, we have developed our own software platform powered by artificial intelligence, which meets the special needs of energy management. From energy storage to dispatch systems and automated energy trading, FUERGY offers complex, cost-effective, tailor-made solutions to accelerate the transition to energy decentralization with a high share of renewables.”
Describe your company values and mission:
We are on a mission to reinvent how people utilize and share electric energy to accelerate the transition to sustainable renewables. Our goal is to shift from conventional electricity consumers to innovative green power prosumers who will produce, consume, and share energy effectively. We want to make renewable energy an economically compelling alternative so we can finally reduce the dependence on fossil fuels to help slow down climate change.”
How are you funded? I.e. venture capital, angel investors, etc.
“Own resources, family, [and] angel investors.”
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them (I.e. co-founders, freelancers, etc.)
“FUERGY has four co-founders and approximately 26 employees. Many team members are specialists with decades of experience in the energy sectors such as optimization, hardware and software development, and project management.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“My life is just one big surprise. I never thought that I would have a big family, live in a house or become an entrepreneur. But it all came very naturally. I’ve been working in the energy sector my whole professional life and I decided to found my first company in 2014 when there was a high demand for process automation in this sector. The company was providing optimization of the electricity and gas production and consumption as well as trading on the electricity markets. This [is] where I identified the true needs of the customers which are also the stepping-stone of the FUERGY idea.”
How did you come up with your startup idea? How did you decide to actually act on the idea? What gave you confidence that you were on the right track?
“In my previous company, we were providing solutions mostly to the large industrial companies. Later, when I met the other co-founders, we had a long talk about our visions for the future of energy and how we could apply the energy optimization solutions that I was using for large entities to smaller energy consumers but on a much wider scale. We knew we hit the nail on the head when we evaluated the performance of our pilot project. With our very first smart energy storage system, we reached outstanding results, and it wasn’t even the optimal system set-up. We knew we could do much better! This encouraged us to work even harder to make our solutions available to everyone.”
How did you come up with your company name? Did you have other names you considered?
“There were a few names that we considered before definitively choosing FUERGY. One of the “hot candidates” was the name ElectroX. But we wanted a name that demonstrates our vision for a new and better energy. The energy sector lags behind when it comes to innovation. We wanted to say that we are here with the solutions that can change this sector as we know it. That’s why we chose the name FUERGY –> the FUture of enERGY.”
What is the greatest challenge you faced in starting your business, and how did you overcome it?
“I used to run a small business with just a few people. All of a sudden, I was standing in front of the investors explaining how our technology works and why we need their money. Being an expert and small team leader wasn’t enough anymore. I had to become a salesman, storyteller, and teacher. Not to mention the volume of responsibility that I took over. I was thrown in the water, and I had to learn to swim very quickly. But, I knew that these are the inevitable obstacles to reach our higher goals.”
Who is your product or service made for? Who is your target market?
“We currently have three main products, with many associated services:
brAIn by FUERGY — Smart energy storage solution.
brAIn is an AI-powered battery management for lower energy bills, non-stop power backup, maximized green energy production, IoT control, EV charging, and more. The target market is every single consumer of electricity; however, for now, we focus mainly on the C&I sector, i.e. the manufacturing companies, shopping malls, office buildings but also the sector of logistics or other large energy consumers. With this product, we manage the electricity in a way that maximizes the utilization of the energy sources, especially the green ones, and prevents the surplus electricity from being wasted. The financial effects of our energy optimization are generated on the level of electricity suppliers, and they transmit into lower electricity prices for the end-customers. Therefore, everyone wins – FUERGY, electricity suppliers, and the end-customer.
mAInchart by FUERGY — Dispatch system for energy retailers.
mAInchart provides online data monitoring and generation of consumption plans for energy suppliers’ customer portfolios. Target markets are mostly energy suppliers.
trAId by FUERGY — Automated intraday trading for enhanced power generation.
trAId provides management of energy sources based on the development of intraday electricity market prices.The target markets are energy sources such as thermal power plants, combined-cycle power plants, or hydroelectric plants.”
What's your marketing strategy?
“Our marketing strategy is to present the variety of our use cases for our products and different problems they solve so that our potential customers can relate to it and discover new opportunities. We are also approaching our prospects at the conferences and fairs attended by our target audiences. Although, COVID-19 makes it quite difficult.”
How did you acquire your first 100 customers?
“At the moment, we are fine-tuning our software and focusing mostly on bigger projects and installations. For that reason, we haven’t reached the magic 100 customers yet.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“At the moment, we put extra focus on the metric gross profit per man day. Every installation of our smart energy storage follows, more or less, the same processes. In the initial phase, we do the inspection of the customer’s site; we analyze its energy data and on-site technologies and we design the most suitable solutions. In some cases, this can be very time-consuming, not [to mention] the time spent on explaining how our solution works and why it generates such huge savings.
Our personal capacities are limited, and each project we put our effort on, whether it is hardware energy storage system or software application, must keep the business running. That is why projects with a good gross profit per man day ratio are our top priority. However, with every new installation, we are getting faster and more efficient. We are also trying to find a way to cover smaller installations through our partnering companies.”
What's your favorite book on entrepreneurship?
“I don’t really read books about business. However, I spend a lot of time driving in the car listening to audiobooks. I am a big fan of sci-fi and detective stories. It is my form of relaxation and escape from all of the business duties. And honestly, I have never “read” that many books in my life, so I am happy that entrepreneurship gave me this new hobby.”
What is your favorite startup or business podcast?
“As I previously said, I either listen to audiobooks, or I spend time with my family. I try to not think about work whenever I can in order to stay proficient and focused. So far, it appears to be a good strategy.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“How hard it can sometimes be.”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“I have four kids. The moment I step through the door of our house, I stop thinking about business, and I take over the role of father and husband.”
How do you stay motivated?
“We receive great feedback from all sides — big companies, energy professionals, or even energy authorities. Every such feedback is an amazing reward and reminds us to keep going.”
Did you have to develop any habits that helped lead you to success? If so, what are they?
“Think positive no matter what. Bad situations always happen. Don’t let them drag you down.”
What are you most proud of as an entrepreneur?
“That I helped to build a company that step by step earns the respect not only of other energy experts but also of the energy authorities.”
More on FUERGY
We were fortunate enough to hear some valuable insights during our interview with Radoslav Štompf of FUERGY that will inspire, motivate, and teach aspiring and established entrepreneurs alike.