Interview with Christian Feisst – CEO of GreenCom Networks

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Based in Munich, Germany, GreenCom Networks provides an energy management solution for customers to connect and manage a wide range of distributed energy devices within the home. The company has more than a decade of experience integrating solar inverters, battery storage systems, electric vehicle (EV) chargers, and electrical heating systems to manage consumption intelligently and optimise energy usage.

Last week, GreenCom and its shareholders announced their agreement to sell to Enphase Energy, the world’s leading microinverter-based solar and battery systems supplier. IMPROVED acted as the exclusive financial advisor to GreenCom in this landmark intercontinental Energy Management transaction.
We are thrilled to share unique insights from GreenCom’s CEO on how the leading energy management solution provider plans to accelerate its European expansion further.

Christian, what led you to start GreenCom Networks in 2011?

I was already working in the energy industry for a long time. Initially, in consulting, I did many projects on the traditional side: power generation, grid and retail. I then joined Cisco Systems to set up a smart grid business unit. At this time, I learned what it means to combine a traditional industry with new technology. Clearly, the industry would have to change its entire way of producing and consuming energy to allow for a sustainable and affordable future. If you look at such paradigm shifts in other industries, in most cases, end-customers are demanding the change. Since Cisco is not an end-customer-focused company, it was clear that driving the energy transition from an end-customer-centric perspective requires a separate company. And that company was GreenCom.

What is unique about GreenCom’s solutions compared to alternatives on the market?

GreenCom is clearly focused on end-customer energy management solutions. We started the company with an international setup from the beginning. Our development team is based in France, the rest in Germany. The first projects we did were in the U.K. and South Africa. That is unique in the industry. In addition, our development team has a longstanding telco background. The telco industry went through digitisation and development of new customer-centric business models a long time ago. That expertise, combined with our company’s profound energy and automotive knowledge, allowed us to apply proven technology and processes for connecting and managing millions of devices and new business models to the energy industry.

How will the partnership with Enphase Energy support you in your pan-European expansion? What areas will be your key focus in your expansion plans?

Enphase Energy is a global leader in the solar PV and battery space. This allows us to provide software-driven services to millions of Enphase customers – even outside of Europe. In addition, Enphase’s products target residential customers. So from that perspective, it is a perfect fit. Beyond solar PV and storage, there is a big push for electrifying Europe’s automotive and heating industries. Customers will have energy assets from different manufacturers and want them to work seamlessly together. This is one of GreenCom’s key strengths. We have done a lot of work to be able to connect and manage assets from different vendors. Hence, we want to help Enphase to enhance its leading solar PV and battery position, with extensive heat pump and EV charging infrastructure compatibility for a best-in-class customer experience. This will save a lot of money for the end-customer and help further reduce the carbon footprint. We will start in Europe but want to apply our technology in other regions as well, leveraging Enphase’s global brand.

What does this transaction tell you about the current state of the Energy Management market?

The energy market is extremely dynamic these days. Prices are at record levels, and everyone knows climate change is not a theory but a fact. Energy cost and climate change are on top of people’s minds. On the other side, we are facing significant issues with our current geopolitical situation and distortions in supply chains. According to recent surveys, 25% of all German homeowners want to install a solar PV system in the next six to twelve months. But it is already clear that there are not enough components and installation capacities available. Therefore, demand cannot be satisfied these days. And plenty of companies are struggling. So, the energy transition is accelerating, but the market distortions we currently face will still have impact over the next two years. In the end, we will see a substantial consolidation in the market. Players that can combine different capabilities for providing end-to-end customer solutions will prevail. Like Enphase Energy.

How will the market develop in the coming years, specifically in Europe?

Europe will stay the leader in the energy transition. The current energy crisis will further accelerate change towards a renewable system with plannable economics. We will have to resolve supply chain issues and build European production capacity to satisfy the large demand. We see battery cell production being ramped up in Europe and we see electronical components being producedin Europe again. Enphase just started a production facility in Romania to better serve the European market. In addition, we have to solve the issue of missing installation capacities. But as well here, there are new approaches with new companies in the market like 1Komma5°, Installion, Enphase, Wegatech and others that are working on resolving this bottleneck. And since energy is now on everyone’s radar, at some point, we will see innovative energy companies competing with the big tech companies as most valuable companies. So I am very optimistic that in the next five to ten years, the European energy industry will look different than it does today.

What would you advise fellow pioneers and entrepreneurs in the Energy Management domain to reach a market-leading position?

The first recommendation is: “Just do it”. There are so many opportunities. And it is all about being fast and avoiding dependencies that can slow you down. And that might be the second recommendation: creating partnerships is generally good. But it is vital to avoid being dependent on partners. Every dependency slows you down to the speed of your counterpart. Especially in the first years, you need to speed at maximum level. So not only is the simple idea typically the successful one, but a simple operating model is key to successful execution.

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