Free Electrons
Image credit: Greenbird

The Free Electrons program has been a transformative experience for Greenbird. Our company offers out-of-the-box data integrations and data flow management for utilities, so our core customers are in this industry sector.  

We took part in the program expecting to learn how to work with large, corporate utilities; invaluable experience for a start-up like Greenbird. This expectation was certainly met. However, the program also delivered many benefits we didn’t expect before we began the process. The experience has led to a new and exciting way forward for our company.

Our participation in Free Electrons 2018 coincided with the decision to expand from our home Nordic region into a global environment. Free Electrons is a truly global accelerator program with the participating utilities based across the world. This made it an ideal way to better understand our new markets.

So, what exactly did we gain from the process?

Getting to Know Utilities from the inside

As a startup, our structure and ways of working are totally different from the large utilities who make up our customer base. Working with the utilities in the program has given us an insight into how these organizations operate. We have understood how to navigate their complex organizations, deal with their processes and how to reach the right people to connect with. What we have learnt from this aspect of the program has been invaluable.

A laser-like focus

At the initial boot-camp, the utilities had to decide which of the 500 startups were going to continue the process. We, like all the other startups, had only two minutes to describe ourselves and our offering in a convincing way. This was a fantastic way to really home-in on the essentials of Greenbird. Repeated over the next three modules, this process of self-evaluation gave us a laser-sharp focus on what we need to offer utilities.

Development of our Business

The exposure to so many innovative startups was an incredible influence on us. Over the course of the program, we came to see a bigger picture. Greenbird offers data integration to utilities, freeing up data locked in legacy systems. We realized we could build on this. Many of the other startups in the program were offering ground-breaking technologies to utilities. However, the main problem they often face was accessing the data needed to run their own applications.  By offering our Utilihive Digital Integration Hub to these startups, we could become an innovation enabler to utilities.

A new Ecosystem of Partners

Growing our ecosystem of partners has been an unexpected outcome of Free Electrons. We have been able to grow the number of partners around our Utilihive Digital Integration Hub, all offering fresh-thinking and ground-breaking technology. Utilihive is able to free up data for these startups, enabling them to bring new value to their innovative software and services for utilities like advanced analytics and AI.

Continuing Partnerships with Utilities

We worked on projects with two utility companies during the program and these pilots are still ongoing and creating value and new insights.

Like most large utilities, Portuguese company, EDP have issues with getting value from siloed data. As part of our proof of concept with the company, we are undertaking the integration of very complex legacy systems, enabling the free flow of data access within the utility.

The pilot project we continue to run with DEWA, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, has a different integration challenge. DEWA is at the forefront of innovation to become a ‘Smart-Utility’. As part of this process they are developing more customer insights for their ‘Customer Happiness App’ which is currently used for more static billing information. The challenge here was to integrate accurate real-time customer information to the app. This would enrich their App, enabling customers to better track their energy usage – keeping them happy!

Our relationship continues, and we were delighted to support the company at the recent DEWA Innovation showcase where they were showcasing their new solutions for customers at Dubai innovation week.

Overall, we gained many tangible benefits from participating in the Free Electrons program, including meeting and working with some great utility companies. We also gained from the energy, insights and fresh-thinking that the Free Electrons community of startups and utilities brought to the process. We all keep in touch even as the program moves forward but we expect this deep relationship will continue to have a long-lasting benefit for us into the future.