In our series “Catching up with …”, we catch up with former IMPROVERS to see how they are doing now and what they are working on!
Volta Energy develops the most sustainable power generators on the market. The Volta Solar Generators are designed to replace diesel generators and are 100% CO2 free.
Earlier this year, they successfully participated in Dragons´ Den… and we are very curious to find out what Volta Energy is up to these days.
How did you originally come up with the idea for Volta Energy?
Roel Bleumer: “Well, my brother and I were brought up with a lot of love for the environment (mom was a biology teacher) and all things technical (dad was an engineer). Then, one day, I was driving through the Achterhoek and I saw a diesel generator that was simmering… And on my way back it was still on. I thought to myself: this is not good for the environment. There must be a more sustainable solution. I started researching the possibilities… and then the idea of a solar powered generator was born.
A couple of weeks later, I was at a social networking gathering at my school where I met someone from GreenTrust consultancy. This is a consultancy company specializing in permits and calculations for sustainable wind farms in The Netherlands. We started talking about sustainable energy and the fact that during open days they hosted for those – very sustainable – wind farms, they still used diesel generators to power their event. To me, this was mind-blowing and something I wanted to change! So, I pitched my idea about creating a sustainable and mobile generator that would be easy to use for events such as theirs. He was very interested and before we knew it, my brother and I were at the GreenTrust consultancy office shaking hands. We were going to build our first prototype especially for them. We started building our prototype over the weekends, because we were both still in school. We worked on it for a solid three months. Our dad helped welding it and a friend (who is a carpenter) helped us finish the prototype. We took the prototype to one of their events and it worked really well!
But we immediately saw that a lot of things could be improved. We saw the business potential, but we needed to become more business savvy if we really wanted to pursue this as a career.
Back then, I knew nothing about being an entrepreneur. So, in 2018 I decided to participate in the Mercator Launch IMPROVE program. This track helped me gain a lot of knowledge about the business world and helped us through vital steps to professionalize our business. We looked at our value proposition and business model.”
How are things at Volta Energy now?
“Well, at the end of 2019 we participated in the TV show Dragons´ Den. With the support of the investor we found on the show, we were able to build a very large fleet of new generators. She is such a good fit for us. She loves to share her ideas with us but also gives us the freedom to do what we feel is right for the company. In August, we moved to a new location in Duiven, since our old building was getting way too small for our trailers. Fun fact: we even had to make a hole in the wall so that we could continue building! 😊 Next to expanding our working space, our team has been growing as well. Right now, we have a team of 9. So, our organization is growing in all possible ways!”
What are you working on?
“In 2018 we produced our first small mobile generator. Since then we’ve continually been building bigger generators. Right now, we’re working a truck size-generator of a staggering 13,5 meters long!
Due to Corona, we decided to make the switch from events to the construction industry. We just went for it and that really paid off! By telling many people that we were looking for construction companies and posting about it online, word started to spread and more companies became interested in our products. We were very lucky!”
What challenges did you face over the last year?
“Getting the financial resources we needed to expand our fleet proved to be the most challenging for us. Now that we’re experiencing growth, our challenges are growing with us. In order to keep growing, we need more investments. And for that, we often need to be able to show (promising) historical financial figures that go back for years. So, raising capital to accomplish this growth remains challenging, but we are looking at many possible banks, investment companies, subsidies and innovation funds that can help us pull it off. So, we’re confident!”
What is your ultimate goal for Volta Energy?
“It may sound corny, but we believe in a better, more sustainable world. Our vision is to have an impact on the transition to sustainable energy. We know we can’t do everything ourselves or save the entire planet, but we can at least do our bit to contribute. So, we want to replace as many diesel generators as possible. Of course, replacing all of them is the ultimate dream, but we are realistic. We are going to need others to help us do that! 😉”
What inspires you to do better every day?
“We’re very conscious about what we do and we try to make the world a better and cleaner place every day. Working with my brother and having such an awesome company together brings us a lot of joy. The best part of our day can be something simple like fixing a malfunction, we love that each day brings on a new adventure. We feel very lucky to have the success we’re having right now because this allows us to dream even bigger in the future!”
Do you have one last tip for entrepreneurs (to be) who want to turn their passion into their job?
“We have had a healthy dose of luck and coincidence that helped to turn our idea into a real company. And coincidence might not exist, but you can certainly help the universe a hand in creating it. Just go out there and share your idea with people, get started, make connections and go for it!”
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