Today I’m talking with David Henricson Briggs from Playback Energy – a company that works with energy consumption – using data to inform and educate. Interesting side note, David is also an Aussie – isn’t it awesome – two Australian’s talking with each other about Swedish startups!
Hi David, tell us about yourself and your background
I’m an Australian who moved to Sweden to study at the Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship in 2010. Whilst at the school I met Magnus and Joel who had already started, an early incarnation of, Playback Energy in 2011 and I joined them full-time in summer 2012. We had the right mix of backgrounds and all liked the idea of making something that wasn’t a new advertising or payment platform but rather something we could be proud of in the future.
What is Playback and what problem do you solve?
Playback Energy is the bridge between the energy industry and energy consumers. The energy industry gathers more data every day than it can ever use but consumers haven’t really seen any change to what is being communicated to them since the early 20th century. We’re just making the data that already exists available and interesting.
To do that we built www.energimolnet.se (The Energy Cloud) which is an API for energy consumption data for any facility in Sweden. We handle all of the authentication, data storage, energy industry protocols and let developers make better products that use energy data.
This seems a crowded space – how do you stand out?
The more companies trying to solve energy problems the better! However, there really aren’t any many other companies trying to make existing data available to a wide market. Most companies instead work with new meters or additional components. Due to that hardware they’ll never be able to get the cost for data as low as ours which then means that fewer consumers will benefit from their technology.
So, how big is the market and where do you want to be in a few years time?
It’s big enough to be interesting! There are 14 million meters in the region that aren’t used to their full potential today.
In terms of our traction we’ve gone from a few hundred to 150 000 meter points so far in 2013. By 2015 we aim to have data available for millions of facilities and have products powered by Energimolnet aimed towards apartment customers, the largest group of consumers, who are historically the least interested in their electricity consumption.
What’s it like being an entrepreneur in Sweden and can you compare it to your experiences in Australia?
The fact that we were able to start this company as a part of our Masters program and receive support and financing from the university shows that Sweden is a pretty good place to be an entrepreneur! We’ve also had terrific support from the financing agencies that somewhat make up for the lack of early investors in Sweden.
I think the three of us all like creating stuff. Whether it’s software, sales arguments or business models, it’s all very engaging and I think that attracts us to entrepreneurship. However, one thing I believe is that “entrepreneurship” itself isn’t as important as having an impact, surrounding yourself with people you trust and being engaged in what you do every day.
A successful Playback Energy means more people will be engaged with energy consumption and therefore less energy will be used. That’s a nice feeling when you’re travelling to work in the morning.