Feb 21st 2014, 21:27, by Mike Butcher
Ever thought about what might happen if you got rewarded, not for a Foursquare check-in, but for generating electricity? Changers, a startup which allows people to turn the creation of solar power into a game which encourages green behaviour, has closed $1.5 million in Series A financing. German government-backed fund BFB Frühphasenfonds Brandenburg led the round, with participation from Heliocentris, a specialist in clean energy, alongside additional private investors.
The startup can now accelerate product, expand into the natural solar-rich markets of the Middle East and take advantage of consumers’ rising interest in energy, especialy in the wake of the purchase of Nest by Google.
Oliver Borrmann, CEO of BFP says “We see huge potential for Changers as it combines rewards for energy-saving behavior with a proven community based on a gamified customer loyalty system.”
That’s basically code for a rather interesting new model: turning everyday green practices into the kind of game which not only rewards the consumer but also allows solar producers to put more redundancy into the system.
Changers is known for the Changers System, a Social Energy Marketplace that enables people to produce their own energy, measure how much they produce, and convert it into a currency that can be used to buy sustainable goods and services from Changers’ commercial partners. The company markets the Changers Starter Kit, comprising a portable PV solar panel and a portable solar battery that measures how much energy it captures and stores.
It’s not been a gang-busters growth curve – only 5,000 kits in the last two years – however, that represents over 640 kWh and has saved over 6,000 kg of CO2.
But if you scale that up the numbers start to look a lot more interesting.
And Changers has been through the wars to get there, pulling back from insolvency to get here.
It has to be said that the fact that Changers is still around is a testament to the sheer grit and belief of co-founders Markus Schulz and Daniela Schiffer.