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Christoph Fahle
June 11, 2012

Startup of the week: Greenguin

Frank Spandl is the founder of Greenguin. During his studies for architecture he become deeply involved in eco-architecture and sustainable design. Later as a director of a project management firm, he was amongst the founders of Germany’s Green-Building system. And when he worked for various international environmental engineering companies, he came across many Green and Renewable Energy developments, that just did not work as he thought they should. That's when he started thinking about Greenguin, the startup he is founding now with a partner in betahaus. He is member of betahaus since January.

What and who are “Greenguin”?

We noticed that many green projects of small and medium sized companies and the whole renewable energy market have some similar problems as the web start up world. There are a few bright and entrepreneurs people who want to establish something. They have resources, like (a site wind, a roof for solar), but they are lacking seed- capital, expertise, they don’t know exactly what to do for the development and how to do it. Greenguin is building a web-platform that does online what an incubator does: we provide tool for the development, seed money (via Crowd-Investment) and give the energy-entrepreneurs access to the leading experts and engineers. By that we want to help small to medium enterprises and private people to establish their green projects or activities and not just having to sell them to large corporations.  So we are establishing a community platform for the knowledge of how to develop a project and connect the right people with  money and the right services.

Does the name “Greenguin” have any special meaning for you, or for what do you do, or did you decide on the name at random?

Greenguin symbolbild

I like Penguins. I really do. With Greenguin we started in November last year. We were trying to find something more emotional about the green energy than the average clean -tech websites. Most of them are cold, no people, without any emotion and not very attractive. So we started the whole idea of our platform from the marketing and design standpoint. Now we are going to establish something that is nice, friendly, fun, personal and provides a good feeling for the people who want to invest their money or build their projects with our help. And for me the Penguin is a great “ambassador” for this: Friendly and elegant animal, caring and surviving in the harshest environment.

What do you want to achieve with the Greenguin?

People have to invest a lot of money upfront to make a “real” project out of an idea. First they have to investigate the ressources ( Is there enough wind? Can we manage the supply of biomass?etc.) the legal situations, employ designers, engineers, lawyers. And all this costs money, even before the project becomes officially a project. This seed money is often not available and the bank doesn’t give it. That’s why we are establishing a crowd investment platform, where people can invest in the early phase and become co-owner of this opportunity. As soon as this projects are feasible, we will provide  additional ways to collect equity from people who want to make a long term investment in those kind of green projects. So we have a  investment process out of two steps: the first process is seed money and the second process is a long term investment for 10 years or more.

How has working from betahaus affected you and your work?

I became a fan of betahaus, I really like it. We are planning to establish a group of people here in betahaus soon and maybe later move to a team space on the first floor. For the moment it is good place for us. The  main advantage of betahaus is: you have so many people around  you can talk to and get inspiration from. And it’s pretty easy to find people who work with you. I have done this just recently with another betahaus member, Artas Bartas from Lithuania. We have produced a really nice animation video which explains Greenguin, I am pretty happy to be here.

What is your future plan with the Greenguin project?

Right now there are more than 500 energy cooperatives in all Germany, founded by ordinary people, who try to establish green projects. So this market is getting huge, and we want to be part of it.  We are working hard on our Greenguin now, do the legal stuff, user interface, web design, acquiring our first projects. And we are looking for seed finance for ourselves, to fully establish the platform. Then our plan is to grow fast. In three years we plan to be a 20 people operation, and expand from Berlin to help projects all over Europe.