How was grau zu grün GmbH founded? How and when did you come up with the idea?
The idea to start a company came up more than 10 years ago – mainly because of my work. The renewable energy sector is a relatively new industry. Even though we have been there for 20 years now, it is still fairly new. People approached it with a great deal of pioneering spirit.In other words, with good will and few processes. I come from an industry that is highly structured and classical. Over the years, I have realised how important it is that these energy sources are used sensibly.
I met Timo Krembecher in 2019. In the beginning, there were actually three of us. Then Corona happened, and we were forced to work from home. We spoke on the phone every morning and said to each other: “We are starting now. Come what may”. And on 24 April 2020, we founded the company. From then on, we started to develop the project. Because our activity is classified as construction, we were able to go everywhere at our leisure. There were no restrictions for us – nothing. We were actually able do a lot – and achieve a lot. In 2021, we finally brought some projects into the development process and tried to bring it all to the operational level. We started building these little roofs. The idea was simply to generate some basic income. These small roofs for single-family homes generate a certain base level. In the meantime, we now have three segments. We will soon also be building small roofs, industrial roofs, and open spaces.
Who do you mean when you say “we”? And how did the collaboration work out?
I am a civil engineer and have an MBA. I have 15 years of experience in renewable energies. The common denominator between Timo Krechberger and me was experience paired with his enthusiasm. It’s not that I don’t feel enthusiasm. It’s just that the younger generation does toa greater degree. I met Timo at an event – completely unplanned. I generally don’t believe in coincidences. But that certainly was one. We got along well right from the start. What always fascinates me about our work is that we a requite similar in many ways. We always come to the same denominator. It’s a nice mix. He always has new ideas. And I can envision how these ideas should be implemented. And that’s why this combination works so well. He is also much more extroverted; he can easily approach people. Timo studied industrial engineering with a focus on renewable energies in Darmstadt and in Rüsselsheim. That’s why we also met in Darmstadt. His final thesis was on the subject of hydrogen.
This is quite a modern topic – the hydrogen aircraft.
I think that could definitely be a real alternative. I don’t think much of all the other things – solar panels on planes – because I don’t think it works that well. But hydrogen does. It’s probably the coolest thing ever.
We also have hydrogen cars. This technology is quite expensive. But it is more tried and tested – especially in engine form. And it is quite clean. In fact, it is one of the cleanest energy sources we currently have. My goal is to be able to jet around the world in a hydrogen aircraft. That is one of my greatest desires. I would find it fantastic. And that’s why we’re also trying to take on lots of new projects.
What are your goals for the next few months? What do you want to achieve in the near future, especially in the next difficult months?
We are talking to the many entrepreneurs who are now approaching us. Some
want to have a solar system; others simply want advice. And still others are already panicking. Some already know what they want and are ready to get started. Our B2B area is really starting to come to fruition. After all, that was the area we started with.
I can say from experience that Germany is, without a doubt, the most unfriendly country for start-ups. The banks don’t really support start-ups either. Start-ups finance themselves much more through venture capital and business angels as well as through their own money. I have the feeling that this phenomenon exists only in Germany. There is so much advertising for subsidies from the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs andClimate Action. And you have to submit so many papers that it’s just absolutely counter-productive for any start-up. That’s because start-ups don’t want to fill out papers – they simply want to implement their idea. And for that, they need support. The banks do not support this. And you can quote me on that(laughs).
Our B2C ensures that we cover our costs. We cover our costs with B2C and earn extra money so that we can do B2B. Because inB2B, you first have to invest and then you get a return on your investment. And so we bridge this time. We always had the idea for the B2C stuff. We just didn’t have time for it. We had to focus on something. And these B2B projects are much more exciting because you can do a lot there. We have a project. The roofs are so big. We build solar systems of up to six megawatts on them. That is quite a lot! For this purpose, we can build a solar filling station – ore-filling station. There is another project that is also quite large.
First and foremost, we are working in theB2C segment – the owner-occupier segment – in order to ensure that we structure the solar systems in this way. My idea is that everyone should be able to buy a solar system and build it on their house – quickly and effectively. What is happening at the moment is taking far too long. I want it to be just like when you go to the electronics shop and buy a television set. You also have to bring it home, install it, program it, and so on. It shouldn’t take much more effort than that. I’ve been dreaming of this for quite some time.
And I am convinced that it can be done.
Soon, everyone should be able to have their own solar system on their roof or balcony. Because electricity should be produced where it is consumed.
And by and large, that is the case. You just have to give everyone the opportunity to build a solar kit for themselves.