The Rotterdam-based technology company SKOON has set out with an ambitious goal: Enabling the flexible layer of energy infrastructure to tackle net congestion at scale.
Their smart software connects owners of electrical equipment with organizations looking for temporary installations to provide, strengthen or expand network connections where needed through a simple online booking process.
But this is not exactly how things got started for founder Peter Paul and the rest of his team.
Read below the entrepreneurial story of a company that has outgrown an initial idea, listened to its customers, pivoted its solution, and is now in pole position for tackling urgent challenges in the energy transition at scale.
Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Peter Paul! Could you give us the brief story of how SKOON got started?
Peter Paul: The idea for SKOON was born during my studies at the technical university TU Delft, about 5 years ago now. My co-founder Daan Geldermans and I witnessed the start of electrification in the maritime shipping sector and wanted to solve the electricity storage challenge for ships.
The first version of what we wanted to do with SKOON was actually quite simple: Plug-and-play energy storage containers that could be easily swapped and would power ships without the downtime for docked charging. Think of it like powerbanks for ships. But that’s not what SKOON is known for today, right?
P: Absolutely right! While we believed in our first idea, we also quickly discovered what that would mean for the kind of company we were building.
When you own expensive assets, they need to be earning money all the time. So we started exploring other sectors outside of maritime shipping where these storage units would be useful. Batteries make sense next to a solar park or a wind turbine, but when we looked at simply replacing Diesel generators a whole new world of opportunity opened up.
Further in the process, we also asked ourselves if we’re really the company to make these massive infrastructure investments or if we can play another role in tackling this challenge.
Long story short, focusing on such a capital-intensive solution (as SKOON v1 would have been) was not a promising way forward for us at the time. But digital skillsets to build smart software were much more up our alley. So we chose to tackle the challenge of electrification from that angle.
Fast-forward, what path did that put SKOON on? P: Rather than owning all of the assets ourselves, we chose to solve some of the key challenges for companies that already have batteries, hybrid generators, and other key infrastructure as part of their fleet.
We now offer a rental management system to manage all aspects of renting out equipment in one system, from planning & finance to troubleshooting & real-time insights. Companies can then also easily publish their assets on the SKOON marketplace and start reaching many more new customers. That’s all fully automated and integrated.
Quite a change in direction! How did you work with your customers through all of this?
P: We really evolved as a company in the last couple of years. While we still built the first version of the SKOON marketplace quite exclusively on what we thought would be a great tool, everything that came after that is influenced heavily by our customers. We did lots of surveys and were constantly in touch with our users about new features. Many of them tested prototype solutions during the development process, so we knew they would work in the real world. We doubled down on this approach for building the rental management system during the first lockdowns of 2020 and our customers are excited about the solution that came out of this process. For you personally as a founder, what’s one of your biggest learnings in this journey?
P: I’ve found it quite a challenge to balance focusing on short-term deliverables and an inspiring long-term vision at the same time. In the end, I believe you need both to succeed. You don’t want to be the company that just sells products today, but you also don’t want to shout your big plans from the roof without delivering any tangible results. It’s two very different ways of working and thinking that I’ve now learned to combine.
Talking about the bigger picture, what can we expect from SKOON in the future?
P: Our long-term goal is to have a positive impact on the electricity grid overall. Net congestion is already a big problem today and tomorrow’s regulations and demands from companies & households will place even more strain on the grid.
We want SKOON to become a flexible layer for the electricity network. With our growing marketplace, there’s an ever-increasing amount of rental equipment available on-demand and with a simple process. Network operators can tap into this to respond to issues and provide solutions where needed often within just days.
Thanks for sharing all of this with us, Peter Paul. To wrap things up, what can others do that are excited about the SKOON after reading this?
P: There are plenty of ways to get involved. If you're looking for on-demand energy assets, check out the SKOON marketplace. There’s likely a good solution for you available that can be booked right on the site. And we’re also growing our team quite significantly to support our growth and international expansion. We’re an engaged group and would love to have many more join our team! Check out all of the open vacancies on our career site.