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Czech Woltair raises €16.3m to help Europeans heat and power their homes
Prague-based climate tech startup Woltair has raised €16.3m in a Series A led by ArcTern Ventures, a Canadian VC firm. It’s built a digital platform to connect consumers who want to install sustainable energy solutions, such as heat pumps and solar panels, with installation and maintenance technicians.
This is yet another big financial boost for a startup betting on the ongoing shift on the European energy markets, as Europe frantically looks for new energy sources that could replace Russian gas and become a panacea for skyrocketing power prices.
What does Woltair do?
Woltair’s platform connects installation and maintenance businesses with consumers who want to install sustainable energy solutions, such as a heat pump or a solar panel.
It usually isn’t an easy purchase: consumers rarely know what’s right for their house and where to find a team to install it. On the other side of the chain, engineers have problems sourcing parts and with the admin of dealing with customers. The whole process can take a huge amount of time and research; in Poland, consumers often have to wait for six months to get a heat pump installed.
Woltair offers a tool that analyses the size and profile of a consumer’s home and recommends the best technological solution, together with details of achievable savings and available government subsidies. After determining the right product, the platform connects the buyer with a technician, handling the order process and tracking the installation online.
The startup was launched in 2018 by three people who’ve been working in the sector for years — Daniel Helcl, Karel Náprstek and Jiří Švéda — and who all learnt the hard way how difficult and time consuming it is to make such installation projects possible. Since then Woltair has served over 3,000 customers.
What’s the market like?
Europe is desperately looking for ways to get rid of fossil fuels, find alternatives to Russian gas and handle skyrocketing power prices — and solutions like solar panels and heat pumps are at the heart of dealing with these problems.
Policymakers have set targets to double down on new energy sources: the EU, for example, wants to make rooftop solar panels compulsory for all new public buildings by 2026 and all new residential houses by 2029, as well as double the rate of deployment of heat pumps.
Investors are also excited by renewable energy projects — just this month solar-panel startup SunRoof and solar-powered car startup Lightyear have also raised sizeable funding rounds.
Who’s investing in Woltair?
- ArcTern Ventures, Canadian sustainability fund
- Westly Group, US VC firm
- Aternus, Czech investment group
- Kaya, Czech VC
- Inven, Czech VC
- Movens Capital, Polish VC
Woltair wants to put in place an embedded finance offer so its customers can more easily afford a new installation. It will also create a tool to help customers better understand and track their energy use, and further develop an app for the installation service providers.
It also wants to establish operations in Italy and Germany by the end of 2022, having begun operations in the Czech Republic and expanded into Poland earlier this year.
While there are lots of startups improving the tech behind new energy solutions and renewable power sources, there aren’t that many bringing those solutions closer to the consumer. Woltair seems to be operating in a much-needed niche — and the timing of its European expansion couldn’t be better.
“Whilst we are currently in a boom period, we see this as the beginning of a permanent trend rather than a fad,” says Jan Hanuš, Woltair’s CEO. “Fossil fuels will become more expensive, scarce and heavily taxed; government subsidies for retrofitting will likely increase; and consumers will continue to want to retrofit their homes to protect against high energy bills.”
Zosia Wanat is Sifted’s central and eastern Europe reporter, based in Warsaw. She tweets from @zosiawanat