Manuel Schoenfeld is the founder and CEO of PowerX, a company with the mission to combat climate change. He has prior experience working with leading organizations like McKinsey and Company, The World Bank, and various other government organizations. Manuel has received multiple prestigious awards and applauds like the McCloy Scholarship for Harvard University, and the Scholarship of the German National Academic Foundation. He is also a Certified Valuation Analyst and a Taekwondo Blackbelt.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Manuel Schoenfeld says:
Being an entrepreneur is hard. If you are seeking fame and fortune, entrepreneurship might not be the right choice for you. Starting up a company because you have a passion or believe in something helps you overcome hard times.
Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Try, fail fast, learn from it. That’s the beauty of life.
Read on to know more about Manuel Schoenfeld and his successful journey.
Manuel Schoenfeld: I am working with my friend and lead engineer, Matthias Veitinger on building PowerX. PowerX’s mission is to combat climate change. We received venture-backing for that mission from both Antler and Y Combinator.
Before PowerX, I spent several years advising governments and the private sector on innovative energy solutions. One promising development in the energy field is cheap electricity from renewable sources. This electricity can be used in many ways, even to make chemicals, such as hydrogen. We call this process Power-to-X (hence the company name).
Generally speaking, my background is a cross-over between energy innovations, data science, and the social sector. This explains why, on the one hand, I worked for companies like McKinsey and Morgan Stanley, and on the other hand did policy work for governments, the World Bank and humanitarian aid organization in countries like Kenya, Somalia or India.
Manuel Schoenfeld: Climate Change is a global threat – to every living being on the planet. When working on energy efficiency projects in the Middle East, I realized how much CO2 and energy could be saved if our machinery was just a bit smarter. Most water heaters, for example, are dumb boilers. They heat water even if we are on vacation and don’t need it. That is unused energy, CO2 emitted for no reason. PowerX saves this energy waste and by doing so, saves money and CO2. In fact, for a single-family water heater, PowerX saves as much CO2 as what 10 fully grown trees can do each year.
Manuel Schoenfeld: We experienced quite some traction when we went live. I believe the reason for this success is that PowerX is good for the environment and for the wallet. It’s a win-win situation.
Manuel Schoenfeld: PowerX makes water heating more efficient and can save up to 65% off users’ water heating bill. It is a plug-and-play, non-invasive product, which works with most existing heaters.
We sell hardware units at a fixed price. The hardware connects water heaters to our machine learning software in the cloud, and this software optimizes the heaters. Usually, the units pay for themselves within half a year saving energy at no change in comfort. That makes our product quite attractive. Apart from selling directly through our website, we are now starting to partner with property management companies and other commercial customers that use our product in their business models.
Manuel Schoenfeld: We had a robust pre-seed round of approximately half a million dollars. For sure we target more than that for our seed round.
Manuel Schoenfeld: Start quickly, iterate, and learn from your customers
Manuel Schoenfeld: Convincing the first ten customers of your product. In the beginning, there is usually high uncertainty regarding your target customer and product. Who exactly are we selling to? What do our customers really need and what are they willing to pay for it? What is the best channel to reach them? Online marketing? Cold-calling? Trade shows? Once you get your first customers and can listen and learn from them, things get much clearer.
Manuel Schoenfeld: Being an entrepreneur is hard. If you want to be a founder of fame and fortune, entrepreneurship might not be the right choice. Starting up a company because you have a passion or believe in something helps to overcome hard times.
Manuel Schoenfeld: I’m sure there are good books written on this. My sample size is too small to give dependable advice 🙂
Manuel Schoenfeld: Your product doesn’t have to be perfect. Start quickly with your networks, listen very carefully, and learn from your customers. Iterate and improve.
Manuel Schoenfeld: Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Try, fail fast, learn from it. That’s the beauty of life.
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