The energy transition is still in full swing. With the trend towards tenant electricity and smart buildings, there is a large amount of administrative work to be done. This includes, for example, the entire billing process. Our Startup of the Week Ormera has developed an innovative platform for this. It connects the electricity meter to the account and thus automates the entire billing process with the help of blockchain. Ormera is the optimal meter-to-cash solution for independent administration and electricity billing for the association for own consumption. We met with Ormera’s CEO, Fabian Baerlocher, for an interview to learn more about this exciting approach.
Hello Fabian! Thanks for taking time for us today. For a better start: How do you describe Ormera in one sentence?
Ormera is the leading platform for the billing of IoT devices in smart buildings until 2026.
The whole thing works for you with the help of Blockchain, right? Can you tell us a little bit more about it?
Right. The Ormera platform automates the entire billing process – from reading the IoT device to the account statement – via block chain. In an intuitive online portal, the users keep track of the produced and purchased electricity, heat and water consumption as well as the charged tariffs. With this solution, Ormera helps self-producers, energy companies and property management companies to overcome the administrative hurdles of energy and IoT billing, thus contributing to the energy turnaround.
In general, the platform is capable of monetizing data from any IoT device. In other words, wherever measured values need to be converted into tariffs subject to certain conditions, Ormera offers a simple solution. This enables Ormera to create the technological basis not only for renewable energies, but in the long term also for highly efficient Smart Cities and all interoperable systems. It is ideally suited for billing newer forms of energy and applications in the future. You can also integrate charging stations for e-vehicles or innovative battery storage systems into a site network, as well as you can integrate smart building or a ZEV (association for own consumption) into the platform.
I see. Where do you see your USP?
Ormera’s solution links intelligent electricity, heat or water meters – so-called smart meters – as components of the Internet of Things with the blockchain and further directly with the bank account. Everything that is measured is deducted from the bank account with minimal administrative effort. By using the blockchain, we can massively increase cybersecurity, end customers have full transparency and the billing process is radically digitalised. This enables significant savings, both in terms of workload and costs.
How do you design the associated business model?
Ormera charges its customers an annual license fee per metering point with a one-time installation fee and/or an annual partner fee. Customers who want to use Ormera can choose between several modules with different requirements. At the same time we receive project fees from technology partners, for co-production of the platform.
At the beginning of the interview you have already named a few potential customers, such as energy companies or property management companies. Which market segments exactly do you address within this target group?
After a successful pilot phase, we launched the platform with various partners in May 2019. Ormera addresses B2B customers such as energy suppliers, real estate managers and planners. We are also working with technology partner ABB to simplify the direct connection between the measurement data and the blockchain. For the development of this comprehensive platform we need the right partners. While Ormera is already widely known in the energy services market, the focus is now on the real estate market. Acquisition talks are being continued and contracts with further partners are being concluded. The start-up thus builds a stable customer base and ensures that the real needs on the market are directly incorporated into the development of the platform.
With market penetration in Switzerland in 2021, Ormera plans to expand its activities to the DACH region, UK and Scandinavia in 2022.
It looks as if you have already established yourselves quite well. What do current developments in your company look like?
20 B2B customers of the 30 largest energy companies, real estate and engineering offices in Switzerland for electricity billing already use the platfrom. We are currently developing an MVP for heat/water billing. Further use cases, such as the billing of e-charging stations or digital contract processing via the platform are in planning. The platform can already read different types of meters. Together with technology partners such as ABB, we are further developing the interfaces.
In addition to product development, the development of the company is a major task. Originating from a project of PostFinance and Energie Wasser Bern, we had an external IT development. In the last few weeks we have redesigned the IT and hired excellent architects and developers to internalize the IT. This includes the establishment of a nearshore team in Portugal.
We are also very active on a strategic level. We have expanded the energy case, which was originally focused on Switzerland, and are now focusing on expanding our verticals to include the general billing of IoT devices and the European environment. For this we need additional capital. Therefore we are seeking new investors for the next financing round of CHF 2 million in Q1 2021.
Fabian, thank you very much for this exciting interview! We wish you continued success and look forward to following Ormera’s developments,
Those who find Ormera interesting can visit their Innoloft profile for more information on the company, product and funding request.