20 February 2015

Klenergy & Leka: Hotest EU Startups’ Experience

“We have a very simple product to solve a big problem” – Alessio Mattera, from Klenergy Tech

“Honestly, we believe so much in what we are doing. Since I was a kid, that was my dream. And why not trying that. We define ourselves as guys who can really change something. That is why we applied”, Alessio Mattera answers over the phone. “We love to meet new people, have our project challenge and get new ideas. With all the great people at the Summit, I am sure we will get plenty of that”, says Ladislas de Toldi, over email.

Mattera is the management engineer at Klenergy Tech and de Toldi is the founder of Leka Smart Toys. Both startups came with EYIF to The Global Innovation Summit: the big event in which “over 500 builders of the new economy applying the newest tools for accelerating innovation, entrepreneurship and impact at scale” met last week in Silicon Valley.

Their products operate in two different tech markets, but their motivations to go to the event are similar.

What does Klenergy Tech do? Founded in his room in Denmark about a year ago, the company is trying to solve a complex problem with simplicity. The problem of renewable energy is the lack of storage. “We love renewable energy, but how can we store all the energy that the sun produces during the day and the wind when it is blowing? There is a huge problem there”, they say on their website. So out of that need, Mattera and Gerar Bel, an electrical engineering, moved together in a double room to work on solving the problem.

They came up with a battery device that can store electric power by transforming water into hydrogen (H2). “The hydrogen is stored in a tank, ready to be transformed back into electricity”, they explain. “Being a 100% clean process, we can contribute to the fight against global warming and pollution. Transform water into hydrogen and back into water”.

From France, We Are Leka designs and builds smart and innovative toys and tools for exceptional children, to help them have a normal life. “A child in a hundred is born with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Due to sensory, communication and social disabilities, children with autism have hard time understanding the rules of the world we live in. Parents and carers are struggling to communicate and interact with the children. Today’s toys and tools are not harnessing the power of technology and can be really expensive”, explains his founder.

“So that’s why we created Moti, the first spherical autonomous smart toy specifically designed for children with autism”. Moti rolls around, change colours, plays music and talks to the child. The results, according to the company, say that the robotic nature of Moti makes it predictable and stable in its interactions – which is very important for the child’s sense of safety and serenity.

InnoBridge

From a problem to the market

A big deal for startups working in complex sectors like this is how to turn their research into product.

In Klenergy Tech, “our initial idea was to learn. We had been discussing about product, and our passion and we were focused in technology. But I was focused on product management, business plan, and how to market. We mixed up our passions. And we wondered: if we have this product in mind, why don’t we make money out of it?”, Mattera tells us.

Once they were founded as a startup, Klenergy Tech went into a startup program in which they got the knowledge to be a company. And to deal with funding. “Five months after the program, we signed up our first investment. That is what we learnt the most: how to deal with investors. It was a long period of negotiation and a very big experience”.

Struggling the fear of robots

“Often people think that a robot like Moti is will steal the carers’ work, but that’s absolutely false”, says Ladislas about Leka’s product. That is the biggest misconception about them. “Moti on his own is nothing. It really needs the parents, the brothers and sisters, and the carers to engage with it to help the children”.

The origins of the company are in the potential that robots have in this field. “My cofounder Marine and I have always had a sensibility for exceptional children. When our design teacher told us he had an autistic boy and asked us to imagine a new toy to help them, we really wanted to meet the challenge!”, tells the founder. “We discovered what autism really is, how families are living and that technology is barely used to help them”.

And if you want a piece of advice, listen Mattera, because we also asked for that.

– As an entrepreneur, what would you advice to others like you?

  • ..? Dream – he says. – Enjoy your deram and believe what you do. Make sure you have around yourself the right people in the team. That’s the key: the people you are working with.

As the company does not sell the product yet, they are testing and looking into opportunities and partners to see how they can expand. That is why, coming back to the Global Innovation Summit, they applied to be there.