Today, I am deeply convinced that most innovations do not suffer from a flawed idea, but simply from the fact that no one starts implementing them. You have to get started, even if you don't know how it will work out, even if you know there are dozens of reasons why it might not. Hendrik and I were two students with an idea. We didn't have any money, nor did we have any contacts in the energy industry. Just the enthusiasm to get this thing off the ground. And then, fortunately, we soon found partners and teammates who believed in our idea and wanted to build something together with us.
Be fast and agile
Most of the time, you're not the only person with a good idea. Often, you're not even the first person to have that idea - the rough concept of Virtual Power Plants existed well before 2009, the year Next Kraftwerke was founded. It's just that no one had built one until then. And only the first company to build a Virtual Power Plant is considered innovative. The second and third one is already a copycat. By the way, speed and agility helped us not only in founding the company, but also in constantly adapting to new situations and market conditions - and grabbing opportunities by the collar when they were there.
Expect failure and move on
As mentioned above, with any idea, there are dozens of reasons why it might fail. Countering those reasons with a big "nevertheless" is a prerequisite for innovation, but of course it's far from a guarantee that everything will work out the way you want it to. Our first business plan from back then does not have too much in common with what Next Kraftwerke eventually became. Every point at which we have failed in the meantime, or rather been allowed to grow - in the market, in sales, in technology, in regulation - has resulted in an adjustment. At the end of this chain we today have built a company that has achieved a great deal and is still far from resting on its laurels.
Invest in the idea and grow
Uncertainty is the sign of startups, it is the accompanying shadow of innovation. One is therefore constantly tempted not to go "all in", since one does not know whether it will work. But hedging, saving, outsourcing is not the right answer to this conundrum. For example, we set up our own electricity trading back in 2012 and no longer traded through third parties. A big gamble, also financially. Today, Next Kraftwerke is unimaginable without its own team of traders. Just as unthinkable, by the way, as a company without our in-house IT specialists and technicians who maintain and further develop our systems. And the many people who drive forward new projects at Next Kraftwerke or maintain the existing ones and fill them with life every day. Which brings us to the next point.
Don't think in hierarchies
It doesn't matter who has a good idea, a new approach to a solution. If the idea is good, it will be tried out. Why should I, as a CEO, by default know more about intraday trading than a new team member we hired a few months ago? This is the vibe that has been noticeable at Next Kraftwerke from the very beginning, and still ensures that the team remains curious, able to adapt new things quickly and with an open mind. This attitude gives team members the confidence that they are not just a cog in the wheel but can really make a difference.