Memodo Founders‘ Story
A lounge room, three telephones and a convincing idea. That’s how the founders of Memodo, Tobias Wenleder, Enrico Brandmeier and Daniel Schmitt, entered into the solar energy market in 2013 – a period that looked anything but promising for the industry. At the time the government backed subsidy rates for feeding into the public network grid were being cut-back and the ownership of a solar energy system no longer seemed worthwhile. Nevertheless, the three focused on a technology that the competition not yet had in sight. “We wanted to be the largest wholesaler of energy storage systems in Germany.”
How it all began
The birth of Memodo was a holiday together at Lake Garda. Tobias Wenleder and Enrico Brandmeier had just reached the end of their studies. “What future prospects the PV industry had, was always a topic and in my old job as a sales manager I felt under challenged,” recounted Daniel Schmitt. Once they were back home the plan had been laid out. “We cleaned out my lounge room, setup a few desks and started calling people.”
The three founders took advantage of the low entry-barriers into the stagnant photovoltaic market to establish themselves as a small, yet very agile company: “We were lucky enough to start with a good sense of the zeitgeist,” recalled Enrico Brandmeier. To this day they lead the start-up in equal parts. “Each one of us has power of decision”, emphasized Tobias Wenleder. “We trust each other 100%.” In terms of financing, they avoided investors from the start and instead secured a start-up credit as well as using personal savings for the necessary initial capital required. However, at first the solar battery packages offered alongside the solar energy plants hardly attracted any customers.
One step ahead
To change that, the young entrepreneurs decided to head in a new direction. “At that time, many installers did not yet know what a solar battery was and how they should sell this new product to the end customers,” explained Daniel Schmitt. That was a challenge that Memodo counteracted with an innovative concept. “We realised that we had to do preliminary work. Building trust in our company and the new technology was one of the main tasks.”
Memodo became the first photovoltaic company to provide free solar battery training for solar installers and tradespeople. They also equipped their partner-companies throughout Germany with relevant marketing material and resources. In addition, Memodo gave credit limits, which meant customers could order and shop on a payment plan. That was an unusual practice at the time.
“Passing on the technical know-how to our installers was the right decision,” stated Daniel Schmitt. “Above all, the knowledge of our employees, who had come to us with their wealth of experience from various sectors of the industry, helped us a lot,” added Tobias Wenleder. “We still maintain a flat hierarchy. At Memodo the structure involves working together and not for us.” The strategy of sharing knowledge has become a key factor in the steady growth of the company.
“We still maintain a flat hierarchy. At Memodo the structure involves working together and not for us.” – Tobias Wenleder
A step further
“There were many ups and downs. But we were always sure that we were going in the right direction,” said the three unanimously. The strong conviction to build the company’s future upon the development of solar batteries paid off in 2014 with the entry of well-known manufacturers such as Samsung, Sony, SolarEdge and LG Electronics. With the growing demand, the amount of staff increased. Today the team consists of more than 30 people spread out across locations in Munich and Nuremberg. “We are a mixed team of experienced, technically well-versed specialists as well as young and highly motivated people. This combination provides the necessary ability to work at a fast pace, so we can quickly adapt to emerging markets,” added the founding-trio.
Memodo’s team of experts and the fact they pioneered the way with the first training sessions of their kind, which have now been offered more than 100 times to more than 1000 business partners, are a large part of their recipe for success. They also support their partners in the launch of new products and services. “One of our greatest successes so far has been the Tesla Powerwall (a solar battery with integrated automotive technology),” said Tobias Wenleder, „which we launched in 2016 as the first company in Europe.”
“Today, we have made a name for ourselves as energy storage experts. We were the first photovoltaic wholesaler of solar batteries with an online shop where solar-installers and trades people could take advantage of different resources, such as info-videos, webinars and our personal chat function,” explained Daniel Schmitt. “Always thinking one step ahead of the competition is a piece of advice that I live by. I’d say that to any other people who are in the process of building a company.”
“Always thinking one step ahead of the competition is a piece of advice that I live by. I’d say that to any other people who are in the process of building a company.” – Daniel Schmitt
Ready for decentralized energy communities
After more than 5,000 installed energy storage systems, the founders have long since exchanged their former lounge room for an office in Maxvorstadt (Munich) and bring in an annual turnover of 45 million euros. Their enthusiasm seen in the early years has remained the same. “What holds us together is the desire to have a company where everyone is enjoying themselves,” remarked Enrico Brandmeier. “It’s really important for us to be economically sustainable not only today but also tomorrow.”
“It’s really important for us to be economically sustainable not only today but also tomorrow.” – Enrico Brandmeier
The next trip will take the company to Korea, the USA and China, where together with their partners, they will get an idea of the latest developments. One thing is already clear to the Memodo founders: „We will shake up the energy sector with Blockchain (a decentralized database technology for digital transactions), electro mobility and a changed environmental awareness.“
Meanwhile, Memodo is entering the energy market 2.0 as one of the leading players. The founders envision that Memodo will grow beyond its role as Germany’s largest wholesaler for solar batteries and become a trailblazer around the topic of renewable energy.
They are already tackling new projects – including teaming up with the green electricity provider Polarstern. In future, everyone who owns a solar energy system with a solar battery should have the opportunity to share their self-produced electricity through a community and thus participate directly in the electricity market,” explained Daniel Schmitt. “Behind this is the goal of transparent energy supply, so that as many families as possible become independent of large corporations and can supply themselves with clean electricity, as part of a common platform.”