In 2016, a young and motivated engineer, Johannes Peschel, together with his university professor and mentor, Roland Schmehl, founded Kitepower. Kitepower is a pioneering start-up in Airborne Wind Energy (AWE) that generates innovative and cost-effective alternatives to traditional wind turbines.
It is well-known that wind energy has several advantages, being one of the world’s fastest-growing energy sources. Yet, it comes with different challenges. One of them has been overcome by Kitepower, who developed a product that is remote and does not need good land-based wind sites. Kitepower Falcon uses a ground station, a kite to produce electricity and a robot that flies with the kite and controls it.
What is the story behind Kitepower?
Before the company’s launch, Johannes was a full-time computer science student passionate about kite landboarding. One day during that period, in the centre of Berlin, one unfortunate story turned out to be an amazing business idea that could impact others positively. Johannes broke his arm practising kite landboarding. Some would think, ‘how can you get a business idea by breaking your arm?’. Well, Johannes decided to think further than what seemed to be a very painful event.
“When I broke my arm landboarding, I experienced the power of the wind: it can blow you up but also drop you down quickly. After that, I said to myself, ‘maybe we can do something better with that energy’.”- Johannes Peschel
After this event, Johannes researched the topic and found out that TU Delft was already working on it. Before he knew it, he moved to The Netherlands and embarked on a journey to make this idea happen. Kitepower started by providing renewable solutions for temporary power to the end-users of the electricity in remote places.
One of the company’s biggest accomplishments is their recent Aruba project that took place in the context of a military exercise with the Dutch Ministry of Defence. Kitepower, as a partner, aimed to develop and test an innovative energy system to support its decarbonisation efforts. When this became a reality, Johannes was thrilled.
“When we first started the company, I had to arrange a photoshopped image of a kite flying on an island, and now that is irrevocably the reality!”- Johannes, in an interview with Green Tech Alliance
Kitepower built credibility by proving that its technology works. That’s how from a start-up, the company became a scale-up. At this stage, when looking at the competition, Kitepower is proud that it managed to surpass companies that are in the business for 13 years, simply because they have a “very simple and easy product”.
“There are companies that have more funds available and could be that they are more technically developed due to these resources; however, we were the first ones deploying the system on an island, imagine where we could be if we had more financial resources.”- Johannes
So far, Kitepower has achieved its goals through motivation and hard work. However, things would not have happened without financial support. They have been funded via grants (e.g., fast track innovation, European funds), investors, launching customers, and now impact funds. From the European Union, they have received amazing feedback for executing the project with excellence.
How has YES!Delft helped along the way?
Kitepower profited from training on how to make a company successful, getting the help of experts in different fields, a wide network, and of course, help with funding from YES!Funded. Another important factor was the credibility from the public that came by being associated with YES!Delft.
“YES!Delft came in handy because they had experts for everything, and whenever we would have a problem, we would call and get assistance.”- Johannes
As for the future, Kitepower aims to get people involved in the crowdfunding campaign and then use the resources to make its products available for everyone through festivals and events. They want to show people that their technology works and is safe and reliable with a positive, sustainable impact. If you are interested in joining the crowdfunding campaign, you can find more information here.
“Our vision was always to do this for the people and have them profiting from it.”- Johannes
One thing is for sure: when you have a vision and when you put in the hard work, things do become reality. Believing in your dream and taking action will bring you the right results. For now, Johannes worked on another dream where he “photoshopped the picture of Aruba with more and bigger kites above it”.
Your dream can become reality too. As long as you want to make a change, don’t miss the opportunity to boost your startup by joining the YES!Delft Validation Lab or Accelerator Program. However, if working for a startup resonates more with your ambition, we got you! Check out the vacancies on our YES!Talents page!