FACES #19 with Bert Lutje Berenbroek, NET2GRID CEO
New year, new beginnings! We’re excited to be kicking off 2023 with Bert Lutje Berenbroek, NET2GRID founder and CEO. Bert’s time at the helm of NET2GRID has seen tremendous change since the start of the company a little over a decade ago. In 2022 alone, NET2GRID’s customer portfolio expanded to new customers such as Rabobank in the Netherlands and a partnership with ITRON in the US. On top of that, NET2GRID hired nearly 40 new employees in just a year’s time! So what’s in store for 2023? Let’s find out!
1. Bert, thank you for joining us as the first FACES participant of 2023! Looking back at 2022, what are some learning points you picked up on that can help shape the narrative for the year ahead?
NET2GRID started a decade ago with the vision that the Real-Time data from smart meters would be required for the energy transition to succeed, as it would allow energy providers to truly guide and support customers towards energy efficiency in a landscape where governments and other stakeholders would start taking more aggressive measures to curb fossil fuel pollution. For the wrong reasons, or rather, due to the unprecedented increase in natural gas prices brought on by the current geopolitical turmoil, this vision became reality in 2022.
What we have observed, and what our utility clients are sharing with us, is that consumers with flexible contracts who are guided and somehow rewarded when they shift their energy consumption towards sustainability over time, as well as consumers who have invested in electrification, are less vulnerable to the increased gas prices. Taking this into account, we have built NET2GRID’s data analytics services to enable energy companies to bring end-customers on this energy transition journey and assist these end-customers to reap the benefits, cost and energy savings, of better managing flexibility in their energy consumption.
2. We have seen that energy is becoming a hot topic, especially in the last few years due to the energy crisis and the uptick of electric vehicles (EVs). At the same time, NET2GRID has a mission to accelerate the energy transition. How do you factor all this into the company's approach?
Our strategic product roadmap has been aligned to what the market needs today. The customer journey starts with a free service based on Smart Meter data. No hardware is needed, onboarding is simple, and the service scales to millions of customers. Companies like Rabobank, EDF and EDP are serving their customers this way to help them be in control of their energy bill and to get actionable advice on improvements. At the same time, analyzing the meter data helps our utility customers to increase the conversion rate of marketing campaigns and make sure the consumers get a personalized offer, thus transitioning them to prosumers.
Once consumers become prosumers, the need for Real-Time Smart Meter data becomes relevant. NET2GRID has developed self-install hardware to capture data from meters across the globe. Through distributed intelligence, the disaggregation service is brought from the cloud to the edge and delivers relevant real-time notifications and alerts.
3. Speaking of the new year, what are some of NET2GRID’s strategic goals for the next 12 months?
2023 is going to be an extremely exciting year. The technology NET2GRID has invested in during the last decade has moved from “a-nice-to-have” to a “must-have” service for energy retailers around the globe. Over the last years, we focused on building strong partnerships with E.ON, EDF, Shell and EDP using our disaggregation services. In 2023 we will help them to scale their customer engagement and customer intelligence services.
2023 will also be the year of a radical change in the energy market. New players like banks are positioning themselves in the field both to take social responsibility and to stay relevant, because the energy transition is also a transition where people shift from managing the operational expenses associated with paying a regular energy bill toward incurring the capital expenses associated with making up-front investments in energy-efficient appliances and Distributed Energy Resources which have ROIs that could sometimes take decades. Service providers, hardware brands, and retail organizations all start to play a role in the energy market as well since the market is shifting from selling commodities toward delivering services.
4. As CEO, you are the highest leverage point in the organization. What are some personal development goals for 2023?
With NET2GRID growing beyond 100 employees, my role has changed over the years from hands-on to managerial. That in and of itself is a never-ending development path. For our technology to be impactful, we need to create C-level awareness for our customers. In the end, we operate in the heart of our customer’s data strategy. In sum, I will spend more time in 2023 engaging in these strategic discussions with our partners.
5. Finally, what advice would you give to young professionals who might be looking to break into a challenging and competitive industry like technology innovation in 2023?
My advice would be to combine passion with purpose. Being energized every day to deliver a meaningful contribution requires passion for the job. At the same time, life is too short and it is our responsibility to the world to work in a domain with a sustainable purpose.