First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Cyrill Burch: We are currently doing quite well in Switzerland. The government gives a lot of freedom, and Switzerland has no lockdown, while all neighboring countries have strict limitations. We can move freely, hike in the mountains, or go to the gym. The cultural sector and restaurants are suffering a lot, though.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded zevvy.
Cyrill Burch: I started in the French part of Switzerland with a bricklayer apprenticeship with a vocational diploma. After 2 years of traveling by hitchhiking and mandatory Swiss army service in disaster relief, I studied Energy System Engineering at the applied university of Lucerne. We then started already as students, to make consultations for solar projects.
Our project www.zevvy.ch is a software as a service (SaaS) for the billing process of solar power projects on multi-family houses. Anyone can register and try out immediately for free. In this way, house owners can easily sell solar power to their tenants. We are currently in refactoring-mode, and there will be a new release in spring 2021. We currently have a little bit less than 1000 users. It’s great to see the customer base grow every day. zevvy will become a leading energy billing platform in Europe. Especially for consumption-based energy billing in small multi-family houses.
How does zevvy innovate?
Cyrill Burch: I think we are truly agile.
1. We made 3 fundamental business model pivot. Which was very demanding! To throw away all the work and passion you put into a product for 1-2 years consumes a lot of energy. This was only possible due to a small, able, and flexible team with a lot of freedom to decide in short decision paths.
2. We are very close to the user of our software as a service. Therefore we feel if they have new feature requests. Additionally, in the past, we have been developing hands-on projects; therefore, we understand the perspectives and pains of all participants of such a project.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Cyrill Burch: We did have some negative dependencies while searching investors, as we want to make a fundraising round till summer 2021. But currently, it looks like we are very lucky with the few investors we got in touch with. We might close a deal earlier than we thought. In our daily routine, we are not really influenced by Corona. We are used to working flexibly and as digital nomads.
We miss the exchange with fellow entrepreneurs face to face. The inspiration is missing!
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Cyrill Burch: We learned to be better in planning and thinking based on scenarios. You cannot just go for one option. Currently, you need a drafted Plan B or even a Plan C.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Cyrill Burch: We didn’t introduce new methods. But we take care of each other in the startup! We have certain formats to check-in and communicate our emotions. Are people pissed? Stressed? Relaxed? Once you know the mood of each other, you can work better together.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Cyrill Burch: Well, as many SaaS companies, our biggest competitor is the classical excel sheet. But as an online platform, we are easily usable, accessible, and we do have some exclusive features.
Your final thoughts?
Cyrill Burch: These are challenging times! But it has never been better to communicate and innovate together during a pandemic, despite the fact that we miss the physical presence. Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, we will learn a lot about agility, uncertainty, and the mechanisms of our society. I personally think these learnings are crucial to face the real challenge of our generation of entrepreneurs. The Corona crisis is the trailer of the climate crisis.