INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Running a SaaS Company in the Utility Industry during the Pandemic
Håkan Ludvigson, CEO at Eliq tells us about how the customer engagement platform and apps bring utilities all over the world closer to their customers.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Håkan Ludvigson: We are doing great thank you. I’m a bit bored, but having a 2-year old at home keeps life eventful, even in lockdown.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Eliq.
Håkan Ludvigson: I was part of the team that ran Exibea, a B2C home energy monitoring product company. In 2016, we saw the inevitable attitude changes in the energy market and saw our future was not in delivering our apps directly to consumers, but rather as a partner of utility companies. We change our course and founded Eliq as a pure B2B SaaS company for utilities.
How does Eliq innovate?
Håkan Ludvigson: In close collaboration between our teams, end-users of the product, and our clients, the utility companies. Our users are a great source of insight on the day-to-day problems around energy that we can help them solve. And as a mission-driven company, everything is guided by our mission.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Håkan Ludvigson: From a big picture perspective, end customers’ attitudes toward energy is changing. More and more people want to be a part of the solution to climate change, and research has shown that 2020 marks a fundamental shift in attitude towards energy and the environment. This is fundamentally fueling the demand for our product, which enables utility companies to help their customers become more green.
As a team, we were already a quite distributed organization so I would say the transition has been relatively smooth – in fact, I’m working out of our London office and not our headquarters in Gothenburg. So video call was part of the daily routine already but of course, that’s all we have at the moment, so we’ve tried to replace some of the social elements with virtual lunches, coffee, and beer breaks. I would say overall, we’re as efficient as before, but work will probably be a little more fun and creative when we can all get together again.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Håkan Ludvigson: We’ve been fortunate to work in an industry that hasn’t been too negatively impacted by the pandemic, but we’ve had to deal with some things moving slower than usual.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Håkan Ludvigson: Slack and Google Meet are our go-to tools. We used a quite fun tool called donut.ai that helped introduce people via slack around the company to each other for coffee breaks together. Great when you have a team that is growing quickly, and we doubled in size in 2020.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Håkan Ludvigson: Our main competition is the status quo. The notion that customers do not, can not, and will not care about energy, and that utility companies’ roles are to distribute energy bills, collect payments, and do nothing.
We’re in a rapidly changing market, so staying ahead with new products and capabilities is key, but at the end of the day, the strength of our AI technology is what gives us that advantage.
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