We talked to Sander Wapperom of DeWarmte. With their innovative technology, they have designed a system to reuse the heat in every drain –The HeatCycle. This is what he said:
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sander Wapperom: Thank you for asking. I am doing great, and so is my family. No-one has been infected with the Coronavirus as of yet. Luckily, our team is also very healthy and optimistic. I wish everyone the best during these times.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded DeWarmte.
Sander Wapperom: Our startup journey started with the idea of starting a sustainable business. Together with Auke, my co-founder, we had a lot of brainstorming sessions during the evenings. The idea of using heat of wastewater was one of those ideas that stuck, partly because of our background and partly because of the enormous potential of reusing waste heat. We started testing at home, and the first prototype was set up in the bathtub! Now, more than 2 years and a lot of hard work later, we have a product called the HeatCycle, recuperating heat in real homes.
How does DeWarmte innovate?
Sander Wapperom: Our whole company is built to innovate and develop products to make sustainable heating available for everyone. We believe there are a lot of possibilities to innovate in the heating sector. We started by developing our first product, the HeatCycle, and are now installing this product in different pilot rounds. In those pilots, we measure and analyse data, test our current product, and improve it. So, innovation is still focused on recuperating heat from the sewage. Parallel to (and before we started with) the development of the HeatCycle, we acquire new customers and search for new markets. This gives our company insight into the types of customers and their motivations behind the interests in our product.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Sander Wapperom: We noticed the effects of the Coronavirus in two ways. Firstly, in the early days of the virus, we noticed a steep drop in demand from potential customers. Secondly, the transportation time of some hardware supplies was increased due to the effects of the Coronavirus. Both effects were temporary, and apart from additional remote working days, things are getting back to normal.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Sander Wapperom: As we are a growing company, the only difficulties we encounter are finding new people and how to keep team members connected to the company while mostly working remotely. What we have learned is to keep in touch and regularly check in by planned digital meetings with the team members that work from home. As we are a small team, positive team spirit is important. We are all working towards the same goal, carbon neutral heating for every household!
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Sander Wapperom: Our first contact with customers is by email and phone. The challenge is contact with the customer during the installation of our product, the HeatCycle, at the customer’s home. We want our installation to be safe for the customer, the installer, and ourselves.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Sander Wapperom: We benefit from grants specifically applied for R&D and cleantech, but we did not meet the requirements for COVID grants. One of the requirements was a strong decline in revenue, but we are still in the development phase, so revenue did not decrease.
Your final thoughts?
Sander Wapperom: If you want to know more about our solution, please visit our website and don’t hesitate to reach out!
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