Carnaby Street in London, more famous for fashion, is an unlikely location for an energy sector innovator, but KiWi Power has just taken on investment from energy giant ENGIE. Marc Mullen speaks to CEO Yoav Zingher as KiWi goes global.
Yoav Zingher knew he did not want to sell out when interest was first being shown in his business. As co-founder of KiWi Power, a UK-based electricity demand response aggregator (see bo on page 27), Zingher knew there was still a lot of upside left: “We wanted to sell a minority stake, and sell it to someone who would partner us in a deal, structured to help grow our business internationally,” he explains.
In July, six years after co-founding KiWi Power with Ziko Abram, Zingher signed a deal with the world’s second largest utility ENGIE – formerly GDF Suez – that saw the energy giant take a minority stake in his business. Part of the deal is also multiple agreements which would see KiWi’s innovative business model rolled out through the many jurisdictions ENGIE operates in.
“From day one, we were being approached by utilities to do something, but they either wanted to buy us out, or at least buy 51%,” says Zingher, highlighting the rock-and-a-hard-place situation that many successful UK start-ups can find themselves in. While they need investment for growth, they are strong businesses, they have many potential suitors that place control at the top of their list of demands in exchange for capital.
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