Getting Energized to Level the Playing Field

A conversation with Amanda Niklaus, PPA Transaction Manager in the renewable industry.

The Road Less Traveled

What initially drew you to the energy industry?

During my Master’s studies, there was a mining boom in Australia. A lot of money was put into energy research, particularly for oil and gas. The Head of my university department suggested that I pursue mathematical economics in energy and work with some prestigious supervisors from the industry which I did. After graduation, I worked as an economist for the government and then in investment banking where we were looking at M&A opportunities. At the time, I found working within this very male-dominated industry a bit unsettling, and left for the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) where I worked on providing training for investors and traders and we looked at battery viability for participating in different markets. A lot happened and changed over the time I worked there and that is one of the elements I like about the power market sector: it’s very dynamic, constantly evolving.

When I came back to Switzerland, I read about Pexapark. They were very new at that time and had a lot of potential. I thought it would be exciting to work with a focus in renewables and to help developing a business. I was right — it’s so far been an incredible experience to be part of and contribute to Pexapark’s development and growth.

What’s the most satisfying part of your role at Pexapark?

I really enjoy working across markets and looking at different issues, that clients are encountering or questions they are trying to answer. While our business is very specialised, I feel like a request is never ever the same. It’s always new, there is so much to learn constantly!

What’s your secret sauce that you bring to work with you each day?

A ‘can do’ attitude and resilience.

Making Strides in Renewables

What thoughts are going through your head (if any) and what are you experiencing when you find yourself to be the only woman in the room?

That’s often the case to be honest. With clients, I do not let that disturb me, I cannot. Otherwise I am going nowhere. It is of course harder to ignore for someone who works in this environment every day. There are many studies about the ‘Onlys’ — referring to the only woman in a team. A notable one is from McKinsey, showing that women in this situation often receive judgement or doubt about their own area of expertise. They feel under a constant pressure to provide a proof of competence compared to their male colleagues. The sad part is that you don’t know if it was intentional, or it is just a dynamic of the competitive environment. That is not always clear. What is clear to me — there is a way to improve the situation. A more gender- balanced team is very important and I’d like to think I try my best to influence in that direction.

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SAP.iO: Why 3 is Key to SAP’s Startup Wins

Written by Alexa Gorman SVP, SAP.iO Foundries & Intrapreneurship at SAP

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the NVT Houseparty with Mark Osborn, Global VP of Business Development and Strategy for SAP Consumer Industries, about how SAP.iO delivers on our 3-fold value proposition.  SAP’s startup driven innovation activities strive to deliver value to SAP customers, benefits to startups and strategic impact for SAP. Our conversation focused on how SAP.iO helps innovators start-up with SAP as we bring together leaders from every region, industry and line of business to transform how businesses run. If you are interested in listening to our discussion, you can watch it here

Since 2017, we’ve helped 300+ startups and ventures accelerate their growth while enabling thousands of SAP customers to access the startup solutions on the SAP Store. At SAP.iO, we work closely with startups and help them extend their networks, integrate their startup solutions, and support their go-to-market efforts with SAP. This allows us to get valuable feedback on our technology and APIs while expanding SAP’s offering to include the latest innovations in the market and building the next generation of partners for SAP. We collaborate with SAP’s customers and connect them with relevant startup innovation that helps to transform their business and extends the value of their investments in SAP solutions.  

Over the past 4 years SAP.iO has become the matchmaker of the enterprise software world. We look into customers pain points and match their needs to the startups that will best support their business transformation. Many SAP customers collaborate with us to select the startups we bring into the SAP ecosystem. One of the ways we excel at matchmaking is evaluating customer and market needs and providing programs specifically focused on addressing those current needs.  

An industry that is going through major transformations, is the consumer products industry, which is an area of focus for us. In our discussion, Mark spoke about the importance and value for customers and SAP of working with consumer industry startups. Not only does the collaboration shape the perception of SAP as an innovator in the industry but also opens new doors and strengthens relationships within our customers. “It has exposed our teams more broadly to cutting-edge innovations that are all complementary to our investments in the core SAP portfolio to take a bigger and better story to our customers about the value we provide.” Mark said.  

As far as latest trends, Mark noted that trends that were transforming the consumer products industry before the pandemic have only been accelerated as a result of it. For example, consumer values are shifting fast, quoting a Nielsen report “consumers are buying the change they are seeing in the world.”  

There are creative people around the world seeing this as an area of untapped opportunity which is leading to the next shift, moving us from the age of resources to the age of ideas. Today, what is most important is the idea that you have, making it ever so imperative that companies attract the right talent to bring these ideas to life. All of this is happening, and we are seeing areas of declining cost, like in sales and marketing where is it considerably cheaper to reach your audience through social media channels. It’s not only cheaper, it can be an almost instant, meaningful connection with the consumer.  

We’ve seen this with global companies, like Unilever, that recently partnered with an SAP.iO startup Scantrust, who developed technology for QR codes that they applied to packaging. Unilever applied codes to soup packets so that the consumer can easily scan the packages and learn more about the source of all ingredients. What that has done is create an additional channel for the company to interact with its consumers that had never existed before. Here they can foster trust, share more content, push marketing offers, and interact through sharing recipes. Read more on Moments of Opportunity Tel Aviv Demo Day  

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Getting Energized to Level the Playing Field

A conversation with Amanda Niklaus, PPA Transaction Manager in the renewable industry.

The Road Less Traveled

What initially drew you to the energy industry?

During my Master’s studies, there was a mining boom in Australia. A lot of money was put into energy research, particularly for oil and gas. The Head of my university department suggested that I pursue mathematical economics in energy and work with some prestigious supervisors from the industry which I did. After graduation, I worked as an economist for the government and then in investment banking where we were looking at M&A opportunities. At the time, I found working within this very male-dominated industry a bit unsettling, and left for the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) where I worked on providing training for investors and traders and we looked at battery viability for participating in different markets. A lot happened and changed over the time I worked there and that is one of the elements I like about the power market sector: it’s very dynamic, constantly evolving.

When I came back to Switzerland, I read about Pexapark. They were very new at that time and had a lot of potential. I thought it would be exciting to work with a focus in renewables and to help developing a business. I was right — it’s so far been an incredible experience to be part of and contribute to Pexapark’s development and growth.

What’s the most satisfying part of your role at Pexapark?

I really enjoy working across markets and looking at different issues, that clients are encountering or questions they are trying to answer. While our business is very specialised, I feel like a request is never ever the same. It’s always new, there is so much to learn constantly!

What’s your secret sauce that you bring to work with you each day?

A ‘can do’ attitude and resilience.


Making Strides in Renewables

What thoughts are going through your head (if any) and what are you experiencing when you find yourself to be the only woman in the room?

That’s often the case to be honest. With clients, I do not let that disturb me, I cannot. Otherwise I am going nowhere. It is of course harder to ignore for someone who works in this environment every day. There are many studies about the ‘Onlys’ — referring to the only woman in a team. A notable one is from McKinsey, showing that women in this situation often receive judgement or doubt about their own area of expertise. They feel under a constant pressure to provide a proof of competence compared to their male colleagues. The sad part is that you don’t know if it was intentional, or it is just a dynamic of the competitive environment. That is not always clear. What is clear to me — there is a way to improve the situation.A more gender- balanced team is very important and I’d like to think I try my best to influence in that direction.

Did you have any female mentors or role models? How can we facilitate more mentorship initiatives?

In my first job as an economist, I had a female mentor. Since then I have had other mentors and role models, but they haven’t been women. This might be because there are not too many women in leadership / senior positions in my industry to support other women — which is key to how women help each other to grow in other industries. Studies have shown that mentoring and networking activities designed for women are key to break through the glass ceiling and to remain in top positions. Multi-level mentorship and leadership programs are necessary in providing dynamic social support, including promoting gender awareness and building network to support sustainable career development. There are successful mentoring and leadership programs where high-potential women are trained in the company’s leader pipeline. I believe that such programs help increasing female representation at the managerial and C-level.

I am part of the Women in Wind program organised by the Global Energy Wind Council. Through this program, I was given the opportunity to mentor another participant of the program who was from the same industry. Women in Wind is a great example of a mentoring program, particularly to create a network. To be honest I wish I could also participate as a mentee and a few of us mentors from the program have said the same thing. It’s extremely helpful to be able to share experiences and have a support group and of course to network.

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Future Grid: Why Australia Is Proving Grounds For Renewable Energy

Australia is among the most advanced countries worldwide when it comes to renewable energy, making it the ideal proving grounds for Future Grid. This Australian-based startup has developed a SaaS-based solution to help electric utilities manage the vast amounts of new data coming from electric vehicles, solar panels, and other renewable energy technologies.   

“We designed Future Grid to fill the visibility gap, bringing together real-time data and insights from smart meters so electric utilities can better manage the accelerated transition to renewable energy,” said Chris Law, co-founder and CEO at Future Grid. “This will help utilities continue to provide safe, reliable electricity services in regulatory compliance as renewable energy emerges.”

Law, who has extensive experience in the energy industry, co-founded Future Grid to meet the unique demands of utilities that weren’t fully utilizing all the data from their smart meters.

“We wanted to help utilities quickly manage data for their industry-specific outcomes,” he recalled. “Now as utilities have been increasingly challenged by the transition to renewable energy, our service is becoming even more important.”

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Goodr CEO turned her passion into a multimillion-dollar business

After learning that, each year, 72 billion pounds of food goes to waste in the U.S. while 50 million people struggle with hunger, Jasmine Crowe, a serial entrepreneur, felt compelled to do something.

So with donated spaghetti noodles and hamburger meat and lots of grocery coupons, in 2013 Crowe started feeding the hungry every Sunday out of her own kitchen in her one-bedroom apartment in Atlanta.

After feeding up to 500 people a week for years, in 2017, Crowe turned her passion to help into a business — Goodr, a food waste management company that connects restaurants with food surplus to non-profit organizations that can use the food.

“I had friends and family members that were experiencing hunger, [and] that really made me think I had to move forward,” Crowe says.

Building the business wasn’t easy — for one thing, investors doubted her company would succeed. But by 2018, Goodr was valued at $7 million, according to PitchBook, and now, the company is valued at $12 million, Goodr tells CNBC Make It. To date, Crowe has successfully raised over $2.7 million from investors, the company said.

“I’m really motivated by all the naysayers,” says Crowe. “As long as you’re going after something that you love, you shouldn’t give up on your dreams. That’s the biggest thing.”

Here, Crowe shares her advice on overcoming obstacles and building a successful business that you’re passionate about.

Know your audience and why they say ‘no’

Women-owned companies received just 2.6% of the total venture capital funding in the U.S. in 2019, according to PitchBook. And Black women and women entrepreneurs of color get even less, receiving just 0.64% of the total venture capital investment, according to ProjectDiane.

“I probably took over 200 meetings to raise the first million dollars for Goodr. I was told: ‘This sounds like a non-profit,’ ‘Hunger is already being solved,’ ‘Your team isn’t experienced enough and too young,’” Crowe, 37, says. “The fundraising for me has not been something that I’ve enjoyed. It hasn’t been easy.”

The turning point came, Crowe says, when she really thought about her audience.

“I realized I was speaking to cis white men that have never been hungry,” she says. “Of course they don’t understand what I’m building. They never experienced this problem before.”

So in addition to pitching that Goodr could help people, Crowe focused her pitches on numbers, like how much a business could claim in tax benefits by donating its surplus food and how much it would save in eliminating the cost of removing its food waste, she says.

“Learn all the objections and why people typically say ‘no.’ Once you learn that, then it becomes a lot easier to get to a ‘yes,’” she says. “Start to learn how to counter those objections.”

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Changing Our Perspective on Women Entrepreneurs

Slowly, but surely, glass ceilings around the world are beginning to crack and break. Although it is a slow progress, it is progress. We are not only finally seeing a change in the perception of women in business, but more specifically we are seeing a rise of women entrepreneurs. CEOs, Founders, Managers, and event organizers have begun to shine the spotlight on the underrepresented, which includes women entrepreneurs.

Ensuring all innovators, from all backgrounds are empowered to start-up with SAP, SAP.iO No Boundaries, the first comprehensive inclusive entrepreneurship initiative in the business software industry was created. Since 2019, 50% of the startups we’ve worked with have a female/underrepresented founder or CXO.

The SAP.iO Foundry Paris has supported 38 startups since late 2018. Of these companies, many have women in management positions. We recently had the opportunity to interview some of these female leaders and learn more about their unique experiences, operating in a world that is largely run by men. These entrepreneurs occupy a rare place today, they are part of only 16% of employees in the tech sector and only 8% of tech entrepreneurs.

We asked how they choose their career, their profession? What are their strengths? We found out that what they all have in common is that they dared to explore what they love. Out of desire, curiosity, need or conviction they chose a field in technology. They listened to their inner voice and considered what it is that they really enjoyed. Charlotte Fanneau, Director of Operations at Heuritech said, “I did not choose the job of Director of Operations, but the mission of putting cutting-edge technology at the service of the fashion industry.” All shared the desire to step out of their comfort zone, to learn “on the job”, to explore areas that were unfamiliar or that could not be learned in school. “To become Marketing Manager in a field that I did not know, I found similarities with sports training. I was curious, I trained on my own. I tested, I documented myself to create my own knowledge,” said Manon Pellet Marketing Manager at Hiboo.

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Celebrating Innovators Transforming Industries

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating innovators in our global community that are transforming industries. We believe that diversity yields better innovation and are proud that 50% of the startups we work with have a female or underrepresented founder/CXO. To kick off the week, we caught up with Alexa Gorman, SVP of SAP.iO to learn about her journey in tech.

Alexa Gorman - BLN

What started you off on your road to tech?

I was always interested in tech and after completing my studies in business administration in France and Germany, I developed a keen interest in the possibilities that software offered to the business world. I started my career at SAP at a very exciting time for the tech industry, as it was just at the height of the Internet boom and the tech industry started changing the business landscape forever. It was the place to be and the place for me to make an impact! I haven’t regretted that decision once.

Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?

The greatest inspirations of my life are both of my parents. They started with little resources but a large desire to discover the world. They went early in their careers abroad, to England, Paris and the Caribbean (where I grew up), at a time when this wasn’t as normal or easy as it is today. It was a risky move and they had to work extra hard to succeed. It taught me early in my life to stay curious, be open minded to new things, to believe in myself and never stop learning!

What does your work involve and what would your typical day look like?

One of the great things about my work at SAP.iO is that rarely two days are the same, so there is fortunately no typical day. A big part of my role includes working with a great team around the globe to continuously improve the way SAP scouts for startups (internally and externally), accelerate the partnership journey with the startups to ultimately deliver more value to our key stakeholders, SAP’s customers.

What has been your best experience/ greatest success in your career?

The most fun I’ve had during my career was helping build SAP.iO. It is like working in a startup within a large corporation. We have a passionate team and a lot of freedom to continuously improve and experiment how to drive value for our customers, startups, and SAP. It’s incredible to see and learn from startup innovations and bring value and impact to our customers as well as back to SAP. Over the past 4 years we have grown from 2 locations to 9 across the world and been able to build something that is recognized as unique in our industry with multiple awards.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Be bolder and always question the limits you think are there. I’ve learned over time that most limitations only exist in our heads and once we overcome those ANYTHING is possible!

What do you hope to achieve and what is your vision for the future?

My vision for the future is a world in which diversity is no longer a topic but lived broadly – especially in the tech industry where we still have a long way to go.

Out now: Femventures – a podcast on adventurous women in tech

Femventures is a podcast by SAP.iO that brings you stories of women who are currently shaping the future of the tech industry. You will hear from women at SAP who are the heads of innovation departments, founded their own business or are running start-up accelerators inside the company. Hosts Lisa and Leonie put a spotlight on their experiences in a male-dominated field, and invite you to listen to them as they talk about overcoming challenges, taking risks and embracing failure. This show is an opportunity for people looking for actionable advice and inspiring female role models working in tech. Find us on openSAP, Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

Our first guest is Vanessa Liu, who dreamt of becoming an astronaut but became a tech entrepreneur instead. Tune in to get her insights on investing in female founders and the importance of role models (like her 79-year-old mom counting Cardi B among her clients).

Listen Now

WeGift Raises $12M in Series A+ Funding

WeGift, a London, UK-based company providing the infrastructure for the incentives economy, closed a $12m funding round.

The round was led by AlbionVC with participation from new investor CommerzVentures, as well as Stride.VC, SAP.iO Fund, and Unilever Ventures.

The company intends to use the funds to continue to expand operations and its business reach.

Led by Founder and CEO Aron Alexander, WeGift provides a cloud-based platform and open API solution serving a broad set of needs for medium and enterprise businesses, including acquisition, retention, recognition, and reimbursements. Operating in more than 30 countries, and dozens of languages and currencies, the company’s digital payouts platform and open API solution is directly integrated into every brand on its platform, offering corporate buyers a global network with direct access to more than 700 brands. Habito, Perkbox, Seated, Sodexo, Vodafone, and Vouchercodes all use WeGift’s to digitally engage their audiences.

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Crosschq Co-Founder Named to Forbes Next 1000 List

Crosschq, the pioneers of Human Intelligence Hiring™ for building diverse, winning companies, today announced that CEO and Co-Founder Michael Fitzsimmons was named to the Forbes Next 1000 list in the first class of 250 standouts.

The Forbes Next 1000 list is a first-of-its-kind initiative designed to spotlight bold and inspiring entrepreneurs on their way to great success, celebrating ambitious entrepreneurs who are redefining what it means to build and run a business today, especially in the ‘new normal.’ According to Forbes, by year’s end, the list will include 1,000 entrepreneurs that “will have a “running start to land on the cover of Forbes.” The judges include a panel of A-list leaders from every sector, from entrepreneur Ayesha Curry and National Geographic Society Chairwoman Jean Case, to LinkedIn CoFounder Reid HOffman and  baseball legend Alex Rodriguez among others.

“I’m honored to be recognized by Forbes in this way,” said Fitzsimmons. “These are never individual awards. Every member of our Crosschq family, from employees, investors, advisors, customers, and partners, make these happen.”

Crosschq is committed to fundamentally leveling the playing field for job seekers by enabling companies to go beyond the resume and look at the full picture of a job candidate when making a hiring decision. Crosschq already helps more than 100 companies of all sizes screen, source and hire the best talent through our digital and automated reference checks.

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Verusen and NTT DATA GSL Form Business Alliance to Transform SAP Materials and Inventory Management Deployments Through AI

As manufacturers and businesses ramp up the digital transformation of their supply chains to meet challenging times during the pandemic, Verusen, the Atlanta startup that leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)  to build the intelligent, connected supply chain, and NTT DATA Global Solutions Corporation (NTT DATA GSL), a leading SAP partner in Japan, providing digital transformation and information technology services worldwide together with NTT DATA Group alliance, today announced their new business alliance.  The collaboration utilizes Verusen’s cloud-based AI platform and real–time inventory data management capabilities to strengthen and optimize customers’ existing SAP supply chain and inventory management implementations. 

Verusen’s purpose-built AI platform provides a supply chain solution that transforms material data and inventory optimization to bring “material truth” to organizations. By analyzing and visualizing the inventory information stored at different locations, the solution helps clients reduce their inventory, increase working capital and prevent opportunity loss due to either excess or deficiency of inventory. The relationship marks the debut of the Verusen cloud platform in the Japanese market.

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Startup Injects Pandemic Vaccine Cold Chain With a Healthy Dose of High-Tech

The combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) technology (AIoT) may be the biggest disruption to the industrial refrigeration industry since the invention of the first commercial ice-making machine two centuries ago.

In this second year of a modern pandemic, startup Youtiligent has developed an AIoT-based technology to help companies keep vaccines cold across complex distribution supply chains. Moving far beyond sensor-based temperature monitoring, Youtiligent’s promise is to securely capture real-time electric power anomalies in onsite commercial refrigerators, allowing distributors to take action before vaccine spoilage.

“Sensors that capture when a product’s temperature has decreased below the acceptable degree range are not effective when it comes to distributing something like the coronavirus vaccine,” said Avichai Belitsky, co-founder of Youtiligent. “We combined AI with IoT technology to deliver real-time alerts for cost-effective predictive and preventive maintenance. Organizations can act faster in making data-driven business decisions based on what’s happening in real time, such as sending in a repair technician before it’s too late.”

EKG for cooling appliances

Based in Israel, Youtiligent is piloting its offering with healthcare organizations in that country. Belitsky also expected high interest from refrigeration manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, as well as medical and other institutions with clinics, pharmacies, and research labs, such as hospitals and universities. The startup continues to serve customers in its original target markets that include the food and beverage and retail industries.

“This is what we call the ‘EKG for appliances,’ tracking electric current across compressors, engines, and pumps that power any cooling machine, whether it’s making ice cream to be sold the next week or cooling expensive chemicals that researchers can safely store and use over many years,” said Belitsky. “Every machine action has a unique fingerprint, and being able to track each one with algorithms yields valuable, actionable insights.”

Real-time data prevents problems, opens opportunities

When the customer connects a machine’s power cord into the Youtiligent “smart” plug at the wall socket, the solution’s AI and IoT technology translates the electric consumption signals, by machine part, into usage data that’s saved in the cloud. As the technology detects potential problems, it sends real-time alerts to designated contacts on any device. People can also view detailed historical activity dashboards for recordkeeping and proof of cold-chain compliance.

“Our plug-and-play solution delivers significant ROI with low total cost of ownership,” said Belitsky. “Manufacturers in some industries also like this solution because they can offer products-as-a-service, whether they embed Youtiligent into new refrigerators or as an aftermarket add-on to customers with existing machines.”

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Rheaply Raises $8M to Scale the Circular Economy and Enable Businesses to Take Action Against Climate Change

Rheaply, a climate tech company that combines a resource-sharing network with a user-friendly asset management platform, today announced that it has raised $8M in a Series A round led by High Alpha, with investment from 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund, Concrete Rose Capital, Hyde Park Angels, M25, MCJ Collective, Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, and Salesforce Ventures. Rheaply’s platform eliminates potential waste by instituting the principles of a circular economy, a model that emphasizes “designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.”

Rheaply’s Series A is one of the largest rounds ever raised by a Chicago startup with a Black founder, and the majority of new investors are impact funds.

In the U.S. economy, over $630B of physical workplace assets sit idle every year.2 Not knowing what assets exist and where they are frequently leads to inefficiencies in procurement practices, the inability to properly track and manage asset depreciation, and the purchase of duplicate assets, significantly impacting every organization’s bottom line. If never put to use, these assets will add over 60M tons of waste to landfill.

If you would like to know more about how Rheaply is helping Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. Federal Government better track and utilize their resources, visit rheaply.com.

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