Regional, transparent and sustainable … it’s amazing that we found the perfect partner for the first “Team Fresh – Green Business Interview”.
Green electricity from Austria – who, how, what, why?
Phillip Rehulka is the founder of MeinAlpenStrom and gave us answers to 10 questions that we ask all Green Business founders.
The topic is energy. It’s not hard to get interested, because only electricity will run your computer, a phone or a tablet you’re reading this article on.
In theory, all of Austria could supply itself with eco-electricity produced in Austria. Of course, additional power plants would be needed. But it would not be witchcraft and it would do a lot.
Have fun reading the interview! We hope you can gain an interesting and motivating insight into the green business energy sector.
How and when did you come to the idea to start your own business?
At first, it was the case that we created this beautiful eco-electricity and thought that it had to be able to be sold to customers. There must be people who value this and who share our values. The power plants already existed and we decided to set up a sales company to sell electricity to end customers.
In principle, we made a scratch on a white piece of paper and thought about how this company should be, how the relationship to our customers should be and how we would like to work.
First of all, we wrote down value clouds, where on the one hand very traditional values such as: ecology, sustainability, transparency and honesty were represented, while other, very modern ones, such as flexibility, coolness and fun at work were also important. Both together are now the company.
AlpenStrom alone might sound rather old-fashioned, while MeinAlpenStom can really build a relationship. We wanted to be more than just a bill-to-mailer who bills you twice a year. We want to make people feel that they are part of a community in which similar values are important.
What was your motivation and vision at that time?
The motivation and vision are still the same today as they were back then. Selling sustainable and pure green electricity with added value.
It is very nice to receive positive customer reviews on our website. It is often very touching to see how they describe it and how customers look forward to being a part of it. That makes us really proud!
Were there initial challenges?
Yes, but there are still challenges. As an electricity provider, you compete against the country’s provider. Then there are those who don’t run an honest business. Electricity often gets “green washed” and sold as green electricity.
Every day we have to declare that our electricity is genuine green electricity because we produce it ourselves and deliver it to our customers. Others buy proofs of origin from Norway or Finland, so they wash the electricity green and sell it.
Every one of our customers receives a voucher to see the power plant for themselves.
Our vision is really that customers think when they reach for the light switch: “This is my alpine current and I have a personal relationship to it. I have also visited the power plant and have seen with what effort it is generated. “Fish ascent aids, amphibious biotopes, etc. The goal is simply to use the resource more consciously.”
What does a typical day in your life look like?
Oh, totally unspectacular. Getting up, taking the children to school, then to work. The work may be a bit more than an average job, but never really feels like that if you like it, right?
I deliberately try not to miss dinner and to be home in time.
Apart from that, I also spend a lot of time in Nicklasdorf, where our power plants are, because we do the power plant tours there. There we are very close to the colleagues who actually produce the electricity, so that you always know what is happening there and you can pass on to the customer.
What are the key skills and qualities to succeed in your industry?
I think there are different answers, depending on who you ask.
For me and for us it is transparency and honesty. You don’t notice that very often in this industry. It’s bad but it’s true.
With soft skills, it’s clear: communication, communication, communication and project management. Looking, that everyone knows what needs to be done.
Do you have a secret of success?
It’s not that easy for me to answer, but here too: I would say it’s communication, honesty and transience.
It all comes back.
Of course, nothing works without project management.
How do you/ does your business earn money?
By selling pure green electricity to our customers.
Events such as the Clean Up or others similar are all there to live up to what we have written down in our corporate values.
Is there anything you think that could be improved in your industry?
Yes absolutely. I would like that there is no possibility to wash electricity green. Then there would be more good providers, although of course there are already a few now. We’re not the only ones around, but it’s extremely difficult to tell who is doing it right and who is not.
If you are looking for an electricity tariff online, you will find the green bar “100% eco-electricity” for almost all providers. 80% of those are washed green.
If you could start again, would you do something different?
What do you advise others for their lives and careers?
What I can tell other people is that absolute excitement about their idea is needed and they should let people feel that. Only then will others realise that this is authentic.