Next Icons | Alumnus in the spotlight: Volta Energy

Monday 01 July 2024
Next Icons | Alumnus in the spotlight: Volta Energy

The Next Icons are those entrepreneurs whom we expect to make a big impact in the future. Two years after the inaugural edition, we can take a tentative look at the development of the Next Icons from 2022. To what extent have they managed to realize their potential? We spoke with Roel Bleumer, founder of Volta Energy, about his growth since being awarded the title of Next Icon in 2022.

This story was previously published in the Next Icons Magazine. You can read the entire magazine here.

We spoke briefly back in 2022 for the Next Icons magazine. What steps have you taken since then with Volta Energy?

Roel: “Our main focus has been on scaling up our operation. In 2022, we had thirty or so generators and the company was made up of about six or seven people. Today, we have three hundred solar generators and a staff of forty-five working out of a new location. We have also joined Novel-T's GROW Program to learn what it takes to scale up more effectively. The most important lesson that we have already learned is that you have to maintain your focus. We aim to do that by specifically targeting green mobile energy. For example, we are also exploring new innovations in the form of hydrogen solutions. In the winter, when there's relatively little sunlight, you can still generate power with hydrogen. We have about thirty hydrogen generators now.”

Wow, it really sounds like you have come a long way! I remember you telling me in 2022 that you had transported a generator in a rubber boat in the Biesbosch in the heart of winter. I assume you do things quite differently now.

Roel: “Haha, absolutely! It was a seriously dumb idea. I am glad that forest ranger was there to pick me up or I might not have lived to tell the tale. Then again, that sort of thing is part and parcel of running a startup. Back then, I could still take those risky decisions for myself. Now, we have grown into a scale-up and I cannot expect my colleagues to pull stunts like that. The stakes are certainly higher now. Another benefit is that we have a whole bunch of people thinking along about strategies and tactics. We are also able to hire more specialists. We need them; if we want to keep up with the major players on the market, we have to keep innovating in order to be disruptive.”

Besides your day-to-day business operations, how do you make time to innovate? 

Roel: “We have a dedicated team working on new innovations, such as the hydrogen generators. They have their own office and their own area in our workshop where they can focus entirely on coming up with new innovations. You need that focus on innovation to stay relevant. Above all, I really enjoy being innovative myself. On Saturdays, I like to tinker with my own projects. I have, for example, modified my own car to run on hydrogen. I can put some of those insights and experiences to good use in my work at Volta Energy. We had two options for our hydrogen generators, for instance. The first was to convert a combustion engine. People weren't sure if that would work, so I tried it out on my own car. It did work, but we ultimately went with option two because it wasn't very efficient. You shouldn't underestimate the value of trial and error. My advice to the new generation of Next Icons would be to keep playing around. You need passion and drive to launch a startup and it is important to hold on to those things and not feel embarrassed about them. Be proud of your passion and never stop pioneering.”


About Volta Energy

Volta Energy's mission is to rid the world of all polluting diesel generators. To that end, the company develops bio-solar hybrid generators that offer the most efficient on-site mobile energy supply, e.g. for infrastructure construction and civil engineering projects.  The ultimate goal is to make a positive impact on our climate by abandoning the use of diesel altogether.

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