This profile is part of the main prize of the Pitch Battle at TNW Valencia 2023 won by Crowmie. Would you like your company to be in the spotlight? You only have a few days left to enter the startup competition at TNW Conference in Amsterdam on June 15th and 16th!
Valencia’s most popular green fintech startup is on a mission to break down the high investment barriers in the energy sector and make it easy for everyone to finance sustainable projects.
Crowmiewhich launched last February, jumps into the micro-investment space by giving anyone with just €100 the chance to invest directly in renewable energy projects in Spain and see monthly returns.
Technically, Crowmie has built a platform to create security digital tokens (STO, Security Token Offerings) for the total amount of any project they want to fund. Through this automated process, all investment transactions are registered in the blockchain.
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The 12-person startup, led by founders Fernando Dávila (26), Pablo Valverde (29) and Joshua Cleveland (29), won the Pitch Battle at Applied Sciences Valencia in March of this year.
“The jury was impressed by the team’s vision and goal to make investments in sustainable energy easier,” said Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, co-founder of TNW and jury member of the Pitch Battle. “This is such a great opportunity that people like you and me can now finally get active in. This is one of those startups that you hope will become very successful, not just for the team or the investors, but for the whole world .”
Crowmie (the name is a mishmash of “crowd” and “homie”) has received €300,000 in pre-seed funding so far and is going for a €1.5 million seed round this year. The company will use the money for marketing, technology, opening up the investment platform to people in the US and building a presence in Mexico and Colombia.
Tokenized investment inspiration
CEO Dávila, who studied astro-engineering in Valencia before becoming a founder, told TNW that innovation in real estate technology was one of their main sources of inspiration.
“The idea came about because we saw an incredible trend in the world of tokenization, especially in the real estate sector,” Dávila said, citing RealT in the US and Rental in Spain as two pioneering companies in symbolic real estate investments.
The trio thought that the same model of fractional, tokenized investment could also fully work in the renewable energy sector – and none did in Spain.
“Right now, only those with large amounts of capital can invest in the renewable energy vertical, and we want to do it with tokenization, as impact investments are growing now and will grow much more in the future,” Dávila added.
“We are really digitizing a completely traditional industry like investments, using blockchain technology that allows us to open the doors to anyone, anywhere in the world, making it easy to invest in renewable energy, which was completely impossible until now. “
Spain is a promising base for green energy initiatives. Just over 42% of the country’s electricity was generated from renewable sources in 2022 and wants to increase this share to 74% by 2030.
According to a That reports Reuters as of December 2022, Spain has the largest solar pipeline in Europe, with so many solar projects in the planning that the government is struggling to get all the permits.
Invest without hassle
According to Dávila, getting started with the Crowmie app is easy. Once someone signs up and completes the regulatory verification steps, all they have to do is select which Crowmie energy projects they want to invest in and how much.
They then receive a minted token for that monetary value, giving them economic rights to the project. They can resell their tokens at any time with one click.
Crucially, Crowmie’s business model is not just about facilitating investments and financing the projects as they themselves own the facilities and installations. Once they build a power plant, usually for a large company or factory, they sell its energy to the customer and distribute the money to all investors.
Two solar power plants are operational so far, with a total of 66 investors from multiple countries on board, according to Dávila, with an average investment ticket of €2,000.
¡𝗗𝗬𝗔 ya está en producción! ☀️
𝗔𝗯𝗿𝗶𝗹 será el primer mes que dará rentabilidad…
¿Estáis 𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗽𝗮𝗿𝗮𝗱𝗼𝘀? 🌱 pic.twitter.com/tyBfV0cxNk
— Crowmie (@crowmie_es) April 10, 2023
The Crowmie photovoltaic installation that supplies the TYPSA plant in Zaragoza was funded with €114,000 and went into operation in February this year. Investors started receiving dividends from the first month of operations and it is expected to generate returns of 7.5% per annum for investors over five years and save 1,365 tons of CO₂ per year.
The startup also makes money by taking 5% of the value of tokens they mint on the platform (giving them 5% of each project’s economic rights) and a 2% processing fee.
Chickens and eggs
“Our biggest challenge is to balance the projects and the investors – it’s chicken and egg,” Dávila said. “You have to balance the number of investors on the platform and the number of projects you have to fund that project quickly, really time when the projects come up, and then create FOMO among those investors that they are going to miss this opportunity.”
“We have three types of investors,” he added. “On the one hand, we have professional investors, who invest between €10,000 and €50,000. Then there are private investors, who get in for about € 2,000 per ticket. The third tier are those who invest between €100 and €2,000.”
Compliance and due diligence in financial, technical and legal areas before signing contracts with customers for the energy projects is the expensive part of doing business for Crowmie and should be outsourced.
For now, the founders are cutting their teeth on projects in Spain, but they are already looking forward to expanding to Mexico and Colombia, where their partners have other energy projects. These 25 partners, Dávila said, have already created a pipeline of 40 potential projects for Crowmie worth €20 million.