We are excited to announce that Kitekraft has been part of Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator. In the Summer of 2019, we went to California to take part in the three month accelerator program, received a lot of advice, coaching, and the $150k investment. We took Y Combinator’s motto “make something people want” to heart. Our minds got focused towards product and users: We are working on our prototypes, which shall be turned into a product as quickly as possible for early customers, who receive a real value from it. We have been in more and more conversations with potential customers and we are designing Kitekraft systems for their specific needs. We strive to make a compelling product, which users/customers love. Only then can we succeed in our mission to help transform the global energy system towards 100% renewables.
We can announce even more: Before Y Combinator, in Spring 2019, we submitted a proposal for EXIST Gründerstipendium, a program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy which supports students and scientists to bring academic ideas and research to market. And indeed, our proposal got granted! Three of our co-founders receive a scholarship for one year, covering living expenses. It also covers funding for prototyping. On top of that, we can stay at the Technical University of Munich, Institute for Electrical Drive Systems and Power Electronics (prev. Prof. Kennel) and use the infrastructure of the university. This funding helps us a lot for the development of our prototypes.
In October 2019, on top of that, we got accepted into Stage #3 of Climate-KIC, a European early stage grant which has supported other startups like Lilium. After receiving the grant for Stages #1 and #2 already the previous 12 months, the jury decided to further help Kitekraft to get into business. In all stages, we got into the “side call”, funded by the insurance companies Munich RE and ERGO. We not only get financial funding, coaching, and access to their network, but also receive first-hand consulting from Munich RE’s senior management. Insurance products are needed for our Kitekraft systems, to provide customers with e.g. a limited liability insurance (as we already need for our field tests) as well as an insurances e.g. against vandalism. Climate-KIC Stage #1 was the very first substantial funding Kitekraft received, and we are very happy to be one the few startups who were able to get accepted through all three stages.
In autumn 2019, we also received an investment from Schweizer Kapital Global Impact Fund AG. Umut Ertan has already made a name for himself in the startup scene with his first pure impact fund in Switzerland, Schweizer Kapital Global Impact Fund AG, which he founded in 2018.
The criteria for an investment by Schweizer Kapital are very high. Only disruptive business models that make a significant contribution to reducing CO2 emissions worldwide and at the same time offer sociological and economic advantages over existing business models are supported. We are not the first clean energy startup, in which Schweizer Kapital invested. The fund is the lead investor, in SINN Power, a wave energy plant developer. Besides the capital that we receive, Schweizer Kapital will also enable synergies. We are very happy to have Umut and his team onboard for this journey!
In January 2019, we started building the first Kitekraft prototype, which we presented in our earlier blog post. Since then, we added electronics and sensors, programmed software (our flight controller/autopilot), and iterated and improved several components. We started first hovering and hardware-in-the-loop tests in our machine hall successfully. Since summer 2019, we also test outside on a field near Munich to hover with the full-length 100m tether, test GPS- and other sensors, and perform different stress tests. The kite is currently making its “baby steps” (hovering) and on every test day, it can “walk better” (hover higher, longer, and more stable). We still have a few items on our test plans that need to be ticked, but soon our baby will attempt to “run” (figure eight flight).
In late October and early November 2019, Bavarian Television visited us to film a report about us, which can be watched on YouTube. Above is a photograph of our founder team and the test setup on the field, and below is a photograph of the kite during one of our hovering tests.
In the coming weeks and months we will continue to work hard on making the kite fly and generate clean energy. These days, we really feel the urgent need to bring such a technology to life, and as engineers we are still fascinated about this technology: an electric aircraft, which flies autonomously in acrobatic maneuvers, and generates renewable energy from the wind — we cannot imagine a more interesting topic to work on!
We are constantly looking for people and businesses who want to become part of this story. Specifically, we are looking for
- (pilot) customers, including farmers, rural business, island grid developers, or other related operations,
- test fields near Munich to test-fly our kite prototypes,
- mayors, climate protection managers, and other municipal stakeholders interested in bringing Kitekraft systems into their community,
- development partners,
- and investors.
Do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you see a fit! Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.