Kessel Solar is a young company, which aims to make sure everybody has affordable access to clean technology solutions en route to a more sustainable society, and the company puts an effort into the development of residential autonomous energy solutions for local implementation. Their first product is the Kessel – a solar powered water heater, and to begin with, the product is being launched in Mexico.
At OMNIA Global, we are proud sponsors of 25 Kessels for 25 dog shelters in Mexico. The water heaters are cheap and easy for the shelters to have, and not only does the warm water provide comfortable baths for homeless dogs, but it is also soothing for dogs with arthritis to get warm baths. Therefore, the water heaters are able to make a huge difference at the shelters and for the dogs.
Kessel Solar is a unique company driven by entrepreneurial people, and therefore, the company is the perfect match for OMNIA. We were curious to learn more about the driving forces for Kessel CEO, Rasmus Nutzhorn, and not the least about how he sees the balance between running a company and doing the right thing for the environment.
WHAT IS THE STORY ABOUT KESSEL SOLAR?
Kessel Solar was established in 2014 by Samuel Neuenschwander and Christoph Karlo, as a vehicle to drive social change. Today, we are a team of motivated and experienced, international entrepreneurs who get up in the morning because we seriously want to change the world for the better.
“We want to change the world by producing and implementing affordable, renewable technology for the lower-middle class population in emerging markets.”
WHAT MAKES KESSEL SOLAR A UNIQUE COMPANY?
Our first product, the Kessel, is the most innovative and cost-efficient residential water heating system in the world. It is easy to install, highly durable and does not require any maintenance. Most importantly, the Kessel reduces energy costs for residential water heating by up to 80%.
We are focused on sales through digital channels. Our customer groups have high mobile and social media adoption rates, which lead to strong customer relationships and superior operating margins. This makes the product absolutely awesome.
Furthermore, we are a group of people driven by the purpose of building an amazing company that will deliver great financial results. But we are not just a company – we are a movement, all driven by leaving a better planet for the next generations.
WHAT SPARKED THE IDEA FOR KESSEL SOLAR?
We are so privileged to be living in Switzerland, but that is not the entire world. The world is in big trouble, and transformation is needed – and we need to act today. That is our duty as people with a privileged life. We need to treat the planet better, and we need to treat each other better – the consequences are simply too big if we do not start doing something today.
At Kessel Solar, most of us have a background in technology, so we have looked at how technology could be simplified, and still be competitive in a fierce market. Solar water heating has been around for years, but we simplified it so much that you can produce and buy the materials locally – and still scale.
People have asked me if we are moving “back to basics”? I answer: “We do not believe in backwards, we are moving forward to simplicity”.
WHY IS KESSEL SOLAR RUN AS A COMPANY AND NOT A CHARITY ORGANISATION OR FOUNDATION?
I believe that true sustainability only exists if a company is financially and culturally sustainable – that means that I do not want subsidies, and I do not want government grants. Instead, I want to deliver a fine return for my investors.
To me, this just makes sense – it is pure logic that companies should function like this: In symbiotic relationships with people and planet. Through that, we will deliver great results.
“I will prove that I can deliver amazing financial returns, while still doing the right thing for the planet.”
HOW WILL YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ROLE AS CEO AT KESSEL SOLAR?
I am incredibly fortunate to have brilliant people around me, and without them, the company would not get off the ground. My role is to put the overall strategy together with the people around me, to connect the dots, and to show a clear path for our employees. When you have amazing people around you, you just have to get out of their way. Make sure they are safe, inspired and motivated, but get out of their way.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS IN RUNNING A COMPANY LIKE KESSEL SOLAR?
We live in a world where things are changing so fast. No one on the planet has the “perfect answer” to anything anymore. In order to be able to create a company that is able to react fast enough to these changes, you need to have a culture that promotes the ability to change. Culture eats strategy every day. I am focusing and invetsing a lot in culture and development of our employees.
On a personal level my focus is on staying healthy, calm, clear-minded and to be the best father and husband that I can be. Business is personal, and we bring the entirety of our lives to the table when we go to work. A work/life balance does not really exist in my book.
“I am just trying to be the best I can be at every single task in front of me and to lead by example.”
IN YOUR WORDS, WHAT MAKES SOLAR ENERGY AND ”ACCESS TO CLEAN ENERGY FOR ALL” SUCH AN IMPORTANT ISSUE?
Access to energy means access to a better life. We might not notice it every day, but energy creates access to everything: Food, water, education, information and relationships. Energy consumption will increase massively, and we cannot serve this demand by using the methods that we have been using for the last 100 years.
Access to energy must be access to clean energy. Access to clean energy, which by the way should be free, is a human right, and not something that should be controlled by a few large industries. In that sense, Kessel Solar is creating autonomy and giving people an opportunity to be self-sufficient.
DO YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC INTEREST IN THE ENVIRONMENT AND CLEAN ENERGY, ETC.?
I have a big interest in making lives better for people. Energy for me is a place to start. Heating water using the sun is just a place to start today – it is a way to solve a major problem. I have zero background in the energy field, but I see that as a very big plus, as I then see the industry differently. I see it with fresh eyes, and wow – there is a lot you can differently!
AS THE CEO, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE BALANCE BETWEEN MAKING MONEY FOR THE COMPANY AND ”DOING THE RIGHT THING”?
There is nothing showing me that I cannot do both at the same time. Making money is just one metric to measure success. It is extremely old-school to measure “doing business” through a single metric. Luckily, that is changing fast. More and more companies are measuring impact in different ways, and profits are now just one of their metrics.
At Kessel Solar, we are proud of the jobs we are creating, of the CO2 we are reducing, of the money we are spending locally – and it is as important to do that, as it is to make money.
“We say people and planet over profits. That does not mean that profits are not important – it just means that people and planet are more important.”
WHAT IS NEXT IN LINE AT KESSEL SOLAR?
The Kessel is our first product, and we are very proud of it, but we are constantly innovating and creating more products. Kessel Solar is NOT a solar water heating company – we are in the business of improving quality of life for a billion people.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACHIEVE WITH KESSEL SOLAR?
We want to improve the lives of a billion people. The Kessel is the first product, and Mexico is our first market, but at Kessel Solar, we are all committed to building a global organism that literally makes the world a better place.
You can read more about Kessel Solar here.