Building smart energy solutions
“To build and offer the best energy management system on the market” – that’s the mission for Sydney-based COzero, says CEO Geoff Alexander. A B2B provider, COzero works with its customers to enable them to maximise their electricity spend.
Established 10 years ago, COzero’s business initially focused on creating renewable energy credits from solar panel installations. COzero was the first aggregator to move to an online system, which made the company the largest aggregator in Australia in 2011. As a result, the business was ranked number one on the BRW Fast 100, with a turnover greater than $100m.
With increasing competition in the renewable energy credits market, COzero decided to focus on opportunities in energy efficiency and the retail space. The company decided to start building what is now EnergyLink, an online, real-time monitoring energy management platform.
“EnergyLink is an ongoing energy management platform. We provide real solutions on a daily, weekly and monthly basis,” says Geoff.
With an established domestic market, COzero decided it was time to look at overseas markets.
Investing in the land of the rising sun
“In 2013 we had a Japanese investor come into the company. We then started our export journey and began talking to people we could provide our services to in Japan,” says Geoff.
“The Japanese electricity market has been deregulating, it was very timely for us to be in the market as it deregulated.”
Because of this, competition is fierce, says Geoff.
“There are a lot of people that work in the energy space, not only Japanese providers but international players from North America and Europe.
“COzero is in a unique situation and has an advantage over our competition because we have strong experience as an electricity retailer. This gave us real insight into what retailers really need from a technology platform like ours. That really differentiates us from our competition,” says Geoff.
COzero was part of a long tender and due diligence process with Japan’s largest non-government electricity provider.
“It was a very intensive process. We needed to resource it quite heavily, including time and staff travelling to Japan. It took three years,” says Geoff.
“We were very excited by the opportunity and saw the value in the deal and working with the company. The alignment in our business philosophies was also an important aspect in taking on the tender process – the aim of providing great energy service to customers by understanding how the customer uses electricity. This kept us going throughout the long process and the resources invested.”
A timely cashflow boost
Competing with two other global companies, COzero was successful in securing its first export contract. “We will be providing our energy management platform, EnergyLink. It has been tailored for the Japanese,” says Geoff.
With long project timelines and the challenge of managing business cashflow, COzero needed a cashflow injection to ensure it met the milestones of the project. Unable to secure the funding needed for the contract from their bank, their advisor recommended they get in touch with Efic.
Efic was able to provide the business with an Export Contract Loan that allowed it to continue to deliver the project milestones of its first export contract.
“There are a lot of development costs on our side to ensure that we integrate with our export customer. The funds from Efic have enabled us to meet our milestones as we deliver on our contract. It has been incredibly important,” says Geoff.
For COzero, the medium-term focus is on developing the opportunities in Australia and Japan while also working with new partners in new international markets.