Berlin-based trawa raises €10M to use AI to make buying renewable energy easier for SMEs

The brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022 took businesses that depended on oil and gas energy by surprise. Suddenly, renewable energy became crucial to survival. But how best to buy it?

That was the germination of the idea behind trawa, a Berlin-based renewable energy supplier that recently raised €10 million in a seed round led by Balderton Capital. The funding round brings the startup’s total capital raised to more than €12 million.

Trawa’s pitch is that it simplifies energy purchasing and management for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by leveraging two things: An AI-powered platform that lets businesses buy from renewable energy sources, and downstream data from the customers themselves about when they need energy most. 

Europe’s ongoing energy crisis has seen electricity prices spike two to three times higher than the U.S. Higher prices have also impacted manufacturing in the Eurozone, in decline for more than a year, and German industry is expected to decline by 1.5% this year due to higher energy prices and interest rates. 

Renewable energy can help businesses alleviate some of those pains, but even though many companies want to switch to green energy sources, the complexity of defining green energy and the security of constant supply is problematic.

Trawa’s co-founder and CEO David Budde hit on the idea of using AI to streamline green energy supply while he was at Bain and Company. He realized economic problems and sustainability regulation were both hitting businesses at the same time. 

“Prices skyrocketed, volatility increased, and their core business was being hit. All of a sudden, their products were no longer profitable because the energy costs were rising so fast,” he told TechCrunch.

“At the same time, the European Commission and the German government were pushing further and stronger regulation. Now, businesses had to deal with both. In the past few years, if you wanted green electricity, it meant having to pay a premium. That’s exactly where we come in.”

Budde said trawa gives SMEs, which generally do not have procurement expertise in energy, the tools to structure their energy purchasing. trawa’s AI then creates an optimal combination of power from different products to match the buyer’s consumption patterns. The idea is that trawa can buy electricity in installments at staggered times, yielding significant cost savings. 

trawa’s management software also allows companies to factor in their own rooftop solar systems or batteries. The startup claims the combination of AI-powered purchasing and management software can let companies save up to 30% of their energy costs a year. 

The startup already has a few industrial customers in the DACH region, including textile manufacturer SETEX-Textil, Amano Hotel Group, solar energy company Sunmaxx, logistics company Loxxess, and automotive supplier Coroplast Group.

“In the face of the climate crisis and volatile energy pricing market, renewable energy is a way for companies to take control of their energy security. trawa offers companies a bespoke solution for energy procurement, shielding SMEs from price explosions, helping them make the most of investments in assets like smart batteries and solar power and providing granular data for ESG reporting,” James Wise, general partner at Balderton Capital, said in a statement.

German climate tech investor AENU also participated in the round, alongside previous investors Speedinvest, Magnetic and TinyVC.

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