Chief Financial Officer
André Korn is CFO of the Norwegian EnergyNest AS. He is a finance executive with broad experience working for blue chip as well as start-up high-tech companies in Europe, North America and the Middle East. Before joining EnergyNest in 2015, André was a VP Asset Management for Mubadala in Abu Dhabi, responsible for a $10b asset in Germany.
1. Why did you join EnergyNest?
When there was the opportunity to join the EnergyNest team, it was the perfect time for me personally. After having spent 15 years working for large corporates I was getting a bit tired of the daily treadmill. Spending long hours in the office and still wondering at the end of day what I personally achieved wasn’t doing it for me anymore. I was looking for an opportunity to be self-controlled and leave a real impact while using the skills I gathered over time. I feel it's important to work for something you truly believe in, and to have a role which builds on your strengths and allows you to grow professionally and personally. Helping EnergyNest to contribute in making the world a cleaner place as CFO was a perfect match.
2. What is your approach to your work?
I strongly believe in speed and getting things done. This is the beauty of working in a SME environment – no one is holding you back. I enjoy it and I think it’s crucial to succeed. At the same time one needs to think about building structures and processes in order to scale up quickly, when needed. I love that experience of starting with a white sheet of paper and design structures in a way which avoid all the hassle and inefficiencies I have seen in the corporate world. I also like to try out all the ideas that come up while running or traveling. Instead of analysing the pros and cons “to death” I love to just try out things and see how it works. Usually you always benefit from it in one way or the other.
3. What makes the story of your personal career interesting?
I worked for 5 years at Siemens unit in Germany, building a joint venture with two companies from the United States. After that I was working for more than 7 years for McKinsey, a consultancy firm, traveling the world. I was probably advising 30 companies on 4 different continents on strategic and financial matters. One of my clients, the government fund from Abu Dhabi, hired me as an investment manager before I joined EnergyNest in 2015. I think it’s fair to say that I have seen my share in terms of what works and what doesn’t in the global economy. I hope to build on that knowledge to put EnergyNest on the right track.
4. What is your dream for EnergyNest?
Since I am German I am not going to say “conquer the world” - Europe and China would be enough… On a serious note, I would like us to build a project in China. Most of the renewable energy growth will come from China, and there is quite some catch-up China has to do in terms of environmental pollution. I think once we have that very project, it opens up a huge market and will make us attractive for other regions as well. By the way, we are working on that dream right now - we have a Chinese partner and just hired a Chinese colleague. As a CFO I would like to IPO EnergyNest in four years from now, not only to have the checkmark on my list but also to reward the investors who have supported us for such a long time since our inception in 2011.
5. What motivates you?
I am motivated by leaving a footprint in an area of relevance. Helping to promote the growth of renewable energy by bringing and enabling technology to the market is a mission I am 100% convinced is worth my time and energy.
I am motivated as well by the trust of the visionary people we met on our journey so far. There were investors who invested significant amounts of money into us after just meeting us for a day. Can you believe that? To confirm this trust is something which drives me personally as well.
I am also motivated by working with smart people - and I have to say our team is really outstanding from that perspective.
6. Why crowdfunding and why with Invesdor?
We have been fortunate enough to get supported by quite some visionary business angels over the last five years. As we are now entering a phase of commercialisation it was important to raise our profile and get some professional investors on board as well. The traditional way of approaching investors and using intermediaries has clear shortcomings – its quite slow, expensive and non-transparent. Digitising the fundraising process does make a lot of sense to me, but still there are some topics to consider and to think about.
For instance, it is important to work together with a partner who doesn’t take shortcuts on the legal side. You don’t want spend time and resources to deal with legal disputes. We were convinced by the conservative stance Invesdor took right from the beginning, and their position in the Scandinavian market overall. See also my blog post on “Why Equity Crowdfunding”. Last but not least, I am investing in crowdfunding campaigns myself, and think it is really fun to make up my mind about companies and watch them grow over time with my support.
7. Why would you invest in your company? Give three reasons.
1) It solves a problem of global relevance: Unfortunately, energy from wind or solar is not available around the clock. This makes is very difficult and expensive to secure a stable energy supply, since you need to maintain conventional base load power plants and drop excess energy if there is no demand (up to 40% for wind energy in China!). A grid-scale energy storage technology is urgently needed and will make energy production from renewables much more economically attractive for customer, governments and tax payers.
2) The technology works and is protected: We spent the last 5 years to bring our technology to a maturity level, where it is now ready for commercial roll out. Our pilot facility in Abu Dhabi works seamlessly since a year now. DNV GL went to our pilot and wrote a independent report validating our performance and cost claims. We have protected our technology through patents and through strategic partnerships. The material for our storage is supplied exclusively by HeidelbergCement, one of the largest construction material companies of the world.
3) We have a “grey hair” team. Our chairman was the former CEO of Statoil. Our inventor was a professor with NTNU and Berkley and spent two decades as the head of research with DNV GL. The CEO and myself have worked for 30 years on 4 continents. Most of our technical team has been with company for at least 3 years.