M49 BLOG

Schneider Electric, which was named the world’s most sustainable corporation on the Global 100 list, is a multinational leader in energy management and automation. In their commitment to innovate and create a sustainable future, Schneider Electric actively leverages their capital, talent, channels, brand, and worldwide access to R&D.

To truly institutionalize growth and secure its future as a leading energy provider, the large industrial engineering firm has built its own venture factory and has been incubating new ventures with Mach49 since 2018.

Building a venture factory ensures that Schneider Electric, “the Mothership,” doesn’t just launch one new venture one time, but has the platform, people, methodology and tools in place to create a pipeline and portfolio of new ventures to drive growth in perpetuity. The venture factory delivers meaningful growth for Schneider Electric through: 

  • Disruptive New Ventures: Driving growth by creating and launching a portfolio of high-quality new ventures, managing the downside risk by reducing the greatest amount of risk on the least amount of capital and developing a laser-like focus on solving customer pain.
  • Revitalized Talent: Building a venture factory sends a message that the company is committed to real innovation and providing creative growth opportunities for its people (not just growth for its shareholders) which in turn enables the company to recruit and retain a pool of highly motivated and often, exceptionally talented, internal “entrepreneurs.”
  • Growth Capable Executive Leadership: By focusing on growth through venture building, senior executives are forced to expand their playbook and shift their mindset from being management review board members to adopting the discipline and mindset of top-tier VCs in Silicon Valley and beyond. 

The making of Clipsal Solar, a start-up backed by SE Ventures

Clipsal Solar was the first incubation born from the partnership between Mach49 and Schneider Electric. Developed to meet the needs of a rapidly growing distributed energy market, Clipsal Solar is Australia’s leading solar-as-a-service provider, and it has recently launched in the US market.

Mach49 worked with Schneider Electric to apply its proven “Ideate, Incubate, Accelerate” methodology. At the core of this process, hundreds of interviews were conducted, revealing customer pain from extraordinarily high electricity costs. Operating in Australia, where roughly 25% of the population have solar on their homes, the team quickly realized that the opportunity was not to create a market, but to capitalize on an established one.

From these extensive customer interviews, the Schneider Electric and Mach49 teams discovered that the Australian market was already fairly well educated on the benefits of solar. What they needed was an energy management solution that could fit the wide array of hardware brands used across the country, one that could be as hands-on or hands-off as the customer wanted.

The team tested reactions to a variety of proposed solutions through a series of low-stakes experiments, and then designed a business model to support the product while building a diverse sprint team capable of scaling the venture. The final step was product testing and delivery with the goal of sustainable revenue.

With a record start last year (second quarter revenue was up 423% and subscribers were up 215%), Clipsal Solar is truly a unicorn in the making as it continues to scale globally with a strong foundation of loyal customers.

Schneider Electric’s venture-building momentum

After Clipsal Solar, Schneider Electric and Mach49 applied the same venture-building methodology to create a series of successful new startups currently in the market.

Headquartered in Singapore, NaviX Solutions provides full lifecycle management for enterprise power and cooling assets while delivering insights into how these assets are managed sustainably and efficiently. NaviX gives enterprises the option to buy back existing power and cooling assets and transition from a CAPEX to OPEX approach. NaviX Solutions is the first global business to be launched in Schneider Electric’s partnership with Singapore’s EDB, which is designed to incubate and launch new business ventures with global potential and ability to scale.

CEO Simon Claringbold explained how venture building has enabled NaviX to expand its offering:

“NaviX Solutions ‘power and cooling-as-a-service’ model is designed to support companies to keep pace with market change while balancing the need to modernize and transform sustainably. Through corporate venturing, we have been able to deliver this new business model which has allowed us to pursue opportunities that complement Schneider Electric’s core business; we achieve this by leveraging our entrepreneurial team that can drive growth with autonomy and agility whilst leveraging the competitive advantages of Schneider Electric.”

Another Schneider Electric new venture, eIQ Mobility, is the leading software provider of fleet electrification and planning solutions. During its incubation process, the venture team interviewed hundreds of corporate fleet managers, strategic account executives at automotive manufacturers, consulting experts at fleet management companies, utility fleet electrification leaders, and more. From these interviews, it was discovered that deploying fleet EVs is incredibly difficult and that fleet operators find the electrification ecosystem overwhelming. The venture team then went about building a trusted decision platform to shepherd vehicle fleets into a smart, electric, and cost-effective future with the most advanced fleet electrification analysis software. In 2020, eIQ Mobility was acquired by NextEra Energy Resources, the world's largest generator of renewable wind and sun energy and a leader in battery storage.

Another Schneider Electric venture, Dash Energy, helps the world buy and sell energy faster, smarter, and more confidently. Dash Energy modernizes the complex process of the industry, bringing the market into the future for energy brokers and energy suppliers.

In a recent interview with Nisa Bradley of Schneider Electric’s Energy and Sustainability team, Nisa shared her key takeaways from the venture incubation process building Dash Energy with Mach49:

“One of the biggest differentiators of Mach49’s venture building process is the whole ‘teaching a person to fish’ analogy. We went through these processes — it wasn’t Mach49 doing them for us.”

Nisa continues: “In a large company, we feel like we generally know the market well enough that we can move forward and have expectations about what the business model should look like. With Mach49, it’s different. You put all those expectations around the business model aside until you’ve spent enough time with the potential customers. You don’t even get to think about the business model until you have a really grounded understanding of the customer that you don’t tend to create the space for in a larger company.”

Steve Wilhite, President of Schneider Electric Energy and Sustainability Services who leads the team that manages more than €30 billion in energy spend for more than 4,500 clients around the world, shared the value of venture building process in the development of his team: 

“We’re not just building Dash, we’re in the business of building leaders. When you talk about scaling people, it’s about adding from a development perspective so they are leveraging the gifts and talents they have. I thought this would be a great opportunity for our employees to grow, as well as bring value to shareholders.”

You can learn more about Schneider Electric’s venture building here, and also learn about the company’s venture investing efforts through their corporate venture capital (CVC) arm, SE Ventures — a $565-million fund dedicated to investing in high potential startups with a focus on energy management, electric mobility, cybersecurity, and Artificial Intelligence (Al).

This case study is organized as part of the Corporate Venture Launchpad - the S$10 million pilot program by EDB New Ventures aims to enable large, established companies new to corporate venturing in Singapore to incubate and launch a new venture within six months, supported by venture studios experienced in corporate venture building.

Mach49 is proud to be an appointed venture studio of the program.

We're a growth incubator that partners with leading multinationals to build their own internal incubators and accelerators to drive organic growth. By embracing a Silicon Valley startup mindset, large global corporations are leveraging their talent, assets, and innovation to create growth engines fueled by a pipeline and portfolio of new ventures. Contact growth@mach49.com to learn more about our clients and work.