Case study: How a fractional CCO can help a startup establish themselves in the energy transition market

For privacy reasons, the name of the client company cannot be disclosed. For the purpose of this case study, we will call the client company Nimbus.

Nimbus is a Netherlands based venture. Founded in 2015 with a team of approx. 5 FTEs, they have since grown significantly – their team is now 30+ FTEs. 

Their mission is to support the transition towards a more sustainable future. 

How do they do this? With an independent and transparent trade platform for short term electricity trade, which addresses the increasing demand and supply of renewable energy and the growing emphasis on reducing carbon emissions.

In 2016, one year after starting Nimbus, the founding team realized they needed support in a critical area: business development. With one of the founders being a former option trader and the other founder experienced in financial accounting, the business development was the missing puzzle piece. They therefore decided to look for a fractional CCO with expertise in their industry who could help them achieve the growth they wanted.

Finding the right person to bring on as a fractional is not always easy – and before a commitment can be made, building trust is essential.

Nimbus started exploring a potential collaboration with Pieter Kraaijeveld, who has an extensive senior network and experience in business development in a “institutional” environment of energy companies, TSOs (Transmission System Operators) and DSOs (Distribution System Operators) and regulated environment – exactly what Nimbus needed. 

With Nimbus we had a period of almost one year to get to know each other without any transactions in place, building trust and getting things done in the right actions and dimensions

After this exploration phase, the founding team of Nimbus decided Pieter was indeed the right person for their challenge, so they brought him in as a fractional CCO, part-time. His mandate was to support the CEO and CFO of Nimbus in their business development efforts: getting to the market, defining the right partners, developing a new business line, considering trading for congestion between electricity users and producers and system operators. 

Soon after joining, they were able to get TenneT, the national electricity transmission system operator of the Netherlands, to become a shareholder. 

While most fractional positions are for mostly 1-2 years, this particular case study is the one odd out. After acquiring TenneT on board as a 50% shareholder and funding partner, the CEO and CFO adjusted the agreement with Pieter to include a transactional part: a retainer fee and a % of shares in the company. Since 2016 Pieter was asked for two roles: fractional CCO between 2016 and 2022 to support the CEO, COO and CFO, as well as becoming part of the supervisory board on behalf of the founding shareholders. 

During his time as fractional CCO, Pieter and the Nimbus team achieved following results:

  • developed the big challenger on the energy trading market against two big incumbent players being EPEX and Nordpool
  • developed three products being intraday, ex-post trading and still on the shelf:trading in certificates
  • developed a spin-off, (Pieter was the business development lead for this congestion management tool)
  • organized various incentives from the Dutch and EU government for subsidies related to Horizon 2020
  • succeeded in two funding rounds, being the first with TenneT (Euro 1 mil) and the second with ABN AMRO Sustainable Impact Fund and SET Ventures (Euro 5 mil) 

Where is Nimbus now?

We have built a new kid on the block brand name in the energy transition market in Europe. We have been able to change the team during the last years to adjust for growth, while keeping the relationships always in place. We are next to EPEX and Nordpool, the third electricity trading power platform with a NEMO license and access to all European Xbid trades. 

Nimbus is currently raising a third funding round, with much more value in terms of market, software development, speed, easy onboarding, API connectivity and easy handling USPs, compared with the competitors. 

“Without the support of our CCO in a bumpy road and very dynamic 8 years, we would not have come to the point where we are now with new investments coming our way.” - Nimbus Founder & CEO

Pieter Kraaijeveld is one of Masters’ of Scale Fractional Leaders.

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