Markus Schulz and Daniela Schiffer are among the CODE_n13 finalists and founders of Changers, a solar charger and energy marketplace. Markus formerly ran an advertising agency where he worked for renown high tech companies in the field of renewable energy. Daniela has a background in media art and collaborated on several European and international projects before joining Markus at his agency.
Janina Benz: Congratulations on being among the 50 CODE_n finalists! What does Changers do, and what was your motivation to start it?
Markus Schulz & Daniela Schiffer: In order to be successful in our fight against climate change, awareness is indispensable. Everyone should know what kind of impact we have on our climate, how we can protect it, and how we can bring change about. That’s what Changers is about: motivating everybody to produce and use their own energy. And the best way to do this is to make that behavior measurable and reward people for doing so. So we developed a solar charger that can charge a wide range of mobile devices while counting the exact amount of energy produced and CO2 saved. The data is stored automatically and can be uploaded to our social network, Changers.com. There you can compare your achievements with your friends and the rest of the world. And for each gram of CO2 saved, we reward our users with Changers Credits, which they can redeem for sustainable products and services.
JB: How does the Changers Marketplace work?
MS & DS: For each self-generated watt hour, you get one Changers Credit, which you can redeem for sustainable services and products on our Social Energy Marketplace—the first platform for private CO2 trading. It’s a great opportunity to get to know new innovative products, and encourage companies to make new products more sustainable. And by the way, you can even save money!
JB: What was the most challenging thing about launching your company in California?
MS & DS: The most challenging part was getting the hardware and all the logistics just in time, as we were basically doing this process in two regions (Europe and the US) at the same time. In terms of communications, we had a great PR manager who helped us create amazing buzz for Changers.
JB: What are your expectations for CeBIT 2013?
MS & DS: CeBIT is a great opportunity for Changers to be introduced to a broader audience that is interested in digital innovations. We hope to make new business contacts in the fields of hardware distributions and find new partners for our marketplace, so we can’t wait to talk to lots and lots of people there.
JB: Daniela, you’ve encouraged entrepreneurs to “try not to compromise beyond what you can do and communicate your message clearly.” Is this a problem for many entrepreneurs?
DS: I’ve found that sometimes it is counterproductive to compromise in order to get something moving; it either doesn’t help, or makes things even worse. So be very careful when to compromise! And regarding communication, I’ve been amazed how often there have been misunderstandings because it’s not clear what you want or what you expect. Say it clearly and repeat yourself often. This is something that you can use in everyday life—it helps a lot.
Editor’s Note: We’ll be featuring some of our finalists on the blog in the weeks leading up to CeBIT, but their participation has no bearing on the contest results