Does a startup begin to exist from its first fundraising?

Albert Codinach became an engineer by default. Gifted in mathematics and physics, engineering college seemed to make sense. However, there were many questions about the social and geopolitical issues that affect our society. The energy sector seemed to answer many of his questions and he turned to this medium to infuse meaning into the technical mastery he had acquired.

Albert Codinach’s career is also marked by the financial crisis of 2008, when he left his native Spain to settle in France. After a period at the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône, he founded BCM Energy, offering various activities in the field of renewable energies and, in particular, in the trading of green electricity. In 2016, Albert Codinach crossed paths with supplier Planète Oui, then in liquidation. He decides to take the case back to the bar. The BCM Energy group then disappeared behind the Planète Oui brand, which quickly became the figurehead of its activities.

Positive and negative growth

In 2010, renewable energy accounted for only 6% of the French energy mix. By 2022, that number has more than doubled to 14%. Growth from which Planète Oui greatly benefited, as the supplier gained between 10,000 and 15,000 customers per month. As he confesses, Albert Codinach let himself be seduced by the sirens of entrepreneurship that invited him to aim for infinite growth through the multiplication of capital increases.

After raising 4 million euros in 2019, Planète Oui would need to raise 25 million in 2021. “It was confirmation of fundraisingconfides Albert Codinach to Maddyness. I was in that dynamic of growth where the only thing that mattered was to grow… we’ll see later finding the money”.

The CEO is confident in the number of customers he can acquire each month, but he didn’t anticipate that a customer might not be profitable. With prices rising in the energy markets and tariffs freezing, the more customers Planète Oui gained, the more the company was at risk. “I had the vision that we were going to be valued by the number of customers, but we only increased the debt. We were clearly living beyond our means.

When it becomes clear that the 2021 survey will never take place, the company Oui Energy finds itself in the process of judicial recovery, which obliges it to resell its activity known under the brand name Planète Oui, to the company Mint Énergie.

“You shouldn’t lie to yourself… when you’re an entrepreneur in your 30s and you find yourself in a world where the media measures success by the size of your fundraising, I got carried away. At one point, the goal for me was just to do a lift. Does not make sense. But it’s really from the moment you announce a fundraising that you start to be requested by journalists, that the banks start talking to you, you feel that you begin to exist from the moment that you raise funds”.

elmy, the phoenix of energy

Of the Planète OUI’s seventy employees, around thirty will join Mint Énergie when the Planète OUI is acquired. Albert Codinach therefore has forty employees who want to stay with him to build the future. If the BCM Energy group lost its figurehead, it was quickly decided to replace him with a player who would learn all the lessons of this failure.

elmy was launched in june 2022, just seven months ago, with the ambition to present itself as a 100% green integrated energy company. elmy is therefore present at every stage of the value chain, whether it is a producer, manager or supplier. An approach reminiscent of Jean-Daniel Guyot’s desire to control the entire value chain with Memo Bank.

In reality, however, elmy produces only 2% of the energy it will sell and is not very optimistic about the possibility of changing this number immediately given the investments needed to do so. “Our desire to be an energy company, and not just a supplier, is an investment to move up the value chain, and be able to be as close as possible to producers by being ourselves”.

The company also sources its supplies exclusively from renewable energy producers in France.
“We also want to bet on a fair energy transition… coming to show that the goal is not just to bet on low-carbon energy, but to do it with social impact”.

Thus, the company set up several experiences such as the four-day week and, in particular, holacracy, a form of governance in which decision-making is more shared with the teams.
“It is a social issue, explains Albert Codinach. But I can apply it at my scale within my company”.

For this new brand of BCM Energy, the CEO therefore seems to have asked many more questions to install much more solid foundations than those of Planète Oui. It thus seems to have learned its lesson and today it proudly displays the profitability of its company with good visibility for 2023. BCM Energy thus reaches 200 million in turnover, but Albert Codinach will recognize that the very recent activity of elmy still does not represent 10% of this value.

However, he regrets the lack of interest in the press for an independent French company in the world of renewable energies. “If I raised 25 million euros in funds, I’m sure journalists would move and I would be invited to speak on BFM TV”.

By the way, Albert Codinach does not definitively close the door to fundraising afterwards… but not in the short or medium term. “We will have to find the partner with whom we share a vision and values… with whom we will build a common project”.

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