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Schneider Electric and Titan Advanced Energy Solutions Exemplify an Impactful Startup-corporate Partnership

Shawn Murphy of Titan Advanced Energy Solutions (center) at the Bold Ideas Challenge Final Showcase in January 2019.

Even before the Fireside Chat began, you could tell a lot about the relationship between Shawn Murphy and Jean-Luc Meyer. From the way the two spoke to each other, it was clear that Murphy, CEO, CTO, and co-founder of Greentown Labs member Titan Advanced Energy Solutions (Titan), and Meyer, senior vice president of business development, global strategy at Schneider Electric, were friends who held great respect for one another.

During their Fireside Chat in April—moderated by Nina Birger, Greentown’s senior director of partnerships—they shared the story of their relationship, from meeting through the Greentown and Schneider Electric Bold Ideas Challenge in 2018, to the corporate co-leading Titan’s $10 million Series A in 2019, to their ongoing work together.

The Bold Ideas Challenge, a Greentown Launch program, coached Schneider Electric and four startups toward mutually beneficial partnerships in order to help accelerate the adoption of distributed energy technologies.

The challenge was a platform for the startup and corporate to thoroughly explore both how Titan could position its ground-breaking battery management system to best suit Schneider Electric’s needs and how Schneider Electric could orient itself to take full advantage of Titan’s technology. During this time, Murphy and Meyer spent significant time learning about each other’s needs and setting goals together. 

“The value prop has to be created jointly,” Murphy explained to the Fireside Chat audience.

“We identified energy storage as the area where we had the most potential,” Meyer said. “As we were going through that process, we learned together how they could clarify and dig deeper in their technology to extract more value than they thought they could initially. For me, that was a very important piece in the collaboration. It’s all about people—when we’re willing to build a vision together, willing to challenge each other in a positive way, we can make steps forward together.”

Through these conversations, they uncovered the value proposition: Titan’s technology could let customers store energy “at a fraction of the cost” by extending batteries’ lifespan, according to Meyer.

Next, Meyer and others who were involved in the Bold Ideas Challenge needed to communicate that value prop to their colleagues within Schneider Electric. Murphy spoke highly of Meyer’s efforts during this stage, explaining how valuable it was to have someone who could advocate for them within Schneider Electric and who knew how to speak the company’s language.

“Jean-Luc took it almost like a mission to introduce us to the business units, introduce us to the venture group—to drive that progress,” Murphy said. “We had endless meetings about how to make this work. The Bold Ideas Challenge led to a Series A investment, which Schneider Electric co-led, and that was very instrumental for our company in order to get where we are and where we’re moving.”

Meyer told the audience that investing in an early-stage company meant navigating the “healthy tension” that exists between the investment group and the partnerships group. Meyer needed to show the teams that investing in Titan was a smart move both strategically and financially.

Murphy said Meyer’s helpful work within Schneider Electric has continued post-investment, calling him a “friend and partner in this journey.” Meyer sits on Titan’s board, and the two are in touch daily.

Meyer and Murphy shared the story of their collaboration as Greentown and Schneider Electric prepare to kick off a second Greentown Launch program together, Bold Ideas 2020. The program is for pre-seed to Series B entrepreneurs who are capitalizing on the deployment, integration, and operations of energy storage assets at scale. Interested startups can learn more here and apply by July 3.

Fireside Chats focused on startup-corporate partnerships are part of Greentown Labs’ commitment to support startups as they navigate the impacts of COVID-19. To learn more about these efforts, follow us on Twitter or check out our blog.

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