I remember, the first time I heard Boaz telling me how they were planning to turn computers into heating systems, I thought: “what the hell is he talking about”?! I was not the only one not understanding, also some of my course mates’ faces were assuming the shape of unanswered question marks.
The name, Nerdalize, already tells you a lot: you probably need to be a real nerd to understand at the first time what Nerdalize does. However I will try to make it easy for everyone, because it is definitely an idea worth sharing. To do that I asked help from a person that better knows Nerdalize, one of its co-founders,, Boaz Leupe.
Boaz is 28 years old, Dutch, from Gouda – the city of cheese! – , an excellent public speaker and an entertaining talker. And I can tell you he is all but a nerd.
Hi Boaz, can you tell us how the idea of Nerdalize was born?
About a year ago I was with my flatmate, Mathijs, at home. It was a pretty cold night and our thermostat was not working. We had a couple of glasses of wine to try to warm us up, but still it was way too cold. At a certain point during the evening Mathjis jumped out in front of me hugging his laptop and said: “Hey Boaz I had an idea, I know what I am going to do to warm myself up. I am going to build a radiator out of a thousand of laptops!” I looked at him and I thought he had lost his mind. A few moments later it hit us, this actually was not a bad idea at all. So the next day we started doing some calculations, searching for more information and eventually the idea looked more and more possible. However it seemed so simple that is made us weary of what we had stumbled upon. Nevertheless we were still convinced that, since a computer chip converts almost 100% of the energy into heat, we could make more efficient use of that energy. In the following days we started talking to different experts and criticasters and they could not find any argument against the idea either. We then realized that this idea actually has potential and would be interesting to pursue.
So this is how Nerdalize was born… In a few words how does Nerdalize work?
Nerdalize brings to bare a new concept of electrical heating. In a nutshell, we want to take servers out of datacenters (i.e. the big buildings where servers are stored and operated today) and place them into people’s houses. Of course we remodel the computing units so they act, look and feel like a normal heater. The heat these servers normally produce in the datacenter can then be used for heating the home. We can do this because servers produce a great amount of heating; so much even that datacenters need to be cooled down. Building a datacenter and cooling it down is of course quite inefficient in terms of energy and costs and not very good for the environment either. By putting them into houses we then solve two things: 1. We don’t need to cool the servers down with expensive cooling installations, 2. we don’t need to build a datacenter. Scrapping those two things of the bill saves up to 60% of the costs! Of course the homeowner also needs to be convinced that they get a convenient electrical heating system. Convenient, because Nerdalize pays the home owner for every KwH hour of use. The house owner thus actually heats for free and can even generate a profit if he plays it smart.
If it is very warm outside, I would want to turn my heating system off, thus interrupting the server activity as well. How are you going to deal with this issue?
We have been looking around to choose what market would be the most suitable for our product and Scandinavian countries are quite attractive for us. In particular, we are aiming to enter Norway, at first, because it is pretty cold almost all year long, using electric panel heaters is already very popular (69% of the market) and the market is growing fast. Furthermore Norwegians have a good high speed internet infrastructure and they are open to innovation. Just catching a small fraction of their market would be a big thing for us. We currently have a design on the table that would allow the customers to turn the heating off, while not interrupting the server’s work. That is, there is a way to ditch the heat when there is no need for heating but there is a need for computing power.
Your idea sounds pretty innovative and like something professional investors would be eager to have a look at. Why did you opt for crowdfunding to get the first funds?
I think the major advantage you get from crowdfunding is that you validate the idea. You are exposed to a lot of feedback, people ask you critical questions you might not have thought about before. And then it is very accessible, so it was actually one of the first things that came to my mind when we started looking for funding. Since we are at a risky stage right now, we need to validate our idea further and the power of the crowd is a good way of doing it. We try to get people involved, get as much input and help from them as possible and send a signal to professional investors.
Why should people invest in Nerdalize on Symbid?
Because we are a young driven entrepreneurial team, with complementary skills and the right background. The project has room to grow – we are one of the early players in this new market – and it has already attracted the attention of bigger parties, which we can unfortunately not name at this time. Last but not least, people investing in Nerdalize are investing in a piece of their future and in the environment.
If after reading this interview you want to contribute to the development of Nerdalize, you can buy shares from 20 euros onwards by following this link.