BERLIN - November 03, 2023 - Smalt, the first talent development and services platform for the green trades sector, has raised €4.1M in pre-seed financing to accelerate Europe's green energy transition through the untapped potential of immigrant workers. The company’s platform upskills talent with specialized training and certification programs in clean energy, and transforms service fulfillment with smart dispatching, AI-driven workflow guidance, and dedicated customer analytics.
Smalt is already delivering its services to large B2B customers, such as solar and heat pump OEMs, energy companies and large green energy asset retailers who have a centralized demand of homes that need installation services. The key value proposition to these customers is the access, at scale, to high quality installation services from a pool of experienced and recently trained workers at Smalt. Over time, Smalt aims to scale through a continent-wide network of installation and servicing stores led by experienced leaders from its own workforce, local entrepreneurs, and experienced trades workers.
Europe's ambitious climate goals are threatened by a shortage of skilled workers in the green energy installation sector: Germany alone requires 750,000 new climate workers in the next six years. Meanwhile, many of the 2.3 million immigrants who have arrived in Germany over the past five years are blocked from gainful employment by language and bureaucracy.
“Smalt is purpose-built to bridge the gap between talent shortage and demand surplus. Our training platform will be the source of economic opportunity for tens of thousands of workers” said Khurram Masood, one of the Co-Founders of Smalt. “By digitizing the predominantly pen-and-paper process of procuring, installing, and maintaining renewable energy solutions, Smalt will empower this new talent to become the engine Europe needs to secure our environmental future” added Marius Westhoff, Co-Founder of Smalt.
The round was led by La Famiglia, Europe’s leading B2B technology investor, and joined by US-based Owl Ventures, the world’s largest education technology investor, along with Axel Springer, Porsche Ventures, and a group of reputable angel investors.
“The transformation of our energy systems, the shortage of skilled workers, and the migrant crisis are among the biggest economic and societal problems Europe faces today. We have been looking for founders that are bold enough to go beyond the proven model of talent marketplaces, which work with existing talent supply, and instead dare to build a company around the creation and productivity of new talent in the blue collar market. Khurram and Marius share incredible experience in the education sector, strong entrepreneurial DNA and the drive needed to have a massive impact in this market.” added Judith Dada, General Partner at La Famiglia VC.
Smalt's innovative education program starts with intensive two to six week academies and continuously trains participants on the job with digital learning technologies to become certified solar and heat pump installation specialists. The first cohort, including individuals displaced by conflict and seeking better opportunities, has already graduated and is actively installing solar systems across Germany.
James Kamara, originally from Sierra Leone, is a member of the inaugural trainee cohort, and a testament to Smalt’s transformative impact. Once struggling in Berlin due to language barriers and financial constraints, James is now an IHK-certified solar DC installer, learning German, and looking for permanent housing in Berlin.
“Smalt invests in me. They give me the opportunity and time to learn a new skill. I know that with more installations and better German language skills, I can become a team lead in a year or two. That way, I can actually build a career over many years in Germany,” Kamara says.
Once trainees are certified, Smalt equips them with cutting-edge hardware and software, ensuring efficient, standardized, and high-quality installations for its B2B partners. Beyond the newly skilled talent, the company employs experienced, certified Electricians and Meisters to assure the highest level of installation quality and safety.
Smalt is on a mission to ensure that anyone with ambition has the opportunity to grow and equip themselves with the technology and skills required to drive the global green energy transition.
Smalt is the first talent development and technology services platform for the green trades sector. Founded by Harvard and Stanford alumni, Khurram Masood and Marius Westhoff, Smalt’s team combines expertise from the solar PV industry, immigration, blue-collar people development, and education technology to create holistic solutions designed to transform Europe’s trades sector, and complete its green energy transition. Smalt is backed by prominent investors including La Famiglia, Owl Ventures, Axel Springer/ Porsche Ventures, and a group of esteemed angel investors. For more information about Smalt, please visit www.smalt.eu.
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