Edd Norval from Power Up
December 14, 2021
BY Nina Lyhne
Master’s degree student in Sustainable Heritage Management at Aarhus University. On top of that he has an MA in Advertising
Co-founder of Power Up that works with reusing car batteries as power banks to store energy for later use
Founded Power Up in November 2020 after winning the AU Challenge case competition
How did the idea of becoming an entrepreneur arise?
It probably started from a young age when I realized that I didn’t want to have to work for people that I didn’t like, just as a means of getting by. I would much rather have full control and responsibility over myself and my own outputs and contributions. Doing things this way means that you get out what you put in – so if you are doing well, it’s on you. Likewise, if you fail, that’s your responsibility too. I enjoy this kind of pressure. It’s what motivates me to work when I’d rather be watching football!
The specific idea for Power Up arose during the AU Challenge 2020. My co-founder Kamilla and I participated in the case competition as a team. We worked together on a case from AURA Energi about creating sustainable energy solutions – specifically eliminating the reliance on fossil fuels. Here, we got the idea of reusing car batteries as power banks to store surplus energy from low demand hours that can be utilized during high demand hours.
How did you get started with your entrepreneurial journey?
My first meeting with entrepreneurship was back when I was studying for my bachelors. I did some courses in Munich at the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship – a space similar to The Kitchen. Here, I worked with business development utilizing the Design Thinking model. Some of the people I met there were a bit clichéd, really going for the ‘tech dude – digital nomad’ thing, but others were just genuinely interested in trying to innovate and push themselves and their ideas forward – and they were a big inspiration to me.
After winning the AU Challenge, we spoke to the Head of Innovations at AURA Energi who suggested that we looked further into our idea. We got in touch with The Kitchen where we started to take part in different courses. In the beginning, it was really ‘fake it till you make it’, but ambitions arose, and things started to happen. Our mentor Steen was a big driving force who helped us push things forward.
What has been the biggest challenge in the process?
One of our biggest challenges has been refining the way we work and who we are as a team, considering all our different competencies and backgrounds.
We also experience challenges concerning the technical details surrounding our product and service where, due to its innovative nature, belongs in an emerging field where experts are few and far between – so accessing knowledge has been an issue.
Over time, we have built systems for both, making our meetings far more lean and productive, as well as establishing channels of communication to make sure we can find out the things we need to, when we need to.
What does a typical workweek look like for you in relation to combining your startup with your studies?
At the moment, I am working in an internship with my beloved football club, Hibernian, in Edinburgh. I am engaged in some interesting projects there surrounding marketing, identity and communication within football, working digitally, so I am able to stay in Denmark. My work for the football club is closely tied to my thesis, which covers a similar subject, so I am often busy with that too.
However, as I mentioned earlier, you only get what you put in, so if I have to work crazy hours, then that’s the way it has to be at the moment. But in general, I like to balance my time between internship, thesis and business, as well as looking after myself in the gym and playing some online video games with my friends from home.
How do you use your academic skills as an entrepreneur?
I am heavily reliant on my background in marketing. I always find myself looking for the big idea, before even entertaining the way to realize it. The concept always has to be watertight. If that is the case, then ideas around execution come from spending time with the concept. This is a way of thinking that I have brought with me from my background in advertising.
The course I am doing now has taught me a lot regarding project management and communicating with various institutions – skills that are beginning to be more useful as our business develops.
Where is your startup today, and what are your dreams for the future?
Our business is currently at the stage of searching for funding. We are making progress towards this with several opportunities coming up. This will grant us access to materials to construct a prototype – something that will act as proof of concept, competency and act as an inroad to further avenues of funding.
In terms of team culture, we are beginning to develop ourselves as a brand, thinking more about the look and feel of the company – who we do and don’t want to be like. We are learning from other businesses – taking the good and discarding the bad, building towards our brand and identity being exactly what we want it to be. This will take time and is a process, more than a destination, but that evolution and development is one of the most exciting aspects of being a business owner for me.
Your best advice for other students who are considering becoming entrepreneurs?
If you want to do it, do it. If you don’t, don’t. Either way, it is a case of committing yourself to what you care about. If you go into thinking it will be easy, or a quick avenue to cash, you’re mistaken.
If you have the desire and drive to see something through, even if it means dragging it by the neck at times, then put one foot in front of the other and go for it. You will fail, but keep failing and eventually, you will fail less. Once things start to fall into place, you begin to feel the sense of independence that comes with building your own business and I truly respect anybody that can build something successful.