Special asset: the ability to listen to customers
Virta’s product is co-branded with the customer’s, so the end-user appears to be buying and paying for electricity from Virta’s customer. Palola points out that the entrenched Finnish custom of listening to a customer’s needs and then accommodating them is a definite advantage for a business based on empowerment.
“We can serve both big brands and mid-sized customer segments. Our charging platform is ready for millions of motorists to use, but if one of our energy company customers wanted to start a charging service for snowmobiles, that would be possible too. All segments of transportation are being electrified. We already operate snowmobile charging points on the Arctic Circle, which is testimony to the success of charging in cold conditions,” Palola says.
Energy companies were previously the most active companies in launching EV charging business, but oil companies are becoming more involved to avoid missing out on the growing market. Electric vehicle charging will in the future be a service, and one that real estate companies will also need to offer, so growth prospects for these offshoots look extremely promising.
Virta Ltd (Liikennevirta Oy)
What it is: A technology company providing a reliable platform for charging electric vehicles. The second largest roaming network player in Europe, and Europe’s fastest-growing player in EV charging.
Where it is: Head Office in Helsinki. Offices in Berlin, Stockholm, Paris and London.
Established: In 2013.
Founders: 17 Finnish energy companies, Jussi Palola and Elias Pöyry.
Personnel: Over 120 employees.
Customers: Corporate customers in over 30 countries. Over 30,000 charging points in Europe are connected to Virta’s platform.
Owners: Future Energy Ventures/E.ON, ENEOS Corporation, Jolt Capital, Vertex Growth, Tesi, Helen Ventures, Lahti Energia, Vantaan Energia and four other Finnish energy companies.
Who he is: CEO and co-founder of Virta Ltd (Liikennevirta Oy).
Education: Doctor of Science (Technology), Aalto University. Executive MBA, Aalto University.
Experience: Worked in the energy sector with electricity networks and new energy business, former chairman of the Business Finland programme for e-mobility systems, international research into electric power systems.
Why Virta in particular: I’ve always been really interested in electricity, studying it and working with it. About 12 years ago, I looked at the energy and transport revolution with new eyes and realised that e-mobility was a way to change the world for the better. I saw the opportunities when I was writing my thesis at university. Since then, I’ve wanted to promote sustainable transport and sustainable energy systems. These link together nicely in the work we do at Virta. Seeing the beginnings of success gives me even more motivation. At Virta, I feel I’m doing important work that has a positive global impact.