Karen Boer’s nominee for emerging entrepreneur

In the Innovation special of the February-March edition of the magazine we had veteran entrepreneurs nominate budding entrepreneurs to keep an eye on. Karen Boers (1978) is the co-founder and Managing Director of Startups.be – uniting hundreds of start-ups with all the incubators, accelerators, investors and public actors in the local ecosystem, Startups.be operates as a one-stop-shop and matchmaker. Her nominee is Jasper Verreydt (1989), co-founder of Turbulent, a company set to provide reliable and renewable energy to even the most remote parts of the world.

How would you best describe what you do?

Turbulent wants to provide reliable and renewable energy to even the most remote locations in the world, thus increasing the global electrification rate. This can be done by a smart and decentralized energy production combined with an easy to install turnkey product. Therefore, Turbulent is developing a new and efficient hydropower technique. This new technology is inspired by the natural shape of a vortex and will be able to deliver affordable, renewable energy without damaging the local ecosystem. These hydropower plants range from 3 kW to 200 kW and are built using standard components combined with our specially designed impeller and control software.

As an entrepreneur working in Belgium today, what do you think is your main purpose?

Perhaps a little selfish, but my main purpose is to get up every day and enjoy my work while having the feeling to contribute something real and useful to the world. This turned out to be building a company (mainly on the business side) concerned to improve the climate.

What key moment/person would you attribute to you becoming an entrepreneur?

The time my ex-girlfriend broke up with me and basically called me lazy and not showing enough initiative I met “AFC Leuven” which is a student organization that promotes and develops entrepreneurship in students. By joining the AFC-team I met a lot of entrepreneurial people (in a broad way) and discovered I liked it a lot myself. 

To date, what concept are you the proudest of?

To be honest, I am not the innovator of big concepts like my colleague Geert Slachmuylders. But I am very proud on the progress our team of Turbulent has made since our start in 2015 and the reactions from people when they say “Wow, that’s exactly what this country needs”. In one year we have found funding (pre-seed & grants) and taken a theory into a real-life pilot project with a first paying customer in the hydropower sector, where the norm for a regular project (with an already proven technology) is mostly a few years.