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Jeroen Burks on Recycling Datacenter Energy and Green IT

Jeroen Burks

CEO Blockheating


What is your Story as Entrepreneur? How was your moment when you decided to create your own company?

Well it originally started when I was 16. I was frustrated that an accessory for my computer was so expensive. So I found a local retailer to give me a good price when we would take 50 products. Ended up finding 60 people and I thought, maybe I can source this directly from China. Some babelfish and character comparing later (remind you this was 2004) I found the product for ¼ th of the price the retailer offered me. Ended up doing about 10 rounds where I would gather people and negotiate the best price. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but “just happened”. When I started studying I stopped doing that, to have some focus. After studying I started to recycle datacenter hardware which learned me a lot about processing lines, etc.

What is your company about? How did you come with the idea?

We recycle the waste energy from datacenters, to use it as a heating source. You can feel the hot air coming from your computer when you watch a movie or working on some complex Excel. In a datacenter 1000’s of heavy-duty computers (servers) are running, which are a lot more powerful, but also use a lot more energy (and thus produce a lot more heat). In my previous company I recycled datacenter hardware. At some time, I had about 2 MW of hardware in my warehouse, and that really got me thinking about the heat that is typically produced in these datacenters. Ended up doing a small scale pilot with a customer and now we’re building datacenters with 400 computers in which the heat is extracted so it can be used as heating source.

What is your purpose behind the startup? What is your business model and impact model?

The purpose is to throw away less. And that starts with recycling of the waste energy, but also making a design that is easy to maintain and parts can be replaced easily.

How are you promoting your startup and product? What is your PR and Marketing strategy?

Up till now we have put a lot of effort in the tech development side. Slowly we are working on marketing and PR. I think we can get quite some exposure with a green datacenter alternative. So the strategy is to get as much free publicity as possible.

What kind of extra services your company is providing for your customers? Who is your potential customer?

In the future one of the extra services will be to have their IT infrastructure geographically redundant. With that we mean that we spread the physical IT out over multiple Blockheating locations, which makes it less vulnerable to power outages, fiber disturbances and other (un)intentional disturbances.


What is innovation for you? What is collaboration for innovation?

There are some smaller technical innovations in the datacenter, but the main innovation is a market innovation where we start to look at a datacenter with a dual purpose instead of just one (hosting IT)… I think doing everything yourself is really difficult, that’s why we work with different partners, one who has experience in building compact enclosures, one with building datacenters, one in machining of parts etc.

Innovation is having impact, and bringing the new product to the market. How are you selling your product and services to the established companies?

Our main realization come from looking at competitors. The datacenter market is quite traditional. This makes it difficult for startups to provide solutions in a traditional way. With an alternative business model (renting out computer capacity instead of supplying hardware), we’re able to enter the market without very large commitments from enterprises.

Regarding your funding, how did you finance your startup at the beginning? Did you receive external investment?

Mostly with earnings from my previous company, and after some time a small grant. Later on we got an innovation loan. So far we didn’t need equity financing, which is nice I think.

Talking about finance, what are the best practises you learnt until now and you would like to share with other entrepreneurs?

Raise money at the moments that you do not need it. Nothing is as frustrating as being short on cash and needing to raise.


What are you doing during your spare time and weekends?

Working and Sailing are my main hobbies. Sailing is usually the whole weekend since I have to drive at least 2 hrs to get there… Spare time nowadays also includes walking with the family (girlfriend, daughter and dog) and visiting things like petting zoo’s.

What is your morning routine? Coffee or tea?

Take bread out of the bread maker, row 15 min, take a shower, breakfast with family and then off to work. Usually I drink water all day unless it’s really cold.

What is your favorite place for holidays?

I really love being on a boat, but the goal is to sail as fast as possible, and this is not always suitable for family holiday. With family I prefer a campsite, with some sun and sand to play in. An ocean or sea nearby is a great addition.

What are your Golden Rules for Living?

I don’t really have golden rules, but a lot of silver ones (rules that can be broken sometimes). Rules: prefer one good connection over 10 superficial, having a good rhythm in the day helps more than working 15 hours. Have dinner with the family.

What kind of books are you recommending to other startups?

Personally, I don’t read to many books, but watch a lot of video’s about it on youtube. Just watching doesn’t really help, so after each (or during) I note what lessons to take along for our company.

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