Innovation in Sweden: The Swedish company solving energy waste

As part of our new Innovation in Sweden series, SI News introduces you to companies leading the change. This week, we caught up with Maral Kalajian, Head of Marketing and Communications at Swedish energy management company Watty.

Innovation in Sweden: The Swedish company solving energy waste
Photo: Watty

Founded in 2013, Swedish company Watty tackles the pressing issue of climate change by helping people make smarter everyday choices that fight energy waste.

Described as ‘a simple way to keep track of what goes on in your home’, Watty is powered by artificial intelligence that monitors energy usage in residential homes. By attaching the Watty box to a fuse box, the energy usage data is sent to the user’s mobile app showing the energy consumption of each appliance to help people save both energy and money.

Photo: Watty

Watty’s mission stems from a surprising observation: people have little knowledge about their energy consumption except when they receive their dreaded monthly energy bill.

“When people think about climate change, they think about transportation, manufacturers or production and so on. But in fact, it’s the carbon emissions which come from houses and buildings that play a big part in the issue,” explains Maral, adding that “we, the people who live in those houses or buildings, have no idea how we use energy.”

CEO and founder of Watty Hjalmar Nilsonne had the idea for the company whilst teaching software modelling at KTH. Understanding energy usage data is a mystery for most and that’s precisely what Watty is trying to solve by providing easy-to-understand information about the energy we use in our households. Passionate about climate change, Watty believes in tackling energy waste as an individual effort, starting from your home.

Named one the most innovative tech companies in Sweden in 2018, Watty not only relies on AI-powered technology to lead the energy revolution, but the company also focuses on its users' experiences, which are at the heart of the product.

Understanding how their users handle their product is essential for Watty’s innovation process, explains Maral.

“When you create a product, you often think this is how people are going to use it. But when they start using it, it’s a different momentum.” 

Thus, she says, listening to their community is the way forward.

“We have a community of users, and we learn how they are actually using our product. Then we develop it based on how they use it.”

Photo: Watty

Watty is based in Stockholm, a city known for its booming start-up scene and entrepreneurial growth, which according to Maral has played a role in Watty’s dazzling success.

Maral has been very active in the start-up scene since moving to Stockholm to study at KTH twelve years ago and has witnessed the industry change dramatically.

“Nowadays, the start-up community within Stockholm is very powerful. The city has a very strong community and ecosystem,” she says.

The access to this community has fuelled Watty’s growth.

“I think the community has been of considerable support to us, and every start-up. If someone knows someone, you can get an introduction or help with something. And that has helped us to be introduced to potential partners, investors or talents at the same time,” she adds.

The energy revolution, she says, is in full-swing: “Within their households, within their kitchen or living rooms, people start understanding and taking action based on what they see and how they are using their energy.”

Sweden’s energy start-ups are shaking up the industry and Sweden’s very own Watty is indubitably leading the way.


Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.