Fourteen years after opening up to competition, the French electricity market, still largely dominated by EDF, has around forty players, most of whom are struggling to make money. In this context, ekWateur is an exception. The company created in 2016 by Julien Tchernia and Jonathan Martelli now claims 295,000 meters, for a turnover of 87 million euros in 2020 and 79 employees. It now ranks 5e ranks in the market, behind the behemoths of the sector, EDF, Engie, Total Direct Énergie and the Italian ENI.
The largest of the small electricity suppliers has big ambitions: 500,000 meters in 2023 and one million in 2025. To finance its growth, ekWateur plans to go public on May 28, and raise around forty million. euros, for a third of the capital put on the market. The rest remains in the hands of the two founders and the Aster fund.
EkWateur’s success is largely based on its positioning. The supplier has never embarked on the race for the cheapest kilowatt-hour price, suicidal for many, but has been able to put forward a quirky image, with 100% green electricity and gas offers and the emphasis placed on services, with, for example, its three call centers based in France. The company has just been awarded the BCorp label for its virtuous practices and last year it rose to second place, behind EDF, in the customer quality ranking carried out by the energy mediator.
“All the operators are selling the same product, which no one will ever see. We must therefore constantly differentiate ourselves ”, underlines Julien Tchernia, engineer by training. The company has been able to limit the risks as much as possible. It buys 95% of its electricity, via Shell’s trading platform, and has also chosen not to be a producer.
“Our goal is first and foremost to help our customers consume less energy. It is a virtuous model which also makes it possible to make more margins ”, explains Julien Tchernia. The company sells, for example, solar panel kits to its customers so that they can produce their own electricity. She is also working on collective self-consumption projects, with the sale of energy between individuals.