An energy startup launched after the demise of Bulb has raised £1.3m (£1.6m) in pre-seed funding.

Bulb collapsed into special administration in November 2021 and was subsequently acquired by energy supplier Octopus Energy.

Earlier this year Karl Bach, Bulb’s former head of growth, co-founded axle energy alongside Archy de Berker, which connects EVs and home energy devices to electricity markets.

The energy startup has raised £1.3m ($1.6m) in a pre-seed financing round led by Picus Capital with participation from Eka Ventures.

Axle’s API enables energy suppliers and hardware manufacturers to monetise the flexibility of home energy devices, lowering costs and emissions while improving grid stability.

EVs and other home energy devices like heat pumps and batteries are inherently flexible. For example, the typical EV is plugged in for 10 hours a day, but only charges for two of those hours.

Octopus Energy acquires stricken Bulb

But challenges connecting these devices to electricity markets, which have been designed for fossil fuel plants, mean that the vast majority of this flexibility is untapped.

The collective flexibility potential from EVs on the road could replace the UK’s largest gas power plant.

This is where axle’s energy flexibility platform comes in by connecting home energy devices to electricity markets.

The company’s software provides flexibility to the electricity grid and shifts energy usage to when it’s cheapest and greenest.

Axle works by integrating with OEMs and energy suppliers, enabling these businesses to lower their residential customers’ energy bills by over a quarter while increasing the capacity of the grid to transition towards a renewable future.

It also reduced emissions while improving grid stability.

Karl Bach said: “The energy crisis has exposed the climate, cost, and dependency risks stemming from our dependence on fossil fuels.

“The time to decarbonise is now, and that requires a connected, dynamic, flexible grid, not the monolith we have today.”

Octopus Energy swoops for Manchester software firm 

Sebastian Schäfer, partner at Picus Capital, said: “Karl and Archy bring the experience and vision to build the electricity system we need for the 21st century.

“By building a Stripe for energy, axle is accelerating energy flexibility and decarbonisation, saving households on their bills, and creating long-term value for actors across the energy ecosystem.”

Axle was founded in early 2023 by Karl Bach and Archy de Berker, who bring energy experience and AI expertise from the likes of Bulb, M-KOPA, CarbonChain, Habitat Energy, Origami Energy, and Element AI.

Picus Capital is an international, privately financed venture capital company with headquarters in Munich and offices in New York, Beijing, Berlin, London, Bangalore, and São Paulo.

Picus predominantly invests in pre-seed, seed and Series A rounds and focuses on technology companies in financial services, HR, energy and climate, healthcare, logistics and mobility, real estate and construction, crypto and web3, deeptech and e-commerce.