agriportance: The story of a young company that is shaping the energy transition

In agriportance by agriportance GmbH

agriportance GmbH" was born out of the vision of bringing more climate protection into agriculture. At the same time, an economic solution for the future was to be developed together with the farmers - the founding story tells the beginning, the status quo and the vision for the future. 

Thorsten Rohling as a software developer and Henning Dicks as a farmer have embarked on the journey together with many companions and started the project "agriportance" in 2020. Many hurdles, great successes and almost daily exciting new experiences have been experienced by agriportance and its companions since then. 

Vision and mission for the energy market of tomorrow

After many discussions with customers and intensive development work, our vision has solidified as agriportance. We want to be the market pioneer for renewable energies from agriculture. Along the way, we are focusing on the currently flourishing biomethane market. This creates a climate-friendly source of energy that is independent of natural gas imports. We are currently leading the way in shaping the European market with an innovative business model developed in cooperation with the target group.

An IT specialist and a farmer in search of ideas

In the beginning of agriportance we were a small team consisting of the founders Thorsten and Henning. We were employed by companies in Münster. Thorsten as a software developer and Henning as an agricultural journalist. We emerged from a weekend and after-work project during the first Corona lockdown. The companions and supporters were various farms that were burning for the vision of agriportance and some of them became our first customers. These included family farms from the Münsterland region but also larger companies from all over Germany. They helped, for example, with the critical assessment of business models and with their network into the industry. In the early days, we looked at a wide range of possible business models. These included the topics of humus build-up, emissions reduction in animal husbandry, or the use of plant charcoal. Biogas and biomethane was one of many topics on a long list, but we quickly realized that, on the one hand, it was the topic of more climate protection in agriculture, but on the other hand, it also corresponded most closely to a scalable and possible business model. Working with potential customers was therefore key to developing and testing the right idea for agriportance.

First paying customers as an important milestone

When Henning talked to biogas producers, he quickly realized, "Whether I was talking to a farmer from Münsterland or a municipal utility from Bavaria, there were always two problems that were repeated and needed to be solved." The first problem targeted the complex and bureaucratic greenhouse gas accounting that the producer must do in order to participate in the new and lucrative market. The second problem was often described to us as follows: "I have received my EEG compensation for almost 20 years now, it went through like this. How does it work now with biomethane?" Questions often came up about potential customers, the contract design, but also the quality classification of the biomethane. However, when we talked to the other side, i.e. energy and mineral oil companies as customers, it also became clear to us that these companies do not have the right network or the approach to be able to reach the other side easily. 

From these discussions we developed our solution, a software with which producers can solve all questions around the sustainability certification and behind it a match-making process with which producers and buyers are linked fairly and efficiently. In this way, we were able to acquire the first paying customers in the pilot phase in the summer of 2021 and thus start with a relevant business growth.

Scaling and market growth of the young company agriportance 

After the pilot phase, we succeeded in quickly establishing ourselves in the German biomethane market. As a result, we were able to acquire not just a handful of pilot customers but more than 100 paying customers after just a few months. And not only from Germany, but also from a large number of other European countries. The first employees were completed by Thorsten and Henning. As important pillars they are drivers of the company's development until today. Our agriportance team currently counts 14 people and further positions are already advertised. A small fact on the side: Our offices were already too small when we moved in. We started in a co-working space and via various small offices we are now operating in a bright, modern and open office with an office space of 200m² near the Münster harbor. 

The market pioneer for biomethane in Europe

European, digital and customer-oriented - these are the three keywords that are currently driving us forward. Because we see a central strength of biomethane in being able to make the decentralized production of a green natural gas substitute and the circular economy possible throughout Europe. However, the scaling of the biomethane market is only possible through a digital infrastructure that enables an optimal development basis for all market players. Our proximity to customers in the past as well as in the future also gives market players exactly what they need.