Smalt, a Berlin-based talent development and services platform for the green trades sector, has recently raised $4.39 million (€4.1 million) in pre-seed financing to accelerate Europe’s green energy transition by leveraging untapped immigrant labour potential. La Famiglia, Europe’s leading B2B technology investor, led the round, which was also joined by Owl Ventures, the world’s largest education technology investor, Axel Springer, Porsche Ventures, and a group of reputable angel investors.
Smalt’s aim, which began in 2023, is to be the labour supply and productivity engine driving the global energy transition by combining education, technology, and operational excellence. The platform’s innovative education programme begins with intensive two- to six-week academies. It continues to train participants using digital learning technologies to become certified solar and heat pump installation specialists. The first cohort, which included people who had been displaced by conflict and were looking for better opportunities, has already graduated and is actively installing solar systems across Germany.
The startup develops talent through specialized clean energy training and certification programmes, and it transforms service fulfilment using smart dispatching, AI-driven workflow guidance, and dedicated customer analytics.
Khurram Masood, one of Smalt’s Co-Founders, stated about the platform:
Smalt is purpose-built to bridge the gap between talent shortage and demand surplus. Our training platform will provide economic opportunity for tens of thousands of workers.
Smalt’s services are already being delivered to large B2B customers such as solar and heat pump OEMs, energy companies, and large green energy asset retailers who have a centralized demand for homes that require installation services. The most significant value proposition for these customers is the ability to access high-quality installation services at scale from a pool of experienced and recently trained workers. The firm vision for the future is to expand through a continent-wide network of installation and service stores led by experienced leaders from its workforce, local entrepreneurs, and experienced trades workers.
Adding about the company, Co-founder of Smalt, Marius Westhoff, said:
By digitizing the predominantly pen-and-paper process of procuring, installing, and maintaining renewable energy solutions, Smalt will empower this new talent to become the engine Europe needs to secure our environmental future.
Speaking on the fundraising, Judith Dada, General Partner, La Famiglia VC, said:
The transformation of our energy systems, the shortage of skilled workers, and the migrant crisis are among the most significant economic and societal problems Europe faces today. We have been looking for founders bold enough to go beyond the proven model of talent marketplaces, which work with existing talent supply, and instead dare to build a company around the creation and productivity of new talent in the blue-collar market. Khurram and Marius share incredible experience in the education sector, strong entrepreneurial DNA and the drive needed to have a massive impact in this market.
Europe’s ambitious climate goals are threatened by a shortage of skilled workers in the green energy installation sector: Germany alone requires 750,000 new climate workers in the next six years. Meanwhile, many of the 2.3 million immigrants who have arrived in Germany over the past five years are blocked from gainful employment by language and bureaucracy.