Using cloud servers to heat houses? Who comes up with something like that? Boaz Leupe reveals the legendary story to you of the foundation of Nerdalize.
The legendary story
‘It was a cold winter morning, as Mathijs and I were renovating the apartment where we lived as students. While we were painting the walls, the thermostat formed an obstacle for the painting. I pulled the thermostat of the wall not thinking about the effect. All the wires retracted into the wall cavity and the entire heating system stopped working. It was the middle of the winter and it was a freezing -8 °C. As you can imagine, the apartment turned very cold, very fast. We were already picturing a very cold winter and thinking of ways to stay warm. Then Mathijs, studying computer science at the time, walked into the room while hugging his laptop. Jokingly he said: “Let’s just order a hundred extra laptops, so we can heat the room with nerd heat!”.
At first we made fun of the idea and laughed, but suddenly we realized that the idea could actually work! The idea kept coming up and we started doing some simple calculations on the energy efficiency and business model. We found that this idea is not only very sustainable, but makes economic sense as well. Spreading servers over households would save us the costs of building a datacenter.
During my second study, Entrepreneurship at Maastricht University, I met Florian. Back then, we were roommates in Maastricht and we got along very well. Mathijs and I still met up regularly and would bring up nerd heat every single time. Hearing more about it, Florian also became very enthusiastic about our idea: a distributed datacenter, providing free residual heat from servers and thereby lowering CO2 emissions and saving us the cost of building a datacenter. We decided to send in our idea for the Local Hero Award which guided us in the right direction. Winning the 10.000 euro price helped us to decide: We are going to pursue this! Let’s finish our master’s degree and start focusing on building our company, Nerdalize.
Finally, we all had graduated and we got together. The Nerd pack was complete and Nerdalize was officially founded.’
What started as a crazy plan
Now, almost four years later, the idea has developed into an ambitious company with a patented heating system based on computer servers and a team of more than 20 nerds working on the technical and business development of Nerdalize. The first homeowners are now making use of the residual heat produced by the servers we placed in their home. We pay for the energy consumption of the CloudBox, so the homeowners get the heat for free, saving them up to 300 euro per year on their gas bill. Companies and researchers make use of our servers for their computations by purchasing our affordable and sustainable compute power.
But how will the Nerdalize adventure continue?
Who knows? Our goal is to install 50 CloudBoxes in households by the end of the year. After that, we’ll be scaling up to the rest of the Netherlands. Then Europe and the rest of the world will follow, enabling us to become the largest and most sustainable distributed datacenter around the world!