Jon Bøhmer’s Kyoto Energy under compulsory liquidation

Kyoto Energy, by Jon Bohmer
Kyoto Energy, by Jon Bøhmer

On April 6th, 2011, it was the end of the road for Jon Bøhmer’s Kyoto Energy AS, as Gjøvik Tingrett (District Court) sent them into liquidation.

My lawyer submitted the final petition for bankruptcy on March 23rd 2011. Norwegian courts work fast, and the response was almost immediate.

It is obviously sad to see a project I firmly believed in, go down the drain. Substantial salary arrears and unpaid expenses left me with no choice, though.


Award-winning Kyoto Box

I still believe Kyoto Energy’s products had significant potential. Jon Bøhmer had won the Financial Times Climate Change Challenge Award 2009 for his flagship product, the Kyoto Box. The other products in the Kyoto Family range were also promising. Hence, the project had all chances of succeeding, had it been well managed.

A year ago, at this time, I was preparing to join Kyoto Energy, as the money I had helped Jon Bøhmer raise for a commercial launch of Kyoto Energy, was just about to come through.

Bøhmer’s previous track record from IT startups gave the project good credibility. Hence, I took the risk, and went for that truly exciting opportunity.

After resigning from my previous job, in Vyke Communications, I moved to Nairobi on a short notice.

I quickly realised one thing Bøhmer had forgotten to mention: Kyoto Energy didn’t have any products yet!

He had made a crucial mistake with the paperwork for the first container load of the Kyoto Box Solar Cooker. Hence, it was stuck in the Mombasa Port.  All he had, was a handful of rebranded solar torchlights from SunNightSolar in his garage. Those were also an older, and more expensive model than the ones he intended to resell.


Financial mismanagement

Getting the container out of the Mombasa Port took 4 months of bureaucratic nightmare. The torchlights from SunNightSolar (manually rebranded “Kyoto Flash”) arrived at about the same time.  During the process, I incurred some very significant expenses on behalf of the company. In the meantime Jon Bøhmer blew every cent of the money I had helped him raise, in record time! 

At the time when we finally had the products, there was no money left. Neither to cover my already incurred expenses, nor to pay my salary. Having little choice, I put in an epic effort to jump start the sales. As agreed with Bøhmer, sales revenues were to cover my outstanding claims.

In the first few weeks, I was mainly selling sample quantities, to resellers wanting to test the market. At least those revenues kept my head above the water.

Eventually, we started getting some significant orders, and with them, some decent revenues. It then turned out that Bøhmer had built up some huge debts after burning the money I had helped him raise. When he suddenly pocketed the revenue from the first major orders, and took his family for a vacation in Mombasa, that was the end of Kyoto Energy for me!



Clearly, the only way I would recover my money, was by having Kyoto Energy liquidated. I therefore immediately initiated the process for a bankruptcy petition. The next interaction with Jon Bøhmer, was through my lawyer.

During the process, I gave him many chances to sort out the mess he had created. I also offered an out-of-court settlement. All counter initiatives turned out to be mere attempts to buy time, though. We finally came to a point of no return on April 6th 2011, when Gjøvik Tingrett (District Court) sent Kyoto Energy AS into liquidation.

Jon Bøhmer still holds on to Kyoto Energy Ltd., an identically named, but separate Kenyan company. Along with some impressive Powerpoint presentations, his quest for investments, loans and grants for his “social entrepreneurship” project, continues unabated.

I am currently on my way to Norway, to attend the next court meeting in the bankruptcy process.