SUPERSOLA: Towards Decentralized Energy?16/05/2018
Supersola, specialists of plug-and-play solar panels, were with ENGIE at CES 2018, and will also be at Viva Technology on ENGIE's Lab. Their CEO, Julius Smith, brought us up to date.
Q: Hello again Julius. First of all, a word about CES?
It was a madhouse! Despite the fact that about 50% of the public are more or less tourists, there to fill a big plastic bag with free goodies, we met an enormous number of potential customers with a real interest, resellers mainly, from all over the world: the USA of course, but also Dubai, Mexico, Brazil, the UK, Canada, Argentina, Morocco... and France!
Q: And any major developments since then, any big changes?
Other than that massive development of our client base, not really. We're still on the same track, currently finalising the design in view of mass production... which means we are working more and more on preparation for sales.
Q: You started out in 2016, I think. What are the most important lessons you have learned since then? Are there things you would change if you were starting over? Mistakes you would avoid?
Running a startup is rather like blazing a trail, whereas an established company runs largely on an established track. It means constantly encountering obstacles, tripping up and keeping on walking. Mistakes have been made, yes. But if we had avoided those, there would have been others. Better now than later, perhaps.
Q: What will you be presenting at Vivatech?
The stand will be similar to the one at CES. The Supersola unit – a solar panel that you can just open and plug into a socket to start using your own solar power. No installation needed.
Q: Why are you participating in Vivatech with ENGIE?
Our objectives are still the same: to meet investors and potential resellers. But after CES we have a better idea of what to expect, and it will also be an opportunity to concentrate more on Europe. France in particular is a perfect market for Supersola: solar power is still relatively new, and people often have gardens or other outside areas where they can place the units easiily. In the Netherlands, where we are based, population and urbanisation are much more dense, solar power is already well-established, and often the roof is the only place free to put the units.
Q: How is your relationship with ENGIE progressing, and do you have any particular wishes for the future?
Currently, our product is being screened by Laborelec, ENGIE's expertise and research centre in electrical power technology. This is great: it's a really tough screening, and will validate our product for the world market... to which we hope ENGIE will give us access. The perfect partner!
Q: What advice would you give to someone on the point of launching a startup similar to yours, or in a similar field?
Essentially, get together the best team as possible as soon as possible. It means more energy, and so more paths explored. You need a full spectrum of skills, of course, but I would say co-opt good people, and sort out the functions later. There is always something to do, and people tend to do what they like, which is what they do well.
Q: A slogan to define your company?
We currently use "Solar energy without installation" but this might be a good platform to ask people to come up with an improved one. Send your idea to email@example.com and we will reward the best one-liner with your name on our first special edition series.
Q: And for you, the future will be...?
...decentralized. The day will soon come when people will quite simply stop paying for energy as such. In a few years time, a new house will come equipped with adequate energy sources for its foreseeable needs. It will be like buying a washing-machine instead of taking your clothes to the laundrette each week: energy will no longer be an ongoing expense, but one purchase, and of course maintenance.
Source: Martyn Crossland