Why Khosla Impact Is Investing Nearly $2M in This Plug-and-Play Solar Firm
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Off-grid applications are cleantech’s next big market. Nowhere is this more true than in Africa, where the International Energy Agency predicts population growth will outstrip grid expansion to leave 645 million people without power.
It’s predictably tough for companies in this vast market to stick out from the pack. In order to get a sense of how companies can achieve success in this space, I sat down to chat with Mansoor Hamayun, the CEO of U.K.-based BBOXX, on the eve of a Series A investment from Khosla Impact.
BBOXX builds portable solar kits and plug-and-play solar systems between 2 kilowatts and 4 kilowatts for remote applications in developing countries. It also provides low-power appliances that can be used with the system.
As Hamayun describes it, BBOXX is a classic university startup that began as a charity focused on universal electrification. The company realized the difficulties in grid expansion early on. Even if governments linked every household to the grid, payback was tough because load was often too low. That meant grid extension was a non-starter in many regions.
“I don’t see the grid expanding. And even if it did, the reliability issue is huge, said Hamayun. “Remember the first source of demand for companies like ours is on grid consumers who have terrible service.”