Blog Post

Virginia Tech's futureHAUS at the Solar Decathlon in Dubai, powered by the sun and SimpliPhi batteries. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech

Pleasant Surprises

Virginia Tech’s futureHAUS at the Solar Decathlon in Dubai, powered by the sun and SimpliPhi batteries. Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech

In the early years of our company, I derived immense satisfaction from the fact that I knew exactly where all our products and were being deployed. When a SimpliPhi battery was installed in Tanzania, or Haiti, or Northern California, I knew about it – there’s even a chance I may have helped assemble it or pack it into a box for shipping. As the CEO of a startup, there was no part of the process in which I wasn’t involved, and no outcome of which I was unaware. I loved those days.

But, as is true for any CEO in a rapidly growing global company, I can no longer always know where our products are being shipped, what impact they are having on people’s lives, or be intimately involved with design and manufacturing processes. This has been a challenging transition as I want to know people’s stories, understand what matters to them, and create what they need.

In the process of scaling up last year, we needed to transition from selling directly to solar installers, architects, electricians and developers – even homeowners – to a distributor model, taking on essential partners across the country and around the globe. An exciting development, we’ve watched our reach grow and our profile increase across markets and territories. While it’s been rewarding, I began to miss the success stories and some of the direct contact with our customers.

Then I discovered that our company’s burgeoning social media effort was connecting us with SimpliPhi users around the world – a virtual community of installers and end-users, people trying to make a difference in their lives and the future of the planet by using our energy storage to create power security, to eliminate diesel generators, and to harness the power of renewable energy. Our social media team has developed a knack for connecting with the solar + storage community in the social universe, and as a result, stories of inspirational SimpliPhi deployments are rolling in from across the globe. Though not an early adopter of social media, I am beginning to understand the significant role it plays in overcoming the distances that separate us and amplifying the stories that connect us.

Four SimpliPhi batteries connected to solar panels power futureHAUS, Virginia Tech’s visionary entry into the Solar Decathlon Middle East in Dubai late last year.

Here’s a great example: through a social media conversation, we heard that SimpliPhi batteries had been deployed in futureHAUS, an impressive and visionary structure designed and built by a group of sixty-five students at Virginia Tech. The interdisciplinary team, consisting of future architects, engineers, and computer scientists was preparing to enter the structure in the Solar Decathlon Middle East, a collegiate competition launched by the Department of Energy and the United Arab Emirates’ Dubai Electricity & Water Authority. The global competition aimed to accelerate research on building sustainable, grid-connected, solar homes.

In a phone conversation, Laurie Booth, an impressively well-spoken Virginia Tech junior and architecture major told us that “our team just loved the SimpliPhi batteries. They were perfect for the climate and most of the people who toured the house couldn’t believe that they could be kept inside, just as part of the house,” she shared. “We also loved that they were sustainable”. Booth noted that the team had tested SimpliPhi batteries against Tesla’s Powerwall during the project’s design phase, and that our batteries outperformed the big name competitor.

It helped that futureHAUS won the competition, beating out twenty other entries from universities around the world. Just watching the video of the hardworking team learn about their victory should renew anyone’s faith in the powerful combination of youth, innovation and the ability to make a difference for the better.

In a village in remote Peru, solar + SimpliPhi batteries will power a community center with refrigeration for medical supplies. Photos courtesy of Twende Solar.

There are of course, still many projects that we do know about in advance, but here too, social media gives us a wonderful new platform to share stories and gain perspective from another’s point of view. In some cases, we are able to monitor the progress of SimpliPhi-powered energy projects on social media as they come to fruition, sometimes daily or even hourly. This week, for example, the non profit Twende Solar is installing a solar + storage system in a village in a remote and mountainous area of Peru, called Mushak Lamas. Five SimpliPhi 3.5 kWh batteries have been transported in, and once installed, they’ll power a community center and a medical post that will enable refrigeration for critical supplies. Seeing photos of the preparation and installation on social media is both thrilling and uplifting – the hard work and commitment to achieve their vision is evident.

So while the Type A part of my personality misses knowing every detail about the ever-growing universe of SimpliPhi storage projects in every corner of the world, I appreciate the heartwarming, pleasant surprises that social media reveals on a daily basis. Now, the newly formed global connections far outweigh any feelings of loss.

So in the spirit of social sharing, send us your SimpliPhi story and we will help you share it with our global community! #simplipihistories