Q&A with SimpliPhi’s Newest Team Member, Jordan Little
We’re excited to welcome Jordan Little to the SimpliPhi team! Jordan joins us as our new Applications Engineer, helping customers with all their storage system needs, from sizing to designing, while managing SimpliPhi’s distribution channels. We sat down with Jordan to share with you her background and perspective on joining the team.
Did you ever think getting a degree in Engineering in Alabama, could lead you being in the hotbed of Hawaii’s solar production?
I think what keeps life interesting is that you really never know how your path will diverge, and I’m certainly happy with the twists and turns mine as taken. I studied Electrical Engineering at Auburn University in Alabama and worked on a couple of renewable energy projects with hydropower, load monitoring and load shedding. I got started in electronics manufacturing because I thought I wanted to build inverters but quickly learned that it wasn’t something I enjoyed.
When I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, I quickly discovered that the state had a thriving solar business that was incomparable to what was happening in the mainland during that time period. Suddenly, my next path was crystal clear.
I got connected with solar installer Haleakala Solar, where I started out as a design engineer, designing systems for residential homes and commercial business, and then quickly moved up to running all of the commercial development department, including sales, installation and education. Because I was frequently in the field and speaking daily with customers, quickly got the pulse of what people really wanted from their solar and storage technology and what products actually worked in the field.
From there, I joined energy storage software and control platform startup Spider9, who had a partnership with the Hawaii Energy Excelerator, which is like a cleantech incubator. When Spider9 got acquired by Silicon Valley-based vertically integrated energy tech corporation Pathion, I moved to Atlanta, GA, and took a Solar Project Manager position at Georgia Power.
When I was introduced to SimpliPhi CEO Catherine Von Burg, the idea of working directly with customers again, with technology that’s well proven in the field was exciting. I’m now getting back into that product development side, but I’m still able to have contact with customers. In the short time I’ve been at SimpliPhi, I’ve already been able to impact so many customers.
Could you tell us more about your role with SimpliPhi?
I’m doing a mix of fielding in new inquiries, whether they’re from installers, distributors or homeowners. I help customers in terms of sizing, designing their systems and finding out what products are going to be the best for their applications. This position lets me pull in my old experience of installing all kinds of equipment and helping people with where they’re at today. In addition, I’m managing the different distribution channels that we currently have and setting up new ones. I’m also pulling from my expertise working in Hawaii’s unique market to get more of SimpliPhi’s batteries into the state.
What attracted you to working with SimpliPhi?
First, it was the people. Second, it was the technology.
The people are fantastic. From the various teams I’ve been on, your support network and the executives you’re reporting to, I found people at SimpliPhi to be really great to work with. And, in this industry, a good team can make the big difference in a company’s survival and how well it’s going to thrive long term.
In terms of technology, I was impressed with SimpliPhi’s product line and what makes it different than other battery manufacturers. A lot of batteries are trying to force their customers to use one product for all kinds of applications. But anyone who really knows this space, understands that there are specific specifications for specific types of applications, and attempting to shoehorn one technology into multiple applications is a recipe for customer disappointment. SimpliPhi has a diverse enough product line, as well as turnkey solutions, that can meet various markets. It’s all pretty much the same platform technology, so it’s easy to see their product roadmap in terms of where it is and where it can go.
I also like the fact that SimpliPhi is primarily self-funded. They’ve been in business this long because they have actually sold products that customers want. They’re not not just a marketing company or a bunch of PowerPoint slides trying to find their first customers. SimpliPhi is actually making products that people are buying and really liking.
What are the big take-aways you learned from working in Hawaii that you’re bringing to SimpliPhi?
Hawaii is a testing ground for innovation. The combination of high prices and stress on the grid makes Hawaii a test bed for new energy technologies to prove their functionality and worth in the field. Additionally, equipment in Hawaii performs a lot differently than equipment installed elsewhere. The housing stock is such that people don’t have large garages to house and protect their storage systems from the elements. So equipment that passes the test in Hawaii are products that are rated for outdoor use and can function day in and day out for years, while being constantly exposed to harsh elements like humidity, the intense heat of sunlight, salt water, sand and wind. It’s not your typical test environment. Things that can rust, will rust!
That said, one thing I bring to SimpliPhi would be knowing how to implement projects that last can for 10 to 20 years, rather than failing within the first few. I understand what design faults, equipment selection and sizing mistakes people typically make before a system is purchased and installed, so that their investments are going to keep paying them back for the next 10, or more, years.
What’s something you’d like to see more of in the market that’s not happening right now?
Well, in terms of the Hawaiian market, there are not many systems being installed underneath Hawaiian Electric’s customer self-supply program. The hoops that projects must jump through to gain approval primarily fall on the inverter manufacturers. It’s really been a roadblock to getting more systems installed onto the customer self-supply program.
Seeing that finally come to a resolution, so that more value can be put on behind-the-meter assets from the utility, would be great. It would provide pathways to get more distributed storage on the grid that can benefit both the customer and the utility.