We created BHAVEPower Systems to enable solar photovoltaics and battery-powered cooking. When we started, we knew it could be done, in principle, but no one around us was doing it.
I saw challenges such as: can solar panels and batteries deliver 20 times the power and enable a household to reduce the use of LPG and piped gas, and eliminate kerosene, wood and charcoal burning in the kitchen. We want to substitute the technology used in cooking food and introduce solar-powered induction cookers. True, induction cookers are not mainstream but since millennials are used to digital controls on smartphones, digital panel induction cookers should be easy to use as well.
Should our solution become commonplace, India’s fuel import bill will go down, emissions in the kitchens will drop, health will improve for women and children, and customers will save money over their LPG cylinder bills. Attractive? Yes! Can it be done? We did it! We did four demos in four cities with a variety of equipment. We made dosas, cooked daal using pressure cookers, make tea for dozens of visitors, without fire and fuel, and no emissions. Upon analyzing the economics of our solution, we identified the relative importance among cost drivers. We made the national press, six months ago.
We have faced many difficult choices while going from Idea stage to execution of our venture, which I call confronting the “known unknowns.” Let me illustrate five of them, which we need to answer to estimate the costs and formulate a “go to market” strategy.
- Is a standalone product the best to launch with?
- Should we wait for LFP battery prices to fall further before a major push?
- Should we wait for the right investor or accept angel investments for part amount?
- Should we over-design for now, and devote time to testing the performance of our product under various conditions later?
- Should we launch in the most attractive market, or to the easy, convenient one?
What I have learned from the past is focus primarily on the Product and the Customer. And secondarily on supportive issues such as lawyers, intellectual property and website design. Team building, that is identifying the universe of potential employees has to be continuous.
Any help with “solving” our known unknowns is most welcome!5