One to Zero : 21st century to the Dark Ages

One to Zero : from the 21st century to the Dark Ages, instantly. This is life for billions in the developing world, connected to aging electric grids. One minute you’re in Islamabad watching Netflix while facetiming on your iPad. The next instant, the power goes out. Your Wi-Fi router, lighting, wall mount TV, fridge, air conditioner are off. It’s 115 F. Welcome back to the Dark Ages.

Toggling from One to Zero and back to One occurs every other hour in emerging markets including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and dozens of African countries. Residents & businesses enjoy luxuries the developed world offers however their own electric infrastructure renders these luxuries useless, half the time.

Students with and without electricity

Massive losses in productivity, revenue, and most importantly quality of life follow. Hospitals, schools, offices, factories, households, all suffer.

Using a mobile phone light to record a thermometer reading in a hospital

1.3 billion fellow citizens aren’t even that lucky. They’re not connected to the electric grid. They’re stuck at Zero, not knowing how close they are to One.

Distributed Energy

Arguably the solution to the dilemma above is distributed energy. Unlimited clean fuel, plunging costs, and easy design & installation make Solar a viable decentralized energy solution. Generating our own power is the future & the developing world can leapfrog into the future via Solar.

With solar panels warrantied for 25 and inverters up to 10 years, a couple of days of rooftop installation is a smart investment towards uninterrupted self-reliant electricity. Power consumption in emerging markets is a fraction of that in the developed world making today’s battery solutions good enough.

Wi-Fi to access Khan Academy for students & AWS for businesses, MRIs for diagnosis, Telecommunication towers, Weaving machines for the Textile industry — all can be used uninterrupted when decentralized.

Offices with uninterrupted power

Democratizing access to energy is Solar’s fundamental charm. Self-reliance and absolute energy independence.

Thrive

Ten years in the Silicon Valley & NYC, at YC startups & large companies, along with an Electrical Engineering degree & certifications in solar energy have prepared me to take on this worthy challenge.

I’ll return home to Pakistan in April to design and sell solar + battery systems for the commercial & residential market. Piloting in Pakistan has advantages: a population nearing 200 mil, abundant sunshine, a widening electricity deficit (> 30%), & upfront payments in a cash based economy.

Taking the Uber/Tesla approach, I’ll target the premium market first. Unparalleled customer service, transparency (financial analysis, mobile apps for production & usage) & efficient system design are key to winning.

The product is simple and effective: hybrid inverters from Schneider or Voltronic along with Grade A solar panels & locally made batteries. Using PV Design SW to model the system, I’ll further educate customers.

This high quality approach, relevant experience & education, and a transparent attitude landed me 11 LOIs from residential & commercial customers in Islamabad in Dec ’15, before getting incorporated! That gave me confidence to pilot in Pakistan this summer (when demand & power outages will intensify, again). The goal is to convert LOIs to revenue & grow.

Access to energy and the internet is a fundamental human right in the modern era. Both have a compounding effect on improving quality of life. Energy comes first, and is my focus going forward. I’m so glad I found it.

I’ll post updates to this blog from Pakistan. Would love to hear your feedback and suggestions.