Weekly Review May 12-18

Every week, we read dozens of articles on our favorite industry trends and relate to our investment thesis. We pick the most popular trend from the week and share the top articles along with our thoughts.

This week, we’re featuring articles on alternative energy, noting the challenges that startups often face in terms of distribution, pricing, and scale.

Lessons learned from an entrepreneur electrifying rural India” by Katie Fehrenbacher on GigaOM
Indian startup Mera Gao offers solar-powered micro grids with enough capacity to electrify 50 households. Mera Gao aims to electrify 70 villages by the end of the year; they’ve completed 13 so far. The founding entrepreneurs have learned a lot about their customers and the market since launching, including that an in-home cell phone charger is a must-have for most. It’s been even more difficult to find the right price point, a common challenge for most startups working in underserved markets.

Solving the problem isn’t the problem” by Seth Godin 
Seth Godin points out the stark difference between finding a solution and actually getting that solution to market. The example that Seth uses is solar lanterns. Sure, they’re safer, cheaper, and healthier than kerosene, but how do you distribute them widely enough to replace the existing consumer habits? A self-funding method that creates organic scaling is the real solution for both the customer and the company itself.

India looks to bright future in solar power” on Washington Post
The Washington Post highlighted the booming solar industry in India. Simpa Networks is on slide 4, featuring one of its customers: an off-grid household in Halliberu, now benefiting from affordable energy thanks to the Simpa Regulator.

Nigeria: From Dirty Diesel to Clean Energy” by Kathryn McConnell on AllAfrica
Lamenting the frequent power outages in Lagos, native Nigerian entrepreneur Bimbola Adisa is seeking to change the way Nigerians access energy. His company, Beacon Power Services, provides clean distributed power as an alternative to the unreliable grid and expensive diesel generators. Beacon Power Services designs small-scale energy plants powered by various types of renewable energies that should be affordable.

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