“There’s a lot companies that deploy large solar arrays and solar farms and put them on your roof and so forth. What we want to do is to provide solar from a consumer products perspective” –Sean Luangrath, CEO of Inergy.
Alan: Welcome back I'm here today with Sean Luangrath he's the CEO of Inergy and Sean welcome to today's show.
Sean: Thank you for having me Alan
Alan: So Sean, for the listeners can you give me your background or give us your background of what you did prior to joining Inergy?
Sean: Most of my career has been in high tech, predominantly in the in the bay area- the San Francisco Bay Area. I start off my career at Peoplesoft. And then move to various high tech companies in that in the Bay Area like Apple and Oracle and so forth. I actually did a stint with Apple and most of it was actually in Cupertino but the last stint was actually in China. So we actually moved out to China to expand the apple stores. And so that's kind of my background. I went to school, undergrad, actually at San Francisco State, I did a lot of community colleges out here until I got enough credits to transfer. I transferred to BYU on Provo, Utah. And then came back to the Bay Area and worked, east bay and then at some point I got my MBA, did my MBA with UC Berkeley and Columbia University is an executive MBA program. But pretty much until about maybe about a year ago I've been pretty much in the bay area.
Alan: So would you call yourself that the software engineer by background?
Sean: I'm actually a business guy, so a business background, did a lot of operations. I start off my career in finance, that was my undergrad degree- international finance. And started working in tech companies and just discovered I had an affinity for software and projects and implementing things and that's kinda how I parlayed into kind of more technology and operations and implementing large systems.
Alan: Now Inergy is a fairly small start up, it's getting ready to launch products and basically it's a solar based technology.
Sean: Yes, so we are a portable solar generator company. You call us basically a portable solar solution company. The mission of the company is to bring the world affordable solar power. We feel that Mother Nature has given this is free gift and she just keeps giving it every day and if we were able to collect it, then you can take advantage of that and that you know it's a renewable power. So it's one of the things that we strongly believe in is to democratize solar, or to get solar out to everybody. And you know the approach that most of the industry it has taken is from a tops down. There's a lot companies that deploy like large solar arrays and solar farms and you know the big big companies that put it on your roof and so forth. Well we actually want to get solar now in the hands of people but from a consumer product perspective, so from the ground up, from the bottoms up actually. That's what we wanna do is to provide solar from a consumer products perspective.
Alan: You know it seems that as technology develops- it's interesting, I'm a Tesla owner.
Alan: And they took us on tours of the plant and they showed us the big battery packs, I'm just like- that's just a bunch of AA batteries.
Sean: Yeah that's what it looks like
Alan: So your battery is it lithium based?
Sean: It is lithium based, you were mentioning the Telsa battery, we use similar batteries to the Tesla electric vehicles, that's what allows us to get our generators to be compact in small because it's lithium-ion batteries. So we have a product called of the Kodiak generator which is a one kilowatt battery bank, that has an inverter, charge controller, battery management system all of that sophisticated technology to make it safe and efficient in a 20 pound box and were able to deliver one kilowatt of power and that's because we're using the lithium-ion batteries.
Alan: So to give a comparison, one kilowatt will power roughly what?
Sean: So you can watch maybe a 50 inch TV for about 18 to 20 hours. Our customers actually have been using in the field so we have these examples from them so there's a gentleman that ran 3 loads of laundry on 1 full charge, You can charge your iPhone over 150 times. You can run a refrigerator for about 28 hours or an 18 cubic foot chest freezer for about 33 hours.
Alan: Now when we're using these numbers though, this is without a charge.
Sean: Correct, once you fully charged it, then you just basically draw on it. Now if you actually set up solar panels that connect to it, you're actually able to use it while you're charging so you can actually use it over a much longer period of time.
Alan: Amazing, well Sean I need to take a quick break I'm visiting here today with Sean Luangrath, and we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I'm visiting here today with Sean Luangrath, he's the CEO of Inergy and Sean, the first segment we talked about your background, a little about the product, or solar batteries that Inergy is putting out but how did you come to get involved with Inergy.
Sean: I mentioned that I spent a little bit of time in China- for a startup actually. I was with Apple but then I actually went and joined a software start up, a Sequoia backed start up, as their regional VP for the greater China region. So I ran that for 2 years and then in many startups there's a pivot, a major pivot, so the strategy change where the company closed all of their international offices so that actually brought me back stateside. So I was actually looking for an opportunity in a place that not too many people know about- Silicon Slopes. Silicon Slopes is actually a on a name for the start up environment- the startup community there in Utah. In Utah Valley there's a lot of tech startups out there. A lot of great companies that that put on the put that company on the board like Omniture, Domo, Inside Sales Leads, these companies are really doing great. I actually wanted to go out there and join that effort. I was actually introduced to somebody that did some investing in that area and it actually didn't work out so I ended up joining a company in Sunnyvale instead- a late stage startup Aerohive Networks, where I I basically wanted to experience the the IPO experience. So after we went IPO a year later that friend that actually helped me look for those opportunities came back and said 'Hey there's an opportunity. To be the CEO of up to a young startup called Inergy solar and we were looking at someone that has Chinese background who's got Silicon Valley ties, who's got ties to Utah' and I seem to check all those boxes and it was a great fit. I think it was, the company culture and what I was looking to do and what I was interested in doing. Frankly speaking Inergy solar, basically was a great opportunity I felt to allow me to give back to the world. I actually am a refugee from Laos and we can United States and I went back to Laos just recently and there's still a lot of people that don't have access to power don't access to electricity to light. And so this company will allow us to bring people like that in developing countries access to power and light that's what drew me to this company and I basically my wife supported us to to move out to Utah and we're running energy from from out of Utah.
Alan: It's a big move and I think that one of the things that you mentioned earlier is that it during the break is that you actually have operations in Pocatello and then headquartered down in Utah
Sean: Actually the headquarters is actually in Pocatello and I do the commute from up and down Utah. So we expect to expand our operation,with me being in Utah, we actually have operations by default in Utah, but we're gonna expand a little bit more in the Utah area to access some of the the talent pool that's out there and the different kind of the startup vibe that's out there.
Alan: So you're fairly new, early stage startup but you mentioned before you're get ready to launch a big product launch?
Sean: Yes, so we've actually launched a product that I mention about the Kodiak and one of the things that has recently come up in kind of the start up world is crowd funding, which is a great vehicle to allow young companies to get their products out. We launched our first major product out last year in November which is that one kilowatt generator. We actually put that up without even actually having a production operations up and we pre-sold over $700,000 worth of that product. And that funded the production of that. So we actually have that solar generator, the Kodiak solar generator, we're actually getting that off the production line now, and so we're actually getting that out to people and so forth and we just launched a new product called the Raptor which is a smaller unit.
Alan: That's the 20 pound unit or smaller than that?
Sean: The Kodiak is the 20 pound unit, so one kilowatt of power in 20 pounds. And then this one which is basically a portable solar charger it's about 10 ounces. And that'll charge your phone 3-4 times. Using just this of solar panels and the battery bank that's inside.
Alan: Amazing, I'm visiting here today with Sean Luangrath, he's the CEO of Inergy, and Sean, I need to take a quick break, and we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I'm visiting here today with Sean Luangrath he's the CEO of Inergy, and Sean we've been talking about- you currently have a product on the market but you get ready to launch a new product called it the Raptor?
Sean: Yes okay so I have the Raptor here and what it is, it's the world's first solar powered, quick charge battery bank. I'll explain what that means. Basically it's a battery bank but that's a quick charge, meaning that if you took an hour to charge your phone, with the quick charge technology, you can get up to like minutes. You can charge it you know about 70 percent of the way in about 30 minutes. And that's what you seen in the commercials out there out there, there's a couple of technologies out there, Qualcom being one of them, that allows you to quickly charge your phone. Many android phones support that technology and so forth, and the difference between our battery bank and all that's out there is that we're the first solar powered quick charge a battery bank, and so what that means is, you can literally be out anywhere off grid, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting... where there's no access to the AC port so you can recharge your battery bank. And you can actually charge your battery bank using the solar using the sun. So in one day's charge, you can recharge your whole battery bank, and you can basically be out there indefinitely. Charging your phones, your GPS, your GoPro.
Alan: It's absolutely amazing- efficiency and we're getting smaller but we're getting more power with smaller units and where do you see all this going.
Sean: There's a lot of technology out there, getting the batteries more powerful, getting the solar panels more efficient, so you can actually get smaller and smaller to the point where now instead of having a rooftop full of panels, you can actually just put it on your balcony. And it'll be enough to charge a battery bank, or a battery storage unit that actually will power your home if the sun's out. And it'll get to a point where we're actually working on something where you can actually be off grid if you want, and you'll still be tied to the public utility if you still need the power, but for the most part, and can actually use what you're collecting from the sun. On one days charge, you can actually power your TVs, your washer dryer, your AC unit, that type of thing. That's what gets me excited is that we can actually be self sufficient you can actually be off the grid and not lessen your carbon footprint. Again that's our mission is to bring the world affordable solar power because it's renewable power and that just helps the world all around.
Alan: So the Raptor seems like it be a great little tool for and and campers.
Sean: Yes we actually have a lot of-
Alan: -Now you gotta put a 50in TV screen on your backpack.
Sean: Right right yeah yeah, that's for the Kodiak, with this this unit here is actually for a lot of people that go- There's a thought that when you're out in the in the country, you're just roughing it. But many people take their iPads with them, and they watch movies at night when you have nothing to do in your it's all dark, a lot of people watch their iPads or are on their own on their phone- movies they've downloaded but a lot of the time, it takes lot of battery, and so what happens is when your battery dies that's it you can't really recharge it. And when your battery bank dies, that you brought dies that you cann't recharge that but with this me a portable solar quick charger you can actually now recharge during the day, clip it to the back of your backpack or leave it out and let it soak up the sun soak up the power and then at night you have lights and you have power.
Alan: And that has that as a flashlight on it too
Sean: Yes so one of the things that we've looked at is actually the developing countries. You know there's like 1.3 billion people in the world that live off grid and what that means is they have no access to electricity. And the surprising number that not make people nobody's about a third of those people actually have a cell phone plan. How does that work like you have a cell phone plan you to have access to charge it? A lot of people take the bus to the nearest town and pay to charge their their cellphones. Because their cellphones allows them to do banking let's look log in to talk to family and so forth and so this product we really want to get this into their hands so that way they don't have to pay you know $20 to $60 a year out of their pocket to go and charge their phone, they can use this product and actually. You know use the sun to recharge all of their devices.
Alan: I'm looking at it and it's almost the size of a flip phone.
Sean: Yeah it is, 10 ounces and that's that's how big it is yeah.
Alan: So now in this product, if a person wants to get this product the Raptor, how would they go about that?
Sean: So we are big proponents of crowd funding and so to launch this product we actually put our product up there on Indiegogo which is a crowdfunding campaign platform. And so you actually go to Indiegogo.com and search for Raptor, it should be there and then basically everybody who's buying on indigo at 30 percent off of what the retail price will be. So this is basically a thank you to all those who are supporting us in getting this product out there. What are those currently running then?
Sean: So the Raptor Pro is at $55 roughly
Sean: And that there's a lower version that's not a quick charge, That's at $50 or something like that.
Alan: And then how long does it take for that turn around there once they order the Raptor.
Sean: So right now when you order it we will actually take that money and go on and actually mass produce it and delivered it in the April-May time.
Alan: Okay so what other products you have coming up?
Sean: So we're talking about providing power to the world, we're actually working on a a product that is called the Home Base+ and that's a 6 kilowatt portable battery bank that can power your home. So basically it can do do 220 which will run your AC units and your dryer but it's 6 kilowatt of power and then you can recharge using solar panels and that's basically it's a whole home generator.
Alan: This is disrupting the industry.
Sean: Yes it's a it's basically a more portable version of the Power Wall. You probably heard of the Tesla Power Wall which is around 6 kilowatts, Elon Musk has actually uped it to about 10 kilowatts, but the original version was at 6 kilowatt. That's enough to actually power a lot of your major appliances at home, and that's what we're doing so basically our version this is a a moveable version. It'll be about 50 to 70 pounds. So you can still take it to a campsite or if your cabin and or in your R. V. or actually could take it to a like a construction site and can power a lot of good things when you're off grid.
Alan: Wow, it's really as it's it's neat to see the progression especially for those developing countries that don't have the power grid currently in place.
Sean: One of the features about it that we're really excited about- so we're in Idaho and we're actually working with the local national lab out there which is the Idaho National Lab. And they've got some technology that we've been able to actually use and actually tweak it or port it to a smaller size, so it actually becomes what they call a nano grid, so we're actually installing some technology into our generators so it becomes a nano grid and what that means is, you buy one generator and then it's it's basically you know you have one unit but if you actually buy a second one you connect connect them together and they'll talk to each other. So you can imagine, in your neighborhood if you have 5 homes all connected to each other and then you actually have a power outage you could actually be self sufficient because you know all those home can share and pull power and that's one of the features that you and maybe actually take this and that and apply it to what the developing countries you can actually build a city or a town grid one generator at a time you don't need the you know the utility anymore to actually wire everything up, you can build power for the town one generator at a time, we're really excited about that.
Alan: Well Sean, we're out of time today, but I appreciate you being here. I've been visiting with Sean Luangrath, he's the CEO of energy, and Sean, for the listeners how would they find more information on your products?
Sean: You can visit us easily by going to our website www.Inergysolar.com, I-N-E-R-G-Y-S-O-L-A-R.com.
Alan: Sean, thanks for being a today's show.
Sean: Thanks for having me.