A portable power supply can be used in many places: At events, on construction sites or when redesigning the garden. As there is no sustainable solution for this yet, e.g. diesel generators are used at construction sites. The disadvantages are certainly clear for everyone. Our startup of the week, instagrid, closes this technological gap with its innovative battery storage systems. In our interview with founder Sebastian Berning we learn more about it.
Hey Sebastian! I’m glad you’re here today. We start directly with a short question. In one sentence: What does instagrid develop?
instagrid develops and markets the most powerful mobile battery storage systems for professional users currently available on the market.
That sounds very interesting. Can you explain to us in more detail which technology you developed?
instagrid has developed batteries that can be recharged without the need for additional converters or converters on the usual mains supply and can also provide this voltage again at high power. You can imagine this as if you don’t need a charger to charge your smartphone, or if you could use your car battery to power a drill directly. Since the characteristics of these new batteries are largely defined by the complex software of the batteries, we call the technology a software-defined battery. The technology is aimed exclusively at converting electricity and can be combined with any battery cell, e.g. lithium-ion batteries or lead-acid batteries.
At the beginning of the interview you described your batteries as “light” and “compact”. Are those in addition to its “mobility” also your USP?
Since our batteries do not require power converters, they can be used to create systems for grid applications that are more compact, lighter, more cost-effective and more powerful than conventional systems. We currently use the technology to develop portable energy storage devices for professional users. Our customers come from the construction industry, horticulture or event technology, for example, and save a lot of time that they previously spent laying power cables and searching for sockets. In addition, you can be sure that you always have a suitable power connection on site, without having to carry a power generator with you. Our battery power supplies are about 50% lighter and 65% smaller than other equipment on the market and are the only systems that provide full mains power to operate large equipment such as high pressure cleaners. Nevertheless, the units are absolutely waterproof, as no ventilation is required for cooling.
And how do you distribute your product?
On the one hand, we develop white label products based on our battery modules for large customers. These products are developed, certified and manufactured in cooperation with our suppliers. The products are then distributed by the white label customers themselves and we provide after-sales services on request. On the other hand, from 2020 we will offer our battery storage systems under our own brand for mobile power supply. These batteries will then be offered exclusively for rental online via a direct-to-customer service model. In this way, we hope to be able to offer very low & fair entry prices, as a usage-based component is charged in addition to a monthly basic fee.
You have already mentioned your customers who come from many different industries. Do you also adress different markets?
We are currently addressing the market for mobile power generators, which comprises several billion euros worldwide. We believe that this market can grow rapidly if a reliable and comfortable electric solution is available – as has been seen with pedelecs / e-bikes in recent years. In addition, we are already addressing other markets with pilot customers, such as compact solar storage units for rental apartments in the city or electrical reserve canisters for electric cars. We are currently testing the latter with Norwegian and Finnish automobile clubs. Since Scandinavia often plays a pioneering role when it comes to sustainability, we have had an office there since last year that coordinates our business development activities. Our products are sold internationally, outside the EU, for example in the USA.
This brings us to the last question: Where do you currently stand with the development of your technology? I’m sure you’ve been working hard at it since your founding.
We are currently industrializing our first series products with several brand partners. The technology is largely mature and is currently being put through its paces by these partners under laboratory conditions and in the field. 2019 was already a very successful year for us. After our seed financing in January, we were able to build up a great team and were awarded a prize money of €100,000 by InnoEnergy in spring as the world’s most innovative energy storage start-up.