How a Holiday Storm Changed My Career Trajectory
It was Christmas in Boulder two years ago, and I was on my way home to grab some gifts before heading back out to a holiday party. Thanks to a massive wind storm that knocked down power lines, more than 15,000 residents had no power — on Christmas, mind you —and I was completely locked out of my home. You see, I was so in love with my home electric keypads that I stopped carrying real house keys. Being locked out from my home got me thinking that there’s got to be a better way.
Please don’t get me wrong — this isn’t one of those self-indulgent musings about overcoming mild inconveniences and building a successful startup. I really thought this was something we could solve. I mean, if we can launch a cherry colored convertible into space, then surely we can give every home the ability to be safely connected, and to feel secure and cozy, regardless of the conditions. In fact, the Danish concept of comfort - hygge - encompasses those feelings, and it’s our inspiration for founding Hygge Power.
First, a quick primer on the electric utility grid, which is where about 90 percent of us get our power. In the late 1800s, Thomas Edison invented the world’s first electric power distribution system in New York City, which astonished the world when it powered 59 customers near Wall Street. His modest venture has grown substantially, today serving more than 10 million people in New York City and now goes by the name of ConEd. America’s vast network of more than 1,000 utilities powers more than 125 million homes nation-wide.
While the sheer complexity of it is fascinating, it’s important to note that these grid systems are powering 21st-century lifestyles with 20th-century technology. As a society, we are constantly plugged in. Think about it: how many items do you have plugged in at any one time? Now, magnify that number by the number of homes in the United States, and you might have an idea of how our energy demands are placing extraordinary pressure on our electric utilities. It’s not sustainable for the utilities, and for customers, it means having zero control over energy usage or even an assurance that power won’t be cut. And I decided that this is what I wanted to work on.
With the incredible team at Hygge Power, we’ve built and and will soon be shipping OPO, our smart home and energy storage outlet. We’re the first company to successfully combine smart plug technology with an integrated battery storage system to provide several hours of backup power. And we’ve strategically priced our home outlets so everyone can take part in powering the most important appliances, electronics and devices that keep us cozy and secure.
I don’t know if being locked out that night is what really set me down this path, but now that I’m on it, I believe more strongly than ever that consumers should have more say in what energy they’re buying, when they buy it and how they use it. I’ll talk more about this in future posts.
Thanks for reading,