Batteries, Video, and SolarAcademy

I first heard of Hello Tomorrow about 2 years ago when they invited me to talk at their Future of Energy event that was held in Istanbul, Turkey.

Hello Tomorrow is a non-profit organization that brings together a community of actors aiming to unlock the potential of deep technologies to solve the world’s toughest challenges. They organize startup competitions, mentorship programs and a series of events around the world, as well as educating and consulting relevant stakeholders on emergence of deep technologies. Hello Tomorrow is fast becoming a key reference platform in deeptech innovation and entrepreneurship.

At that 2016 Hello Tomorrow event, I delivered a talk about what we do at CivicSolar and the future of Solar and Advanced Energy Solutions. I finished my presentation talking about the next frontier of renewable and sustainable energy – specifically batteries.

In the last part of my talk, I made a reference to MIT Professor Don Sadoway’s 2012 TED Talk titled The missing link to renewable energy.

I talked about how fast the cost of solar panels came down in the last 10 years. And I talked about how hard the industry is working on bringing the cost of batteries down, too. I predicted that when the cost of batteries will go down by 5x, in the next decade or two,  everything will be different.

Before I accepted to talk at the Hello Tomorrow event, I asked them one thing. “Are you going to record and publish my talk (a-la-TED style)?” And they did not say a definite yes. I said, “Well, I will do it only if you record it and make it available like TED does their talks.” And then they told me they would do it. I don’t know if I influenced their video policy decisions or not.

You might be wondering why am I telling you all this? I am telling this story to make a point about the power of online video content.

As I was browsing my Youtube feed on my Apple-TV at home last night (yeah I don’t watch regular cable TV anymore…) I came across this other 2017 Hello Tomorrow Talk by Don Sadoway titled, Unlocking Renewables in which he talks about his company, Ambri.

At minute 12 of his talk Don Sadoway talks about how he raised a bunch of capital from Bill Gates. And he follows that by saying he is Canadian (and therefore polite) and that he would never dare go to Bill Gates to ask for capital.

So, what happened was, Bill Gates watched Don Sadoway’s online MIT OpenCurseWare video lectures (all 35 of them) on his own and then reached out to Don Sadoway to meet with him and offered to invest in Sadoway’s company before Sadoway even asked for it.

Yes, that is the power of online video. If you put it out there, they will come. What I mean is – if you put yourself out there – what you are trying to do for the world, and why – provided that it adds value to your surroundings, it will attract the right resources (customers, investors, employees, partners, fans, and more…).

By the way, shortly after my Hello Tomorrow was published, we (CivicSolar) attracted a group of new amazing investors, as well.

Watching Don Sadoway’s Hello Tomorrow video made me once again realize the power of authentic content and the power of video. Video is powerful.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million words.

They say words are only 7% of communication. Your tone, the energy of behind those words, your body language, facial expressions are the remainder 93%. Of course if you combine that with other graphics, charts, visual communication objects that accompany your message, your message can become even more powerful. That is why video is important. Especially, as a business communication tool.

That is why we are launching SolarAcademy. I intend SolarAcademy to host lots of  content (and hopefully much of it in video format) initially on solar and advanced energy technologies. We intend SolarAcademy content to come from all players in the industry – leading manufacturers of solar equipment, installers, financing providers, solar sales and marketing service providers.

The mission of SolarAcademy will be to accelerate the healing of our planet by accelerating the flow of knowledge between the various nodes of the solar industry and most importantly to the millions of property owners, users of energy (essentially everyone in the planet, including home owners, commercial and industrial property owners) to accelerate the transition of their buildings (and vehicles) to run on clean energy instead of fossil fuels.

Another goal of SolarAcademy will be to encourage the business community to change some habits. Especially about sharing information.  SolarAcademy will encourage and reward companies that share more of their knowledge with their customers (and each other) in a more efficient way.

Along the way, if we can catalyze some activism in slow moving states towards their path to renewable clean energy, that will be a nice bonus!

Our goal is to create a more collaborative equitable healthy world economy that fosters and rewards a healthy planet. Pure hard nosed competition is not what necessarily makes the world a better place but information sharing and creative solutions that complement each other do.

The more you share the more you will get back.  Simple.