Sesame Solar is selling clean energy nanorods for disasters

Michigan-based startup Sesame Solar is producing the world’s first fully renewable portable nanogrid for disaster relief. Its units can be used as mobile communication and command centers, medical units, kitchens and even temporary housing. The system can be ready for use within 15 minutes of arrival.

Most portable devices like these are powered by diesel fuel, which releases carbon dioxide when burned, which contributes to climate change.

But Sesame’s units have the solar panels above open, giving the company its name – a reference to “open sesame”.

“The whole concept is that you don’t need fossil fuels to be energy self-sufficient days or weeks after a severe weather disaster, like a hurricane or tornado or wildfire, or a California outage event. … or a -tack network, or anytime the grid just went down,” said Lauren Flanagan, co-founder and CEO of Sesame.

Flanagan added: “We combine solar and battery storage, or we also have other renewable energy sources, we use green hydrogen as backup power. And we can make turbines. small wind if conditions permit”.

Sesame sells this system for anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000 or more for larger installations like a full medical clinic. It has sold more than 50 units since its launch this past June. Its customers have included the US Air Force, as well as cable providers such as Cox and Comcast.

“There have been 18 billion-dollar climate disasters in the US in the last 18 months. And rarely do you find a company that has had revenue, has had customers, has impacted the world, and done it. that Vijay Chattha, with VSC Ventures, one of the investors backing Sesame Solar, said the budget is tight.

Others include Morgan Stanley, Pax Angels and Belle Capital. The company has only raised $2 million so far, which seems like very little for a company with such vast potential. But Flanagan said revenue tripled last year and expects to do so again this year.

“The reason we haven’t raised a lot of capital is because we have revenue. I’m a longtime executive, I believe in making the product fit the market, finding customers that will pay. , iterate and improve on it and try to run as close to breakeven as you can, and then you have options, don’t you?” she said.

One of them is a potential new business model, where instead of selling units the company will rent out. She wanted to bring FEMA on board with something like that, which she said would be a gamer.

Disclosure: Comcast owns NBCUniversal, the parent company of CNBC.

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