How customers are fuelling Stash Energy’s purposePurposeful Products
Company: Stash Energy
Locations: New Brunswick and PEI
Industry: Clean Tech, Renewable Energy
Size: Start-up (6 employees)
Stash Energy's purpose
To make the planet a better place and reduce CO2 emissions by creating affordable energy storage that saves people money.
Heat pumps meet energy storage
Stash Energy offers an in-home heating system that combines heat pump technology with thermal energy storage. They partner with utility companies to distribute their product to homeowners. After finding some success with their prototypes and proving a minimal viable product, they are taking their first system fully to market in early 2019.
Looking for a better way
In 2015, when co-founders Daniel Larsen, Jordan Kennie and Erik Hatfield heard about a proposal to build a new diesel generating station in Charlottetown, they felt there must be a better way to meet P.E.I.’s energy needs. “They have one of the highest wind energy to customer ratios in North America. So why can’t we use more wind power instead of building a diesel generator?” says Kennie.
They started investigating the issue and discovered the challenge: the lack of affordable storage for the energy generated by wind. “Some days the wind is blowing and that’s great, but for those days when the wind isn’t blowing you still need that power,” says Kennie. But the batteries typically used to store renewable energy are expensive, and Stash Energy’s founders recognized that any solution had to be affordable for homeowners in order to be truly viable and sustainable. This was their “aha moment” and the beginning of Stash Energy.
Using purpose to validate prototypes
Every start-up knows the importance of validating prototypes when in the proof-of-concept phase. For Stash Energy, their purpose has helped them receive feedback directly from consumers to validate their product.
For example, a front page newspaper feature resulted in around 30 emails and phone calls from interested homeowners in Charlottetown. “The homeowners we’ve talked to so far really believe in our purpose,” says Kennie. “A lot of customers reached out to us saying we want to help drive your purpose, which is really amazing to me, having so many people that believe in what you’re doing and want to help out.” Stash Energy now has a list of eager consumers interested in their product in P.E.I.
Stash Energy’s purpose has also helped guide their decisions during R&D, such as considering the full life cycle of their product, from manufacturing through to disposal. “Our storage material is 100 percent environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and is technically edible – but it doesn’t taste very good,” says Kennie. “Compare that to other ways of storing energy like lithium, which is heavily mined and creates a lot of pollution when it’s no longer usable. That’s a pretty big contrast to the shelf life of our product – 100 years instead of 5 to 10.”
It’s also influenced their decisions in other ways. While developing their next product – which will work for cooling as well as heating – they had to choose between two materials, one of which was more effective but carcinogenic. The non-toxic option won out.
Creating valuable partnerships
Their purpose guides who they choose to work with while helping to attract desirable partnerships with utility companies, research institutes and investors that share their values.
The City of Summerside, Stash Energy’s first investor, built their own utility grid and has the highest wind integration per customer in North America. “It’s about 50 percent wind power, which is almost unheard of in North America,” says Kennie. “So we tried to choose partners to work with early on that have the same kind of priorities as us, getting as many renewables as we can to customers to try and save money and also to better the environment.”
A lot of customers reached out to us saying we want to help drive your purpose, which is really amazing to me, having so many people that believe in what you’re doing and want to help out.
Driving innovation & transformation
In a 2015 report, EY found that in organizations where purpose had become a driver of strategy and decision-making, executives reported a greater ability to deliver revenue growth and drive successful innovation and ongoing transformation. (The Business Case for Purpose, EY 2015)