Press & Media

We are really grateful for the coverage we've received so far.

If you'd like to write about the BuffaloGrid story, you can find all the information about our company and journey below. Or if you'd like to talk to a human, email us at press@buffalogrid.com.


Press Releases

  • BuffaloGrid receives support from the Department for International Development in a first for CrowdCube. [07.03.2016] [Download PDF]

Our Challenge

Today, nearly everyone has a mobile phone. But we all struggle with the same problem - running out of power. If you have access to uninterrupted mains power, this problem isn’t so bad. But for over 750 million people across the world who live in off-grid communities, getting their phone charged is a daily challenge. They must deal with low-quality, inefficient solar panels that break easily, dirty generators that are expensive to run, and unreliable grid power that can be cut-off for months. This needs to change. We believe everyone deserves access to affordable, reliable power and connectivity.


Our Service

We’ve designed a service that is low-cost to the customer, debt-free to the operator and available to an entire community.

When a customer wants to use our service, they send a premium-rate SMS to the patent-pending BuffaloGrid Hub. The Hub is powered by a solar panel, and contains a battery, cellular modem and Wi-Fi antenna. Once payment is accepted by our servers, we unlock a charging port and send a confirmation message to the customer containing an internet password.

This is all managed by a local entrepreneur, who services hundreds of customers, and who shares in the revenue their hub generates. And by BuffaloGrid retaining ownership of the hub, we can use quality components as well as taking the debt burden off the local entrepreneur.

We have hubs active today in the Indian states of Bihar and Karnataka. These hubs are providing mobile power and internet to hundreds of customers.


Our Market

We have identified communities in countries throughout Africa and Asia that need BuffaloGrid. The market opportunity in these countries is huge, with an estimated 1.2 billion people living off-grid, 650 million of which have access to a mobile phone. These phones are increasingly low-cost smartphones, that are internet-enabled, but power hungry. So demand for off-grid mobile power and internet is only getting bigger.

Our market is not limited to people living off-grid. Many people living in towns and villages that are connected to the grid still struggle to access reliable power. Villages living at the grid-edge, on a given day, don’t how much power is going to be provided, when it will be provided or if it will even be provided at all. So just because power is available, BuffaloGrid can still be a vital service.

By addressing the needs of off-grid and grid-edge villages, we are already serving thousands of customers. Our goal is to bring mobile power and internet connectivity to millions.


Company Facts

Established: 2012

Founders: Daniel Becerra (Co-Founder & CEO), Phil Schluter (Co-Founder & Chairman) 

Leadership Team: Damon Millar (CTO), Daniel Fogg (COO)

Located: London (UK) & Bangalore (India)

Active Markets: India

Funding: InnovateUK, Royal College of Art and private angel investment.


Our Team

Phil Schluter (Co-Founder & Chairman)

Phil is the chairman of the board and uses his knowledge of developing markets, and extensive network, to guide the business. He spent his early life living between Kenya and the UK and has a first class degree in Geography from Oxford University. Phil is the sixth generation of his family to lead Schluter SA, a global coffee trading company that specialises in ethically-sourced gourmet coffee. The idea for BuffaloGrid came from his experience working in Sub-Saharan Africa. He wanted to find a more mobile way to pay his coffee growers, who often had phones but limited access to power. Soon after he met Daniel and they began working together to setup BuffaloGrid.

Daniel Becerra (Co-Founder & C.E.O)

Daniel sets the company’s vision, calls the strategy and oversees the development of the BuffaloGrid service. Daniel has a first class degree in Industrial Design from Universidad Iberoamericana (Mexico City) and an MA and MSc in Innovation Design Engineering from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, London. He started his career running a design consultancy in Mexico, working with clients that include Rolex and BMW. Daniel was a Co-Founder of Artica Technologies, the creators of an award-winning low-energy cooling, ventilation and heat recovery system. After successfully exiting from Artica in 2010, Daniel has been working to build BuffaloGrid into the innovative service that millions of people need.

Damon Millar (CTO)

Damon sets BuffaloGrid’s technology strategy and leads our hardware and software development. He has a degree in Electronic Engineering from University of Auckland, New Zealand and an MA and MSc in Innovation Design Engineering awarded by the Royal College of Art and Imperial College, London. Damon has 15 years experience designing complex systems. His experience spans the full range from semiconductors, satellite systems and Formula 1 to emerging screen technologies and robots that dance with the National Ballet. He has helped startup three successful companies. Damon brings relevant first-hand experience to BuffaloGrid, having lived off-grid for a year in the Guatemalan forest, and helped design UNESCO’s emergency shelters in Peru.

Daniel Fogg (COO)

Daniel has spent the last ten years combining his work in emerging technology with his passion for emerging markets. After attaining a degree in International Relations & Political Science from the University of Essex, Daniel worked at the British Council and in the UK Cabinet Office Strategy Unit. In 2008 he joined Track24, a defence tech startup, where he developed, sold and supported battlefield management systems for customers in conflict zones. He then joined sector-leading private intelligence and security company Ardan, where he worked with clients in Kurdistan and helped establish Ardan operations in Southern Iraq. Daniel setup the digital creative agency Isobar for Aegis Media in the Middle East, where he worked with Telenor Pakistan, Nokia and LG. Since moving back to the UK, Daniel has worked as a product strategist for design agencies BERG and Ustwo, as well as providing guidance on R&D practise to political polling firm YouGov.


Coverage

Mobile phones are vital for people in developing countries, whether for trading, safety or general communication. The UN, where Becerra presented the project earlier this year, identifies the mobile phone as the biggest contributor to economic growth in off-grid areas. “Mobile phones are really changing the game: they improve quality of life and business activities. If you need a doctor or you’ve been robbed, you need a phone,” Becerra says. “You hear stories of users who would sacrifice their quality of food just to get airtime and a charge for their phones.
The Guardian
In Uganda, charging a cellphone can cost 500 Ugandan shillings, or about $0.20. That’s a huge burden for those who earn less than a dollar a day, especially when you have to charge the phone two or three times a week. Rural areas need stronger signals from cellphones because there are fewer cellphone towers nearby, a further drain on power. “In rural economies, about 50 per cent of the money spent on mobile phones is actually spent on charging them,” says BuffaloGrid’s Damon Millar. “That is some of the most expensive electricity in the world.
New Scientist
The premise behind the venture is simple. At a time when the UN is predicting that the mobile internet will be the biggest contributor to growth in remote rural locations across the developing world, telecoms companies have been relatively quick to erect masts and roll out services. However, without access to reliable power supplies, handset users often have to travel for many miles simply to find a source of power to charge their devices.
Forbes
The idea for BuffaloGrid came from founder Phil Schluter, who has spent 20 years as a coffee trader in Africa. Schluter saw the benefits that mobile phones were bringing the local communities, but also the difficulties in charging that people were having without access to power. The original idea was for a bicycle generator, but over three years it has evolved through an ongoing design and development process, and intensive field research.
GizMag