It started with an insight, grew into an idea, became a product, evolved into a service and is now a business. But we begin, like great things often do, with coffee.
While travelling across Sub-Saharan Africa in 2008, trading coffee with co-operatives in rural communities, our Chairman, Phil Schluter noticed something. Everyone, no matter how poor, was using a mobile phone. Those phones were cheap and there was plenty of network coverage available. But keeping that phone powered up was a pain. Power was stopping people from staying connected.
In 2010, Phil visited the Royal College of Art in London and shared what he had seen with Daniel Becerra, now our CEO. Daniel was a blend of product designer and systems thinker, with the enthusiasm to take on the challenge. So Daniel and Phil started a side-project to investigate whether they could create a simple product that could generate power in off-grid communities. This would be a product that BuffaloGrid could make and sell at scale.
In 2012, Daniel brought in Damon Millar and Stefan Dzisiewski-Smith, two specialists in technology and design who make robust, reliable systems. At this stage, the idea was to sell a generator for bicycles that could store power which could then be re-sold to charge mobile phones. After running trials in Uganda though, they decided that it would take too much peddling to provide the level of power our users need.
But the team’s enthusiasm for the project was undimmed. After a year of experiments and with some interesting adventures along the way, they arrived at a simple service idea. By using a solar-powered, cashless, connected Hub containing a large rechargeable battery, they could provide a technology platform for power, internet and other services for rural communities. So the team went to work and made some BuffaloGrid Hubs.
In 2015, Daniel Fogg, now our COO, discovered BuffaloGrid and, drawing on his background launching technology services in emerging markets, he helped provide the missing piece of the puzzle. The team now needed to launch the service for real. They needed to provide a real service to real users in a real market. So Daniel (yes, there are now two Daniels) established BuffaloGrid India, and helped turn this project into a proper business.
With thousands of users using the service and all sorts of interesting things happening, that brings us to today. BuffaloGrid is selling our Hub and Cloud Platform to customers who want to sell power across their agent network. And power is just the beginning, we have all sorts of other interesting things coming. We are really only just getting started.
Along the way, the team have been joined by some amazing people. They have been senior and junior, freelance contractors and fully-fledged employees. Some of them are still with our business and you can find them on this site. While others have left the business and moved on to other exciting projects. But they will always be members of the BuffaloGrid Herd and their part in Our Story will never be forgotten.
That’s Our Story, so far...