• Season 1 Episode 7
  • October 26, 2022

Powering Homes with Off-Grid Solar Solutions GA’s Eli Aheto and Sun King’s Patrick Walsh & Anish Thakkar

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Episode Details

In this episode of the podcast, BeyondNetZero Managing Director Eli Aheto sits down with Patrick Walsh and Anish Thakkar, the Co-Founders of Sun King, one of the largest providers of solar energy products for off-grid homes in Africa and Asia, to discuss providing access to sustainable and affordable solar power for nearly 82 million people across 40 countries to date. They discuss how they bonded at the University of Illinois over a shared desire to use engineering to solve the world’s “existential problems”; their unique experiences traveling to India and other parts of the developing world, where they witnessed the needs of those living off the electric grid; working on the product throughout their undergraduate years in between classes; sleeping on friends’ couches while getting the product off the ground and navigating the difficulties securing fundraising at a time when ESG impact funds were few and far between; how Anish successfully pitched ZS Associates Co-Founder Prabha Sinha at a party on becoming an angel investor in Sun King; the decline in the cost of solar in the years following Sun King’s founding and its impact on democratizing access to clean energy solutions for consumers; the realization that retail was not a best environment for selling Sun King products and how they created a word-of-mouth network for direct-to-consumer sales to grow the business; Sun King’s impact on reducing emissions and how its products have enabled many communities in developing countries leapfrog the electrical grid entirely; the importance of pay-as-you-go financing and how they worked to minimize the problem of affordability by allowing users to pay down their solar assets incrementally over time; the potential future of Sun King and plans to build larger energy systems that can power a broader range of appliances; the additional steps they believe are needed to support people without consistent access to energy in a sustainable way; lessons learned from their collective journey and partnership, and how they prefer to be in the “mode of being students” and constantly learning; and other topics.

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