OffGridBox Raises $1.6 M Seed to Provide Affordable Water and Renewable Energy in Remote Areas
Boston, Massachusetts, Sep. 1st, 2018 - OffGridBox, a Boston-based clean-tech startup, raised $1.6 million in seed funding to scale its operations, finalize R&D for its desalination model, and establish a competitive edge through remote monitoring and control of the system.
The OffGridBox is an all-in-one container equipped with solar panels and a water purification system to enable homes and communities in remote areas to become sustainable and resilient. The company has already deployed a total of 38 off grid “boxes” globally. Around the world, millions of people lack electricity and clean water, and OffGridBox aims to bridge this gap by providing these essential services at an affordable price. With invaluable contributions from impact investors, they are able to facilitate economic growth, stimulate social development, empower women, and improve local health conditions.
What makes OffGridBox truly unique is the development of an advanced remote monitoring software to optimize water and power control. This sustainable competitive advantage includes sensors, algorithms, automated safety precautions, performance insights, automated energy recovery, and prioritization for appliances. With this data, not only can the box predict and automatize maintenance, but it can also serve as the most efficient system in the rural off-grid market. Overall, the remote monitoring technology simplifies the process for installers, operators, and end users.
The company kick-started their funding round after being accepted into the Techstars accelerator program in early 2017 and becoming a finalist in MassChallenge (taking home a prize of $100K). Additionally, OffGridBox received funding from angel investors, grants, and loans to help scale up its village kiosk franchising in Rwanda and direct sales operations for the disaster relief and building installation markets. Their most recent funders include the DOEN Foundation, Good Energies Foundation, and private investors, whose contributions will support projects in 42 rural Rwandan communities.
To date, the company operates off of two sales channels for recurring revenue: village kiosk franchising and direct sales. The kiosk franchising model received great traction in Rwanda after the first eight boxes were deployed at the start of 2018. Since those boxes operate as kiosks and interact with local shops, they collect daily micro payments giving a 15% IRR for social impact investors. Additionally, direct sales to end users, who use the system for a building (instead of shops), pay the upfront cost of the system and a flat monthly fee for remote monitoring and fine-tuning.
“OffGridBox aims to bring affordable renewable energy and clean water to off-grid communities around the world,” says CEO Emiliano Cecchini at OffGridBox. “We are delighted that our partners DOEN and Good Energies want to support us to expand our portfolio. This will help us become a major player in the energy and water markets in Rwanda while empowering women entrepreneurs, fighting bio contamination for improved health, and introducing lighting in rural homes. Additionally, the Wi-Fi provided by the box will also act as an open source of information and knowledge that box users have access to right from their fingertips.”
Both the DOEN Foundation and OffGridBox strongly believe in creating a cleaner energy economy, empowering women, fighting climate change and reducing CO2 emissions through innovative solutions. DOEN helps reduce financing obstacles for initiatives in the area of sustainable energy, supporting over 200 initiatives annually.
“This project fits in perfectly with the mission of the DOEN Foundation to support pioneers who work hard to establish a greener, more socially-inclusive, and more creative society. OffGridBox provides a unique solution: providing clean water and power to villages in East Africa while employing and empowering women who act as the operators of the boxes,” expresses CEO Anneke Sipkens at the DOEN Foundation.
OffGridBox plans to bring 1,000 boxes to people in under served communities in Rwanda, which will represent 20% of the off-grid market throughout the country. Also, the company plans to expand into neighboring countries while introducing its desalination model for coastal and island communities. After closing the seed round, OffGridBox will begin raising its Series A round in 2019 to help expand operations to the global market.
To learn more and join them on their social mission: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFHo342OOT0
About OffGridBox - The idea started in 2014 when founders Emiliano Cecchini and Davide Bonsignore became inspired to create more efficient solutions after working on several OXFAM projects in South Africa that took more than 3 weeks to install purified water and off-grid clean energy systems. Since then, more than 35 boxes have been deployed in 10 countries, serving thousands of people in difficult circumstances in only a few hours. Projects range from disaster relief, cooperatively with NGOs, to rural electrification. OffGridBox is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts at Greentown Labs and the company mission is to provide affordable clean water and power in remote areas. For more information about OffGridBox, please visit https://www.offgridbox.com/.