Over the next few weeks, Alabama NewsCenter will highlight the inaugural class of 10 startups participating in the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator. The companies specialize in technology and business models to enhance the future of energy, including a digital marketplace for the electric wholesale industry, battery storage and microgrid solutions, and smart home software. Learn more about Techstars here.
Today we look at Ashipa Electric.
Olu Ajala, CEO; Tope Oguntade, COO.
Alabama NewsCenter: What is your company’s overall focus and mission?
Ashipa Electric: Our focus is to build microgrid management software that eases the development and operation of a microgrid as well as its integration to utility distribution infrastructure. Microgrids are especially important in underserved communities globally, for they increase access to energy, which stimulates economic activities and positively impacts millions of lives.
Alabama NewsCenter: What inspired you to develop this company?
Ashipa Electric: Growing up in Nigeria, Olu Ajala experienced firsthand how limited access to electricity negatively impacted economic growth. At an early age, Ajala made a firm decision to be a part of the solution. He has spent 15 years developing his technical and commercial experience in the oil, gas, electric utilities and renewables sector. Also, as the cost of renewables and energy storage are rapidly waning, microgrids are quickly becoming commercially viable, especially for underserved communities. His background, experience and the emerging microgrid market inspired the launch of Ashipa Electric. Unlike Ajala, Tope Oguntade still experiences the impact of limited access to electricity today in Lagos, Nigeria, where he lives. He has spent the past 10 years developing software solutions in education and, later, the energy sector. His software background, along with his passion to be a part of the solution, motivated him to join Ashipa Electric’s mission.
Alabama NewsCenter: What attracted your company most to the state of Alabama and the Techstars Alabama EnergyTech Accelerator?
Ashipa Electric: Ajala is not a stranger to Alabama, for he has lived in the state for over nine years cumulatively. He spent the past 4 1/2 years working at Southern Company in Birmingham. He has experienced firsthand the fruits of the labor of William Patrick Lay and James Mitchell, who built the foundation of Alabama Power over 100 years ago on the premise that it will stimulate the economy of a largely rural state. Techstars is a global brand known for helping companies build a strong foundation. Given that Ashipa Electric seeks to build a company that leverages today’s technology to replicate Lay and Mitchell’s vision in underserved communities globally, the combination of Alabama Power and Techstars was a dream come true.
Alabama NewsCenter: What does enhancing the future of energy mean to your company?
Ashipa Electric: Enhancing the future of energy means developing technology solutions that will ensure seamless transition on the path to a low-carbon future. It means the co-existence of a variety of energy technologies, including solar, wind, energy storage, an efficient utility-managed distribution infrastructure and many others. Ashipa Electric is developing a hardware-agnostic microgrid management software that will make the integration of distributed systems with existing utility-managed distribution infrastructure seamless.
Alabama NewsCenter: Other than moving your startup forward, what is the most meaningful, long-term learning or takeaway you hope to gain for your company by participating in the Techstars class?
Ashipa Electric: The most meaningful takeaway is to build a company that not only makes money, but that also builds an ecosystem that allows many others to thrive. According to James Mitchell, “To make money is all right; to build industry is fine. But to build an industry that saves mankind from toil which it can well be spared, that reduces the labor and drudgery of women, that provides leisure for education and culture — truly is a much finer thing.”
Alabama NewsCenter: What is the No. 1 thing you would like potential investors to know or understand about your company?
Ashipa Electric: Ashipa aims to become a Top 10 player in the microgrid controller software space, which is projected to grow from $6.1 billion (in 2019) to $12.6 billion by 2024.