On October 15th, POPULAR MECHANICS announced that Potenco was one of the winners of its fourth annual Breakthrough Awards at a ceremony in New York City. The Breakthrough Awards celebrate innovations poised to change the world, and the personalities behind them.
From POPULAR MECHANICS:
“This year’s roster of winners is especially diverse, from high-tech winners such as the 300-mpg Aptera vehicle of the future, to low-tech innovations like rugged wheelchairs for the developing world,” said James B. Meigs, editor-in-chief of POPULAR MECHANICS. “With the energy crisis escalating and the increased focus on climate change and the need for conservation, it is especially rewarding to showcase winners who are making breakthrough contributions in these fields. These winners are applying brilliant design and engineering to improve the lives of others.”
Potenco won a Breakthrough Product Award for the PCG1, a pull-cord power generator that creates electricity for portable gadgets with far greater efficiency than hand-cranked devices. Learn more about the PCG1 at http://www.potenco.com/products/. Watch a video at Popular Mechanics.com.
Some of the other award winners include:
- Aptera for their ultra-high mileage plug in hybrid cars
- Amazon for their Kindle e-book reader featuring digital paper.
- Dr. Mehmet Toner for his circulating tumor cell detector. Dr. Toner is a biomedical engineer at Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology
On Saturday, Mike, Jess and I spent the day at BarCampAfrica, an event bringing together a very interesting group of people with varied histories and interests, to talk and learn about Africa.
Google graciously hosted the event (and hopefully didn’t mind that we sampled a fair amount of their free food ; ) )
I believe there were 175 people in attendance and while the majority of attendees were US citizens (CA an MN seemed to be well represented), I think the list of African nationalities represented was pretty comprehensive. I personally talked to folks from Ghana, Nigeria, S. Africa, Uganda, Rwanda, & Senegal.
Big thanks to Ellen Lease & her team of volunteers for pulling the great day together. Thanks as well to all the participants for making it such an interesting & rewarding event.
We at Potenco are very much looking forward to the day when we can travel and see both the impact we’ve had (creating power entrepreneurs, helping find alternatives to kerosene lighting, etc) as well as signs that the community fostered at BCA (of social entrepreneurs, philanthropists, activists & technologists) has inspired and contributed to the growth of new institutions and practices improving the lives of people across Africa.
All the best,
VP Operations & Co-founder
Potenco teams with worldbike to prototype the Worldbike Mobile Power Station – A cargo bicycle capable of charging cellphones, lighting homes and many other uses
Potenco is proud to announce an exciting new product partnership with worldbike, an international association of folks committed to transportiation solutions for the world’s poor.
Coupling Potenco’s expertise in human power technology and Worldbike’s innovative longbikes for the developing world, this partnership aims to launch a product that can create job opportunities in rural communities throughout the developing world.
Worldbike lead, Andrew Hall (presently in Kenya), describes the opportunity as such: “ The Worldbike…brings portability and cargo capacity to the rural setting. I’ve imagined a bicycle based water purifying station, cell phone charger, a knife sharpener, battery charger for running home lighting systems, food grinder (like peanuts), a lathe and/or drill press that can travel to the work
In addition to a Worldbike specific human power generator, Potenco is engineering an inexpensive yet flexible bicycle power accessory which will allow anyone with a bicycle to produce 70-100W of continuous power. For an entrepreneur in Rural Africa, this would translate into the ability to charge approximately 18 phones for every hour of bicycling and provide a payback time for the investment
in a matter of weeks, if not days.
Potenco and Worldbike will be demonstrating a mobile power station at the Worldbike Booth (#7027) at this year’s Interbike Expo in Las Vegas, on September 25th, 2008.
By bringing together the utility and mobility of low-cost longbikes and the high demand value-add of electricity generation, Worldbike and Potenco intend to initially micro-finance these set-ups to entrepreneurs in the developing world who would earn their living using their mobile power station to charge their neighborhood cell phones, provide power for home lighting at night, purify water, and other health and well being related services. Worldbike’s Andrew Hall will be leading tests of these products in the field in months to come.
More on Worldbike
Worldbike is an international network of bicycle designers, industry leaders, and international development professionals, working together to provide transportation solutions and create income-generating opportunities for the world’s poor.
More on Potenco
In 2009, Potenco will release a 30W generator for powering 12V deep cycle batteries in off-grid areas. Both products feature a pull-cord and eliminate the failure prone gears found in all crank-based generators. Sophisticated electronics efficiently gather the energy, making sure a person’s strength and time are not wasted. The Potenco solutions offer better cost per watt than hand-cranks and solar cells.
Kristna Evans, Executive Director
Kristna is a self-proclaimed nonprofit organizational development enthusiast. She brings years of
experience in a variety of nonprofit settings, as well as a long history of supporting innovative
bicycle solutions for the world.
Andrew Hall, Kenya-based Project Manager and Technical Lead
Andrew is a bicycle designer and fabricator, as well as a non-profit and small business founder. His
work has focused in the areas of sustainability and a business model and software program for
bicycle lending programs.
Mike Frandsen, CEO
Mike has an extensive background in general management with an emphasis on supply chain
management. Mike has over 25 years of experience working with companies in the U.S, U.K.
and Canada. Prior to joining Potenco, Mike was the CEO of TradePoint Solutions (now part of
DemandTec). From 1995 – 2002 he was responsible for the Supply Chain Management Division
at PeopleSoft. Mike began his career with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) with a focus on
installing systems for small to medium manufacturing and distribution companies. Mike has a B.S.
in Finance/Information Systems from the University of Colorado – Boulder. He is also certified in
Inventory Management (CPIM) and in Resource Management (CIRM) from the American Production
and Inventory Control Society.
Colin Bulthaup, CTO/Founder
Colin is an electrical engineer with a strong background in robotics, manufacturing, and nanotech. In
2003 he co-founded Squid Labs, a Venture Technology firm which developed in-house technologies
which were then spun-off as separate companies. The spun-off companies included Instructables,
Makani Power, OptiOpia, Howtoons, and Potenco. Prior to Squid Labs, Colin founded Kovio, Inc.
a Silicon Valley company that uses very high-resolution printing techniques to create low-cost
circuits. Colin earned his Masters degree from MIT and was awarded the Collegiate Inventors
Award by the US Patent Office. He has also won numerous electrical and mechanical engineering
competitions, including the International Design Competition. Colin was recognized by Technology
Review Magazine as one of the top 100 innovators under the age of 35.
Brian Warshawsky, VP of Operations/Founder
Brian is an engineer and operations manager with experience in fast growth high volume consumer
electronics manufacturing. Brian was an early member of the Apple iPod operations team, and was
the operations lead for the development and introduction of the iPod mini. Brian went on to manage
the introduction of a number of iPod products and manufacturing processes, and was responsible
for evaluating and bringing up new production facilities in Taiwan, China, and Europe. Brian earned
a M.S. from MIT in Materials Engineering, and worked at startups in Boston and San Francisco prior
to joining Apple.
We are doing extensive market analysis and field research to effectively indentify our target markets and understand the specific needs of consumers in these markets. We recently completed extensive field research in Uganda and will soon be underway with market analysis & consumer research in Brazil, India and Kenya.
November 2007, Potenco sent a research team to Bangladesh to investigate the state of electrification first hand. To get a sense of how our PCG would fit into a rural unelectrified culture we spent time traveling in the central and southwest areas of the country.
Our travels took us to Khulna, Mongla and Dhaka where we tested prototypes with the locals and got feedback on how they could use the PCG in their lives. As expected, there is a huge need for clean, renewable lighting.
Kerosene lamps and open flames were abundant as light sources. The soot byproduct from these lamps permeated all areas of the houses that used them.The input we got from villagers was very positive and encouraging. Most were pleasantly surprised by the amount of pulling required to create usable light.
With the communications infrastructure as it is, a great number of Bengladeshis have mobile phones. The mobile coverage throughout most of the country is fantastic. The average villager that owns a cell phone charges it from a 12 volt car battery, another task that the PCG is very well suited for.Overall our trip was a great success and we have gained more insight into the power needs of rural unelectrified areas. The Bengladeshi people we met with were wonderfully helpful and eager to see our product made available. We intend to take what we have learned from Bangladesh and incorporate it into our development process to make Potenco’s products as useful, powerful and organic as possible to fit the end users’ needs.