This article was originally published at The Clubhou.se
theClubhou.se member Steve Clauson has laser focus and precision action. A Marine with a new mission, he has set up shop for his business, Electrolyte, at theClubhou.se within the Cyber Center.
What is the business?
Electrolyte specializes in producing energy harvesting and storage systems (imagine high-tech portable/stationary battery packs) that can provide power to any home or business, as well as provide off grid functionality and/or emergency response capabilities to many environments.
When and where did you found it?
The business was founded out of Augusta in July of 2017.
Where is the business now?
Our office is located within theClubhou.se on the 3rd floor of the new Georgia Cyber Center Hull McKnight Building.
What were you like in school?
I was (and still am) very curious. Luckily – I was blessed with teachers that noticed this and purchased additional materials for me to learn outside of class. Throughout my younger education there were always two other students that I was highly competitive with: Alexis Ferracuti and Joey Kimes. I had the opportunity to participate in a L.E.A.P. (Learning Enrichment Acceleration Program) curriculum for my entire elementary school career, which helped to further grow my curiosity. Spelling Bees and Scholastic Bowls were common events. I simply could not stop asking questions about the world around me and had a supportive environment that fostered learning.
Any extra-curricular activities?
We currently support the local Augusta Mad Dogs Rugby team with electricity at their outdoor pitch. We also provide technology and support to the Miss United States Armed Forces Pageant.
Any significant experiences/skills that (with hindsight) influenced your business?
My experience as both a US Marine and an Aviation Electrician has cultivated many vital business skills. Being an adept communicator coupled with the ability to adapt and overcome any circumstance have surely played an influential role.
Any previous entrepreneurial experience? Lessons learned?
I had previously started an sUAS (Small Unmanned Aerial Systems) business that provides video and thermal imagery data to clients. I have learned that by approaching things from a “Here is a Problem:Let’s Build a Solution” viewpoint typically works better than just marketing a solution or product that doesn’t necessarily have a problem to solve.
Another way to put this may be: Find your client’s needs first and then craft a solution around those needs.
What appealed to you about entrepreneurship?
The premise that an individual can lead a team and proceed to conquer some of the world’s largest problems by combining innovation with brainpower is absolutely appealing to me.
How did you get the idea?
I have long been fascinated by the principles of magnetism and electromagnetism – it is like real life magic. The alternator in a vehicle is based on these same principles. Going through life and learning more about this process and electricity in general led me to constantly wonder if this was something that was possible. During a completely unrelated business meeting about contracting a film operation, my associate asked why I hadn’t built a device yet.
Within the next week I had constructed a prototype device that performed exactly as expected – we had a Georgia Power representative at my residence questioning me the following morning as to how I had turned our power meter backwards at 10:30 p.m. without solar panels installed on the home.
How has your idea progressed over time?
We initially constructed the first prototype/M.V.P. (Minimum Viable Product) with as low cost parts as possible – hence the minimum. We have transitioned from deep-cycle Lead acid batteries in earlier versions to Lithium-Ion cells in later revisions and are now using new Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiPO4) battery cells.
Upgraded revisions to our 6th product make it completely different from the initial prototype. Along the way we have added many features: solid-state relay functionality (reducing power waste and circuit strain), lighter weight and higher capacity battery cells, consistent data logging/monitoring/export capability (for charge optimization and grid utilization effectiveness), a truly hybrid dual power conversion system (power output works simultaneously on-grid and off-grid), as well as an app that connects any smart device to let you visualize and control your energy usage.
How did you find your co-founders?
Our other co-founders are fellow Marines as well. We served alongside each other for years as well as in combat in 2010. I am immensely proud to have their expertise and can-do easy attitude as assets to the company.
How did you fund the business?
We have personally invested funds as well as raised capital from several private investors that share our vision for the future.
How did you market your business?
We are currently attending trade shows and technology expositions to acquire clients and leads that are already actively searching for our solutions.
How did you choose who to hire?
By having conversations instead of using canned interview questions. Talking to people and understanding their viewpoints as well as finding shared interests/passions along with diversity of strengths has been my preferred method of recruiting.
Who are your main competitors?
Tesla and their Powerwall and another Sonnen-based in Germany with a product called ecoLinx. Neither have the same business model, nor capabilities, but are the only products remotely similar to ours.
What have you learned from your competitors?
I have learned that the market is ready for new energy solutions. I attribute this to the fact that Tesla has been on a consistent installation backlog since 2016. People are clearly wanting to take control of their energy and the inability for our competition to address that need in a timely manner will be something that we capitalize on.
What does a typical day involve for you? How does that compare to your team (if applicable). How has this changed over time?
Typical days involve many phone calls and lots of research. Lately, we have been collaborating with an engineering firm to develop 3D renders that can be seen using Virtual Reality- simultaneously allowing us to demonstrate our product in a much more cost effective way as well as to many more clients. We initially spent the majority of our efforts constructing and testing earlier revisions of the product, we have since refined that process and are now able to reach out and build partnerships to ensure the longevity of the company.
Harry Potter for sure.
“Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook”, by Gary Vaynerchuk
“Think and Grow Rich”, by Napoleon Hill
Anything with Morgan Freeman. “I Origins”. “The Other Guys”. “Prometheus”.
Gary Vaynerchuk, Steve Wozniak, Guy Kawasaki, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Nikola Tesla, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, and Alessandro Volta.
Best piece of advice?
Learn something new every single day.
What is next for your business?
We are currently developing miniature energy systems to enable trade show exhibitors to bypass paying an arm and a leg for access to a power outlet for just a few hours. We are also going to be partnering with the U.S. Military and Expeditionary Energy Office to develop next generation modular battery packs that will reduce costs and overhead dramatically across all branches.
What next for you?
I will continue to innovate change for the better of the world. And try to learn how to play Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven on the piano.
How has working out of theClubhou.se benefitted your company?
Working out of theClubhou.se has been a tremendous opportunity! By having access to other entrepreneurs and like minded people we have been able to collaborate and refine ideas that would have otherwise been much more difficult to achieve. I will say one of my favorite things – is that HUGE dry erase board wall! It enables me to pull things out of my brain and see them in a big picture way without feeling like wasting paper or being tied down to a screen/monitor.
The monthly events such as Beer and Bytes and One Million Cups are great for networking and learning about what is going on in the community. One thing that is certain: It is always better to have more resources than less – and theClubhou.se is doing a fine job of bringing more to the table every week!