Extreme Low Energy is based on founder Mark Buchanan’s ethos to use less rather than generate more. They tell us how they export to places like Ghana and Pakistan.
What does your company do?
Extreme Low Energy (ELe) designs and manufactures ultra-low energy DC micro-grids. ELe’s DC micro-grid systems typically use between 20% and 80% less energy than existing technologies. When combined with ELe battery systems, the DC infrastructure solution which takes power over Ethernet to the next level allows the most efficient adoption of alternative energy solutions, eliminating the need for mains electricity and allowing customers to operate partially or fully off grid.
ELe’s DC micro-grid powers electronic devices efficiently, removing the need for AC/DC conversion thus significantly reducing energy consumption. ELe offers solutions for education and business, sustainable housing and a variety of off-grid applications such as security, hydroponics or solar cabins.
When was your company launched, who by and why?
ELe was founded in June 2014 by Mark Buchanan with an ambition to eliminate energy wasted through the power distribution process. Mark’s ethos is use less rather than generate more. Mark had spent 20 years in IT and then 5 years in renewable energy and it is the combination of these 2 fields that has led to the technology that ELe has developed.
How long has the company been exporting?
What do you currently export, and where to?
Ultra-low energy DC micro-grids including lithium batteries and computing packages.
South Africa, Ghana and Pakistan.
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
Our product addresses a problem for many developing countries by providing energy security.
What is the easiest part of exporting?
And the most challenging part?
Managing funds flow, currency exchange impact and customs clearance processes.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
Culture – the way business is conducted in each country differs so you need a local partner on the ground that can guide / support.
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
Department International Trade (OMIS/Events/Trade Advisor), local Chamber of Commerce have offered support / assistance. We are also Commonwealth First Export Champions so support has been offered via that program. University partnerships, such as with Lancaster University, has also been beneficial as they have a campus in Ghana.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Pick one geography and have a clear plan – do your research to understand the country and how to trade, ensure you have appropriate resource and/or in-country partners and have a sensible budget for executing the plan. To start with it is very expensive and resource intensive.
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years’ time?
More in South Africa, Ghana and Pakistan. Then possibly Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria, Zambia and Botswana.