The London firm that brings mobile power and connectivity to communities across the world, is looking to scale with a new version of its Hub product.
The BuffaloGrid Service, launched in 2015, provides mobile power solutions to areas in emerging markets without access to reliable power. The service is currently running in 20 villages in India, where agents use the BuffaloGrid Hub to provide their customers with power.
With reliable access to power, customers can charge their mobile devices and stay connected so that they can access services they need for work, education, health and entertainment.
BuffaloGrid supplies the Hub free and agents receive income from each sale. The company also handles payments, unlocks services and provides data on Hub behaviour, which helps to determine where new Hubs should be installed and what promotions should be run and when.
The new Hub launches this month and will allow BuffaloGrid to vastly expand its reach to cover more than 500,000 people in India in 2018. It also makes possible partnerships with mobile operators and other firms who can, for the first time, own and manage their own fleet of BuffaloGrid Hubs.
The news follows the Design Museum’s announcement that BuffaloGrid has been shortlisted as one of the Beazley Designs of the Year 2017. The award winner will be revealed in January 2018 and BuffaloGrid is taking part in an exhibition of nominees at the Design Museum, which opens this month.
“It’s a special honour to receive the Design of the Year nomination as we prepare to put the latest version of our Hub into production," said Daniel Becerra, co-founder of BuffaloGrid. "Our mission is to help connect the next billion people worldwide and scaling our service is a vital next step for us."
Beazley Designs of the Year recognises projects from across the world that have made an outstanding contribution to design. Just 10 projects are nominated in each of six categories.
Daniel Fogg, BuffaloGrid’s chief operations officer, said: "Our business is about providing power as a service, enabled by our specially designed hardware. We've spent the last year demonstrating that the service works and can be profitable. Next we will be partnering with firms who want to make our service available to their customers and we are able to take orders today."
BuffaloGrid, which is based in East London and New Delhi, received £400,000 from LocalGlobe and Kima Ventures in April 2017, following a £230,000 grant from Microsoft the previous month. That grant follows similar grants from Innovate UK and the EU research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020.
George Henry, Partner at LocalGlobe, said: “BuffaloGrid is a latest example how great hardware design and software can solve critical needs. You need access to power before you can access the internet. With their innovative product and capital efficient model, the Buffalo team are building foundational infrastructure to get people online. By doing so, they are also building a valuable network that anyone who want to sell products and services to grid-edge communities will be able to tap into."
BuffaloGrid’s customers are people in areas where access to power is either unreliable or involves an expensive equipment lease. BuffaloGrid solves the problem by placing a Hub in a location such as the village shop, where it can be easily accessed by everyone who needs it.
Customers can charge their device after they make a small mobile payment, which means the payment system can be handled by the BuffaloGrid Cloud. The Hubs are secure from theft, vandalism and other damage. As well as batteries, the Hubs contain monitoring systems to ensure that they are working at peak performance.
“Providing power in emerging markets unlocks vital services and economic opportunities,” said Mr Becerra. “We’re very excited about the possibilities that will be opened up by bringing the next billion people online.”
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