Even as we are optimistic about the flattening of the covid-19 curve while maintaining social distancing, we continued to reached out to top entrepreneurs and inspirational people in Africa. Today we conversed with Vincent Maposa, the CEO and Co-founder of Wetility who are changing the solar customer journey while also providing high breed solutions to consumers. The conversation includes:
- Wetility’s journey from concept to startup
- The energy gap
- How Wetilty stands out
- Wetility’s Vision
- Why consumers go for Wetility
- Wetility Partners
Go straight to interview HERE.
RiA (Q1): Good morning, good afternoon wherever you joining us from. Today we are going to have somebody very special. So who am I first of all? I am Tony Tiyou, the founder and CEO of Renewables in Africa. And in this forum we always like to bring to you African leaders, young African leaders, people that are shaping and forming our continent. Today am talking to Mr. Vincent Maposa, he is the founder and CEO of Wetility, a very interesting company. I don’t want to give you everything. So I’ll leave it up to him. So Vincent, it’s a pleasure to see you today. So how are you my friend?
VM (A1): I am very well tony. It’s a pleasure to be on your platform to express our views on our business and the way we are going on with it.
RiA (Q2): You and I have talked for some time and I told you that it was due. So am very happy that we were able to make it happen now. So let’s dive into the conversation now if you don’t mind. So we are going to be running a few questions. We like our audience to know you a little bit more and your fantastic journey, what you’ve done so with the team and am sure they will be pretty excited to see that. So if I can just kick off and say, to give justice to your fantastic journey so far, would you mind introducing yourself to our audience, the RiA audience.
VM (A2): Okay. Perfect. Thanks Tony. So I am the CEO and founder of Wetility. Wetility is a solar energy technology company focusing mostly on roof top solar under one Megawatt in South Africa with links to other parts of Southern Africa. We are a fairly new company, we are a startup, and we have been around for about a year. Previously we were just into the research phase before that. We were trying to figure out where the right focus areas would be for us within the renewable energy space. So it was always going to be a renewable energy play, we just needed to understand what our market position is and the most viable area for us to enter the market.
RiA (Q3): Excellent! That’s very interesting. I wanted to know, because you’ve talked about the renewable, so I wanted to know what the renewable energy sector that is particularly intriguing you?
VM (A3): Okay. So just from a background perspective to give you further context, so I have always worked in the energy space mostly as a strategy manager, a consultant and an energy analyst. So a lot of research has gone into the decisions around you know where do we move to, and what area of renewable energy do we focus on? So one of the primary things is the irradiance levels in Southern Africa. They are quite high in the yield perspective. So it sought of became a no brainier especially say the cost for what equipment cost per watt per equipment in southern Africa. So let’s look at that as an opportunity. Secondly I think there’s quite a bit of energy property gap. So it’s about closing the energy property gap as well. So if you look at say South Africa with an 86% energy access rate. Outside of South Africa, the rest of SADC you are looking at the rates of 20 and 40 percent. So there’s a significant opportunity for us to find the right products and solutions to allow us to close the energy poverty gap. The third aspect is even in grid connected areas, there is inefficient use of resources that are available and you also have inefficiencies with some of the traditional utility models which are very capital intensive there’s a slow rate of growth of capacity, there are service delivery issues. And we firmly believe if the resources available and the right technology is available on sight whether it is storage after the meter, you know, production at the point of consumption, we should get into that and provide our customers or our partners with energy journey that is efficient that takes into consideration the resources that are available to them and that is sought of the premise for us wanting to be in the space.
RiA (Q4): Okay. That’s fantastic. I wanted to know because obviously you would face competition and am sure there are other people that are doing, or offering a similar kind of product but not exactly the same am sure. So how do u make the difference with Wetility?
VM (A4): So the difference for us first is providing people with high breed solutions. So we are not trying to replace the traditional utility upfront because replacing the utility you are going completely of grid for some of the customers we are targeting its quite expensive and prohibitive. Secondly, the most important thing is about the customer journey.
Technologies exist and I think there is a lot of research and development that is going to improving the technologies, be it the yield from the technology or the economics around how you acquire the technologies. Our perspective and our focus is on the customer journey. How do you get involved with the customer and be a part of the journey to its entirety. So if you look at the life span offer typical to the renewable energy grant with exists, big or small, you looking at a life span of about 25 years for the panels, inverters now you looking at about 10 to 15 years batteries very similar depending on the type of battery. And what we find is that a lot of people that are competing in our space. They simply roll and walk away. And they don’t provide the customer with an experience that’s highly monitored and optimized provide the interventions that allow the customer to benefit significantly, because I think the thing about energy we know is its continuity and its use as well from a customer perspective, changes! So you know, a good example would be a one child family, we give them that solution and then we walk away from that. And then 3 or 4 years down the line this family has got four or five children. So you can already see that the energy needs of that home have changed. And if you are not part of the journey with the customer, you will not be able to provide them with a solution that makes it a lot better for them to continue using energy in the way that you would want them to use because you are not heavily involved. So that’s the way we fit in and we see ourselves as having a significant bearing proposition and point of entry into the market.
RiA(Q5): That’s actually very interesting to understand. So you really actually sitting from the side of the customer making sure you can make the journey as seamless as possible for them. Not just having solar panel installed into their roof and then disappear. So that’s very interesting to know. So how far are you planning to go with this Wetilty journey?
VM (A5): For us we have a very bold vision to at least find a Wetility product in every home in SADC. And what we mean by that is there is a lot of grid connected homes I SADC and there are a significant number that are not connected. And by being a point of interaction between the utility and the resource that is generated on the site. We are viewing this as something that can apply quite significantly across southern Africa. Secondly as I have pointed out, the irradiant levels support this kind of business model. So from an ambition perspective we don’t see ourselves as an entity or a company that’s going to be around for just a couple of years. We have a very long term vision and for us we develop and grow within our home territory market which is Guateng in South Africa. We are looking into expanding quite significantly into the rest of southern Africa. And with it I think are other benefits that come with it as well, which is local content. We strongly believe that these markets that we want to enter into; there must be local development or local content that we acquire from these markets. We should think about things such as mounting which are not highly technical pieces of information significant enough for us to have strategic relationships within SADC countries for us to have mounting structures for example. So from a journey perspective we are definitely viewing this as a long term journey but with a very regional focus once we develop strongly in our home territory and market.
RiA (Q6): Okay! That’s great. And then, what do customers stand to gain with you?
VM (A6): So I think the significant thing that customers stand to benefit by partnering with us is an innovative customer focused organization which continuously aims to delivering on its brand and customer value proposition but also one that’s in the forefront of feeding in new technologies to support the journey. So we don’t view this as something that is static were we develop a product, we give it to you and for the next 10 we write the wave of having given you that product. There’s a lot that is happening in the technology space that’s driving to a lower cost of delivery, a lower cost of charging and a lower cost of dissipating from batteries, a lower cost per watt of the solar panels. And we want to always be at the forefront of proving the customer with the most efficient solution with all the economic considerations taken into account.
RiA (Q7): Okay! Great! And I know any great company is all about the team that’s actually surrounds you, We see that at RiA always saying that, “am nothing without my team, without my RiA-ders so these are the people who actually carry and support you when you need them most and when you need them the least they are still there which is great. So I wanted to know for your side, who has joined you for your Wetility journey and more important, why did they believe in you?
VM (A7): That’s a great way to have that upfront. So I started about the business as a single founder and then I went out and got two co-founders, two co-founders, Sandeep and Shane where I have shown faith in the direction and position that we are willing to take. But in addition to that, people that form our boarder team, there are certain partners who have come very early on even when we were still at the concept stage. So an example is the innovation hub, some of the commercial banks, our branding partners our tech developers as well on the digital side and as well think about RiA as well. We had our first conversation I think about 10 months and you’ve sought of been there through the journey from us being at the concept stage company to us developing our pilots to us actually deploying the solution to the markets. We also have a very good set of shareholders drawn from a variety of nationalities and backgrounds who have been very supportive in the journey. I think it’s always important as a start up to go and seek discerning shareholders who understand where you are in the journey and are willing to back the vision and the idea and take you along the journey and be a part of the journey fully understanding where you’re going and what the payoff is going to be in future. So I think we’ve been very fortunate, we’ve been blessed to have those kinds of investors upfront and those kinds of partners that have been able to join us on the journey.
RiA: I am very pleased to hear that. Definitely we had a first conversation almost a year ago roughly, and definitely we’ve seen tremendous progression which is even more admirable looking at what environment we in at the moment, we talking about covid-19. But amidst the challenges that everybody is facing you still managed to make some progress and this is very fantastic. So Vincent, we have come to the end of our first part of the conversation. So what we going to do is, we going to take a very short break and very soon we will reconvene to find out even more about your Wetility Journey and what people stand to gain to you especially from the investment side. So I’ll talk to you in a few minutes.
VM: Okay! Thank you Tony. It’s a pleasure.
Check out the interview HERE.
Vincent Maposa is the CEO and Founder of Wetility. Wetility is a solar energy technology company focusing mostly on roof top solar under one Megawatt in South Africa with links to other parts of Southern Africa. He also has vast experience in the analytical and consultancy industry with experience in leading organizations such as Deloitte South Africa.