A start-up based out of Kansas City is taking on auto and electronics giants such as Tesla, Mercedes and LG in the multibillion dollar energy storage space. WISE, a Kansas City based start-up, is set to launch its ‘intelligent’ energy storage solution soon. With the prototypes in place, WISE is raising money on StartEngine to enter mass production and develop larger energy storage solutions to meet the requirements of large facilities.
A WISE Origin
Kevin Williams, founder and CEO of WISE, is a serial entrepreneur with many patents to his credit. His previous venture was WillCo Technologies, a cybersecurity workforce credentialing service provider that won major contracts from the Department of Defence and serves over 1.5 million registered users. He sold a majority stake in WillCo Technologies to Metisentry LLC in 2017 to focus on WISE (WillCo Intelligent Stored Energy).
The origin of WISE goes back to 2009 when Kevin got interested in smart grids. He found the need to diversify from just software products at WillCo Technologies. While studying the electric grid, he realized how little it had evolved since it was first created. Electricity is generated in large quantities and is simply transmitted from the generation plants to distributors and on to the final consumer. He found two gaps in the model – storage and a two-way communication mechanism in the supply chain. There is a real need to be able to store electricity to solve problems such as erratic power supply and meeting peak requirement. There is also a need to have a two-way communication mechanism through the supply chain to bring about efficiencies in the system. This helps utility companies understand their customers better and make better decisions. Kevin found a company in Colorado that helped engineer the product. WISE has also brought on Evocativo as their engineering partner.
The WISE Controller and POD
WISE is essentially an electricity storage unit combined with IoT capabilities. It is built with patented technology to create a distributed energy source system. There are two parts to the system – the WISE Power On Demand (POD) and the WISE Controller. The POD is the storage unit. The storage unit gets charged from the regular source of energy and stores that energy. It does so with a series-tied lithium-ion battery bank combined with an ultracapacitor bank. It then goes on to provide energy to the house or business unit when required. The fascinating thing about this is that while it can be used to charge electric vehicles, it can also draw power from electric vehicles and charge itself.
The WISE Controller is the IoT solution. It helps connect the smart devices at home while also monitoring and tracking their energy usage. By connecting all the devices, it allows one to control and monitor these devices from a single point (app or platform). For example, if you’ve forgotten to switch off the light, you can simply do so with a click of a button. The heavily protected IoT system is currently under development.
The capacity of the product is 4-5 kWh (Kilowatt Hours). This is enough to power the house for a day and meet the peak hour requirements. Consumers can also do an energy assessment on the WISE website to understand their requirements. Those that have a higher requirement, can get series-tied versions of the model.
The WISE Impact
WISE can potentially enhance the quality of life while lowering the electricity bills and reducing the environmental impact. It allows you to have your house heated or cooled before you’ve arrived and provides you numerous ways to enhance your life.
Home batteries help in areas prone to power cuts as consumers can now store whatever little electricity they get for later use. It also helps reduce costs in areas where energy prices fluctuate. Its helps with peak shaving whereby energy consumption during peak hours can be reduced resulting in savings. WISE also analyses your energy usage and shows you ways by which you can alter your energy consumption to save money.
Energy storage help bridge the mismatch between power generation from renewables such as solar or wind, and power consumption. This enables one to reduce their carbon footprint by shifting to other sources of energy without disrupting power supply.
A combination of various elements in its product allows WISE to have multiple revenue streams. While hardware sales is a revenue stream, software sales is also a major and recurrent revenue stream. Customers pay a monthly subscription fee ranging between $9.95 – $24.95 per month for the WISE IoT platform. There is also a component of revenue from the distributors by way of license fees. The product is to be distributed across 500 territories through a network of dealers and partners who are predominantly HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), solar, and electrical contractors. The system is installed by these distributors. A 3-year license is priced at $5,000. WISE has a goal of producing modular storage at $7,500 – $8,000 (installed).
The WISE Future
WISE is not the first to offer an energy storage solution. It is going up against giants such as Mercedes, BMW, Tesla, LG and Panasonic while also competing with start-ups such as Orison. These giants have advantages such as brand recognition, greater financial capacity, and existing distribution channels. However, what differentiates WISE from most of these players is the ‘intelligent’ element brought in by IoT.
While this segment is currently driven by the appeal of energy independence, the economics is yet to catch up. Various sources estimate that it could take up to 10 years to make up the savings. That is roughly equivalent to the life of the battery itself. Adding maintenance and decreasing efficiency of the battery over its lifetime could make things more difficult. However, as prices of various components continue to decline, perhaps there could be a time where the general applicability would be economically viable. As of now, the target customers are in areas with high electricity costs or unsteady supply, or are consumers who want to rely completely on alternative energy sources.
With a clear problem statement, a founder with a solid track record, and patented technology, WISE is out to solve a real challenge that can help improve the lives of individuals and the energy storage industry.
[Disclaimer: The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as an endorsement or investment, financial or any other advice.]