AS THE Bega Valley’s links to the world-wide web grow stronger and faster – though perhaps not as fast as some would like – the ability to combine business and pleasure is becoming all-too enticing for many.
Small companies or individual entrepreneurs are taking the opportunity to live on the idyllic Far South Coast while growing their tech-enabled companies and selling them to the world.
From Bilby 3D – a 3D printing supply business that has gone from humble beginnings in Kanoona to a busy shop front in Alexandria, Sydney – to the team behind PhonicPath – a GPS-activated tour guide software package for mobile platforms – innovation and entrepreneurship is thriving in the Valley.
To that end, the fourth annual SeaChange Startup Camp is being held this coming weekend, hosted by Bega’s own technology and business group IntoIT in conjunction with Canberra’s leading startup advisory service Lighthouse Innovation.
The startup camp, run over two days at the Pambula Surf Life Saving Club, will give entrepreneurs on the Sapphire Coast the opportunity to come up with some innovative web-based businesses, or further develop what they are already working on.
Mentors with strong business backgrounds will be on-hand to assist in the process.
The budding entrepreneurs will then get a chance to pitch their Internet business ideas to a highly credentialled investor panel.
On that panel, among other big names in the Australian world of startups, will be Lachlan Blackhall, from Reposit Power.
Canberra-based green-tech startup Reposit was recently named as the local distributor for the Tesla Powerwall – innovative and intelligent battery storage for home solar power systems.
Mr Blackhall said he has “no idea” about what will come of this weekend’s entrepreneurs camp – “which is how it should be”.
“You never know when or where a great idea will come from,” Mr Blackhall said.
Mr Blackhall said there was a lot of hype around startups, but they require a lot of commitment and passion.
However, there was something particularly satisfying in seeing an idea come to fruition – particularly so if you combined that work with an enjoyable lifestyle such as is on offer in the Bega Valley.
“A lot of it is chasing down a dream and developing the idea,” Mr Blackhall said.
“You have to spend a lot of time doing rather than lots of time talking.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be in a city though.
“Having space to develop things is important.”
Mr Blackhall is an engineer by profession who “enjoys building things and tinkering”.
“Simultaneously I have an interest in business and how you can have a lot of impact in society.
“Entrepreneurship indulges both those two passions.”
He first started working on Reposit in 2011, excited about what it could mean for the renewable energy sector.
“With storage, the big challenge is making it economical.
“About 1.5million homes up and down the East Coast have solar systems.
“The Powerwall has the potential to revolutionise how people use and benefit from that solar energy.”
Mr Blackhall said the Tesla Powerwall makes battery storage “intelligent”, minimising what consumers pay for their power, maximising generation and intelligently trading the stored energy back into the market when prices are high.
Discover more at www.repositpower.com, and consider entering this weekend’s startup camp with your own innovative tech-enabled business idea.
Details and registrations are now open at seachange4.eventbrite.com.au.
Revolutionary solar storage innovation
By Clare Colley
TECHNOLOGY developed in Canberra will be at the heart of new batteries to power homes developed by electric car maker Tesla.
The GridCredits technology developed by Canberra start-up Reposit Power allows solar panel owners to automatically maximise their profits by selling power back to the grid at peak times and buying electricity when it's cheapest.
Reposit launched a pilot of the world-first technology in six households around the ACT last December and after its success is now looking at a wider spread roll-out, chief operating officer Luke Osborne said.
While GridCredits can be used by any type of solar panel system and a range of power storage solutions, the Tesla batteries are expected to be a more affordable option than existing batteries encouraging greater uptake.
"What we do is put some smart brains on that and allow it to interact with wholesale markets," Mr Osborne said.
"We want customers to be able to choose the best storage device and have a great user experience from us by trading in energy markets, buying low and selling high and supplying themselves in between."
The technology automatically decides whether to store energy in the battery during the day or sell it back to the grid at a profit.
When energy prices drop overnight and the system predicts low solar generation the following day GridCredits takes electricity from the grid to charge the batteries.
Users are able to see in real-time what energy is being consumed, stored or sold from their house by a mobile phone app.
Mr Osborne said "crude versions" of the technology controlling power sources exist in most storage solutions, but the GridCredits technology interacted with the wholesale market allowing householders to act as energy traders.
The Tesla device will be available in the US from around August, priced at approximately $4435 (AUD) for a 10kWh version, or $3800 (AUD) for a 7kWh version.
Mr Osborne said the battery was one of the lowest priced he had seen and an Australian roll-out was expected as early as October.
The GridCredits technology was built to transfer into other markets similar to Australia's national energy market including Texas and South Korea.
After the GridCredits' pilot wraps up in coming months, Mr Osborne said the company was hoping to begin a bigger roll-out of 50 to 100 units followed by general sales to the public.