Welcome to the online press kit for Jonathan Budd and Powur
Igniting the Powur of the Crowd
Jonathan Budd and Powur are building an army of “Solar-preneurs” to crowdsource rooftop solar, halt carbon-based climate change and accelerate the shift to a new global energy paradigm
The one thing humans need to survive, besides oxygen, water, food and shelter, is energy. A $6 trillion/year industry, energy is poised to grow by 80 percent through 2040 as China and India adopt modern living standards. Yet our energy infrastructure is built on an outdated centralized grid and dirty fossil fuels, pushing us ever closer to an “irreversible tipping point” of climate change with unknown consequences.
“We are rolling the dice on what the earth is going to look like 50 years from now and if it will be habitable,” says Jonathan Budd, who is working to expand solar energy through entrepreneurship. “Will it be able to sustain 8, 9 billion people? A lot of scientists are saying no. There’s going to be complete chaos. I figured if the world has got it all on the line, I might as well put it all on the line to try to solve this.”
Jonathan is founder and CEO of Powur, a startup he’s building to halt carbon-based climate change and shift the global energy paradigm. Adapting the disruptive, decentralized economic model of companies such as Uber and AirBnB, Powur aims to tap the power of the crowd with the first ever platform to crowdsource solar energy through the sharing economy. Its goal: connect 2 million homes to solar by 2025 while generating $2 billion for partners.
"We’re crowdsourcing everything for solar," he says. "We’re crowdsourcing distribution, we’re crowdsourcing the providers, and we're crowdsourcing the customers. We’re built a platform for solar the same way Uber essentially crowdsources drivers and riders. I think the difference is ours is going to have a ripple effect of positive change across the planet."
To understand how this grand plan works you’d need to spend the last three years researching and refining a new model for expanding sustainable energy, which is what Jonathan has done. In what he calls "the era of the platform," he's building a platform that makes it possible for anyone to run an impact-driven social business from the palm of their hand. In doing so he aims to tear down the last remaining barrier to widespread adoption of solar: cost.
The cost of solar power has fallen to 1/150th of its level in the 1970s, while the total amount of installed solar has soared 115,000-fold. Since 2000, the amount of electricity produced globally by solar power has doubled seven times over. Yet costs to acquire new customers keep increasing, creating what Jonathan calls “the biggest pain point in the entire solar industry." Powur's platform is fundamentally built to solve that conundrum.
“We are lowering customer acquisition costs by building an independent direct sales force, a 1099 contractor force that goes straight to the customer and weeds out all the middle men,” he says. “We can scale this model and we’ve built a propriety platform and a distributed provider network to make it happen.”
The key is to offer homeowners solar installations at no upfront cost, and allow them to reap the benefits of lower power bills and end up owning their equipment. Powur advisors, independent direct sales associates, will act as an “army of renewable energy advocates” spreading the Gospel of solar. Using Powur’s proprietary algorithm they will recommend the best suppliers and installers and act as a “concierge” throughout the process.
“The value proposition for the customer is they get to have multiple companies competing for their business who are the best of breed in their area and have their hand held through the entire process,” Jonathan says. “It’s kind of like having a broker, a solar broker, who handles everything on your behalf, connects you with the best companies, and gets you the best deal.”
Untapped DemandAn estimated 90 million U.S. homes qualify for rooftop solar, yet less than 2 percent have it installed. Getting 2 million homeowners to use solar will create exponential growth and demand, Jonathan says. That will cause energy prices to crater and return billions of dollars to the pockets of consumers now tied to the grid and enslaved by the rates of giant electric utilities.
“People need to know solar is the most economical, intelligent, financial decision to make for how you get energy today,” he says. “We see our advisors as the spearheads of getting that education out there – that we can power our homes by sunshine today cheaper than we can by fossil fuels in most of the country. We can take our energy independence back, we can rebuild the American economy with new higher paying jobs in solar, and we can save money while we are doing it.”
Getting Off CoalAccording to the Energy Department’s Annual Coal Report, the U.S. dug up 900 million tons of coal in 2015. There were 7,677 power plants burning coal and contributing to the steep increase in carbon in the atmosphere. With a population of 318.9 million, the U.S. is 1/8 the size of China (1.357 billion people) and India (1.252 billion.) As those nations modernize and increase energy consumption, continued reliance on fossil fuels holds devastating consequences.
Jonathan is not daunted by promises to “bring back coal” in the era of Trump, or calls by the fossil fuel industry to eliminate tax credits and other subsidies for renewable industry. He cites Moore’s Law, which holds that technology continually grows more efficient. Commodities such as coal and oil are inherently limited. As technologies to harness and store solar energy continue to improve, they will inevitably win out over the fossil fuel paradigm to become the cheapest form of energy on the planet, he says. Powur aims to accelerate that transition by encouraging homeowners to become early adopters, and claim their energy independence from the monopoly of utilities.
“Once it really enters into mainstream adoption, the economy of scale is going to drive costs down even further to that tipping point,” Jonathan says. “I do believe in less than two decades the plurality of energy around the world can be solar, if we really try. There’s absolutely no doubt we can do it. It’s simply a matter of the will of the people to do it.
Putting it All on the LineHaving made millions at an early age as a web-based coach, trainer, teacher and consultant for business owners, Jonathan, now 32, turned his focus on solving what he calls “the greatest challenge we need to solve in the next two decades.” He sold his Tesla and other assets to invest in his dream of crowdsourcing solar energy, and led Powur to raise $2.65 million since 2014.
“Our board of directors and our investors said, ‘Hey, what are you willing to do, Jonathan? Are you really all in?’ I liquidated every asset I had; I sold my Tesla; I rounded up all my cash. I was the lead investor and got all of them to follow me. So I have pretty much given everything I have to this. That’s how much I believe in it.”
“What is that tipping point for sustainable energy that’s going to cause it go viral? It feels like we’re on the cusp of a new paradigm but we’re not there yet by a long shot," he says. "But when it happens it is going to happen so fast that it is going to change everything in the span of a decade.”
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