Uprise Energy is focused on making the world a better place providing reliable power at the grid’s edge and beyond. The first product they’re bringing to market is a 10kW portable wind turbine that fits in a 20’ shipping container and sets up in one hour to produce clean, affordable electricity directly to the customer.
CEO Jonathan Knight, his wife, Rosa, and their two kids relocated from their home and the rest of the Uprise team in San Diego and moved to Melbourne after being selected for the first Startupbootcamp Energy Australia cohort.
As we near the end of our program, with less than 3 weeks to go until Demo Day, we sat down with Jonathan Knight to ask him how his journey has been thus far in the program.
SBC: What do you feel has been Uprise’s biggest obstacle, and how have you overcome that?
Jonathan: For one, there’s just not enough hours in the day to get everything done that I want to, which creates the ancillary challenge of prioritising my tasks and what to focus on. There have been no shortage of promising opportunities created by the Startupbootcamp program, so efficiently evaluating the options before deciding where to apply my attention has been slightly stressful and cause for a few restless nights.
I guess you could liken it to drinking from a firehose; I’m meeting dozens of new people everyday, there’s scores of new stakeholders that I’m trying to wrap my head around, the energy landscape is different than what I’m used to and all this while trying not to get run over by people driving on the wrong side of the road. With time, though, I’ve gotten pretty comfortable and thankfully, I’ve had my wife to help me with research and the awesome crew in the SBC office to lean on.
SBC: What has been your biggest success so far in the program?
Jonathan: I’d say the unanimous support and excitement we’ve received around our portable wind turbine project. Often, going into meetings people will already have preconceived ideas about renewable energy, and in particular why small to medium sized wind turbines have never really taken off in the market.
It’s quite rewarding to see people’s attitudes change once I’ve had a chance to explain how Uprise has overcome these challenges with our unique technology. It’s great when you can feel the comprehension of what we are doing from others.
SBC: What’s been the best advice you’ve received thus far?
Jonathan: I’m not sure if it was advice but something that stuck with me was in the process of deciding whether or not to make the move from the US to Australia was Ruud Hendriks telling me that through the program, I would “get done in 3 months what would normally take 3 years.”
SBC: What advice would you give to a startup entering into the SBC program?
Jonathan: Get the most out of the program by taking advantage of all the opportunities and especially the staff. Lean on the whole Startupbootcamp team, and their vast range of skills and utilise the resources available. It’s tough to emphasise this enough. It took me a while to realise how many people on the team are willing to bend over backwards to help in any way possible.
SBC: What have you found are the notable differences in the renewable energy or startup field in Australia, versus the States?
Jonathan: The Australian government is extremely supportive of innovation, clean tech and renewables. There’s support in the States but there is also a lot more competition vying for the same opportunities. Meanwhile, the competitive landscape is quite a bit smaller in Melbourne so access to those resources doesn’t seem as out of reach as in the US.
SBC: Now that you’ve been in Melbourne a while, it’s time to tell us your favourite thing to do here! What is something you enjoy about the city?
Jonathan: I’ve been so focused on the program, I haven’t been able to explore as much as I’d like to, so to compensate, I’ve been eating my way through the city – which I’ve really enjoyed! The quality and variety of food is amazing. I love the fact that Melbourne has a culture of individually-owned restaurants and cafés. There’s also a great energy about the city; it’s laid-back, the people are friendly, loads of sport, plus tons of art and super-interesting architecture everywhere you look.
Not only SBC, but Melbourne has been lucky to have the Knight family aboard!
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