Solar Energy

Case Study

Improving Product Development For A Clean Energy Startup

Services

Product + Process
Development

Program + Project
Management

Challenge

Aquion Energy was a young, talented, and award winning clean tech startup aiming to change the world by developing clean, non-toxic, long-duration, energy storage systems ideal for pairing with renewable energy installations. With high profile investors such as Bill Gates and Kleiner Perkins the pressure was on to scale up operations and compete with much larger and more experienced competition. Like the rest of the organization, the Product and System Engineering group was growing and in need of some project management services.

Solution

The organization had already launched its first generation of products - an Aqueous Hybrid Ion battery, plus a corresponding Battery Monitoring System to optimize battery performance - so the first step was to learn more about the existing product teams and processes.

 

Never afraid to get our hands dirty, we participated in research & development battery builds and spent many days at the manufacturing facilities. While we were officially part of the Product and System Engineering group, we reported directly to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and therefore interfaced with all aspects of the business - Manufacturing, Marketing, Product Management, Sales, etc.

 

Spending time with and learning from the Engineers, Researchers, Technicians, and Executive Team allowed us to identify and implement process and communications improvements such as:

 

  • Updating the product development process to reflect changes made since the early days of the company. This included clarifying terminology used across the organization, tightening up requirements for moving between product development phases (Research & Development, Alpha, Beta, Pre-Production, etc.), and identifying process bottlenecks such as supplier lead times and analysis of test data.

  • Leading and streamlining the product compliance efforts necessary to achieve UL, CE, and FCC compliance. We developed simple checklists, schedule templates, and test plans that guided the products through multiple successful certifications.

  • Leading multiple cross-functional (Manufacturing, Product Engineering, Supply Chain, etc.) product part cost down efforts, resulting in a lower per unit product cost.

  • Facilitating weekly product portfolio status updates, challenges, and action items with the entire Operations department, leading to earlier identification of product development issues and plans to address each issue.

Results

25% Increase

in revenue 

20% Decrease

in product hard good costs 

3X Increase

in product certifications 


 

During our time at Aquion Energy we released three generations of batteries for energy storage systems, plus three accessory electronic devices to help customers maximize battery performance.

 

Energy storage systems utilizing Aquion batteries were installed around the globe, helping customers to get the most out of their renewable energy installations and make sure they never had to worry about product safety or environmental impact.

 

Product hard good costs were reduced significantly, helping to compete with some of the largest battery manufacturers in the world.

Scientist on Computer

Kevin's ability to move an organization in a cohesive manner towards common goals is second to none and was a critical component of our successes while working together. His communication style is clear and deliberate; his plans are well constructed and pay meticulous attention to detail; and the results Kevin delivers are on time, on plan, and without drama. He earns the respect from all corners of an organization through his genuine personality and the results he delivers time and time again.

Vice President of Product Management

Business Team

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