Lisa Wendzich has a dream: She wants to make sustainable power available everywhere. That’s why she and her husband Bryce Felmingham founded the startup SunCrafter. To make their vision a reality, the entrepreneurs chose a location with a promising future: the A32 Entrepreneurs Forum Berlin Siemensstadt, a converted warehouse on the grounds of the Berlin Dynamowerk.
Ms. Wendzich, what’s SunCrafter’s vision?
SunCrafter’s vision is to deliver power – in the form of grids, easy access to technological expertise, and to a certain extent, money – where it’s actually needed, independent of the existing infrastructure. We’re upcycling, not just because it’s more sustainable but also because it’ll be more affordable for customers. Our products were originally intended for energy-poor regions, but over time we noticed that the problem of access to power isn’t limited to these regions (for the most part, Sub-Saharan Africa). Power is sometimes unavailable even in German city centers – although it’s supposed to be available!
You upcycle old solar panels that can then serve as hubs to produce sustainable power independently of location, correct?
Exactly. We create an energy source that lets you tap into energy right where it’s produced. The energy source is completely mobile and incredibly sustainable, because it’s made of recycled materials. It has an unbelievable number of applications. This sometimes makes it hard for us to stay focused on what’s currently most practical. But our vision is still to deliver power wherever it’s needed,– primarily to energy-poor regions. But along the way, we’re working in other areas.
What areas, for example?
Our main focus right now is on mobility in the city. Our solar hubs are like small checkpoints where it’s always possible to recharge. They’re specifically aimed at micromobility, but cellphones, WiFi hotspots, and environmental sensors can also be charged. They’re basically small hubs in the city that can stand alone, generate electricity, and guarantee specific services to residents.
Who would benefit from these applications?
The biggest thing we can charge with the hubs is eScooters and the smallest is cellphones and lights. Our portfolio is primarily aimed at public mass-transit operators who will be able to connect with sharing providers via the hubs. It’s about making the transportation transition even more sustainable and people-friendly. We believe that these sustainable and off grid charging stations will be an excellent addition in the city that residents can benefit from For example, as a place to park eScooters. This gives our solution a regulatory framework. It’s a clean and economical way to charge and also a convenient way to connect public transportation with sharing providers.
Why did you choose Siemensstadt as the center of your activities?
There’s a grant called the “Berlin Startup Stipendium” that’s organized by the universities: It’s a program to support startups, and we were part of that. They provide coaching, office space, and other amenities. We got the grant from HWR (Berlin School of Economics and Law). And while we were in Berlin, they opened the A32 space, so we started working there and realized that we liked it here a lot, and we could imagine renting an office here. It’s good for us because we have a space where we can combine our office, production, and warehouse.
What are your next steps?
We’d really like to have our production here and, of course, we’d like to introduce our charging stations here in Siemensstadt2. It’s supposed to be about cutting-edge, innovative concepts for mobility, living, and working, and our stations are a perfect fit for that.
What’s your wish for the future of Siemensstadt?
Here’s what I think would be extremely interesting: There are lots of startups but relatively few companies that deal in hardware. I think that Siemens would be an excellent partner for us because they have an incredible amount of hardware expertise available. It would be fantastic for us if Siemens also made production possible on the campus, with us there to support it. That would be incredibly appealing. Affordable rent is also important. I imagine that once all the creative people gather here, the rest will follow. So there’s no need to rush out and open a café; I think it’ll all happen naturally on its own.