Group Hug Personal Solar Panels

group hugKrystal Persaud started Group Hug, her company that makes “personal solar panels,” out of curiosity more than anything else. She was searching for a business to start, and the only criteria she had was it was a sustainable product. Persaud is a design engineer by profession and she used the processes she learned in that profession to identify a need and create a product to sell.

She got her start at a company called littleBits, a STEM based learning business. While she enjoyed the work, she had a desire to forge out on her own. In the many conversations she had with people about sustainable products, solar power was the number one topic. People she spoke to – mostly New York City apartment dwellers – wanted a solar option, but couldn’t get it because they didn’t own the buildings they lived in. That was Persaud’s “AHA moment.”

She threw herself into the specifics of manufacturing solar panels and decided to go with a small, picture frame sized panel anyone could hang in any window. Group Hug also makes custom panels in virtually any shape and size that hang in windows. While her panels won’t run a whole house, they will charge electronic devices and give people a sense they are taking steps toward more sustainable energy.

Kickstarting Success

When it came time to go beyond prototypes, Persaud turned to Kickstarter and raised $70,760. Her mission “to inspire a sustainable lifestyle that is effortless, without sacrificing design” apparently struck a chord with urban dwellers. The Group Hug solar charger gives enough juice to power a standard smart phone twice on an eight hour charge. Using the charger on a daily basis – she hopes – will encourage people to take steps toward more sustainable living.

Now, the company is beyond the Kickstarter stage and selling (on a pre-order basis) direct from their website. They promise May, 2020 delivery for the $149 item. Certainly the idea has merit and proof of concept. The question is, will a Shark agree?

My Take on Group Hug

I like the idea. We are actually exploring solar panels for our roof at the moment. The savings could be over $3000 per year. While the Group Hug solar panels are small in size, I like the idea of “training people” to consider solar options once they get beyond the apartment stage of their life.

The product looks good, too. Persaud’s design background served her product well. While I might not be a customer, I see the benefits for the target market. I think this business will do well, with or without a Shark.

Will Sharks See the Light?

Lori was the first Shark who came to my mind when thinking who might be interested. She could sell it on QVC and could probably help Krystal get the cost down to $99. That would do a lot to help sales as the $100 threshold is a big psychological barrier.

I’m not so sure how Rohan will view this as it’s a bit out of his area of expertise. Kevin and Barbara are wild cards, too, but Mark may make a play. He likes intelligent entrepreneurs who don’t need a lot of hand-holding and Ms. Persaud fits the bill. I expect at least one offer, possibly two, for Group Hug. Whether Krystal wants to swim with the Sharks on their terms is another story.

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

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