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Startup Spotlight: Open Waters Solar

Our Startup Spotlight series is designed to introduce you to the founders in our community, consisting of a diverse and dynamic group of entrepreneurs, each building unique and innovative products! This week we interview Simon Angus P.Eng, Founder and CEO of Open Waters Solar, who are developing SolarSIPs

How did you come up with the idea for the business?

Open Waters Solar started out with the vision of designing and building a 40ft all carbon fibre, all electric sailing catamaran. We realised this goal and launched the Catamaran in 2021. During commissioning we realised the solar solution we had selected did not meet our electrical generation expectations.

We Identified 4 main problems with the chosen semi-flex panels, which were; real estate utilisation, efficiency degradation of the cells due to micro-cracking, wiring orientation and bypass diodes orientation. For our catamaran to become fully sustainable we needed to solve these problems.

The problems were solved with the design and manufacture of composite solar panel with inbuilt bypass diodes. Our custom shapes maximise the surface area and energy generation. Integrated in panel wiring means few penetrations into the boat and higher charge voltages.

Why does the industry need the solution?

We originally identified the problem because of our own boat build, but after talking to many other boaters, the majority had some issues at some point with semi flex solar panels. As the industry moves towards electrification, yacht owners will need as much reliable energy production as is possible. We can add huge amounts of solar power to yachts without detracting from the aesthetics.

What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?

The freedom to invent. No other company has successfully created a full composite panel and the development behind the process to create this has been exhausting. A larger company would have given up after so many prototype failures, but we had the flexibility to continue to development and finally found the secret sauce which is now our process patent.

What challenges did you have to overcome at the beginning of your journey?

Money has always been our biggest issue. There is an unlimited amount of advice available for startups but funding is a hard thing to obtain. Selling the idea to potential investors without a product is a challenge. Now we have a product and multiple successful trials obtaining capital is still not easy, but achievable.

Any bits of advice for entrepreneurs getting started in this space?

Don’t give up. Selling the company to investors is just as important as selling to customers - however, a few sales to customers always helps the investors buying.

What’s the plan for the future of the business? Where do you see the company in 3 – 5 years?

Growth. We’re currently in the process of automating our production facility. This will allow us to manufacture up to 10KW of solar per day by early 2025. In 2025 we will continue to grow by focusing on other market segments.


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