#170 Veeral Hardev, VP of Strategy at Ubiquitous Energy
Veeral Hardev is VP of Strategy at Ubiquitous Energy. Hardev has over a decade of experience commercializing novel nano-materials products for the electronics industry. This includes his time at Nanosys, Inc. where he led materials and business development, and product management. Hardev holds an MBA from the Berkeley Haas School of Business, and bachelor’s degrees in Materials Science and Economics from UCLA.
Listen & Subscribe
Apple podcast: https://apple.co/3DZN04Z
Bigger Than Us #170
This transcript has been lightly edited.
Host Raj Daniels 01:16
How’re you doing today?
Veeral Hardev 01:17
Doing very well, Raj. Thanks for asking. I hope you’re doing well. And just excited to be here today to chat with you a little bit.
Host Raj Daniels 01:24
I’m very excited to speak with you too; sounds like a phenomenal technology you guys have at Ubiquitous Energy. Before we do, though — and it’s my job to do background research on my guests. And I want to start here: you have a certification in, I want to say, “Confident, Assertive, and in Charge: Developing the Attitudes of Leadership.” What inspired you to take that course?
Veeral Hardev 01:45
Oh, really good question. I think what really inspired me really is around public speaking and showing confidence in whatever you’re talking about or wherever you’re discussing. And going back to business school, one of the mantras we had there was trying to develop people who are leaders who show that confidence without having an arrogance or an ego about them. It’s more of just, be confident in one, who you are. And then second, in what you’re describing or talking about, or educated on because you are an expert in what you know.
Host Raj Daniels 02:25
So, give us a tip. How do you be confident in who you are?
Veeral Hardev 02:29
Yeah, really good question. That’s a hard one, right? I think that’s personal for a lot of people. For some people, doing some kind of routine to hype themselves up before they’re about to take the stage to do something, or to give a presentation.
For others, it’s just really practicing the heck out of it. They know whatever they’re going to talk about or speak about, or present about, front and back; they could do it in their sleep, if you will. For others, it’s imagining — one of the really old things about public speaking was to have fun. Imagine your audience is sitting there in their underwear. So, there could be a number of things. But I think for me personally, it’s just not being worried of all the things that could potentially go wrong. I think that’s where a lot of people get caught up. You get so nervous or anxious about, “what if,” and if you go down that path, that’s not going to be very good path. So, again, to me, it’s more of just, be confident in yourself, and just have fun with it.
Host Raj Daniels 03:41
I appreciate you sharing that. And I’d like to add one other thing that I’ve heard also, is that if you focus on delivering value to the audience, then it shifts the focus from you to them.
Veeral Hardev 03:52
Yeah, that’s a really good one.
Host Raj Daniels 03:53
Now, are you aware that Warren Buffett has been asked many times what his best investment ever was? Do you know the answer to that question?
Veeral Hardev 04:00
I know I’ve read it, but I don’t know off the top of my head.
Host Raj Daniels 04:03
He said it was Dale Carnegie, trading and public speaking.
Veeral Hardev 04:07
Yeah, that’s a good one. That’s definitely a good one that I’ve done, for sure.
Host Raj Daniels 04:11
I appreciate you sharing that with us. So you mentioned Ubiquitous Energy at the beginning of the show. Can you give the audience an overview of Ubiquitous Energy and your role at the organization?
Veeral Hardev 04:22
Yeah, no problem. Great. Yeah. Ubiquitous Energy is a startup company that spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — MIT — about a decade ago. And the concept and the vision was quite simple. It was really to develop and commercialize a transparent solar technology. And when we mean transparent, it’s virtually invisible.
So it’s something that you can apply to almost any surface without changing that surface’s look or appearance. That’s really what the company is all about. I’m more than happy to jump into exactly what we’re up to. It’s quite exciting. My role here is — I’ve been with the company for about six years now — my title is vice president of strategy. But really, for me, what that means is helping to lead our efforts in business development and marketing, in partnerships to help get this technology out to the market.
Host Raj Daniels 05:22
I would really appreciate to hear some of the use cases. Yeah, of course.
Veeral Hardev 05:28
Think about a renewable energy technology that you can apply anywhere, that you didn’t even know was there, but it’s giving you that benefit of creating and generating clean and renewable energy. That’s our real mission and focus with our technology. I referred to it as a transparent solar technology; when you think about that, you could start to think about many, many things. And they’re all things that are probably pretty valid. In terms of areas or applications where we can apply our technology, I can talk about several of them.
One, right off the bat, is if you look at buildings or homes, and you look at the sides of buildings, especially in downtown areas — urban areas — where you have really tall buildings, skyscrapers, most of the time, those are just glass. Glass facades, as they’re called, all around the building. So what if we could apply our technology to those surface areas, so that — again, it doesn’t change the look, or appearance, or the aesthetic of the of that glass or those windows.
But now, with our technology applied to it, we can actually create renewable energy harvested from sunlight, like how traditional solar panels do, but do it in a way that’s non-obtrusive or without impacting aesthetics. So windows is obviously a big one, whether it’s for commercial buildings, residential buildings, apartment buildings, or homes. But then also, you know, other areas where you have windows or glass. One that comes to mind right away, especially in our day and age with autonomous electric vehicles, is obviously automotive.
We can eventually apply our technology to automotive, to the windshield, to the sidelights, to the sunroof, eventually to the body of the car — again, not taking away or changing the way the design or the look and the feel of a car is, or the automobile is, but adding this valid value-added benefit, so that now we can actually create renewable energy from the whole surface of the car. Beyond that, you know, we can think about other devices that we interact with. We kind of joke internally, and we say we want to apply our technology to every surface.
Well, it’s not every surface. It’s not going to be on the interior of your bathroom floor or anything. But it’s surfaces we talk about as surfaces you interact with every day. So people look in and out of their window, whether it’s at home, or their building, or their office every day. Most people do get into an automobile at some point, probably every day or every other day, or pretty frequently.
And then what else? Consumer electronics. Who is not literally attached to their mobile devices now? Obviously, there’s a negative side to that. But on the positive side, there’s a lot of productivity we all get from having mobile devices. So what if we could apply our technology to these mobile devices, whether it’s your cell phone, your iPhone, your tablet, or your computer? If you’re just sitting outside, getting some nice sunshine, and enjoying yourself, your devices could be trickle-charging without you even knowing it, with our technology embedded into the glass or the display of those devices. There are a lot more.
The last one I’ll kind of leave you with here is agriculture. Especially as a lot of work is going on in terms of sustainable food sources and efficient farming and things like this. Getting greenhouses, we believe, to be completely independent in terms of their consumption and need for electricity, potentially with our technology, is an area that we’re pretty excited about.
So by applying our technology to the greenhouse, you can have a greenhouse that literally just operates itself. It doesn’t need to be connected to the electrical grid or get its power from somewhere else.
Host Raj Daniels 09:31
Those are all great use cases. And sounds like you have a huge addressable market. You mentioned earlier you’re a startup. Where have you decided to start out? Which market and why?
Veeral Hardev 09:42
Yeah, really good question. As you know, maybe from some of the discussions you’ve had and some of the things I try to preach here, not only at at our company but others that I know, is really focusing. I think that’s where your question really is getting to. You’re right. We have a tremendous opportunity. We believe with our technology, [there are] a number of different places we can apply to. But we’re not naive.
We are small; we’re not going to be able to do everything all at the same time. So we do have to focus our efforts, and where we decided to focus our efforts is really in the window space. Windows for both residential buildings and for commercial buildings. And there are a couple of reasons we decided to have that focus. One, from a business perspective, is that we believe that’s probably our largest addressable market segment, when we think about our technology and all these different places, whether it’s agriculture, consumer, electronics, automotive, or windows.
Another term you could use for that is just architectural glass in general. So there’s a market and financial part of that decision. The other part of that decision is we believe that’s where our technology can have the biggest impact. And what I mean by that is impact from a global climate perspective. How, by incorporating our technology, can we make buildings and homes in general much more energy efficient, and surfaces that create renewable energy? So helping to offset carbon emissions.
Some analyses we’ve done, to give you an example of the impact we could have on buildings alone, is that we could offset up to 10% of global carbon emissions just by incorporating our technology into windows that are sold all around the world already. So there’s the impact.
And then there’s the value. There’s tremendous value, we believe, in integrating our technology into window products. That is hopefully going to be seamless and convenient, not only for the consumer, but also the people who actually do the construction to install and build these buildings and these windows. We believe that there’s a really big impact we could have there to integrate a technology like ours, that is new or next generation, but have it made and manufactured in a way that it’s going to be seamless for that whole customer experience.
And then on the value side, now that we’re able to generate renewable electricity or energy from these windows surfaces, we’re looking at all kinds of things. What could you do with that energy? One thing you could do is you could net meter it and send it back to the grid or sell it back to the grid. Another thing we think is a little bit more intelligent to do at the onset: you could start to drive other functions and features right out the window, whether those are sensors or other electronic appliances, whether that’s a lighting, and those kinds of things.
We think of our technology as being integrated in a way that not only makes financial sense, makes an impact , for carbon emissions and climate, but also brings this tremendous value to the consumer or the owner of the building, whether it’s a home or or commercial building, again, in terms of making their whole building system operate more efficiently and effectively.
Host Raj Daniels 13:14
You mentioned construction earlier. Are you looking to target retrofitting or a new build?
Veeral Hardev 13:19
Yeah, really good question. We will likely target new construction at the very beginning. That said, we are actively exploring ways that we can integrate our technology into existing buildings. As you probably know, more than half of the market that is out there are buildings that are already there. And with a pandemic, global construction did take a little bit of a hit, but by most forecasts and expert predictions, that’s expected to rebound. But that doesn’t mean that existing buildings are really going away.
You know, I saw some stat the other day that said, 90% of the buildings that exist in New York City will still exist by the year 2050. So that means anything that we’re doing to make an impact globally with our technology, we’re going to have to address this retrofit and renovation market. But again, as a small company, we’re not naive. We can’t be doing everything all at once. And so we’re kind of focusing on that new construction side for the most part, but hopefully quickly following into the retrofit and renovation market.
Host Raj Daniels 14:27
You know, speaking of the number of buildings, I think I’ve heard recently that they’re actually estimating that the number of buildings is set to double in the next 20 to 30 years.
Veeral Hardev 14:36
Host Raj Daniels 14:36
Now, doing some research, I found that from energy consumption standpoint, buildings have three main issues. One is how much glass is on a building; they call it the glazing ratio. Second is how airtight it is. And third is insulation. So from a glass on the side of the building, and I don’t remember the person who said it, but to quote them roughly, “the best glass performs as about as good as the worst walls.” I thought it was a very interesting comment. How does your glass or your product perform from an efficiency standpoint?
Veeral Hardev 15:09
Yeah, really good question. And yeah, this, unfortunately, has been a fairly controversial topic. But I think the education is getting out there now that there’s technology that exists with glazing and new windows, that the thermal insulation performance side of things is almost as good as a concrete wall. There are the different scientific metrics: in terms of U-value and R-value and those kinds of things. But instead of boring your audience — I won’t get into that — but I will address the three things that you brought up.
So, the glazing ratio. Another way to think about this is what most designers and architects call the window to wall ratio. How much of your surface of your side of the building is made up of glazing, or a window, or glass area? So there’s a ratio. So if it’s 40% or 50%, that’s just about basically how much amount of glass you have. So the challenge here has been this battle between creating buildings that are energy-efficient, and then, on the design standpoint, people love glass. People love these big buildings that are just 100% glazed, or what we call curtain wall buildings, where the whole side of the building is just glass.
So everybody loves the design, architects love it. And then you have this battle about how that’s probably not the most energy-efficient building, right? One of the developers jokingly has told me, “If I was in the energy [field], if that was the only thing I cared about, I would just build concrete buildings with no windows.” There are not many people out in the world, joking aside, that want to live in such a structure, right?
Host Raj Daniels 16:51
Yeah, they’re called prisons, I think.
Veeral Hardev 16:52
Yeah, that’s right. So on the glazing ratio side, our technology brings value from a couple of different ways. So let me take a moment here to explain this. Our technology can be considered like a solar panel. So what does a solar panel do? It takes light energy from sunlight and converts some amount of that into useful electricity. By the laws of physics, that process works and is really well understood and known. And so there are different things you can do to change that solar panel, and in terms of changing certain materials, and things like this, to affect performance. So what our technology is doing is we’re doing the same exact thing. Our technology is transparent, in that it’s receiving the same amount of sunlight. And it’s converting some of that into electricity.
The trick is, we’re not absorbing what’s known as visible light energy to do this. And so that’s how we can make our technology look virtually invisible or completely transparent. But it’s still effective. And it’s effective because it’s still absorbing a lot of the light energy that’s in the non-visible part of the spectrum, what we typically refer to as ultraviolet light energy and infrared light energy. And so by doing this, we can create a device that’s like a solar panel. It’s receiving sunlight, it’s converting some of that into electricity. But we’re, on purpose, letting transmit or pass through all of that visible light.
So to me and you and to most humans, who see visible color, it looks completely transparent because we don’t see that ultraviolet like birds do, and we don’t see that infrared like other animals do. And so by doing this, we’re able to create a technology or a window product that looks just like a traditional window. We’re not changing the way it looks in terms of aesthetics, color, or transparency level, but now that window is turning into something from a passive surface into a dynamic surface. We are actually creating an electrically functioning window that’s generating renewable energy.
At the same time, on the insulation side of things, we’re rejecting or inhibiting that ultraviolet light energy and infrared light energy from passing through the window. And that’s really important from a thermal optical standpoint — everybody can probably relate to this. If you’re sitting in your car, and it’s sunny outside, and you sit there without the AC on, after a certain time, you start to get really hot, right?
And what’s happening is the infrared light energy from sunlight is passing right through that glass and hitting you. And after a certain time, it starts to get really uncomfortable. So what the window in this in the glass industry has done, they’ve developed basically what are metal oxide coatings that go right onto the glass that is commonly referred to as low-E or low-emissivity. And so what they’ve done is by adding these metal oxide thin layers of coatings onto the glass, they essentially have created an infrared light energy reflector.
So instead of that light energy passing through the glass in the window, it basically gets reflected back out to the world. So our technology is doing something similar. But as opposed to reflecting that light energy back up to the world, we’re actually capturing it and harnessing it to create usable electricity. So that’s how it helps on the insulation side.
And then going back to the glazing ratio, we’ve heard from so many designers and architects, that, “You’re helping us. You’re giving us that design freedom back to create these buildings with more glazing ratio, or higher window-to-wall ratio, which is what we always want to do. But we’ve been up against it because there’s this battle about creating something that’s really efficient, and then limiting how much class or surface area you could have.”
So by the combination of renewable energy and the superior thermal insulation standpoint, we’re actually able to enable these designers and architects to use more glazing areas or glazing surfaces, increasing the window-to-wall ratio so that you can actually create 100% glazed buildings or curtain wall buildings that are highly energy efficient. And in terms of airtight, your third point, on the different things that you look at for windows.
We really don’t impact the airtightness because our technology is essentially a coating that goes right onto the surface of the glass. And then the rest of the window construction process is the same as it is done today. So what we do is we just apply our coating, just like the glass industry today, as I mentioned, applies these metal oxide coatings. Of course, we have a different way of doing it, so that we can create a transparent solar energy-generating device, right on the surface of the glass. But then the rest of the manufacturing process, supply chain process, exactly the same. It still gets made into a window that’s framed and then glazed, whether that’s into a residential building or a commercial building.
So, from that standpoint, we don’t really improve that airtightness or that quality, but we don’t take away or detract from it either. And so when you look at those three metrics, we think we’re making a really positive impact to the glazing ratio and the insulation performance. And then the airtightness is the airtightness that exists today. We believe that this is a really good solution.
Host Raj Daniels 22:25
So speaking of developers, designers, architects, so much of what they have to do is driven by CapEx, ROI. How are you enrolling them to be on board for a solution like yours?
Veeral Hardev 22:40
Yeah, really good question. One thing I’ll say, upfront is that it’s not easy. For different folks, they have different thoughts and different wants. For some developers, their main focus is to get the building built as fast as they can, so they can go and sell it.
And so for them, they’re not really concerned about the ongoing operational costs, if you will, from a building maintenance standpoint. So for them, the challenge is even harder to prove to them that there’s enough value by adopting our technology or window products with our technology, that it’s going to be worth their while. However, what they’re starting to understand now is that by incorporating technologies like ours, into the building itself, they’re able to reap some benefits. By meeting certain energy efficient codes, whether it’s a building or regulatory, mandated kind of thing, that minimum, they have to meet or need, e obviously help with that. But then on the other side of things, in terms of marketability of the building, in terms of the energy, general energy performance by different accreditation. Things like LEED performance.
I pick on LEED because that’s the most well-known and most thought-of-building energy metric or rating system. By using our technology alone, we can really help buildings go from a certain level of LEED performance or accreditation to the next level, and it can have a really big impact for the building owner, even if they’re going to develop it and then sell the building. With a higher-performing LEED building, you’re able to attract a higher financial return for that developer for selling that building, for building such a high-performing building. And then on the other hand, from a long-term ownership standpoint, we’re reducing the amount of energy consumption you need.
We’re creating and harnessing renewable energy right at the building site, which is going to start getting, we believe, built into the code that’s going to mandate that you’re going to have to have certain renewable energy technologies on site. It’s really difficult to do employ or deploy traditional renewable energy technologies into most buildings because of either aesthetics or space concerns. People want glass and people want more windows. So we’re not asking for any more physical real estate on the building to employ our technology. And then finally, for the value for the developer or building owner that’s going to keep their building long term, it’s in the higher rent, in the higher lease amounts.
More and more — and studies are showing this — companies and people are starting to look at buildings and select where they’re going to live or where they’re going to work in terms of the building energy performance, or energy efficiency. So if all things are equal, are you more likely to want to live and work in a building that’s higher rated in terms of energy performance versus one that’s not? What we’re seeing — and what a lot of real estate companies are printing out some studies showing — that with higher energy performing buildings and higher LEED accreditation, the building owners are actually able to attract and keep much higher rent and lease rates, which obviously is a direct financial impact positively back to the developer or building owner. That’s, again, making that decision of whether to use this kind of window product that has these technologies or not.
Host Raj Daniels 26:22
Now, you mentioned financial impact. Not going to hold you to it, but what is the difference in price between a regular window and one of your products?
Veeral Hardev 26:30
Yeah, really good question. Raj, and a really important one. We’re looking at this from a global and big-mission, big-vision perspective. So we don’t have ambitions for this to be the Cadillac type of window that only a certain select people can afford, or certain buildings can afford. We want this technology to be widely available, we want it to be…
Host Raj Daniels 26:55
Veeral Hardev 26:56
We want it to be ubiquitous. Exactly. You stole my line there. But honestly, we don’t want this to be so expensive that it’s not going to be adopted. So we want this to be as close to either on par or just above par to your traditional window. And we’re not out there yet. But we’re going to be there soon, manufacturing our products or window products with our technology. We want to hit a price point, that is, from a cost perspective, a marginal, incremental addition to what you get with traditional windows. The range that we’re in is about a 20% to 30% premium versus your traditional window. And we have all types of analyses that we’ve done internally, with consultants and with accredited institutions, from a third party perspective, to show the kind of financial analysis — all the ROI, or the payback — by incorporating our technology at that 20% to 30% premium versus traditional windows or traditional products, and what kind of impact not only does that have, from an energy efficiency standpoint and generation standpoint, but as an ongoing savings. And it’s quite dramatic. It’s quite compelling.
Host Raj Daniels 28:10
20% to 30%, doesn’t sound bad at all, considering the ROI on the energy you can capture on the other end.
Veeral Hardev 28:16
That’s exactly right. Oftentimes we get into discussions around with some people [saying], “Oh, isn’t it just better for me to put traditional solar panels out in my car parking lot, or on my rooftop?” Because it’s pretty cheap, it’s coming from China, the price of the materials have come down. We don’t disagree that you should do that. Our take is that our technology is here, not to replace traditional technologies, like silicon panels and other material that are your traditional solar panels. We’re here to help. We see ourselves as being a complement, potentially, to these technologies. What we always say is, if you like traditional technologies like traditional solar technologies, and you have areas you can put them in without disrupting what your requirements are, whether it be from a financial perspective or aesthetic perspective, go do it. But if you have windows in your structure anywhere, why not use our windows? By using both, you’re gonna get just get much better performance out of it as a combination.
Host Raj Daniels 29:26
Well, you might be unknowingly helping my marriage. The number one reason we don’t have solar panels is because my wife says, “When they make them prettier, I’ll get them.”
Veeral Hardev 29:35
Yeah, that’s that’s exactly right. My wife is the same way, Raj. to be quite honest. That’s the thing that when you look at companies like Apple and Tesla, and you look at what they’re doing, they didn’t really develop all of these technologies. They figured out a way to integrate them, put them together, in a package that’s really compelling for people to use. Before the iPhone, we didn’t know we needed an iPhone.
Tesla basically just came along and said, “Look, we can make batteries efficient, and we can make what people want, we can make a nice looking car, now they’re getting to a price point that’s a little bit more mass adoptable,” that’s what they did. They didn’t develop batteries. They didn’t develop the idea of electric vehicle. And so similarly, that’s kind of how we’re seeing ourselves. We kind of want to see ourselves as this kind of category leader. We’re building a next-generation new type of window that hopefully doesn’t give you any trade off. It only gives you benefits. And so when we think about that, again, the aesthetics is a big deal.
A personal note is that we’re doing some renovation at our home, and I’ve been wanting to, forever, put up solar panels. I really believe in the technology, I want to be more energy-efficient. I can’t get my wife to agree on the aesthetic. And no matter what I do, the only thing that I was able to show her is the Tesla’s solar roof, and that is still questionable, right? But windows, she loves windows, and I’ve shown her what we’re developing, and she’s seen it. And, we’ve done a number of installations around the country and around the world now that people can actually go and see our windows. And you can see, they look like traditional windows, but they’re actually transparent solar panels.
And we think that’s really been the missing key for adopting wide-scale, you know, solar technologies onto vertical surfaces of not only buildings, but also automotive as well.
Host Raj Daniels 31:38
Well, when you get your windows in, send me photographs so I can get mine in too.
Veeral Hardev 31:41
Yeah, will do.
Host Raj Daniels 31:43
So you mentioned earlier, you’ve been with a company six years. Looking at your background, it seems like you’d be spoiled for choice of places to work. What’s your why? What drove you to join Ubiquitous Energy and join the mission?
Veeral Hardev 31:57
You know, to be quite honest — and this is a little bit of a story. When Ubiquitous Energy was reaching out to me, I’m always of the mind that I never shut down any conversation, you never know what’s going to lead to what, so let’s see how things play out. I’m always open to having new discussions, new conversations, about literally almost any topic. And so I was talking with him for a while, and I said, “Look, I’m really happy with what I’m doing. I think I’m making a pretty big impact of the company, the previous company I was at.” And so you know, I was really happy. And so I had no motivation or no reason to leave. They’re pretty persistent. And they made some compelling rationale for me to just come and stop by: “We know your commute to work, we know from our discussions where you live, or your offices now. Just stop by for 10, 15 minutes, right? And just see what we’re doing and meet some more people.”
And boy, am I glad I did. As soon as I met the team and a couple of the founders, who are still with the company, immediately, I was just like, “Okay, I know exactly why I need to be here.” And really, it was, to me, it was seen this technology that was incubated at a university like MIT just starting to get its feet out into what I call “the real world” out of academia, but then still early enough to really need a lot of direction and a lot of figuring out of how can we actually deploy this technology on a commercial level. And so you know, that’s something that I was doing at my previous company, where we develop some novel display technology that made displays much more energy-efficient, like what we have today in terms of TVs, phones, and laptop screens, and all this stuff. And so I really enjoyed that path of taking a technology and seeing it from an academic setting, getting it into, out of academia, for the most part, and transitioning into trying to make a business out of it.
I really enjoyed that journey, if you will, from kind of lab to market. And so with any new hard technology, or research, material science or chemistry-related technology, it doesn’t happen overnight. That’s the one downside, I will say, especially living where I live here in Silicon Valley, in the Bay Area. Software successes seemingly seem like they happen overnight. Material science and chemistry successes don’t happen overnight. They oftentimes take several years, two decades. And so, I did see that path successfully at the previous companies that I was at, like I said, and I saw the same thing, potentially opportunity at Ubiquitous Energy, but in a different field. And becoming a little bit more conscious, with the times around climate change and impact, what we can do, I really felt strongly about deploying more solar technology around the world, and it was a novel concept. But I never even really knew it was possible, to be quite honest.
I kind of felt like, “Hey, this must be some kind of whacked-out science experiment that somebody thought about in the lab at MIT one day, but they’re never going to be able to do it.” It sounded too good to be true. And the more I dug into it, the more I just got enamored and was like, “Okay, I got to be part of this, I got to be part of this journey to get this technology out to the market,” because I believed in it so much. So I just wanted to be part of that journey, and provide my background and expertise in any way that I could to kind of help it make it into a reality.
Host Raj Daniels 35:38
Why do you feel strongly about seeing solar energy deployed around the world?
Veeral Hardev 35:42
Well, yeah, it’s a really good question. There are a number of things I could throw at you, but one thing I’d throw at you is all of our energy consumption, all fossil fuel all this stuff, it could be completely eliminated if we had mass deployment of solar technology.
Every day at any given time — I might get the stat wrong, but it’s mind-boggling — there’s enough energy from the sun that’s hitting the surface of the earth, literally at any time, to power our whole global society, I think, 100 times more than we need to. You might have heard of things like, “Well, if we just built this solar array, somewhere out in the desert that covered like the state of Arizona and Nevada, we could literally drive all of our energy needs.” And so to me, it’s mind-boggling that we have technology like this, and it’s not so widely deployed yet. And it’s not used everywhere. And so when you start to dig into it, you start to understand that people don’t really like the way, for their home, how traditional solar looks. They don’t want to put it on the roof, they want to put it out somewhere in a field or in a farm where, you know, it can’t be seen.
Well, then you got to route that energy, right. It’s like you’re trying to do something good, but then you’re creating hurdles to make it happen. I really believe in the general technology of solar, but it’s got to be deployed more broadly. It’s got to be everywhere, and that’s really what’s behind our mission. And our vision is to really deploy this technology everywhere, so that globally, from an equity standpoint, not just for a select few, or select building, or anything like that, but everybody should be able to use technology like this to make their lives better, reduce their reliance on energy, either from the grid, or fossil fuels or things that are not environmentally friendly or clean. But they should be able to do it on their own.
We should have buildings that are powering themselves, have enough energy so that they could distribute energy, if needed, to adjacent buildings or things like this. Our home should be built in a way that’s powering itself, just like electric vehicles now, are powering themselves. Of course, you have to have the other infrastructure around in terms of energy storage, batteries, and things like this. But we are more than capable of developing an ecosystem and society that’s completely runoff, renewable, and clean energy. I do strongly believe in that, not to go down the whole rabbit hole of climate change and the impact that’s having.
I think unless you’ve been living in a box, I don’t think anybody can deny this anymore. And it’s happening much more rapidly than experts have been thinking about in modeling. And so the time is now right for us to do things like our technology and a host of others, to help us reach our global goal of getting to that net-zero and positive energy from renewable and clean energy alone.
Host Raj Daniels 38:47
I agree. Now, earlier, you mentioned the path to commercialization. What are a couple of hurdles or challenges that you’ve experienced on this path?
Veeral Hardev 38:57
Yeah, it’s a really good question. There are so many, and I think with, with every industry or our industrial sector, it could be quite different. I’ll give you my perspective from trying to crack into what I would call a glazing glass or window industry. It’s generally part of the building materials industry, so materials that go into construction for building, whether it’s a new home, a new school, a new building a new office, park, whatever it may be.
So think about it from that perspective. Building materials: there’s cement, there’s concrete, there’s class, there are other materials, there’s roofing, all this stuff. So this industrial sector in general, if you think about it from that perspective, like building materials, is what I would consider, coming from my perspective, again, more from an advanced-technology, Silicon Valley-type of person hat. It’s really risk-averse and really slow to adopt to new things and to change. It’s obviously a big challenge for a company like ours and technologies like ours to get adopted into that ecosystem and supply chain that has been built over such a long time. They have not only the feeling and the belief, but it’s been proven through their historical track record, they know what they’re doing. They know the ins and outs, they know the financial returns, they know the impacts, they know all the things, and they’re just not willing to make a big change or big risk if that makes sense. Like a bet. And so that’s obviously a big challenge. And so it’s really educating and working with this ecosystem so that we can integrate ourselves and work together with them.
That’s our whole philosophical mantra of how to get this technology to the market is really not to be Ubiquitous Energy, the end-all-be-all company that’s developing the technology, developing the supply chain, manufacturing ourselves, selling it, and distributing it globally ourselves. We’re not that company, we don’t have ambitions to be that multi-billion dollar behemoth organization, from an investment side, just to get that to happen. And so we want to work with the industry that already exists, in part because of the things that we’re developing.
We’ve been developing it from a perspective of a philosophical development perspective that the existing industry can continue to do what they’re doing, but they can easily and seamlessly, hopefully, integrate our technology as part of their manufacturing supply chain in a way that doesn’t really require them to completely change the way they do things. And that’s the way we really believe that we’re going to get the fastest and most broad adoption of a technology like ours, is by working with this existing ecosystem, an industry that again, is relatively risk-averse, and is really slow, and rightly, from their perspective, rightly slow to adopt change. They’ve all had some experience where they’ve tried to do something completely different and have gotten really negative results or bad results, kind of as a result of doing so.
From our perspective, then, it just makes it more difficult to commercialize and get it broadly adopted because we’re, by design, wanting to work with this industry, this ecosystem, educate them on what we’re doing, what we’re offering, how we can provide value to them.
Because at the end of the day, this can’t be just in it for Ubiquitous Energy, it’s got to be in it for the whole industry, and how we can positively improve not only what they’re doing and have a positive impact, but then they’re able to have a further positive offering to their supply chain, to their customers, to their distribution outlets, so that it eventually hits these end-consumers, whether it’s me and you buying new windows for our home, or whether it’s for the next company moving in and building a new building in an office park, so that they’re able to understand what the options and availability are and how much of an impact they can make.
One thing — I’ll be honest, Raj — when I talked to a lot of people about specifically about energy efficiency, climate change, and what can we do to offset carbon emissions? A lot of times I hear people say, “I don’t know what I can do. Me as one person in the whole world — what choice can I make? What kind of impact can I have, really, on global carbon emissions?” Well, there are a lot of things you can do. It’s making choices like adopting new technologies that are more energy efficient.
Instead of having traditional windows, have windows like ours that create renewable energy. Just by making that small choice yourself, as an aggregate, when more and more people do this, it’s an economies-scale factor that starts to happen. It exponentially starts to go. So every single person that has a decision-making power, I would say, whether that’s your wife, or whether that’s you for new windows, or solar panels for your home or whatever. Everybody can make conscious decisions that are going to impact carbon emissions, which again, then impacts climate change, and all these kind of things.
As you can tell, I’m passionate about it and really excited for what we’re doing. It really motivates us to keep going and get this out there as quickly and as widely as we can.
Host Raj Daniels 44:26
I can absolutely tell your passion, and you mentioned impact. Let’s move into the future. It’s 2030. If Forbes or Businessweek would write a headline about Ubiquitous Energy, what would you like it to read?
Veeral Hardev 44:38
I would like it to — it’s a really good question. By 2030, I would like it to read that Ubiquitous Energy is leading the wave for integration of renewable energy technology across the board, and hopefully showing the impact that it’s made for buildings, for windows, for homes, and commercial buildings, automotive, for sure, by then. But then also I think from a sustainable, supply-chains side in terms of water and food. That’s an area that we believe we can make an impact on. And those are resources that we’re going to have to come up with sustainable ways to make sure are still there, for our generation, our kids’ generation, and future generations. I think, in short, a headline would be that Ubiquitous Energy is helping pave that path for global sustainability across the board.
Host Raj Daniels 45:33
Sounds like a beautiful vision. Now, my last question, and we kind of started out with advice with the Dale Carnegie, and the confidence, etc. But if you could share some advice, or words of wisdom, recommendations with the audience, and it could be professional or personal, what would it be?
Veeral Hardev 45:48
One thing I would really implore people to do is to educate themselves and seek out things that you don’t know, or just seek out new conversations with people you might not normally talk to. It’s a big Silicon Valley and team-building and creative innovation thing, to get different people from different backgrounds in a room to create something. And that’s where studies have shown a lot of innovation happens. And that’s one thing that I think has been somewhat missing since the pandemic has hit.
We’ve all been, for the most part, been regulated to video conferencing like Zooming, things like that, telecommuting, and all this kind of stuff. And I think it’s really important that we keep the other perspective and keep this other side that hopefully, it’s not always going to be this way. We are able to get back in person together, as it makes sense. And just foster that innovation, that creativity, because that’s really what’s going to lead to solutions that still haven’t been thought of for the problems we still have.
And so my one piece of advice is, I just implore people to educate themselves. Either by doing your own research or talking to people that you might normally talk to. I always find it pretty fascinating. And you’re always able to take away something positive or learning from talking to people from different backgrounds, whether that be from a different discipline, whether it be, you know, attorney, or investment banker, or technologist, or an accountant, there’s always something that you can learn because people have their different perspectives on what they know, what they’ve seen, when they’re talking about any particular topic or issue.
And so, again, a little bit selfish here, but education and awareness is really important, I believe, especially with new things — new technology, new way of doing things — and oftentimes, it’s uncomfortable for a lot of people. Change is uncomfortable, but that education and awareness that the intent behind some of these things is really positive. It’s not negative at all. And it’s getting people to understand each other. And so I that would be my one piece of advice. Explore, talk to people, reach out because oftentimes people are more than willing to help talk about things and help people out.
And so that’s definitely one piece of advice, I would suggest, Raj, the audience to really take to heart, especially in the kind of environment we live in. Now, I know it’s a lot harder to do. But we still have cell phones, we still have phones, people still pick them up, people still talk to each other on the phone. It doesn’t even have to be over video conference, right? So I really encourage people to do that.
Host Raj Daniels 48:38
Veeral, I think talking to people is a great place to leave off. I look forward to continue to watch your journey with Ubiquitous Energy. And look forward to catching up with you again soon.
Veeral Hardev 48:46
Yeah, thank you, Raj, I really enjoyed the conversation today and especially for having me on and taking the time. I had a great time, and I hope you stay well and safe.
Before we go, I’m excited to share that we’ve launched the Bigger Than Us comic strip, The Adventures of Mira and Nex
If you like our show, please give us a rating and review on iTunes. And you can show your support by sharing our show with a friend or reach out to us on social media where you can find us at our Nexus PMG handle.
If there’s a subject or topic you’d like to hear about, send Raj Daniels an email at BTU@NexusPMG.com or contact me via our website, NexusPMG.com. While you’re there, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter where we share what we’re reading and thinking about in the cleantech green tech sectors
- #175 Sunny Sanwar, Founder & CEO of Dynamhex - November 23, 2021
- #174 Nneka Kibuule, Senior Vice President for Aligned Climate Capital LLC - November 19, 2021
- Seat at the Table: BIPOC & Women Sustainability Leaders (2021) - November 18, 2021