Monday, August 19, 2013

Soaring Solar Installations

In this day and age, the lack of electricity continues to be a daily struggle for many people in the world, but especially those in rural Asia and Africa who still depend on wood fires, diesel generators or kerosene for light. According to a recent industry report, large corporations as well as local utility companies do not have the facilities or the motivation to reach all residents of the developing nations of the world. The estimated one billion people living off the electricity grid are usually low income and considered to be the bottom of the pyramid. While government agencies and multinational power companies have been reluctant to reach them, this population represents a golden opportunity for startups to sell solar systems directly to the end customer. In fact, there have been more than 4 million installations of technologies for energy storage, LED lights and solar power systems to rural residents during the past ten years and those numbers continue to soar.

Reaching Developing Countries with Solar Energy

Selling to this sector of the population can involve a lot of legwork, with door-to-door sales in rural villages. To reach them with power, innovative solar systems can piggy-back off the national grid and once installed, they can implement pay as you go plans to recoup their initial investment while making it easy for villagers to pay for their power usage.

Solar Technology Startups Worth Watching
  1. QBotix: Makers of robots that follow a tracking system to change the angles of solar panels throughout the day, according to the movement of the sun.
  2. GlassPoint Solar: Developers of equipment for solar thermal energy that is based on a greenhouse design. It produced a technology for solar steam production that is geared to the oil industry and is a cheaper alternative to natural gas in regions such as the Middle East.
  3. SCS Renewables: A matchmaking company that puts investors together with high quality solar technology projects. The service also supports developers who are preparing their projects for introduction into the start up market.
  4. Solar Mosaic: A company that launched an online public site to offer investments in solar power.
  5. Clean Power Finance: A firm that raises money for installation of solar panels through leases or purchase agreements.
With major opportunities for investors, solar startups deserve to be taken seriously during the coming year.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Appeal of Luxury Penmanship

I cautiously guard my favorite gold plated fountain pen that I keep in my breast pocket. I consider it less of a luxury item than a necessity, because when I use it to sign my name on the dotted line it makes an impressive statement. I could use any pen to do that, so why does it need to be prestigious? I feel good when I use it, that’s why. The feel of a quality writing instrument exudes confidence. It not only looks good, but it makes me look good. Whipping out my impressive high dollar fountain pen in front of business associates or clients sends an upscale message rather than a dime-store ball point. It makes a statement reaffirming my lust for excellence.

Luxurious Stationery Products on the Rise

I recently read a Business Wire press release reporting that as market analysts expect the world wide office stationery and supplies market to increase in the coming years, one of the sectors showing a surprising growth is luxury stationery. Personally, I have always enjoyed browsing stationery shops. Whether I’m traveling in England, Italy, France or Japan, I make a point to take some time to browse through the best stores selling fountain pens, high grade paper and leather-bound notebooks. I like the smell of a well stocked stationery store and the feel when I touch a sheet of the most expensive paper. But until I read the press release, I didn’t realise luxury stationery products were such a trend.

Captivating Letterhead

Besides pens, the appeal of luxurious stationery products is captivating. Anyone can write on a piece of paper, but the luxury of writing on paper with 25% cotton content on a laid finish takes writing to another level. Choosing the best quality paper when printing your letterhead or calling cards does not go unnoticed. Yes, it is extravagant, but some things in life are just worth the extra cost.