Clean Energy Tech

Founder Spotlight: Kobby Osei-Kusi, Founder of Pirl Technology

See all of our Clean Energy Tech cohort companies pitch their startups LIVE in Houston!

by Lara Adekeye

Our Spring 2023 Clean Energy Tech Accelerator is in full swing, and we’re excited about our upcoming Demo Day, a celebration and showcase of the founders’ completion of our accelerator program!

In preparation for Demo Day, we sat down with Cohort member Kobby Osei-Kusi, founder of Pirl Technology, to discuss his founder journey, all things Pirl Technology, and key insights from DivInc's accelerator programming. Read highlights from our conversation below, or watch the full interview on youtube:

Kobby, tell us about Pirl Technology & what problem it solves for customers?.

Pirl Technology builds next generation electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to accelerate the transition to electrified transport. 

The problem that Pirl Technology is solving is that 40% of Americans rent, and so they don't have control over their parking space. For most of them, they're actually just parking on the street and so they cannot buy an EV charger. This prevents them from being part of this transition from gas transportation to the future of electric transport. If we're going to hit all the targets to really make an impact on climate change, we're going to need that 40% to be part of this transition. So Pirl Technology is building a new EV charging network that will solve that problem, so that anyone regardless of where they live, can buy an EV charger and enjoy that experience.

And in the push to close the supply gap, most of the chargers in the market are currently focused on increasing access to chargers through public charging. Pirl Technology is taking a different focus. We believe that a residential based charging network is what is going to solve this charging anxiety. With this approach, our goal is to be present in every neighborhood so one does not have to travel far to find a charger, can reserve one ahead of time, and park their car and walk back home. It is a much more humane, interactive, and personal approach than what currently exists in the market.

Also at the core of our approach is a new charger that we are building. We are building a new hardware, a next generation charger with new advanced capabilities, which provides a new charging experience that is different from what you will get elsewhere.

What has your founder journey been like so far? What changes have you made along the way to achieve your goals?

My founder journey has really matched the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is a popular model for personal growth. We really started off with an idea, went off to build a team, and now we're ready to start installing our pilots with a goal of selling the product later this year. 

Before I started this journey I came to this conclusion that I really wanted to transform. A typical post MBA person focused on corporate America and rising up through the ranks, that was where my life journey was going. But then there was something within me that felt that I wanted to be someone who could look at problems in the world and say that I can step out and actually craft a solution. So I'll say that mental switch has been one of the most important transformations. 

Also, when we first started we were very focused on building the technology and we didn't spend as much time building together with other founders. I’ve found that being a part of communities like DivInc, and being shoulder to shoulder with other founders, is a tremendous uplift to us.

Can you share more on what it has been like being in a community of founders who are like you and are experiencing this right along with you?

It has been a great feeling. First of all, you don't feel alone. You feel that everything you're going through, someone else is going through the same thing. Really seeing the parallels of our stories has been refreshing. Also, it’s very encouraging seeing smart people of color taking these types of risks. Perhaps historically, we weren't taking those types of risks, or we weren't having opportunities to take these types of risks. Seeing others really crafting a better world, and being a part of that, is just an incomparable feeling. 

Is there anything that you’re most excited to share about leading up to Demo Day? 

We’re working on signing the contract for our first pilot that is going to be in DC. If we sign it before Demo Day, then that would be an announcement that we would add. It’s a beautiful community building in DC, and we’ve been allocated 4 charging stations. So progress on the pilot will be something that we would love to share on Demo Day as well.

If you could leave us with a bit of encouragement for other founders also going through this journey, what would you say?

There's a mantra that I always try to repeat for myself when I'm struggling with something and it is to keep going, find a way. So that is what I would encourage all those founders with. I know it is tough and there are no easy answers, but keep going, find a way, because the game ends when you quit. There's something magical about it, where if you just keep going even a little bit, eventually something comes and you have a new insight. So I always just feel like as long as you keep moving forward, the universe somehow moves to assist you with what you need in that particular moment.

“There’s a mantra that I always try to repeat for myself: keep going, find a way. If you keep going, almost always you find a way. There’s something magical about it.” 

DivInc's Clean Energy Tech Demo Day, in collaboration with Chevron and Microsoft, is coming up on June 29th at The Ion Houston. At Demo Day you will be able to meet all of our Clean Energy Accelerator cohort members and watch them pitch live. Join us in-person or stream virtually on YouTube! 

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