A few years ago, mattress company Casper’s co-founders Philip Krim and Jeff Chapin were banging their heads against the wall. Krim was in Long Island in New York while Chapin was in Wyoming. The weather in New York can be pretty different from that in Wyoming, but when bad storms roll through, they both suffer power outages.
“I spent most of COVID out on Long Island, where the power lines are old,” Krim told TechCrunch+. “They would go down through bad storms. I had solar, and my wife’s like, ‘We have solar, why do we lose power?’ I’m like, ‘Well, we don’t have a battery.’ I tried to add a battery. I struck out with three different electricians. I called the people who installed our solar; they said we would not roll trucks just for a battery,” he said.
“And then I called Jeff because he’s smart and honest. I’m like, ‘How do I do this?’ He was like, ‘It’s really frickin’ hard.’”
Chapin’s experience hadn’t been much better. After moving to Wyoming, he grew concerned that his home would be without heat if, during a blizzard, the nearby cottonwood trees started shedding limbs onto the power lines. “That’s how they survive in a windy climate: They drop branches,” he said.
His neighbor was a solar installer, so the process should have been easier than it had been for Krim. But his neighbor’s company would only install batteries alongside solar panels, and Chapin’s roof was too complex and shaded to work for solar.
After the two spoke, they knew they were onto something.
“Given my background,” said Chapin, a former IDEO designer, “when you run into a consumer experience that is near impossible to navigate through, it generally means there’s a new process or system that can be designed. And there’s probably a business opportunity there.”