This is a cross post that I answered on Quora the other day that turned into both a story and mini thought - blog post. I figured I'd share it here since otherwise it will get lost in the sea of questions on Quora.
The original question and post:
My response reposted here:
First off - Tesla Energy seems awesome, noble and I love the idea of it.
Second - This is my opinion, I have no idea if this is right or not. And by opinion I just mean a view based on the accumulation of my experiences.
Third a short story, that I promise has meaning to this -
In 2015 I had the opportunity to join an incredible startup. The cause was noble - make employees more comfortable and heard at their companies. Management is generally very disconnected from the day to day employee, especially as teams and companies grow in size. This doesn’t even take into account teams becoming more remote and international. Therefore feedback loops become secondary and non-existent.
The driving passion behind the founder was the story of a the manager at a previous company he’d begun who was not only a drug addict, but abusing power and mismanaging things. However, the feedback loop was sooo broken, that it took a chain of major incidents to identify the problem. What do I mean by broken? From human terms, people were scared to go over the guy’s head and tell the founder that shit was real.
This was the inspiration for the product. Make it easy for companies to gather feedback from teams and act on it. Make make genuine company culture - better results, better product, etc. Yes there were some players in the space (and still are) but their product was pretty crap.
We also had a very incredible team put together. Everyone got a long, everything was working. Our progress was out of the ball park productive. And our team was productive beyond what I'd even known was possible.
People were signing up, we hit TechCrunch, lots of signups tons of positivity!!! …
And guess what. It failed.
What was the root cause?
We were making a vitamin and not a painkiller. Yes people like the idea of making their employees happy… but not necessarily enough to act on it and use a product.
Fourth and finally back to my thoughts on Tesla Energy:
I think it’s a vitamin and not a painkiller. Green “energy” has been around and buzzing for a LONG time. And while it’s beginning to pick up a bit more steam, with states mandating it, some business finally being sold on it, better technology available..
It’s still a vitamin. A nice to have.
Renters on the rise. Homeowners on the decrease. Is greening out your complex’s energy a painkiller? Do you need it to sell people on renting? As a renter, does whether or not it’s powered by “green” affect your decision to live there? OR is a spacious bedroom and convenient location more important?
What about non residential though??
Perfect example on a non residential area:
The State of California Health Care Services Department in Sacramento. Zoom in on it via google maps or earth and you'll see something amazing - It has an ENTIRE set of solar panels on top of the buildings. Holy crap, I was impressed. “They really do follow through.” ….
And then I figured out - none of them work. And haven’t for years. But the cost of repairing, maintaining and integrating them again, is higher than just going back to old fashion electricity.
So why not fix them? Because they’re a vitamin and not a painkiller.
Therefore, in my view, and opinion, to which I am entitled and most likely misinformed (:D) - No it will not. It will be another incredible achievement that will pave the way for when green energy finally does become a painkiller, but as for now it’s a vitamin.
Can Tesla find a way to make it profitable and prove me wrong? I hope so and wouldn’t be surprised.
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J Cole Morrisonhttp://start.jcolemorrison.com
Startup Engineering, former Techstars Hackstar and AWS Solutions Architect. Based out of Sacramento, California.