Shai Agassi

Shai Agassi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I believe Iceland is the best place for Electric Vehicles, and it was one of the first ideas that I thought I should work on right after the finance collapse of iceland in 2008. I even went to the then Finance Minister of Iceland and proposed to him a plan to incentivize the Electric Vehicle adoption in Iceland. I started blogging about all the Electric Vehicle ideas that were floating around in 2009, here I was writing about how “Iceland A Better Place“. You can see that I was impressed that Shai Agassi, the founder and CEO of Better Place was able to garner so much support all the way from the President of Israel to CEO of Renault and getting countries like Denmark, Australia and Israel to signup with his company to re-build the electric charging station infrastructure. Well, Better Place filed for bankruptcy on May 26, 2013 and the assets of the company was liquidated for $450,000 after private investors had poured over $850 million yes you heard it right, almost a Billion dollars. That is a spectacular failure.

What can we learn from this failure? I have pinged Shai Agassi to see if he would be interested to come and participate in Startup Iceland to share his thoughts and experience in this failure. I admire Shai for his courage and I think there are valuable lessons to be learnt from this. I still believe Electric Vehicles will replace majority of our transportation in the future, however it is going to take time. Here is Brad talking about “The Future of Transportation“. I don’t know enough to say what went wrong, but I am sure we can make educated guesses. It is always easy to look back and connect the dots either on success or failure, but for those who are walking the path it is a different story.

IMHO, Better Place did not do good customer validation or built a good Business Model Canvas to understand what are the main pain points in-terms of adoption of their mode of transportation. In addition, they took on the most expensive of the routes to change infrastructure. It is difficult to change infrastructure ground up. That is why what we are doing at GreenQloud is different, we are not asking companies to change how they use Cloud Computing but if given a choice where all things equal would someone choose a more sustainable, cleaner and easier to use alternative than what is available in the market for Cloud Solutions? and the overwhelming majority of the answer is a resounding Yes! We are also extremely bootstrapped, a different business model than Better Place. Spending money is easy, but building a sustainable business is more than raising money and spending it, it is about creating value to a point where the Value Proposition is so obvious that you reduce your odds of failure.

Why did I start thinking about Shai Agassi and my blog post from 2009? well, I am reading and listening to the book “Startup Nation“, and it is fascinating what Israel has done as it relates to Entrepreneurial Ecosystem development and the Government Policy framework that has created some outstanding results.

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