To mark the launch of our latest equity funding round on Seedrs, we’re celebrating the powerhouses behind our successes so far.
This week, we’re celebrating entering overfunding after securing our £1m target raise on Seedrs. With this in mind, we’re introducing Brett Moolenschot, Senior Product Manager at IPG. An experienced mechanical engineer in deep-tech hardware startups, Brett manages IPG’s engineering team, balancing engineering excellence with the commercial needs of the business to drive the delivery of the IPG Flameless Generator.
Brett, you bring over 10 years’ entrepreneurial and product design experience in hardware start-ups across a range of industries, including heavy-duty hybrid electric automotive. How has this experience shaped you as an engineer, and informed your approach to managing design of the IPG Flameless Generator?
My engineering grounding was in the world of high-performance speed boats with Formula One H2O. Here, I was exposed to design engineering in powertrain systems and high-performance engine conversions, as well as design for manufacturing, which continues to inform my role today at IPG as we finalise our Minimal Viable Product (MVP) design of the IPG Flameless Generator with cost-effective manufacturing in mind.
Working in start-ups in a broad range of industries, from hybrid engines to biotechnologies, has afforded me a wealth of experience when it comes to successfully designing and delivering a product from proof-of-concept to manufacture readiness in relatively short timeframes. It was during my time in the high-profile accelerator program Entrepreneur First that I was exposed to the lessons of how to run a start-up, and it this more business-focused experience that ensures all product design and development decisions are grounded in the commercial needs of IPG and ultimately our end-customer.
Often, engineers get trapped in the mindset of “I will build it and they will come”, but in reality innovators must take customer needs into consideration and adapt to the market at hand. That’s why I ensure our approach to product design follows a roadmap, informed by our customer engagement, where every test is grounded in a design that will move the project forward – a mindset rooted in agile development.
Now that we’re putting the finishing touches to our MVP design, and looking towards deploying these units in demonstration trials with our customers, can you expand a little more on your role in delivering IPG to this milestone?
I joined IPG around the time Toby became CEO, and in the beginning my attention was largely focused on crafting a design and development plan that would allow us, as a team, to achieve a functional MVP as quickly, and cost-effectively, as possible. This meant moving to off-the-shelf technologies where it doesn’t compromise on the value proposition of the final product to ensure our attention was directed on the cornerstone aspects of our technology that required true innovation. It also meant cultivating the individual strengths of each member of the engineering team so we could achieve the results we needed as efficiently as possible.
During the £1m innovation project we recently completed with National Highways, we were able to swiftly solve practical challenges and achieve a prototype to inform our current MVP design.
As Senior Product Manager, my role is to maintain a broad picture of the development process. I think of it as engineering in the negative space: pre-emptively solving problems before they materialise to ensure we stay ahead of the game as a team.
Looking to the deployment of our MVP trial units, and the influence these will have on our design, this broad focus will translate into two key aspects. The first will be ensuring we have an in-depth understanding of the risks on each piece of our product, so we can respond to any issues quickly and adapt our design accordingly.
The second will be forming an understanding of the needs of each and every one of our customers, as knowledge of expected duty cycles, power needs and fuel choices, for example, and where these overlap between customers, will help us finetune our design for low-volume manufacture.
We’re targeting the construction industry as our beachhead market for our MVP trials. But we’re excited about the impact our technology could have for decarbonising other sectors, including in use cases where the diesel generator isn’t currently used, such as EV charging. Where do you see this technology leading us in 5-10 years’ time?
Our focus for the time being is, of course, on delivering our MVP units to our customers in the next round of pilot trials. Yet, as part of this broader picture, I will be keeping an eye on how the company could expand on our technology and our product offering in the future.
The IPG Flameless Generator is effectively a ‘power plant in your pocket’. This really simple, core functionality opens up the potential for a myriad of exciting use cases. For one, it could offer vital energy security to microgrids in developing nations thanks to its ability to run on mixed quality biofuels. More radically, our patented flameless combustion technology could also be combined with concentrated solar power to build a hybrid, renewably-fuelled power solution. Our flameless combustion process requires high temperatures, so achieving these using thermal power from the sun could unlock even higher cycle efficiencies under optimal conditions.
The directions we could take this technology are truly endless, and it’s always fun to get creative as a team and challenge each other on these concepts. But at the end of the day, decarbonising the $30bn diesel generator industry by successfully designing and bringing to market our pollutant-free, fuel-flexible climate tech solution is already hugely rewarding. That’s why, for now, we’re very much rooted in our own development process. But in the future, perhaps, what the diesel engine is today, the IPG Flameless Generator could be tomorrow.
To hear more from Brett, as well as CTO and co-founder John Grainger, CEO Toby Gill and advisory board member Ian Marchant by re-visiting our Meet the Team webinar at this link.
We’re crowdfunding to help businesses replace their diesel generators. We’re delighted to share that, thanks to the support of over 400 investors, we’ve already secured our £1m target and our campaign has now entered overfunding.
It’s not too late to join our mission. Visit our campaign page on Seedrs to learn more.
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