Dear Friends of Levante,
It’s Sara here, CEO of Levante, the greentech startup producing portable Origami Solar Panels.
This is our first blog page since the foundation of Levante in 2021 and during this time, Levante has been on a relentless journey.
As we put on our party hats and celebrated the second anniversary of our founding on June 24th, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to reconnect and share with you the incredible strides we’ve taken over the past year, culminating in launching our Origami Solar Panel internationally on the Kickstarter platform…. just in time for our birthday!
The last twelve months have been filled with significant milestones, partnerships, and valuable lessons. They stand as a testament to our commitment to innovation and continuous improvement.
The theme throughout 2022 was a focus on collaboration and strategic partnerships on the business front; and iteration, testing and refinement on the product front.
We successfully produced the first functioning prototypes, collaborating with the University Spinoff from Turin Microla; incorporating photovoltaics, a carbon fiber frame produced in collaboration with ACS, our partner in the motorsport industry, metal hinges, and triangular modules, all designed into our innovative folding structure. We presented this prototype at the ZERO accelerator program where we received valuable insights and feedback. The unique folding design and the high-quality carbon fiber frame instantly captured attention.
As soon as we finished the ZERO accelerator programme at the end of March 2022, we went on the road…
As April started we embarked on our “Levante On tour” journey, traveling across several countries in our RV to showcase our product to key stakeholders and potential customers in the marine and mobility sectors. During this phase we pitched a lot, and learned lots of valuable lessons. We discovered that the B2B market requires significant customization and support, leading us to shift our focus primarily to the B2C market, leveraging the collaboration with our strategic partner Sailing Uma.
We also realized that while the solar tracking system and custom electronics and IoT posed challenges, the portable solar panel itself had tremendous potential. Therefore, we made the decision to prioritize the development of the panel’s hardware, mechanics and design while putting the other features on the schedule for later development.
“Levante on tour” ended in Mallorca as we entered into August 2022; where we took another step in our most important partnership. We mounted our first fully functioning prototype onboard Sailing Uma’s electric sailboat.
After creating a plywood prototype and flying out to Iceland in 2021 to meet with Dan and Kika from Sailing Uma; Levante’s partnership with Dan and Kika has continued to develop and now we are lucky enough to have these maritime experts supporting the design, development and testing of our all our prototypes.
This installation was documented on the Sailing Uma YouTube channel, and led to a big boost in interest in the Origami Solar Panel and our first sales.
We were able to evaluate and analyze comments from viewers and learn what we needed to communicate in order to explain the product more clearly to the market. This prototype underwent rigorous testing to assess its durability and reliability in a multitude of challenging conditions.
After the excitement and activity of traveling in the summer, we were back on the road once again in November 2022, this time to Amsterdam and the METS trade show; the world’s leading trade exhibition specifically for the marine industry. This was an important platform for us to showcase our product and expand our network. We received a lot of positive feedback and created valuable relationships with opportunities for further development.
Collaborations continued to play a crucial role in our journey. We partnered with the design engineering agency ManEvotech Srl to optimize the product and create a pre-series version. We also engaged in fruitful collaborations with SailHub, Sunspeker, EasySea, Hochschule für Technik Stuttgart, Unicredit Start Lab, EIT Urban Mobility Energy and Public Realm accelerator and our shareholder partner Growith Advisory & Investment.
Throughout January ‘23 to the present day, we have continued to refine the product. We are proud to be able to share with you some of the enhancements made to the solar panel.
We now have two versions available, one with a 330W output and a larger 500W output version. The large panel, at 500W is more powerful than initially planned, and the most powerful portable solar panel on the market by a significant margin! It is also lighter than competitor panels with 20% less power output.
The structure has been optimized for rigidity, and we have simplified the overall concept, transitioning from triangular modules to parallelogram and trapeze shapes, as tested by Sailing Uma and documented on their YouTube channel.
Additionally, we have introduced a modular design, with marine-grade zips connecting each module, enabling tailor-made power solutions to individual consumer applications. Eyelets have been added to facilitate easy fixing and hanging of the panel as well as securing the panel in windy conditions. The solar panel boasts a range of unique features that just aren’t found anywhere else on the market.
We are now finalizing details of a partnership with a supplier for photovoltaics in Italy; conducting a life cycle assessment of the latest iteration of the product in collaboration with Hochschule für Technik Stuttgart; starting out on new collaborations with the Andrea Baldereschi Agency, EverGreen Design House and Caro Communications for marketing and our Kickstarter campaign; and continuing to develop new strategic partnerships.
We also welcomed new crew members, Gjertine and Anthony, whose contributions in communication, branding, and upholding Levante’s values have strengthened our team and allowed us to increase our focus and intensity towards perhaps our most important milestone to date; our Kickstarter campaign.
Our Kickstarter campaign represents an opportunity to build a community around innovating solutions for portable clean energy, accelerating the transition to clean energy in mobility; a foundational aspect of Levante’s mission. We are now building one on one relationships with customers and validating the panel and its potential accessories and upgrades in the consumer marketplace.
As we move forward, we want to express our gratitude for your support.
Your feedback, enthusiasm, and your help in spreading the word to a wider audience have been and continue to be vital to our progress.
We are excited to bring Levante’s innovative solar solutions to market and create a sustainable future together.