In episode 49 of the First Customers, we talk with Christoffer Sigshøj, co-founder of KiteX.tech, a Denmark-based company that’s pioneering the world’s lightest portable wind turbines. Christoffer shares the company’s journey from its initial concept of flying wind turbines to creating portable, efficient, and user-friendly products that are opening up access to wind energy.
- The Origin Story of KiteX.tech: How a passion for kitesurfing led to innovative wind turbine technology.
- Engineering Challenges: Transitioning from flying wind turbines to the world’s lightest wind turbines.
- Kickstarter Success: Strategies and insights behind their successful crowdfunding campaign.
- Design Philosophy: Balancing technical requirements with user convenience for global shipping and setup.
- Future Aspirations: Plans to scale up technology and the potential for household and larger applications.
- Customer Engagement: Insights into how KiteX.tech is building and learning from its customer base.
Notable Quotes from Christoffer Sigshøj:
- “Our turbines are not just about being lightweight; they’re about making renewable energy accessible and convenient.”
- “Facing challenges head-on and adapting our design was crucial in our journey from concept to consumer.”
- “The support and feedback from our early adopters have been instrumental in refining our products.”
Links and Resources Mentioned in the Show:
- KiteX.tech Official Website: kitex.tech
- KiteX.tech Kickstarter Campaign for Wind Turbines
- Christoffer Sigshøjy’s LinkedIn for more insights on KiteX.tech’s development
- Book recommendation: Zero To One by Peter Thiel
Paris Vega (00:01.435)
Welcome to the first customers podcast. Today we have Christopher Sisoy with us, a mechanical engineer and co-founder of KiteX.tech, a company based out of Denmark. They build the world’s lightest wind turbines and sell them directly to consumers. They launched a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2021 and have started delivering their products as of this past summer. Christopher, welcome to the show.
Christoffer Sigshøj (00:26.51)
Thank you, Berries. Thanks for having me.
Paris Vega (00:29.403)
course. So tell us a little bit about the company and then we can get into who your target customer is and how you got those very first sales.
Christoffer Sigshøj (00:39.562)
Yeah, sure. And so originally at Kydex, we built flying wind turbines. That’s where the kite comes in from it. But we sort of saw that it was pretty difficult, pretty difficult project to pull off. So we sort of transitioned a little bit. And then we took our learnings from the flying wind turbines. And then we made the world’s lightest wind turbines where we use strings or tethers, like you know, from a kite.
Paris Vega (00:46.333)
Christoffer Sigshøj (01:08.05)
to support all the loads in the structure. And that’s why our turbines are super lightweight compared to traditional turbines. That’s what makes it possible.
Paris Vega (01:18.584)
How big are they? Is that, that looks like a drone in the background that I’m seeing there. But what, can you give us a kind of a word picture?
Christoffer Sigshøj (01:27.178)
Yeah, we have played a lot around with drones and stuff like this. So the wind turbine currently consists of two meter sections that is six feet. And we have two of those for the tower and the blades are also six feet long. So in total we have around, what’s that, 18 feet in length. Yeah. I mean, from where it stands on the ground. And it’s like, it’s 12 kilos.
Paris Vega (01:49.079)
Christoffer Sigshøj (01:55.726)
And I’m Danish, so my head works in metric. So how many pounds is that? That’s 24, 25 pounds, something like that.
Paris Vega (02:01.735)
Paris Vega (02:07.535)
Okay, and I’m gonna share my screen really quick for those who are watching on YouTube or some other platform here so we can get a visual of the website and an example. This is you guys, right? Yeah. Okay, so we’ve got a relatively small looking little wind turbine. How tall is it, did you say?
Christoffer Sigshøj (02:20.223)
Yeah, this is us.
Christoffer Sigshøj (02:30.274)
So the tower is 12 feet tall. And the blades, they are also 6 feet long. So it’s taller than a car, but it’s also taller than a person, but it’s only like two persons on top of each other, right? A little more than that.
Paris Vega (02:34.711)
Paris Vega (02:41.703)
Paris Vega (02:50.098)
All right, like Tala’s like a one story house, kinda. Okay, so how much can something that size power?
Christoffer Sigshøj (02:55.966)
Yeah, something like that, exactly.
Christoffer Sigshøj (03:01.642)
So this size can power a small house. So we built our turbines, they’re built for camping or having an RV or using your tiny house. Yeah, so, and they’re super portable. I mean, they’re only this 24 pounds and they pack down in a large, in a long bag, like a ski bag, just a little bit longer, right? So you can pack everything down, put it on the roof of your RV and go on your adventure and have power.
Paris Vega (03:05.872)
Paris Vega (03:10.896)
Okay, so they’re portable as well.
Christoffer Sigshøj (03:31.875)
when the sun is not out with your solar or and when the wind is blowing then you can have power or even at night where solar panels are no good.
Paris Vega (03:34.395)
Paris Vega (03:38.423)
Okay, so yeah, that’s awesome. So you said it can power a house?
Christoffer Sigshøj (03:44.83)
You can, I mean, it depends on how much the glitches you use. So we have built our structure around low wind speeds. And in Denmark, the wind speed is, the average wind speed is five meters per second. I think that’s around 12 miles per hour. And this is where we make the most power actually. And then we sort of ramp the power a little bit down after that point. And in 24 hours, we can make four…
Paris Vega (03:48.147)
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
Paris Vega (04:02.904)
Christoffer Sigshøj (04:13.43)
kilowatt hours and I’m just slinging around numbers. I hope you can follow along, but that’s the average consumption for a Danish person. I’m not really familiar with the US. I think the US citizens use a little bit more power, but one turbine can power a full person. But if you are new RV, then you don’t use as much power as you do in your house. Of course, it’s a smaller space. So for an RV, it’s perfect.
Paris Vega (04:17.209)
Paris Vega (04:22.428)
Paris Vega (04:26.407)
Probably like one room in the US.
Paris Vega (04:34.703)
Right. Okay. That’s really cool. Okay, cool. That’s a really neat product. And how long did it take to go from kind of idea to going through Kickstarter and then launching that first product?
Christoffer Sigshøj (04:39.223)
Christoffer Sigshøj (04:54.238)
It took, I would say it took a year to do the prototyping and to see if this was a feasible idea. We sat down at one point and then we sort of brainstormed on can we actually make, is this even viable? We did some engineering calculations and these napkin calculations to see if it was even possible to make something. And then we also sketched out who would our customers be for this product and what is the…
what is this market that we can target initially, right? And that was where we sort of found that it could be cameras, RV people, tiny houses, where you don’t consume massive amounts of energy and also where you’re often off grid and where you’re not grid connected, right? So that’s really the niche market that we are targeting with this product. And we set out in, as actually COVID hit back in 2020, March 2020, we set out to make a prototype
And then a year later, we were ready for a Kickstarter campaign. We had an initial prototype of it. And then we were ready to launch the Kickstarter. There was a lot of work going into the Kickstarter though.
Paris Vega (06:08.595)
Okay, how long does it take to get the Kickstarter campaign up and running? Because I know that a lot of people use a lot of video and kind of a lot of design materials.
Christoffer Sigshøj (06:15.81)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, the preparation work for launching a successful Kickstarter is key. You need to do a lot of work beforehand. And we spent six months actually doing all the prep work. We quickly, we could pretty quickly realize a prototype of the turbine, also because we have been working with similar technology before, and that’s what we are good at.
And then we sort of set out to do all this media stuff. You know, you have the prototype that’s gonna make some cool pictures, get some drone shots. We hired a bureau in to make the Kickstarter video, super important thing. And then we did a bunch of adverts. We were launching on Product Hunt. You know, sort of all this preparational work before we really launch on Kickstarter, before you’re ready to launch.
I think some of the things that we did was gathering emails. We did some competitions where you could win a power station. We can power stations. Have you seen those portable power stations that you bring along in your truck or your camper van? Yeah, at the moment, we are the only wind power company who can, or the only company with a wind power product who can charge these units. So I think that’s pretty cool.
Paris Vega (07:17.489)
Paris Vega (07:33.268)
Okay, yeah, yeah.
Paris Vega (07:43.627)
Okay, because they’re kind of like battery packs.
Christoffer Sigshøj (07:46.838)
Yeah, the battery packs with an inverter in it, and then you got the normal AC outlet, that you know from your wall, and you also got USB charging, fast charging ports in it and stuff like that. It’s super convenient for people to use.
Paris Vega (07:56.395)
Okay. Yeah, that’s a killer feature. Okay.
Christoffer Sigshøj (08:01.714)
Yeah, so we can charge those. So we did a few competition campaigns on our Facebook, a little bit of targeted ads there. Back in those days, it was super easy to just go into Facebook and target people who were interested in camper vans and outdoor living and off-grid living and all these sorts of boondocking and what else the terms are, right?
If they’re in these groups, then you could target them. So we would display ads and say, here’s a competition. If you sign up with the email, you have a chance to win one of these power stations from us. And we gathered some emails there and some, some interest. And then, um, we also hired a bureau to help with the, uh, with the Kickstarter, uh, to sort of set everything up and sort of run some of this to help me and. Yeah. An agency. Yeah. We had a, an agency to, to sort of help us a little bit along and guide us and.
Paris Vega (08:50.011)
You said a bureau, is that like an agency, what we would call an agency in the US? Okay.
Christoffer Sigshøj (08:59.582)
also do some of this work that I mean, I’m an engineer, Andreas, the CEO and my business partner, he is also an engineer. So it’s not our national, I mean, our specialty to do all these things, but with a little help, we could sort of manage. Yeah.
Paris Vega (09:10.067)
Paris Vega (09:15.887)
Yeah. Okay. So you launch a Kickstarter campaign. You had an idea of who your target customers were. The RVers, the campers, maybe people who lived off grid or even, I guess it’s kind of like a, just a survival backup power source as well. So that you can charge those batteries. That’s really cool.
Christoffer Sigshøj (09:25.217)
Christoffer Sigshøj (09:35.018)
Yes. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, the whole Prepper community is kind of interesting for us as well.
Paris Vega (09:41.297)
Okay. So, and you’d launched ads related to those things. Once the Kickstarter campaign ended. So you’ve got certain amount of orders. And so that kind of keeps you guys busy for a certain amount of time to execute making all those products, getting them delivered. Have you started kind of that next phase of growing post Kickstarter and what are you doing to try and get customers now?
Christoffer Sigshøj (09:54.2)
Christoffer Sigshøj (09:57.602)
Christoffer Sigshøj (10:11.222)
Yeah, so we have just transitioned into this phase, I would say. We are at a place, or back in the spring, we were at a place where the product was actually good enough. We got delayed by a year due to technical difficulties from the Kickstarter. And then we raised a funding round from private investors. I mean, we already had a target. We already had a target customer base. We had some customers already. We had managed to gather a few sales from our website.
still pre-orders through our website, sort of same as Kickstarter orders. And we convinced some investors to give us some more money. And now we are ramping up a lot more in sales. We hired a sales guy to sort of run a lot of this. And now we are, I mean, it’s pretty similar, I would say, to what we did under the Kickstarter with running Facebook ads, Instagram ads, the social media platforms where we know that people are on.
And then we do try to do as much promotional content as we can. We are lucky, I would say, to be in a space where we are making sustainable energy. That’s super trendy at this point in time, right? So everybody is looking to this. And then if you have some invention and if you go to our website that you just showed, or it is kydex.tech, then you can also see it. It looks…
Paris Vega (11:23.098)
Christoffer Sigshøj (11:37.022)
it looks like nothing you have seen before. I mean, it doesn’t look like a traditional wind turbines with all these strings, and it looks very slender, this whole structure and everything. So it sort of catches the eye in that sense, and that also brings some attention, I would say, from media houses or just people generally involved in new inventions and stuff like this.
Paris Vega (11:45.18)
Paris Vega (12:01.391)
OK. So you said that it started out as a actual kite. There was a flying version of it. So that would be like tethered to the ground, but it would be just floating up there with some wings or something in a propeller. Or what?
Christoffer Sigshøj (12:10.142)
Christoffer Sigshøj (12:17.642)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So if you, I mean, you can picture a traditional wind turbine in your head, right? So that’s a towel, I mean, a stick, and then you have three blades on it. And in a traditional wind turbine, 80% of the energy is made by the last 20% of the tip in rough numbers. So the tip of the wind turbine, that’s really providing most of the energy to the generator.
Paris Vega (12:46.119)
the tip of the blade.
Christoffer Sigshøj (12:47.626)
Yeah, the tip of the blade, the very end of the blade, right? That’s spinning the fastest around in the wind. And if you can just take away all the other, if you take away the tower, the root of the blade, it’s only structural support. If you can remove all of that, then you can make it much cheaper because it’s gonna be so much lighter. And this is what we are doing with the tethers. And that’s the same thing with the flying wind turbine. So you should just imagine you’re tying a string or a tether to the…
Paris Vega (12:49.911)
Okay. I gotcha.
Christoffer Sigshøj (13:16.886)
blade of the tip of the wind turbine, and then it goes around in a circle. And then we made a drone that was sort of a wing shape that could do that. And it’s similar to what we’re doing now. Now we just have a tower and it’s a much easier problem. So it doesn’t, when something goes wrong, it doesn’t fall down and you have to repair it. Yeah.
Paris Vega (13:35.743)
Yeah. Yeah, that’s wild. Okay. Is this, do you think this is technology that could scale up eventually to make the massive wind turbines? Like I’m in Texas and so there’s these huge wind turbines, you know, in the farmland. Is there something about what you guys have done that could reduce the size and get similar output eventually?
Christoffer Sigshøj (13:50.816)
Christoffer Sigshøj (13:55.755)
Christoffer Sigshøj (14:03.338)
Yeah, so I mean, so our technology definitely scales. It’s just a matter of to what size it scales. We start to lose some of the advantages as you just scale, but we can at least go to one megawatt, I would say, and that’s not a problem. And that’s a huge turbine, even though they are much greater, the largest one now, they are gigantic machines, right? And we are actually, it’s actually has been the vision for us the whole time to make…
Paris Vega (14:24.272)
Christoffer Sigshøj (14:30.998)
to make an environmentally friendly and cheap alternative of powering your house or your farm or small production plant. And we are already developing the next size turbine at the moment. And that’s more targeted towards household sizes. So now everybody wants, we all need electric cars, we all need heat pumps to be more sustainable here in the future. And that’s gonna drive up electricity consumption.
Paris Vega (14:52.647)
Christoffer Sigshøj (15:00.654)
And if you can have your own turbine to do this, then you can be self-sufficient at it. You don’t rely on the grid. And that’s really an advantage. And the thing where we come in the picture, that’s because we can do it much cleaner, much cheaper, because we’re only using 10% of the materials compared to a normal household traditional wind turbine with our technology, because we’re using these super high-strength lines.
Paris Vega (15:27.731)
Christoffer Sigshøj (15:27.734)
The lines, they are, I don’t know if you know them. Have you tried kitesurfing, Paris? Okay, that’s where sort of the inspiration comes from. I’m a kitesurfer, Andreas, my partner is a kitesurfer. And these lines, it’s the same kind of fiber that you use here. These super thin lines that can carry a lot of weight. Yeah.
Paris Vega (15:33.911)
Not Kai, sorry if I haven’t. Looks fun though.
Paris Vega (15:50.123)
Okay. So, and I may have missed where you said this before, but so after the Kickstarter, are there specific platforms that you’re focusing on like social media wise or different websites where your target customers are that you’re engaging? How do you connect with your target customers now that campaign’s over?
Christoffer Sigshøj (16:10.178)
So at the moment, we’re actually still gathering, I would say, a lot of intelligence on our customers. We are not completely certain what our ideal customer looks like. So I would say we are sort of shooting in all directions with different kinds of ads. We have some general ideas on who our, I mean, who our initial target customers are, and that’s gonna be, I would say, males in…
in 40s to maybe 60 years old and interested in outdoor living, I would say, camping. Yeah. So, so, so those are the ones that we are targeting at the moment. And that can still be done through Facebook, through Instagram. These are the platforms they’re on. I think this target group is a little bit too old for TikTok, something like that. You could of course find somebody on it, but that’s always worth considering. I mean, the age thing and how.
Paris Vega (17:04.743)
Christoffer Sigshøj (17:08.842)
technology aware your target customers are. But of course, I mean, it’s early days for us. So at the moment, the strategy is to gather knowledge, right? That’s what we need. Maybe we have missed something. Yeah.
Paris Vega (17:20.143)
Yeah. Are you testing out different types of content? Like are you posting videos? Are you doing any influencer videos or like founder videos? What kind of content are you putting out there?
Christoffer Sigshøj (17:25.912)
Christoffer Sigshøj (17:34.878)
So we have on our YouTube channel, it’s more techy, I would say, where I have a lot of video of me going over how to set up the turbine and how to do small tricks here and there and enable that. So that’s gathering some attention. It’s not a lot and we’re not really that focused on it. And then we have sent a few turbines out to influencers, as you mentioned, to sort of test that out. I think only three have went out so far, just I think it’s two weeks ago only.
So very, very early, and this is of late here in October when we are recording this, right? So yeah, I would say we are sort of trying to do everything, but in small steps. That’s been the strategy for us at the moment.
Paris Vega (18:09.751)
Paris Vega (18:15.791)
Paris Vega (18:20.779)
And do you put out other types of content other than video? Are you like blogging and or putting things on LinkedIn or like, he talked a little bit about other types of content you might be doing.
Christoffer Sigshøj (18:32.474)
Yeah, I think, I mean, LinkedIn is actually our most used social media or has been up until now, I would say, where we do sort of these technical things. And I think we have a few thousand followers there, maybe it’s two thousand or two and a half thousand or something like that. I can’t really tell here on the top of my mind. But and that’s sort of the more technical stuff and talking to the people.
Paris Vega (18:37.583)
Paris Vega (18:51.259)
Christoffer Sigshøj (18:57.078)
within the wind industry and seeing that, ah, you’re doing something. And we also getting some shares here and there just because we can show some interesting approaches and interesting alternative takes on an industry that is quite old. And I mean, yeah, normal wind turbine is a stick and three things have spins. So we’re doing something new attracts attention.
Paris Vega (19:19.715)
Yeah. So is it pretty easy to set up?
Christoffer Sigshøj (19:25.302)
That’s the ambition for us, I would say. And it really depends on who you are and who you ask. If you have 10 thumbs, then it’s probably not that easy. I often tell people that it’s similar to pitching like a large family tent, something like this. It’s gonna take, the first time you do it, it’s probably gonna take you an hour or something. And then the next time, you can probably do it in 20 minutes, 25 minutes. I can do it in 20 minutes, 15 minutes, something like that now.
Paris Vega (19:39.908)
Paris Vega (19:44.924)
Paris Vega (19:54.499)
Okay. Yeah, that’s not too bad for a, I guess, kind of constant source of energy, right? Depending on the wind. All right. What about, so I’m looking at this and I’ve got kids. What’s the materials of the blades? Like, is there like safety issues or is it high enough to where the actual blades are going to be above the heads of your children?
Christoffer Sigshøj (20:01.612)
Christoffer Sigshøj (20:14.101)
Christoffer Sigshøj (20:18.967)
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s a really good question. Actually, we have done it with the foam blades. So that’s quite interesting. So the height of the blades is 220, 2 meters and 20. And what is that in feet? 8 feet or something like this. So it’s above your head height normally, right? And then they’re made from this foam material.
Paris Vega (20:37.287)
Paris Vega (20:41.03)
Christoffer Sigshøj (20:44.17)
So I don’t know if you have ever played with this role-playing sword or something like that. And I have actually, I mean, we have a video on LinkedIn where I’m sticking my hand in the rotor as it spins. You can go and see that on LinkedIn and it gives a good whack, of course. But it’s not dangerous in that sense. But of course, if you were to catch just a single child finger in there, but they have to jump really high.
Paris Vega (20:48.369)
Paris Vega (21:10.585)
Christoffer Sigshøj (21:10.842)
then of course it might break a finger. It’s a machine in that sense, right? But I think there are more other dangers than that. So the foam makes it really nice. It’s not sharp or anything like that. It’s like getting a good whack with a…
Paris Vega (21:25.419)
Okay, so it’s not going to it’s not going to be a cause of death if somebody jumped into it necessarily. Okay. It’s good.
Christoffer Sigshøj (21:29.866)
No. Yeah. We have even actually hit a bird once. That’s always a talk with Rotor, with wind turbines, right? So, oh, they kill the birds. But we have this video of, I think it’s this crow or something that gets in the water, and then it gets smacked to the ground, and then it flies off and it’s fine again. Yeah, that’s a pretty funny one.
Paris Vega (21:39.088)
Paris Vega (21:43.057)
Paris Vega (21:53.951)
Okay. All right. So that’s, that’s a win for the animal rights folks. Your Burt safe wind turbine, right?
Christoffer Sigshøj (22:01.698)
Christoffer Sigshøj (22:05.126)
Yeah, I mean, it might be a little bit of a stretch to call it bird safe, but I mean… Depends on how you look at it. But yeah, it’s… Yeah, friendly, you could say that.
Paris Vega (22:07.891)
Paris Vega (22:12.047)
Yeah, that’d be a there’s a there’s a little ad campaign for you.
Christoffer Sigshøj (22:19.038)
Yeah. Thank you.
Paris Vega (22:23.875)
This is really cool. Really cool product. Okay. And so you’re kind of in that exploration phase on the marketing side of things. You’ve got sale, you’re delivering product. Can you speak a little bit to what you said there was some kind of technical difficulty when you went after the Kickstarter? I guess you had a prototype that worked, but I’m guessing something in the manufacturing was more complicated or what happened there?
Christoffer Sigshøj (22:26.114)
Christoffer Sigshøj (22:34.891)
Christoffer Sigshøj (22:43.255)
Christoffer Sigshøj (22:53.398)
Yeah, I would say it’s a lot of different things. It’s also now getting into some technicalities in it. So actually we had, you can sort of say there’s two ways of controlling a wind turbine. We call it stall regulated or we call it pitch regulated. And one has fixed wings, that’s the stall regulation, and one has where it can move the wings. I mean, it can sort of turn the wings individually, right? That’s what we call that pitch regulated. And we transition from
pitch-regulated to stall-regulated for the Kickstarter version. And then we saw it’s not good enough. We cannot actually maintain safety of the structure and really high winds, so we had to go back to the other thing, and that changed a lot of the architecture on the whole thing. And then we also had a lot of, I mean, we really wanted to hit this goal of it being easy to set up, that’s super important if you are bringing it along on an adventure that doesn’t take two hours. And some of the structure.
Paris Vega (23:45.543)
Christoffer Sigshøj (23:50.79)
the gear system we had to redo because there was big large gear that you couldn’t really fit nicely inside a van or something like that. It would take too much space so we had to compact everything a lot. So this whole transitioning in technical, because all the time the architecture had to change to make it better and that just took some more time. I think that’s the beauty of Kickstarter.
Paris Vega (23:59.187)
Paris Vega (24:10.203)
Christoffer Sigshøj (24:17.342)
I really think because you are attracting these early adopters to your product and they are, as long as you give them regular updates, we try to do a monthly or maybe bi-monthly update to them and just keep them in the loop. What are the goals? What have we been doing? What are the challenges still ahead? And then they’re actually quite happy still. I mean, we are more than, I think we are one year or one and a half year delayed until now. But…
People are hardly complaining to us. And I think that’s because we are keeping them in the know and giving sharing information with them to sort of say, I’ll be on this road here together. And that’s, I think that’s really key to having a Kickstarter campaign. That’s actually going to be a successful run also for you as the, I mean, that’s for me as the inventor or the founder of the company.
Paris Vega (24:53.948)
Christoffer Sigshøj (25:16.276)
It’s not fun running something and people are mad at you. That’s important.
Paris Vega (25:19.031)
Right. So with Kickstarter, it gives you this burst of customers upfront. And you have these this opportunity to build this relationship, a deeper relationship with customers, because like you’re saying, the early adopters, they know there might be some ups and downs and there might be delays or whatever because you’re still figuring out all the manufacturing stuff. And so you have that direct line of communication through the Kickstarter, I guess, updates and things like that.
Christoffer KiteX (25:25.184)
Christoffer Sigshøj (25:32.044)
Christoffer Sigshøj (25:37.762)
Christoffer Sigshøj (25:49.144)
Paris Vega (25:49.199)
Um, so that that’s a really good foundation for, for like your email list and all that. Um, how many people did you get, um, as that kind of initial set of Kickstarter customers?
Christoffer Sigshøj (26:03.874)
I mean, before we actually gathered, I think was 4,000 emails before we even launched on Kickstarter. And that was through these competitions. And then I think one really good thing we did on the Kickstarter to convert all of these into actual sales, that was to also sign up people for this VIP treatment. So they will be notified when we were launching, because I mean, these were also always people who…
They have seen some pictures of the product. They were interested. They had signed up. We did an email campaign with them. And then we made this VIP special deal with some of them where they could actually swipe their credit card to a stripe or something. And they would pay $1. And looking back, $1 was a little bit, that was not enough. Maybe we should have used $10 or $50 or something like this to secure their spot in the queue.
to get an early bird or a small other advantage into the thing. And I think that converted a lot. That was a really, really good thing we did.
Paris Vega (27:11.191)
Okay. Yeah. So you’re building, you built relationships through Kickstarter. You did competitions. Yeah. It’s really cool to see this, this process that you guys chose. And I mean, it makes a lot of sense for the type of product you have here.
Christoffer Sigshøj (27:30.211)
Paris Vega (27:31.227)
You mentioned that you’re going to come out with a new product, maybe a bigger product, and you’ve already got, you know, a customer base. You can kind of upsell some of those past customers with something like this. Is there like a reason the blades or whatever size they are? I know that everything, you know, engineering effects have the performance and all that, and you had to figure out probably the right size blade to.
Christoffer Sigshøj (27:41.772)
Christoffer Sigshøj (27:53.198)
Paris Vega (27:58.435)
make it storable, but also safe, but also produce enough. Like, could you just add like another set of blades on top of it to where you have a tower of multiple blades? Can you talk a little bit about kind of how you came to that specific design and some of the limitations there?
Christoffer Sigshøj (28:04.062)
Christoffer Sigshøj (28:13.807)
Christoffer Sigshøj (28:19.018)
Yeah, I think that’s a really good, that’s really, I would say funny thing. So the whole, I mean, how we choose the length of the tower sections and also the blade, that was, this is two meter sections at the moment, this is six feet, and that’s because it’s the largest that you can ship with a normal postage carrier. So that was actually the background behind it. And that’s also for the next size of turbine. We want to fit that into a 20-foot container, so we can ship it in…
Paris Vega (28:38.959)
Christoffer Sigshøj (28:47.838)
ship turbines in containers, right? So the logistics behind the product is super important. If you make the blades longer, you’re gonna gather more energy. So that would make good sense. But if you cannot economically get it to your customers, then it’s not a good product, right? So that’s a constraint we had there, I would say.
Paris Vega (28:50.204)
Paris Vega (29:01.721)
Paris Vega (29:08.603)
So that’s specifically a direct to customer sales problem that manufacturers have. But if you’re doing B2B where you can just ship in huge parts, like if you were doing some big commercial industrial installation or something like that, those kind of size limitations aren’t there as much, but that’s interesting with direct to consumer, you’re gonna be shipping ideally all over the world, so it has to meet those.
Christoffer Sigshøj (29:16.352)
Christoffer Sigshøj (29:27.939)
Paris Vega (29:37.671)
What is it called? Intermodal transport, like the shipping container. And then you have, like you’re saying, the local carrier limitations.
Christoffer Sigshøj (29:42.77)
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, and then, yeah, yeah. Yeah, some local care limitations for DHL or FedEx or whatever, right? They only want to bring up a certain size, otherwise you pay a lot to have it oversized, basically. So you try to keep it within those limits. And then, I mean, if you can…
Paris Vega (29:51.696)
Paris Vega (29:57.975)
Okay. Interesting. Okay. So it’s just, go ahead.
Christoffer Sigshøj (30:05.606)
And also for the next size of turbine, I mean, if you can fit that into a 20-foot container, then it’s just this standardized package that anybody can take. I mean, just put it on a truck and then they know exactly how to handle it. And you can just, the logistics is super important to consider in selling any product if you want to be global about it.
Paris Vega (30:28.019)
Cool. So yeah, so any one piece of it just can’t be bigger than that size container because the end product may be 10 times bigger than all the pieces in the box. But interesting. It’s kind of like, reminds me of ordering furniture or something.
Christoffer Sigshøj (30:40.743)
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it’s exactly like that, right? I mean, we also saw that, I mean, if you go to, if you wanna buy another small wind turbine, I mean, you can get them cheaper than ours, but then you’re also gonna need to find your own tower, and then you have to go down to a local blacksmith and maybe buy a huge stainless steel pipe, and suddenly it’s gonna cost you a lot, and you have to manage this yourself and pour concrete and…
And all of this, right, we ship everything in just a kit and then you have it. I mean, convenience is key. I think some of the some of the best products. I mean, you’re going to have success in your business if you can make a product that brings people convenience, basically. Right. So convenience is key. If you could do something that makes people’s lives just a little bit easier, then that’s a good product. Or if you can make something a little bit cheaper.
Paris Vega (31:14.459)
Christoffer Sigshøj (31:35.134)
but not increase the inconvenience level on doing it, then you’re gonna have success. Yeah.
Paris Vega (31:41.327)
So with these wind turbines, like usually you see them, there’s like one set of blades facing a certain direction. Can you have it to where you have like another set on the backside to like get more output or is there some kind of like way that the, it would cut down on power generation?
Christoffer Sigshøj (31:49.219)
Christoffer Sigshøj (31:57.311)
So, yeah, I mean, it could increase the efficiency by a little bit of having this dual rotor, and then you would actually need them to spin in opposite direction with a gear train in the middle. I think the Chinese actually just did such a project with the last turbine, but it burned down a year later or something. That’s another story for another time, I guess. But the thing in wind energy is this proportional to the area that is facing the wind. Does that make sense?
Paris Vega (32:12.65)
Paris Vega (32:18.618)
Christoffer Sigshøj (32:29.758)
We call it the swept area of the blades. And it’s just physical loss basically. So a larger area, that means you can capture more energy. And of course, I mean, for the same wind speed, of course. And then the thing is that the amount of energy available in the wind that goes with the velocity of the wind cubed. So that’s really, really important, right? If you have strong winds, you’re gonna have…
Paris Vega (32:30.012)
Christoffer Sigshøj (32:58.878)
and excess of wind power. And that’s also what makes it tricky. We have a super, we call it rated power. We have a low rated power, low wind speed for our rated power. And that means our max effect. I’m not being real technical here, right? So you can sort of see it like this. I often talk about this car analogy. You have a car that can go super fast. Okay, that’s super cool.
Paris Vega (33:26.483)
Christoffer Sigshøj (33:28.402)
and nice, but then it burns through the gallons like that. And what car do you drive? You often drive the most economical car. And this is a little bit similar to the wind. It’s not, I mean, the wind speed is not high most of the year. I mean, most of the year, you’re gonna have average wind speeds, right? So you really want a wind turbine that is aiming at average wind speeds. And that’s also what we are sort of solving. So we make a huge rotor area, and then we don’t have as much
peak power or you can say for the car analogy, you don’t have as much top speed. But I mean, if you have a car that can go 200 miles an hour, how often can you do that, right? It’s only on the racetrack. So it’s not that important, actually. Of course, it’s cool, but…
Paris Vega (34:02.919)
Paris Vega (34:07.026)
Paris Vega (34:10.667)
Okay. And so if you so the higher the wind speed, the more power you’re going to get. Is there a way to plug like directly into your device, like into the wind turbine, or does it have to be plugged into something like Jackery or those other generator battery power packs?
Christoffer Sigshøj (34:31.786)
Yes, so for our small wind turbine here, the WindCatcher, we plug it directly to batteries at the moment. And that’s simply because we have made this, that comes with the turbine, and this comes with this controller that can charge batteries, either lead acid or lithium batteries, or plug into a Jackery unit or whatever. I mean, as I mentioned before, we are the only ones who can do this. We have our box as, I think that’s even cooler than the wind turbine itself.
Paris Vega (34:54.279)
Christoffer Sigshøj (34:59.106)
We have this small DC-DC box that emulates a solar cell, because these Jagarees, they can only input from solar actually, from some of their ports. Yeah. And… Yeah, what’s going on here with my video? I got some…
Paris Vega (35:10.491)
Whoa, you’re getting some special effects behind you all of a sudden. I don’t know. Uh, for those not watching on the video, we suddenly had fireworks behind Christopher as soon as he said solar.
Christoffer Sigshøj (35:20.45)
Yeah. Yeah, apparently that’s a key word in this podcast. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. Anyway, anyways, so this box that where we can emulate a solar panel, so the jack can react to the thing that it’s seeing a solar panel, and then we can charge that. Because if you just plug something into the port on it, it’s not going to work. You have to charge it with AC or you have to charge it with fixed 12 volts.
Paris Vega (35:30.741)
Christoffer Sigshøj (35:51.194)
and then a certain amp it’s going to draw. So it’s actually kind of a tricky problem. And for it to be even possible, I mean, it’s now getting to the technicals again here, Paris. But we are sampling 500,000 times per second on this box. That’s how fast electronics has to work for it to be even possible. I think that’s pretty cool.
Paris Vega (36:11.879)
So you guys designed your own little converter box as well to go with them. Okay. All right, are you gonna move into battery packs or anything later you think? You gonna go that direction or? Okay.
Christoffer Sigshøj (36:16.138)
Yeah, yeah, so.
Yeah, yeah, I mean, we have definitely, I mean, then I don’t think we will make them ourselves, but probably we will just make some design decisions on it and basically having OEM manufacture them for us with our specs on them, and then sell those with our turbines. And we also considering us just selling portable solar panels with them so people can get a whole kit from us, right, a whole bundle of what they need.
Paris Vega (36:45.343)
Okay. So you’re going to approach just energy generation and storage in general, instead of just staying with the windmill technology itself.
Christoffer Sigshøj (36:52.355)
Christoffer Sigshøj (36:57.21)
Yeah, I mean, the key for us is of course the wind technology, but if we can have a product or product package that is just compatible with, I mean, all the devices are compatible just out of the box. And again, this comes to the convenience for the customer, right? If we can provide that for them, I think that’s going to be nice. And of course, it’s also a good business for us. I mean, it’s an opportunity to upsell a bit as well.
So I should just take my word for it for the customer side, but yeah, that’s the reality of having a business.
Paris Vega (37:27.867)
Paris Vega (37:31.799)
And are you getting feedback from customers already and making adjustments or future plans based on that feedback?
Christoffer Sigshøj (37:35.415)
Christoffer Sigshøj (37:38.942)
Oh yeah, yes, definitely. I mean, we have had a lot of collaboration with our initial baggers, and we did beta test program with some of them, took their feedback in. Actually, we have improved a ton of things on the turbine. Some of the initial units we shipped out, they weren’t packaged good enough. And I mean, shipping is, I mean, now we’re back to logistics again, but I mean, we shipped a lot of turbines, they got to the destination and they were broken basically, because I mean, yeah, yeah. And…
Paris Vega (38:00.753)
Paris Vega (38:06.215)
Christoffer Sigshøj (38:09.038)
And then, I mean, in a startup, that’s the thing being a small company, you are super agile and you can quickly do changes and just fix things on the fly. And that’s what we are doing at the moment. And I mean, it’s still super low volume for us and we’re just scaling up production. And being fast now is the key for us and listening to the customers.
Paris Vega (38:30.759)
So do you just, right. And so you, did you just replace the ones that broke for free? Yeah.
Christoffer Sigshøj (38:36.266)
Yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah, yeah, we need this good, I mean, doesn’t really cost us any, I mean, of course it cost us something, but having the first customers, having bad experiences with us and giving us bad reviews, that’s gonna cost us down the line a lot more than it would be simply to replacing their parts and having the dialogue with them and helping them out any way we can. We are really at this point in time, that’s the key for us.
Paris Vega (39:03.279)
Yeah, that’s really cool. Prioritizing the customer experience, going above and beyond to make sure you get those good relationships. Are you just communicating with them mostly through a Kickstarter platform still, or have you moved off their platform to something else?
Christoffer Sigshøj (39:07.211)
Christoffer Sigshøj (39:11.828)
Christoffer Sigshøj (39:21.298)
Yeah, we are mainly using emails at the moment. But I mean, I’ve also been talking to people on WhatsApp. I mean, private customers just, if they’re having some difficulties, giving them a call actually, hitting them up there and seeing how can we help you? Basically, I mean, if you’re allowed for them, we ask them first if we can call them, of course. And they are often up to it.
Paris Vega (39:23.379)
Paris Vega (39:27.921)
Christoffer Sigshøj (39:46.218)
I mean, the first customer who had to set up a turbine, he was out in the field setting it up and I was on the Zoom call with the guy and assisting anyway I could. And I mean, I learned a ton from it on how to improve the experience, right? I mean, we had some in Denmark setting it up, some initial customers there, but doing it at another place where you’re not standing there, it’s also a thing.
Paris Vega (39:53.82)
Ha ha ha.
Paris Vega (40:04.359)
Paris Vega (40:12.643)
Right. Yeah. So like in the software world, you have user testing and you can record someone using your website or something like that. And so having a video call of someone physically using your product, I guess, is the equivalent for a product based business. That’s cool.
Christoffer Sigshøj (40:21.954)
Christoffer Sigshøj (40:27.434)
Yes. Yeah. I mean, the first thing we did was, of course, standing on the sides and trying to see how people are doing it. But then, I mean, at some point, you have to not stand there and not being able to see everything that’s going on and maybe rely on their wording and all of this, right? So, yes.
Paris Vega (40:36.979)
Paris Vega (40:43.288)
Paris Vega (40:48.667)
Right. Okay. So question that I ask everybody, or I try to at least is, are there any books that you would recommend or any kind of content you’d recommend, but specifically books mostly that someone in your position, maybe they’re a few years off or they’ve got an idea they want to start a business or launch a product based business. Maybe they’re another fellow engineer who’s got an idea for something they want to.
Christoffer Sigshøj (41:03.879)
Paris Vega (41:17.983)
want to start a business around. Can you speak to that listener?
Christoffer Sigshøj (41:18.104)
Christoffer Sigshøj (41:22.77)
Yeah. Yes, I have just recently read Zero to One. Do you know that one? That’s by Peter Thiel. Yeah, exactly. And I think that was, I mean, that I learned a lot of that from that book, I would say, on how to approach this. I mean, how to actually build a good product that people want. And it’s not about maybe building a super cool product that you think are cool, but actually making
Paris Vega (41:31.051)
Okay, yeah. Peter Thiel? Yeah.
Christoffer Sigshøj (41:52.426)
something that actually benefits people and meets their needs basically, right? And you don’t really know what the needs are. You might have an idea for a product and you can discover that they are using it for something completely different. For us, for the small wind turbine, we have built it around camping and stuff like this. And it’s not very, I mean, we have some parts that would need upgrading before they would be doable enough to just put it on your house, on the roof of the house. And people are asking, can we put…
your turbine on the roof of the house. So maybe this is something that we haven’t actually seen from the beginning and the get-go. And I think Peter Thiel has a lot of good analogies in his book, Zero to One.
Paris Vega (42:37.135)
All right, I’ll add that to the show notes. This has been really interesting, Christopher. I appreciate you spending time with us today. Why don’t you give everybody real quick where they can find you guys, how they can buy your product and connect with you.
Christoffer Sigshøj (42:54.954)
Yeah, sure. So you can go to our website. That’s kitex.tech, just in the no spaces or anything,.tech, T-E-C-H, like technology, right? Or you can hook up with me on LinkedIn. Maybe you can put it in the show notes. I have this crazy last name, you know? And you’re also welcome to follow Kitex.tech on LinkedIn. That’s where we are the most active and where you can engage with us, I would say, the easiest.
Paris Vega (43:24.851)
All right. Yeah, thanks for being here. And we’ll see everybody on the next episode of the First Customers Podcast. Later.
Christoffer Sigshøj (43:25.102)
So thanks for having me, Paris.
Christoffer Sigshøj (43:33.683)