August 18, 2020

Aceleron Speaks: Q&A with Greg Billinge

Our Aceleron Speaks series is all about celebrating the amazing people behind Aceleron. This month we chat (virtually) with Greg, our Chief Operating Officer.

With the new unusual circumstances, we sat down (virtually) to chat with Greg, our Chief Operating Officer. Greg’s known as Aceleron’s hands-on D-I-Y manager who is always willing to get stuck in. With 14 years’ experience in supporting start-ups and entrepreneurs Greg brings a wealth of organisational and practical expertise to Aceleron.

The Aceleron team has lots of people from different industries. With your background in Software what led you to join Aceleron?

Despite my prior career existing predominantly in software, I've always had a desire to work with a physical product manufacturing business. I’m a pretty hands-on person and I really enjoy the process of learning how to build stuff - for example, I’ve done a lot of building of bikes in the past.

In fact, right at this moment you can see my shredder [Greg shows me his dismantled shredder that he is tinkering with*], it stopped working so I’ve been trying to figure out why. But yeah, that’s probably the perfect example - I've always taken things apart, understood how things are made and my desire to have a hands-on practical work environment led to me joining the team at Aceleron.

What makes you excited to get up and ‘come to work’?

Ah yes, the 20 or so steps it takes to walk to my desk. Well, for me, the work we do presents a set of challenges that I have not dealt with before, so that forced learning curve keeps me going. Also, Aceleron’s balance of building a commercially viable business designing energy storage products that support people in emerging markets who have insufficient access to electricity, to your flashiest “Grand Designs” property, it makes our work both commercially interesting and personally fulfilling.

Congrats on recently reaching your 1-year work anniversary! What has been your biggest highlight since joining Aceleron?

What was awesome was in December 2019 when we completed the first run of product. As a point in time, it was great to actually see, a few 1000 products being built at scale.

What was your role as COO in delivering that first product round?

My role is varied from the strategic elements with our client, implementing our inventory tracking systems, pricing, right through to physically being there solving issues on the production line with our partners. As a small team being involved in so many different elements it was cool to see the fruits of that labour.

What would you like to change in the energy industry?

The thing that I'm finding interesting about this industry is how difficult it is to bring product to market. Compared with software where you can develop a new piece of software, put it out, and then it becomes a marketing activity whilst you iterate it quickly. With the hardware products we build, especially as dangerous goods, there are very specific industry requirements around certification, transportation and supply chain. The sort of the R&D that's needed to make your products both scalable and applicable to all standards and requirements is very challenging. So, if I had a magic wand, whilst maintaining all the standards, I would lower the barriers to entry to enable new innovative businesses to bring their products to market more quickly.

Have you picked up any new hobbies whilst in Lockdown?

The Aceleron team has been fortunate, in the fact that it has been able to remain fully operational working from home throughout this period and well, I've been quite lucky in that we had a baby two weeks before lockdown. So, my little girl is a new hobby. I think the fact that I've been around for a lot more for those early days has been great.

And just a light-hearted one, Adrenaline junkie or Kit Kat Chunky?  

Well, I love a Kit Kat Chunky! But there's absolutely no doubt that I'm an adrenaline junkie in that sense, in my spare time I go mountain biking as much as I possibly can. I like all things, fast cars, bikes, skiing etc. So, adrenaline is definitely going to be more for me than a Kit Kat. Although, I’ve probably been eating too many Kit Kat Chunkies!

*Update: Greg sent the shredder for recycling as the motor was dead!

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