Is Lebanon Ready for a Smart Electricity Grid?

Lebanon is a country rife with corruption, aided by immense centralization of decision making and budgets in a grid-locked parliament that operates for the benefit of it’s members personal business holdings rather than the people who elected them 

It’s 2018, 24/7 electricity is still a dream across urban and rural areas (except Zahle). The infrastructure for the electricity grid is poorly maintained, needs an overhaul and is battered with violations. And for the past 30 years an amendment to law allowed individuals to apply for a license to sell generator-produced-electricity to supplement the rationed and overwhelmed network. This was supposed to be temporary until the national electricity providers repaired and upgraded their systems. But the quick-fix has become status-quo. 

by David Brunetti

On the bright side, this looks like an ideal opportunity. The future is already looking at decentralization as a key driver to decrease carbon foot-print, improve efficiency, empower renewable energy production and decrease costs. Lebanon already runs on a decentralized electricity “grid”, that brings in revenue to private generator owners. The country will need a tremendous amount of investment in infrastructure anyway, so why not invest in a smart grid that allows existing suppliers to supplement a national grid and encourage more people to generate energy locally, and ideal from alternative energy sources

In the long run, this looks like the ideal plan for developed nations and our lack on investment in the past 30 years can be offset by investing in an agile system that could solve two problems at once: 

1- Decrease burden on government spending (& venues for corruption)
2- Provide more income opportunities for constituents
(3)- Create jobs, solve electricity crisis, improve GDP, etc.. 

Just a thought worth dreaming of. 



P.S. the inspiration for this post was two unscheduled power outages that ruined my plans for a peaceful work day and my current bed-side read: Unscaled by Hemant Taneja – which I reviewed here


Hiatus… and new adventures.

2 minutes

This blog has been in hiatus for a short while and this is why that is and why you should still subscribe for future posts:

I have recently (a month ago) left my role at ArabNet where I was leading conferences and programs across the region. I have been in this role and growing for the past 7 years, needless to say it was filled with tears or joy and exhaustion. Looking at where the technology and digital market is today, it was worth every moment.

After years of immersing myself in that role and event space I felt it’s time to get out of my comfort zone and take on a new adventure.

What that adventure is? It’s not 100% clear yet, but there’s a few things cooking.

The best way to spend sunsets

I will stay in the tech space for sure, but technology is now upgrading (with some challenges) everything from healthcare, entertainment to relief programs. It’s an exciting time to be alive and the promises of the future (economic crisis included) are better than ever before in human history. You may call this optimism, I prefer to call it grateful.

Grateful for the challenges, mentors, colleagues and leaders that have inspired and befriended me along the way.

I will start blogging again, just need to get my brain into the writing zone which requires a tad less enthusiasm than the space i’m in right now. Soon.

During the time I haven’t published any blog posts a draft and post ideas list that’s getting daunting to ran away from has developed.

In the meanwhile, feel free to reach me about:

  • Expanding into and Understanding MENA [more here]
  • Getting your team in shape for growth
  • Startup Mentorship
  • Business and Innovation Consulting
  • Corporate Innovation [more here]
  • … and a brainstorm over tea.

I have also started a new telegram channel that covers news on startup / tech scene in MENA (with context & commentary) – follow it here

You can reach me on any of the platforms on my Find Me page or his that Email Me button in the menu for a direct ping.

Cheers to new beginnings.

P.S. excuse me while I go perfect some pancakes to compliment seasonal peaches.

I won’t buy Cryptocoins to use your service (1/2)

3 minutes

cryptocoins bitcoin eth litecoin

A few weeks ago I was at a startup conference and the inevitable happened: I met a talent-marketplace (hire-a-freelancer) startup that planned to sell their own crypto-coins to be used as tokens on their platforms before launching their product…

Me: Why would I buy your coin / token?
Founder: To use the service and pay for the freelancers
Me: But, why can’t I pay in dollars?
Founder: But that’s the whole point…
Me: I don’t get it. Why would I use your service if I need to buy a specific coin and carry the burden of all the exchanges…

and it’s true, I won’t. Nor will anyone else.

The craze of crypto-currencies is in it’s peak; there are over 1,500 coins listed on CoinMarketCap. It doesn’t make sense for an individual to have a wallet full of coins and tokens lying around in case they need to use one or the other, add to that the accumulated cost of moving the coins and exchanging them.

In the example above the founder was hoping to use his token as a currency, but had forgotten one small glitch: the user. A talent marketplace requires a high adoption rate to survive as it makes money from taking a small percentage of payments and occasionally advertising (other revenue streams apply, but these are the most straightforward). For that, the founders need to aim for high adoption and retention rates, and decrease barriers of entry.

As a first time user, the need to buy a token to access the service is an immediate obstacle.

  • How many companies/individuals that hire freelancers have access to crypto-wallets, coins, etc?
  • How many are willing to buy coins that they may or may-not choose to convert back to ETH or BTC later.
  • You have already lost the client to thinking of how they’d get into your service, instead of placing the solution to their outsourcing problem at the core of your offering.

adoption rates for common technologies today, the cyrpto one is yet to show up

Major tech companies and upcoming ones are, will, and have considered ICO (Initial Coin Offering) as an alternative funding method to traditional investors or IPOs (with their lengthy processes). However, we are in the peak of hype over crypto-currency, and it’s still a super high risk enviroment. As an idea stage startups, the odds are already against you, so unless your startup’s core function is crypto-related, maybe it’s best you focus on your business.

There are many technologies that will disrupt the market and the rate of change will only increase in the next few years. Founders have to embrace changes and adopt new technologies on the go, but they also need to take calculated steps that they won’t regret.

Are you considering launching an ICO, considering the following:

  • How will this affect my core business?
  • How will this make the consumer experience on my platform better?
  • Am I forgoing potential venture capital support (financial and non-financial) that could help grow my business?
  • Can I withstand an un-forseen drop in overall crypto-valuation?
  • Do I understand how this technology works well enough or will I be at the mercy of my developers. Can I hire, retain and grow the right team to help me on this path?
  • If I’m paid in crypto-coins by my network, how do I plan to pay my existing non-crypto liabilities? Can you liquidate?

My two cents: Most people will pay for your service or product in their respective currency, your system will token-ize that value and run the service as needed. The average consumer will not need to know how, where and why. Your system will need to be optimized for the customer’s most seamless experience and your products best productivity. 

P.S. I do own some cryptocurrency (BTC and ETH). I’m not against crypto-currencies, I just see that the hype is deluding startup founders’ attention a tad too much.