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Lisa Janssen, the Public Relations Manager for Goal Zero, agreed to an interview to talk about the company‘s growth, recent acquisition by NRG, and to discuss the direction the company is going.
For readers unfamiliar with Goal Zero, they are the leader in portable energy. Their products range from solar panels, to power kits, to lights, and a plethora of accessories which has taken setting out on a day hike or an extended backcountry stay to a whole new level.
IO: Describe Goal Zero in only a few words…
Lisa: We are the leaders in portable solar power. We are distinguished from larger solar companies because you can take us anywhere.
IO: There has been quite an evolution and expansion of products from where the company started. Was this always the direction and vision? If so, how does the company maintain its leader position in the market? How has the consumer base influenced development?
Lisa: Goal Zero started in the Congo with Robert Workman as a cause looking for a business. He spent a lot of time there and saw the need for economic stability in that area, but didn‘t feel that giving money was a solution. Looking at the people, he saw the need for power and light, but there isn‘t a sustainable infrastructure to support a power grid. People have cell phones, but no easy way to charge them. It‘s been proven that light decreases crime and increases literacy. Robert came back to the states with a notion of affordable and dependable ways to get light and power to these areas – solar was going to help guide the vision.
He began putting together basic kits of panels, batteries, and lights, similar to the Escape 150. Through his experiences he learned that in the wake of some natural disasters people were choosing these power packs over food. This is where the realization for emergency preparedness occurred and the start of our large generators.
Our customer base is very influential and we listen! For example, now that cameras are getting better and more powerful, photographers need ways to power in the backcountry to get better photos.
IO: What has the customer response been to Goal Zero joining the NRG family back in August?
Lisa: It was a cool move because of how similar our missions and goals are. Robert Workman, GoalZero‘s founder, had a goal to empower people around the world, which aligns well with NRG’s mission. We‘ve had nothing but positive feedback from customers and this has helped establish us as leaders in portable solar. For NRG to come to us it was a great compliment. What ii means for the outdoor industry is that we can push harder on innovations, better our technology and ultimately keep our customers out longer, powered longer, and in the outdoors we‘ve all come to love.
IO: What kinds of changes in brand and products should we expect to emerge from the acquisition? How will the positioning of Goal Zero change in the market with the support of NRG?
Lisa: NRG admires us for the brand we‘ve created. We‘re the only consumer product in their profile. The product they have is not tangible, but we are. It gives their consumer a tangible idea of what‘s happening in terms of power when someone opens and uses a solar panel.
Goal Zero has been so devoted to the outdoor industry, and now that new resources have been opened up, there is a larger customer base.
To reach more we have to figure out how to leverage what we have with NRG and their resources to build better products which will reach into consumer electronics: the mom on the go, the entrepreneur on the go – a whole new level of consumer for us.
Another cool thing that comes with NRG is that we‘ll be able to do more good in the world. The potential is astronomical. Like Robert‘s work with Barebones, only on a much, much larger scale.
IO: What product or setup would you recommend for a weekend warrior backpacker?
Lisa: I would look at our lightweight gear. At OR Summer 2014 we launched the Switch 10 USB Multi-Tool Kit which comes with a lithium battery, solar panel, micro USB charge cable, and flashlight and fan attachments. The kit was designed for you to be able to take more with less weight. This is truly the ultimate toolkit for your backpack. It released on 10/15 with an MSRP of $119.95.
IO: Thank you for taking the time to talk with IndustryOutsider. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Lisa: The biggest thing is how excited we are about partnering with NRG. The team we have is absolutely incredible.