Mark Rabin of Portable Electric tells us about the world’s finest lithium-ion battery power stations.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Portable Electric.
Mark Rabin: After 13 years in the traditional energy sector, working as a geologist (a.k.a Earth Whisperer), it became glaringly obvious to me that our ecological checks and balances weren’t adding up, and that any civilization intent on surviving would not be going down the path that we’re on. So I left the fossil fuel industry and went back to school and did my MBA. It was during this program I founded my first startup doing off-grid pay as you go portable power systems in South Africa and Namibia. I learned a lot and had many ups and downs. It was a tough business, which ultimately became a “stop-down!!” I quickly turned around and realized that there was a big opportunity in clean portable power for rental and industrial applications, so I founded Portable Electric in 2015 with the singular view of transforming the way portable, and mobile power is delivered. The company has since grown into Canada’s premier portable power technology manufacturer and energy as a service provider, with the silent and emissions-free VOLTstack e-Generator product line.
How does Portable Electric innovate?
Mark Rabin: Portable Electric is a product and energy technology company. Thanks to our lean product development, deep market and customer knowledge, and efficient manufacturing, our VOLTstack e-Generators have paved the way to solve real-world power needs. When we started out, we wanted to disrupt the energy market by providing a sustainable backup power alternative to gas and diesel generators. Today, however, we’re doing so much more than we ever thought of. From partnering with PG&E to help communities suffering through PSPS events to providing backup power solutions for life-saving vaccines, this year has helped us realize the potential impact that our versatile VOLTstack power systems can have on the world.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Mark Rabin: Like any business, we have also been greatly affected by the pandemic. Having said that, the lull brought about by the pandemic gave us a chance to introspect and make necessary changes to help our business pivot like never before. Thanks to this, we were able to diversify into different markets.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Mark Rabin: This is a loaded question; as a business, we have to have difficult choices all the time. How do we advance our business while taking care of our people and our customers, while the market is shifting and even acting like quicksand… We were very fortunate to be able to keep our core team intact and keep innovating and building cool things. Overall, it’s important to not have all your eggs in one basket and remain nimble as a team as well as in spirit!
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Mark Rabin: With everything going digital, we’re heavily reliant on software like Zoom, Google Meet, Drive, Slack to conduct business and internal catch-ups.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mark Rabin: With a proven track record, we now aim to work with OEM customers to design, engineer and build next-generation products to suit their market and customer needs. Our competitors on the big scale are still gas and diesel generators!
Your final thoughts?
Mark Rabin: This has been fun, thanks for your questions and interest in Portable Electric. Business is all about perseverance and having a great team to rock and roll through it all with