Brandon Ng, a co-Founder and the CEO of AMPD Energy, was kind enough to join the Social Innovation Podcast.  AMPD Energy is committed to making the construction industry emission-free and sees electrification and connectivity as a key part of this transformation. 
Some of the topics Brandon discussed:
  • His parents were both accountants and encouraged him to be one as well
  • Was born in Brunei
  • While interning at an accounting firm, realized he was wired to be an engineer
  • Started AMPD in 2015 and started focusing on the construction industry in 2018
  • The cost of batteries kept going down
  • The electricity grid was rapidly changing and getting upgraded
  • The mix of energy sources on the grid was changing substantially due to the introduction of renewables
  • Hyper-urbanization and the pressure it puts on communities and their infrastructure
  • The construction industry accounts for ~11% of global carbon emissions
  • How big problems also create big economic opportunities
  • Finding first adopters that are willing to take a risk
  • Partnering with Gammon Construction to co-develop AMPD Entertainer
  • Using AMPD Entertainer‘s gathered data to analyze energy use patterns and determine equipment productivity
Other titles we also considered for this episode:
  1. Life Takes You On a Different Trajectory
  2. I Think We’ve Hit That Tipping Point
  3. There Was Not Necessarily a Huge Impetus To Change
  4. Moving From a Competitive Edge To a Basic Requirement
  5. The Question Is, “Do We Care?”
  6. Someone Thought They Were Being Funny
  7. It’s a Gateway Into Exactly What’s Going On
  8. We Knew That Energy Storage Was Going To Be Transformative
Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):
Michael Waitze 0:02

Michael Waitze Media. Telling Asia’s Stories.

Okay, we’re on. Hi. This is Michael Waitze and welcome back to the Social Innovation Podcast. Today we are joined by Brandon Ng. I tried man…a co-founder and the CEO of AMPD Energy, there just aren’t enough vowels, I think in the language left anymore. Brandon, it’s great to have you on the show.

Brandon Ng 0:26
That was perfect.

Michael Waitze 0:28
At least you’re smiling. I do the best I can… How are you, by the way?

Brandon Ng 0:32
I’m very good. How are you?

Michael Waitze 0:34
Yeah, you know, I’m as well as I could possibly be. We talked about this a little bit offline, I don’t really do anything except go to the 28th floor to my condo, come downstairs, come up seven floors, and sit here. So it’s hard to be bad when you’re not really interacting with anybody face to face. But on the other hand, I don’t know. I prefer some human contact.

Brandon Ng 0:52
You are not getting mugged. You’re not getting, like getting sick. Not getting sick.

Michael Waitze 0:59
Fair enough. Good enough. Before we get into the main part of our conversation, I just want to give a little bit of your background for some context. Yeah, sure. Just go for it,

Brandon Ng 1:09
man. You know, my name is Brandon. I am originally from Brunei. But I’m sort of speaking to you from here in Hong Kong. I’m one of the founders of this company called amped energy. And we exist to electrify the construction industry in pursuit of our vision of an emission free future for construction. We started this company quite a while ago, and we kind of, you know, found our way into the construction industry about four years ago. And it’s that’s been our sort of central focus since two, what we do today is we build big batteries, big energy storage systems, that power up construction projects, without needing diesel. So electrifying the construction industry, and they lead to, you know, dramatic reductions in carbon footprint. So up to 85% reduction in carbon footprint, you know, the products are quieter, they’re, you know, less polluting, from an air quality standpoint, they’re fully automated. So you don’t need to, you barely need to do anything to operate the thing. So these enhance productivity. So there’s a whole lot of reasons why, you know, our products have done well in the market. Today, we operate in Hong Kong and Singapore, and we’re trying to scale the company right now. I’m really looking forward to this call, by the

Michael Waitze 2:18
way, yeah, so I’m so happy to have you here. This is something that’s actually really, really important to me, and also very interesting for me, and I want to get back to amp itself in a second. But I’m really curious about like, why you were born in Brunei.

Brandon Ng 2:33
I could have been been, I could have been born in New Zealand, by the way. So my parents were. So my parents, you know, my parents are from Malaysia. And they were, you know, they went to higher education, higher education in New Zealand, both of them, both of them met in in Christchurch. And the plan was to sort of settle down and raise the kids in New Zealand and my dad got a really interesting job offer from from Brunei in the 1980s. And one thing led to another so it’s supposed to be supposed to be a two year contract that we’re supposed to be originally on two years, turned into four years, four years turned into six turn into 10. You know, there, you know, there have been like 35 or 38 years now in Brunei and they’re still there. So yeah, that’s that’s how I ended up sort of being born in Brunei. And I think that’s life. You know, you plan life, but life takes you on a different trajectory.

Michael Waitze 3:23
It sure does. I mean, so many of my friends when I was in Tokyo were sent on like a six month or a one year two year contract and ended up staying 10 to 15 years, I was the only one who really stayed for 30 something years. So in that sense, your dad and I have a lot in common was your dad, your dad must be an engineer. No.

Brandon Ng 3:40
You know, the crazy thing is both of them are accountants, both my parents are

Michael Waitze 3:44
so awesome. Go ahead. And

Brandon Ng 3:46
and they tried to push me into accounting. So they’re like, Yeah, you should you should do accounting, right? You’re always gonna, you know, if you’re an accountant, you’re always gonna have a job. Yeah. We’re companies thinking you’re the last person that’s going to lose your job, because you need to make sure you account for everything. So be an accountant. And I try that, you know, did you school and I did internships in you know, accounting firms, you know, my dad’s for, and I just, you know, I’m not, I’m just not wired that way. Yeah, you know, you can push me as much as you want. I’m just not wired. That way. I didn’t enjoy it wasn’t for me. And that’s, you know, I think I’ve known, you know, when I did the internship with my, in my dad’s firm, that was when I, that’s when things really clarified for me. So I’m wired up to be an engineer. Right. And, and that’s, that’s when I was like, you know, I’m, I’ve always enjoyed tinkering. I’ve always enjoyed figuring out, you know, solutions to technical problems. I’m just, you know, wired right from the get go to, to be an engineer. And that was sort of very clarifying for me when I did my internship in my dad’s firm, so I think I think it had the opposite result.

Michael Waitze 4:56
But in a way, it’s a good thing. At least you figured out I’m not doing that like good for you, dad. Good for you. That’s great, thank you for everything. But I’m not going to be able to do that, because it’s just not in me, which is fine, right. But here’s what I want to know. Like you said, you started this company more than a few years ago. Do you feel like you might have been a little bit early before this, what I consider to be a big forming wave right now of kind of ESG companies, companies that are focused on carbon footprints, attacking climate change and stuff like that? Did you feel like at the beginning, you were kind of operating in a vacuum? And then the rest of the world kind of caught up to you a bit?

Brandon Ng 5:32
I don’t think so. Because we you everything that we had done that led to where we are today? No, I do look back. And I think, if we hadn’t done, you know, all the things that we had done that let you know, in the past, there were a lot of things that that wouldn’t have ended up transpiring, the way. They ended up turning out. And you know, I’m very happy with how it’s turned out. Maybe it could have turned out better. But you know, you don’t know that. Right? So I’m very happy with how things have ended up turning out. I guess the context behind that is we started the company in 20 2015. a while and it wasn’t until 2018, that we started sort of realizing that there was this incredible opportunity to decarbonize construction. So

Michael Waitze 6:14
So I used to say, when I was younger, and again, I’m a little bit guilty of this, right, like, I went into investment banking purely because, and and I’m always been very clear about this. I grew up really poor. I didn’t want to be poor. And it just seemed to me like the money was on Wall Street. And I thought if I could do that, I wouldn’t have to live this life of struggling. Right? Right. So I went and did that. And I used to have this theory like that nobody, that batteries hadn’t changed literally in decades, because it didn’t feel and let me finish the thought. Yeah, cuz it didn’t feel like it was sexy. Like you couldn’t walk into a bar and go like, hey, what do you do for a living? I make batteries. Okay, next was really the feeling I think that most people got. But I do feel like that’s changed. Right? So when you what, what was it about this battery business that you thought what you thought, I got to do this thing? Because this is going to be transformational?

Brandon Ng 7:05
You know, we started the company in 2015. But we had been working on it before that right things kind of officialized in 2015, we could work in 2013 Oh, wow. Yeah. And we things got formal in 2015. We saw two things. One, we saw that the cost of batteries kept on going down, lithium ion batteries just kept on going down and down and down. And that would lead to a whole bunch of new applications, new ways of using these batteries that we hadn’t previously thought of. I mean, up until that point, rechargeable batteries had predominantly been used in consumer electronics, right? Tesla had proven that you could use the same technology base to build an electric car. And who knows what, uh, you know, whether applications beyond you know, consumer electronics and electric vehicles could be enabled by the declining cost of these, these batteries. The second thing that we saw was the grid was changing very, very rapidly. The entered, and that’s a combination of grid infrastructure sort of aging, a lot of it had been built, you know, post World War Two. So a lot of existing grid infrastructures, you know, needs an upgrade. And also the energy mix is changing substantially due to the introduction of renewables. So these two factors combined declining cost of batteries in a very rapidly evolving grid, electrical grid, we saw that there was a there was a need for energy storage, we saw that energy storage was going to be transformative. At that point in time when we started in 2013. We didn’t know how just yet but we said we’d love to embark on this journey to figure it out. And that was how things got started.

Michael Waitze 8:40
Was the cost of lithium ion batteries, which have been around for a while suddenly dropping like is there a rare earth metal component here that just you know that there was a discovery of something like what happened there that that made that the cost of that stuff drops so much,

Brandon Ng 8:54
it’s the march of technology, that that continuous march of technology where things get better and better and better every single year costs come down, performance improves every single year, you know, 20 30% improvement compounded over years is huge, gigantic. And that’s that’s basically what happened. And the same thing happened with with solar panels with microprocessors. You’re kind of seeing that with with batteries today, as well as that continuous march of technology.

Michael Waitze 9:25
I mean, in a way it had to happen, right? Because if you look at I don’t know what else to call, but if you look at the value chain of things that impact how we act on a daily basis, you mentioned it like microprocessors, but in all of this stuff, particularly in the consumer electronics side gets driven by batteries, right, your mobile phone, anything they use, even a flashlight gets driven by battery and with the onset of electric cars at scale. Something had to give no.

Brandon Ng 9:51
Yeah, and I think we’ve hit that tipping point. Right. I think what you’re alluding to is the fact that we’ve hit a tipping point where the cost declines had come to a point where all these new applications could could start opening up. And that’s what happened. And that’s where, you know, we started saying, hey, there’s an opportunity in construction, which is what we’re doing today.

Michael Waitze 10:11
Why was the construction industry globally? just focused on using diesel energy? Was there something convenient about it? Was there something powerful about it? Was it cheap? Do you know what I mean? What was driving that adoption earlier?

Brandon Ng 10:26
You know, I think a big part of this is just legacy. We’ve been doing things that way for the past 50 years. And it’s worked. It’s built the cities that we all exist in, it builds buildings, it builds bridges, it builds tunnels, it builds roads, I think there was there was not necessarily a huge impetus to change because it worked. And also, at that point in time, you know, if 20 years ago, just technologically, I don’t know what alternatives there would have been, besides the use of diesel. I think it’s a combination of I think the change is now driven by, you know, changing societal needs. And obviously, technology as well, technology has caught up to a point where there is an alternative that works and that’s more efficient, that’s more productive, that’s cleaner this quieter, and is nominally attractive as well,

Michael Waitze 11:14
is there a secular change taking place globally, in the sense that, you know, up until, let’s say, 10, or 15 years ago, we can even go 20 years back, right? That the West that the economic growth of the West was driving sort of the growth of the world? And now we see we know, right? If we look at a map that within five hours of where I am, or where you are, you’re four point something billion people, yeah. And that build a building of cities in China, India, Southeast Asia, Africa, are going to drive the economic growth for the world for the next, I don’t know, 3040 50 years. And if that’s the case, if construction needs to happen at scale, in places where it hadn’t been happening before, how big is this opportunity, you think, to not just build those cities that need to get built or going to get built, but then replace the diesel with the electricity and the batteries that you’re building?

Brandon Ng 12:08
I think it’s an incredibly large opportunity. And it’s driven by the fact that it’s an incredibly large problem. I’ve felt that where you have problems, and I’ll get there, you know, problems. You have incredible economic opportunities. Yeah, for sure. problem here is the fact that we are developing cities, we’re urbanizing. Right, I call it hyper urbanization. We’re developing cities and moving into cities faster than they’ve ever been in history with building cities. Unfortunately, we’re, you know, for the most part, doing it in a very carbon intensive way. That’s in itself a problem. Because, you know, construction, the construction industry accounts for something like 11% of global carbon emissions, right? So absolutely massive. And that’s a problem in the world that we live in today. Where that, you know, we’re facing and we’re staring down the abyss, that abyss called climate, the climate crisis, climate change, climate change. So that’s a problem. But I think, you know, because it’s such a big problem. It’s such a big economic opportunity as well, you know, the numbers that we’re talking about here, you know, we’re talking 11% of global carbon emissions, specifically, the use of diesel, we think it’s about half a billion tons of carbon every single year, which is the same more than the carbon footprint of all of Australia. It’s a big problem. But you know, I think it’s a huge opportunity because of that.

Michael Waitze 13:27
And when you go out to sell, right, at least initially, I’m I’m so curious about sales cycles, right? Because as you said, the diesel generators worked, they worked for, you know, half a century, and there’s why should we change them? When you develop the batteries? You go to sell them to people? What’s the response? And how do you necessarily change their mind or their mindset?

Brandon Ng 13:48
Definitely a lot of skepticism initially, right? Your construction companies live or die on the basis of how well they plan their projects, and the risks to those plans. And the introduction of new technologies is always a risk. It’s scary

Michael Waitze 14:05
for them. No,

Brandon Ng 14:06
it’s scary. It’s scary. So, you know, I think there was a fairly cold reception, but there wasn’t reception among certain audiences right? Early on in the project. And that’s your typical adoption curve. You have your first movers, and they have a very specific need. There’s a very, they have a very specific agenda that’s unique to them. If you capture enough first movers, hopefully, the early majority will start to see a you know what, it’s working for the first movers, we might need to actually look at this seriously, and start to adopt it in our own operations in our own business. Right. And you move through that adoption curve. So you know, very early on there were just a couple of construction companies that saw this as transformational and it’s now starting to propagate across a lot more,

Michael Waitze 14:50
which is good news. You know, so many people are talking about Sass products and all this other blockchain and all this other garbage Yeah, but not not the blockchain discard but you know what I mean, like so much of the world is of course Marc Andreessen is getting eaten by software, right. And I know that there’s a software component to this, which I do want to talk about as well, right? Because connectivity is important for almost everything that we do. But there’s a big hardware component, right? There’s a battery of physical battery here. So for me to demo a software product, you are bringing my laptop, I sit in front of you, I crank it out, I show you what you’ve been doing, how you can do it better with my software product, relatively easy for you to figure out what the impact is, how do you do this, for a physical product, it’s just got to be so different, though.

Brandon Ng 15:34
So it’s funny that you say so that that quote that, you know, software eats the world, because Marc Andreessen has written a more recent article, I think he wrote it around sort of 2020 just as COVID was going through the world where the you know, it’s entitled, it’s time to build it for me, you can’t you can’t solve a lot of physical problems purely through software, some problems exist in the real world. And at the there will be some hardware element involved in addressing those problems. So I’d you know, I don’t think you’re gonna, you know, I can’t see how you could solve world hunger, for example, inside myself, right? I

Michael Waitze 16:08
mean, you may need the logistics side of it may be driven by optimization software, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to get food from one place to another place. Yeah, you got to

Brandon Ng 16:15
put some food on someone’s table, not software that’s gonna, you know, that that thing that they’re eating is something physical. So there needs to be a physical delivery. And, you know, how do you prove it? It’s by finding those first adopters who have such a huge pain point that they’re willing to take that risk. So for us specifically, we had a construction company here in Hong Kong called their huge called gammon construction, and gammon construction were really, really focused on sustainability. They have what I think 20 consecutive years of extremely detailed sustainability reports, which is very unusual for the industry, they place significant emphasis on ESG. Definitely a lot more than than average. And they, it was with them that we actually develop the product. So we co developed the product nice, and they had involvement in the development. So they had skin in the game, right. So they were vested in making this work. So I think that was how we approached it. It’s a model that, you know, we do try to replicate with, you know, some of the new products that we’re currently developing, having a development partner, and, you know, if they’re a development partner, they’re, you know, more than just the first mover. They’re, they’re the guys that you’re developing this with. So I think I think that was how we proved it out. It’s getting people to believe in the idea,

Michael Waitze 17:31
do you get the sense that construction companies now will sell themselves with this edge of like, hey, not only can we build a better building for you, but we’re more sustainable from an ESG perspective, and it’s cleaner, so it won’t hurt the environment? Like there’s construction going on next to me? Yeah, I’m not kidding. And it is so dirty and so dusty, like, I can feel it every day. That’s not a joke.

Brandon Ng 17:54
So I think it’s an edge in certain markets, right? It’s, it’s an edge in certain markets where you have, you know, construction companies have customers, those customers are real estate developers. Sure. And those real estate developers have to want construction companies to operate more in a much greener way. Right. So I think it is definitely an edge in certain markets. For example, in Hong Kong, because of what we’re doing in amped energy, I think the real estate developers now realize that it is actually possible to decarbonize construction. So I think, you know, in Hong Kong, if you can differentiate yourself as a, as a green contractor, that’s definitely an edge that, you know, among your long list of other things, the short novels will be looking for. I think, in other markets, that may not be true, but the general direction that the world is moving in, is it’s gonna move from a competitive edge to a basic requirement.

Michael Waitze 18:47
Yeah, table stakes. Yeah, like it’s just gonna have to be if you rock up with like a diesel generator, people are just gonna be sorry, you’re out kind of thing. No, yeah,

Brandon Ng 18:55
that’s, that’s ultimately where we’re, we’re gonna head to, you know, may take us five years to get there. It may take us 10. I have no idea. I don’t have a crystal ball. Right. But there will come a point where there it’s a basic requirement that you are building in a sustainable way, and that you’re not causing harm to the environment and to the surrounding area.

Michael Waitze 19:14
So I had a woman on the show a couple of days ago, know, sorry, a week or so ago. And she talked about she’s she’s building cell based milk, right. Oh, I think I know. Yeah. And she was she’s awesome. But there’s one other thing rude. Yeah. Yeah, she’s fabulous. So she’s really awesome. We had a great conversation. But one of the things she pointed out to me is that, you know, the big conglomerates that are in the food business are just making the food that people are demanding. Right, so they want Oreos, they’re gonna make Oreos kind of thing, right? And when people stopped demanding Oreos, they’ll stop making them okay. In a way. It’s not up to the food companies to say, the Oreos are bad for you. You want them we’ll make them right. So is that good? happened in the construction industry to and I’ll tell you what I mean, I want to live in a condo, but I want to make sure that it was built in a way that was sustainable, like how do you change the demand structure as well, so that the construction companies will use it as an advertising point, not just like it’s got a, an amazing gym and an amazing pool. But we built this entirely with clean energy kind of thing. Is that going to happen to?

Brandon Ng 20:20
I think so. I hope so. We have to realize that there was a climate crisis and have to tell can we not know. But, you know, the question is, do we care? Right? I think all of us know that climate change. Climate crisis exists. But the question is, do we care enough to actually demand change? You know, farmers completely right, which is, you know, to a very large extent, you know, companies are driven by demand. And if there’s demand for cleaner, greener solutions or alternatives, that that tastes great, that that our price competitive, believe you mean, the companies will figure out a way to get there sure regions have to demand it. I think a big part of I think it’s two things, right? I think there’s demand from end customers. So in the context of real estate, you’ll be you know, people buying apartments, but there’s also demand from institutional capital. Right. So you have companies like BlackRock, for example, world, money managers managing 10 10 trillion trillion dollars? Yeah. You know, they basically own like, you know, two 3% of every, every public company in the world, basically, basically, and these guys are really piling on the pressure of their portfolio companies to, you know, to decarbonize, they’re asking, What are you guys doing every single year to decarbonize? How are you improving on carbon targets, on your carbon on your carbon emissions? And they’re driving that really hard? So I think, I think that the demand for sustainability can come from two angles. Ideally, it comes from both, right?

Michael Waitze 21:53
Is there a branding opportunity for you here as well? And again, I’m older than you, right? So I look back and think about, and I asked this question a lot, too. You know, AMD chips, were just licensed technology, x86 technology from Intel. But Intel did this thing called Intel Inside, where they partnered with Microsoft, and made it feel like, if you bought the Dell computer or the gateway computer with the Intel chip, and it was just better. Is there a way to do like, you know, built with AMPT kind of thing so that people know that that’s actually happening?

Brandon Ng 22:24
That’s a great idea. I haven’t I haven’t thought of that yet, potentially, potentially,

Michael Waitze 22:27
just as a differentiator, you know, what I mean, from a brand perspective?

Brandon Ng 22:31
Yeah, built with them to build with them, you know, to even if it’s not apt, right, even if it’s not, you know, at the end of day, we’re trying to drive sustainability where I think, you know, there will be a world where, you know, where other companies will come in and trip me up come in with their, with their ideas on on product, you know, built with energy storage, right, or built sustainably, and obviously, you know, thinking selfishly built with energy, right, you know, would be would be a very interesting one as well. Yeah. But at the end of day, from a sustainability standpoint, it could be us, it could be someone else. If we come up with the most attractive product offering, we deserve your business. If we don’t, then we don’t Fair enough. Someone else, someone else deserves the business instead of us.

Michael Waitze 23:11
Can we get a little bit geeky for a second? Gone? Do you mind? I’m really curious about the product itself. Yeah, like, what is it? What do you call it? What does it do? I’m really curious about this. What is what does it do? Like? How does it actually connect to the construction site? Is it just energy over a cable? And what is the connectivity aspect of this do to make it more efficient, more useful? All that kind of stuff?

Brandon Ng 23:39
Great question. Great question. So the product that we ended up developing in 2018, in conjunction with gammon is the first energy storage system that’s designed specifically for construction. Okay. We’re just some it’s just, you know, fancy word for big battery. Yep. And we call it the entertainer. Why? Someone thought they were being funny.

Michael Waitze 24:02
Is it like, enter into the container? Like, does it look like a container,

Brandon Ng 24:05
eater? You know, energy container? What does that be entertaining? We call it the entertainer. So someone, we’re being funny. And so it’s the project was called Project entertainer. We hadn’t we knew that we had to come up with a name. Eventually, you know, that’s just what customers ended up calling it just stuck. And it just stuck. And that’s now kind of we got to live with this now. So so the product is called the entertainer. It’s, it’s an energy storage system, a big battery that’s in a, you know, I’m on I’m on a podcast. So I realize I have to describe this visually. So yeah, it’s it’s a 10 foot container. Why didn’t color with you know, our logo stamped all over it? It’s basically a container full of batteries. And what you do is you connect all the large equipment that on a construction project, to the entertainer that equipment doesn’t need to be modified. It’s equipment that you would have ordinarily previously connected to a diesel generator, what we now offer is the ability to connect it to a big battery system to provide power to the construction project, right. And that just leads to all the improvements that I that I, you know, met operational improvements that I mentioned earlier. So, you know, up to 85% reduction in carbon footprint, 99.9% reduction in air pollution. So the adjacent issue to carbon 35 times quieter, smaller from an actual sort of footprint standpoint, you can actually replace two or three diesel generators. And it’s just completely automated, you don’t need to touch it, you can install it on the construction project, and it just kind of does its thing. And that’s all driven by software. That’s all driven by software that’s pre built onto the system that manages power, power in power out, in order to make sure that the battery isn’t depleting through the course of the day. So you can run the you know, the entertainer, basically autonomous fee for the entire duration of the construction project. So that’s one area that software comes in. But the other that software, software data comes into the picture is the fact that in order for the entertainer to work, we have to actually measure how much power the equipment that its power needs. If we do that. And we do that in a very high resolution, very high sort of granularity. So we actually capture that information on the entertainer. And what we can actually start doing, and this is something that we’re going to start this year is we’re starting to analyze energy patterns or power patterns at a very high resolution. And what that tells construction companies is it starts to tell them about productivity of different pieces of equipment. So you can start finding productivity bottlenecks in your construction project that leads to ultimately, we hope, you know, faster construction,

Michael Waitze 26:46
is there like an entirely data driven decision making process then that you can get if you capture all this data, that even if it’s not one of your partners, you can share with other partners and say like, we realize that during this type, or this phase of construction, because I’m feeling like and I don’t know this right, that if you had a diesel generator there, you just kind of turned it on, let it ride or when you were done for the day, you turned it off kind of thing. It’s dumb. It’s not smart. That’s my point, though, right? So is this like an IoT device to that’s interconnected that if there are other amp devices there, they talk to each other and just go, I got this, you got that kind of thing? It is

Brandon Ng 27:19
it is an IoT device. So every single entertainer that we deploy has a 4g SIM card built into it. We will be transitioning to 5g At some point, we’re running on 4g Right now, you know, in addition to allowing us to monitor the entertainer, so our engineering teams are monitoring the entertainment to make sure it’s it has that 99.9% uptime that we always aim for, right. So in addition to that, we’re also using the measuring of the equipment, the power and energy requirements of the equipment that we’re providing power to. And we’re starting to do things with that data to actually really understand at a very granular level, what’s going on at every single second on the actual construction site, wrapping that data up summarizing that data and actually feeding that back to the construction company. So that real estate developers on on productivity at the construction site. So that’s something that we’re currently working on that, you know, could be its own independent product one day,

Michael Waitze 28:15
do you think that they’ll be surprised by the story that the data tells if you know what I mean, you know, because they’re in their head, they have presumptions about how the the sort of their power generation and power usage is working? Right? And you may come up with stuff and just go, Well, maybe not like that, but like this.

Brandon Ng 28:32
I wouldn’t be surprised if if we do discover surprising things. Because, you know, one of the challenges in construction is and you know, the construction industry as a whole is moving quickly this direction, but it’s still very much its infancy is digitalization, right, a lot of construction is really men or women shouting over walkie talkie, or writing things down to the clipboard on a piece of paper that gets rain soaked, with, you know, changed a lot and all over the place. That’s, you know, that is still the reality of construction in significant parts of the world today. So with the advent of sensors, and remote monitoring, I’m pretty sure we’re going to unravel a lot of things that we didn’t expect, or that we didn’t know before, just because it was impossible to measure these things. So the entertainer is not just a power device. It’s also a gateway into exactly what’s going on on a construction project. Yeah, and you get

Michael Waitze 29:28
if you know, all of that data, and I may have this terminology wrong. But is there a what is it a BIM opportunity for you as well, you know what I mean? So you’re providing the power. But is there a way for you and you’re building software and you’re working together with the construction companies? Is there a way for you to then use that as an entree into, you know, 3d modeling of the building and other sort of software services you can offer on top of the energy? Yeah, potentially, because you have all this data, right?

Brandon Ng 29:59
You know, BIM Usually it’s only guys in the construction industry that understand that. So yes, absolutely. I mean, at the end of the day, to build a building, or to build a bridge, you need three things, you need materials, you need labor, and you need energy, right? energy moves stuff. So it’s a raw ingredient. And where that energy piece, you know, we can imagine a future where you pre plan the materials, the people and the energy requirements on BIM, you basically shedule your entire construction project, right. And automated equipment is managed by this overarching BIM system, the project Overlord, and energy is one of the components that needs to be managed in that plant in that federal, I can really see a future where that happens. Now, that may be quite a bit further down, down the line, but absolutely, it is it is, you know, there is some there is an angle there. And do

Michael Waitze 30:48
you also see other uses for the battery? And, you know, right now, you said it’s 10 feet by by some, by some measure, but it’s IoT connected, it’s got 4g, it’ll have 5g, it’s just a card, right? So when 60, whatever the next generation comes out, you’ll just insert that and change it that that itself should not be that difficult, relatively speaking, none of this is easy. But if that becomes more efficient, and maybe even more mobile, are there other uses for these types of batteries at scale? Do you know what I mean? Like not just for building the buildings, but maybe for powering the buildings or for powering other things?

Brandon Ng 31:21
Absolutely. Going back to the reason why we started the company in the first place, which was we knew that energy storage was going to be transformative in how we use power has been transformative for transportation. Yep, electric cars has been transformative for the construction industry. But absolutely, it’s going to be transformative for a whole bunch more industries and sectors and uses that we ourselves are also sort of exploring, we know what we’re focused on, which is the construction industry. And the big reason why we do that is because of construction, real estate. The big reason why we do that is you know, the opportunities that energy storage, technology unlocks are just more than any single company could possibly tackle and tackle well, we want to pick things that we know we’re gonna deliver an excellent product for our customers in, that we focus on, on certain things. Construction is one of the key focuses for us at this point in time. And we’re also exploring a couple other things down the road as well.

Michael Waitze 32:16
Well, in the middle of our conversation with Fang Roo, one of the things I asked her was, nobody operates alone, right. And for most of us, our families have a big impact on what we do. And I you know, she had a job at Google and at Salesforce, and I said to when you left, because it’s risky to start your own company. Like what was the reaction from your family? And she was like my mother cried. Agent thing to do? Very, very, yeah. And again, I feel like I can say that I’ve been an agent for 30 something years, right. So I feel like in a way I grew up here, even though my parents weren’t Asian, but I’ve just been here for a long time. So I feel like I can Co Op that a little bit. Not a lot. Yeah. Your parents probably didn’t cry when you didn’t become an accountant. But they probably did think you were taking a little bit more risk than maybe they were comfortable with. And I’m curious. Now, when they look at what you’ve done, and what you’ve accomplished, and the risks that you’ve taken over time, they must be proud. No, I would

Brandon Ng 33:07
hope so. At the end of the day, you know, I feel that you kind of need to turn your course you can’t live your life for your parents. Sure. As important as they are right. And in everyone’s lives. You kind of need to chart your own course. I’m very fortunate that I guess to a certain extent, my dad to a certain extent, wanted to be an entrepreneur himself. But I guess you know, because of his because of his up, I think back then the word entrepreneur wasn’t even a word. Right? I think back then it would have been businessman. Yeah, I think, you know, because of his own circumstances growing up, my dad grew up really poor, but understood, he took the the Yo, then logical choice, be an accountant, you know, and, and built an appeal. I’m very, very fortunate come from a very fortunate family. So I think that was a path that teachers but I think very secretly, deep down inside, he wanted to be a businessman or an entrepreneur himself. So I think he was quite comfortable with me treading down this path. But yes, you know, obviously, you know, there were discussions on is this the right thing to be doing? You know, you had a comfortable job in an investment bank. So he’s prior to, even though I am trained as engineer, I did a two and a half year stint at an investment bank. And yeah, I mean, like I said, you know, I just knew I wanted to be an engineering is what I what I was really passionate about what I really enjoyed. So, you know, they were very, very supportive of that. So I’m really fortunate in that regard. But, you know, like I said, you know, at the end of day, you’ve got to live your life the way you want to live it, hopefully, the way you want to live, it leads to a positive contribution to the world. And hopefully, by by doing that, you’ll be able to support yourself and support yourself well, by creating value in the world. Well,

Michael Waitze 34:51
very well said. I really want to thank you, Brandon. I’m a co founder and the CEO of amped energy. Thank you so much for doing this today.

Brandon Ng 34:58
It was my pleasure. And thank you so much for having us.


The audio on this episode was expertly edited and produced by the talented Alanis Braun.  You can see her portfolio here and her LinkedIn profile here.

The music on this episode was created by Jay Man and is called “Teen Time”.