Kaikai or Nichole is another female entrepreneur blazing a trail in Southeast Asia. As a co-Founder and COO of Energo Labs, she’s in charge of marketing, key project development and management, fundraising, partnerships, and throw in some strategy to round it all off.
Her startup is changing energy through the blockchain, to help provide energy to rural areas and stabilise energy grids. This apparently allows users to even choose their energy sources.
A former Tencent alum, Kaikai is also an early Bitcoin investor, which means she must really be passionate about her job, otherwise she wouldn’t need to work.
When you can’t find her at her desk, you’ll probably find her jamming on the drums, as Kaikai is a passionate jazz drummer.
Find out her story below.
Sell us your company/service in 300 words?
Energo Labs (Energo) integrates blockchain within the energy sector by establishing Decentralised Autonomous Energy (DAE) ecosystems where energy is a digital asset. In this regard, energy can be traded for several applications such as peer-to-peer (P2P), machine-to-machine (M2M), and vehicle-to-machine (V2M). This results in the rise of prosumers, where virtual power plants or independent power producers can sell their energy to consumers around them in an easy and secure way. Energo provides the software and smart meter service that are required to enable energy trading between individuals; our major partners include microgrid operators and energy storage operators.
By digitising energy storage, we essentially want to create a network of storage systems, which include stationary batteries such as those in households as well as mobile batteries such as those in electric vehicles (EV), to enable energy trading between them. During the day when solar energy is being produced, households and microgrids can supply power to EVs, and at night when there are limitations to renewable energy production, EVs can trade electricity with houses or microgrids so as to provide the minimum amount of electric power needed at any given time. (Note: An Energo TSL token is required to access the energy storage systems)
With governments around the world seeking to balance the integration of renewable energy with energy equity and security, our solution becomes increasingly relevant. The rise of global demand for electricity also allows our solution to be critical in the future of smart grids and microgrids technology as it enables users to choose where their energy comes from.
The ability to trade energy highlights the importance of decentralised energy as it allows both production and consumption to happen in the same platform, uses emission-free resources, decreases transmission losses, and enables prosumers to make money from the solar energy their PV panels produce.
What is stopping you from having the largest company in the world?
The biggest challenge we face is the monopolistic structure of the energy sector. Majority of the countries in the world still have a traditional energy sector where electricity generation, transmission, and distribution capabilities lie in the hands of one or few organisations that make the majority of the decisions in the sector.
While this simplifies the grid, it leaves consumers with limited choices over where they would like their energy source to come from. Additionally, this highly regulated sector leads to less transparency about the impacts of the energy sector such as sustainability, billing, energy theft, metering, etc.
This traditional structure is now changing in many countries to give way to decentralisation of energy, which places a much greater emphasis on renewable energy sources compared to fossil fuels. Deregulation and decentralisation are helping start-ups like Energo Labs break the present monopoly and open up the market. This encourages the entry of virtual and independent power plants and gives rise to the phenomenon of prosumers, while allowing consumers to have more choices over where their energy comes from.
The challenges to that are navigating through and establishing a presence in the industry dominated by large companies, and carefully analysing the risks and consequences of restructuring this industry given its impact on the country as a whole. Energy, especially in the form of electricity, is the building blocks of all other industries in today’s digital world. This means that any action must be thoroughly analysed with safety measure implemented.
If you could change one thing about the tech industry in Southeast Asia, what would it be?
There is a longstanding issue that very few women pursue a career in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) sectors. In Southeast Asia, most countries have less than 50 percent of women participating.
This includes Singapore, where only 29 percent of the STEM workforce is women. The only anomaly is Myanmar, where 85.5 percent of the workforce in STEM is women, but according to a United Nations report, most of the Myanmese tech startups are led by men, with only a handful of female entrepreneurs.
Undeniably, the lack of women representation in STEM sectors is compounding the shortage of tech talent.
In the long run, this will not only be detrimental to the talent development in Southeast Asia’s tech scene but also not allow businesses to thrive and reach their maximum potential. Harnessing the participation of women will help allow this need to be met.
Furthermore, having different perspectives and approaches make for a more dynamic and profitable organisation. According to a study of about 22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries, an increase in the share of women from zero to 30 percent in top management positions would be associated with a 15 percent rise in profitability. Including women in the business definitely makes good and smart business sense!
On an individual note, being involved in tech can bring about personal pride and achievement. For me, my tech journey has been fruitful and has taught me to be independent, to always look for solutions, and not be dependent on others. Being in this sector has indeed opened a door to the world for me and I hope it will too for the women of Southeast Asia.
Name one person in the region, who is making a difference in Technology?
Our belief is that the growth of Asia as a tech hub is mainly due to the collective effort of entrepreneurs and professionals who are pushing for smarter and more advanced technologies to be used in their cities; it is less of an individual effort.
What would you want people to remember you for, 100 years from now?
On a professional basis, I would like to be known as an innovative person who took the blockchain technology into the energy industry, not only in Asia region but to all over the world eventually. This is a very abstract concept as blockchain is known mostly for the association with Bitcoin and fintech, but I would like to bring this idea in the real world by applying blockchain and energy security sytem to be used in our daily lives.
Our concept and project are the perfect way to solve the energy trilemma, which is energy security, energy accessibility and energy sustainability. I believe that the blockchain technology in energy sector can help governments around the world to work on and solve this energy trillema. Since energy sectors are facing the revolution right now, this technology is very well timed and I am very excited to introduce this idea worldwide and be remembered for this.
On a personal basis, it has to be the best drummer (who loves blockchain in energy sector)!
Prior to founding Energo Labs in 2016, Kaikai Yang worked at Tencent WeStart, an incubator working on early-stage start-up investment. As COO of Energo Labs, she is responsible for the strategic layout and global expansion of the company, as well as tracking the overall execution and innovation of the business. Yang is also an early Bitcoin investor, a jazz drummer, and an improvising spirit.
Views expressed by the interviewee are not necessarily shared by Tech Collective. Some minimal editing is done for clarity’s sake.
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