Husk Power: Scaling the Venture
In January 2018, Manoj Sinha-founder and CEO of Husk Power-was contemplating raising $20 million to scale operations for a second time. From 2007 through 2013, Husk built 80 biomass waste plants that provided electricity to 250,000 villagers and shop owners spread across 350 villages in rural India and Africa. But in 2015, Husk underwent a major pivot. Rather than providing power through biomass gasification alone, Husk shifted to plants that used biomass gasification, solar energy and battery power in tandem, allowing for power generation nearly 24-7. And rather than serving households as their core customer demographic, Sinha shifted Husk's focus to village commercial centers. To bring this vision to reality Sinha ceased operations of nearly all of the existing plant locations and began the conversion to new locations built around the "new" hybrid plant. Thus in 2015, Husk was operating a mere 10 power plants and serving roughly 2000 customers, down from the 80 plants and roughly 250,000 customers they had prior to this shift. After downsizing and reorganizing operations, was Husk Power once again ready to scale? Would impact investors be interested in providing the capital? Traditional, value-neutral investors? And which type of investors should the founders of Husk prefer?