February suddenly arrived with a boom.
We kicked off the morning with lots of "Pinch punch first of the month" around the house, and weirdly it now feels more like A New Year than it did a month ago. It's getting lighter, some interesting things are starting to happen, and seems as though the perma-gloom may be thinning out.
Whatever happened to January? And what's special about February? Read on..
A Roaring 2021?
When it came round to it, I forgot / couldn’t quite be motivated to ice the Christmas Cake (that I'd spent weeks making!) until New Years Eve. So at that point it ceased to be a Christmas Cake any more, and in a flash of inspiration I transformed it into a New Year’s Cake that, to this day, remains a beacon of hope for an optimistic year.
There have been a few parallels drawn between the 1918 Great Flu Epidemic with the Roaring 20s that followed, with our current situation. Are the next few years going to be characterised by a renaissance of dressing up and extreme socialising? Let's hope so!
When January came around, it felt like more of 2020: A kind of '2020 month 13'. We've been busy though, nudging forward bit by bit.
Over the New Year we applied for - and luckily got initially shortlisted for - three different climate innovation programmes / startup incubators that included Carbon13 (Cambridge), The Greenhouse (Imperial College) and Bethnal Green Ventures. This is an exciting ongoing process that encouraged us to confront some of the hard existential questions around our customers, key proposition, what we need to grow etc.
So far we're still 'in the running' for two of the programmes, and should hear the final outcome later this month. This has been a great reflective learning experience and has put us in good shape to plan what we need to do for the year ahead.
In addition we're also getting some useful mentoring from the London Business Hub which is helping us to navigate startup issues in a kind of a structured way.
Networking (and Actual Working)
Through January we've enjoyed re-connecting with old friends / colleagues, and making new 'virtual' connections - which in current circumstances is the best we can do.
The main joy that January has brought us though is being awarded our first piece of 'proper' paid work, which we've just kicked off and which will keep us busy through Mach. This gives us a great chance to put some of our ideas to the test. I'll maybe write more on that when the time is right - but it is very exciting!
Last week also saw a couple of big (for us!) changes:
Firstly, Simon joined us as Commercial Director and Co-owner. Rosie and I knew Simon and Linda from living in Muscat and working at PDO at the same time in 2006 - 2009, and we kept in touch since. Following our redundancies last year and after a few months of collaborating on some bids for work + the startup incubators, we agreed the time was right to join forces and create a more efficient & diverse capability. Really glad we've been able to do this.
Secondly, Harry has taken up a permanent graduate position with Statkraft and left us last Friday to join the big wide world of all that stuff that comes with having lots of live projects and structured development opportunities etc.. Harry's work and efforts with us have been fundamental in developing our demonstration models - and we wish him all the best for the future!
We toasted these changes over a Teams social on Friday afternoon - which perfectly wrapped up a rather beery and damp January.
We'll be looking to add more expertise and support in the coming months, with some initial priority on setting up a decent data architecture - so if anyone's got good ideas on how to go about that then please let us know.
The Rectangular Month
One of the first things that caught my eye this morning when I logged into the matrix was that THIS is the first time in 200 years that February is 'rectangular'. LOL. Probably nonsense and I didn't waste any time attempting to fact-check this (although could have made a function in Excel to verify, based on whether you'd consider the week to start on a Sunday or Monday etc) - but I did like the aesthetic of it. A month in the calendar that didn't have a spare day or two poking out the top or bottom forcing it to be it asymmetrical. That is cool.
Could this be an omen that something significant is about to happen? Like the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, subtlely signing the start of that Roaring 2021? LOL.
After that I went out for a 5k run to try to kickstart a routine again, and enthusiastically decreed that 'dry February' has begun. Partly because January is absolutely the worst time of year to attempt clean habits - and partly because February is the shortest month.
I'd written before about trying to work out the spread of risk on the economic lifecycle of rooftop Solar PV, based on some quotes we had and a guess at power savings. After some prolonged discussions with both our structural engineer (that did our loft extension) and the solar installer relating to support weights, snow loadings and the like, we agreed that no panels should be put on the top flat roof - and that 8 x 460W panels on the south-facing slope will do the job nicely. And that six panels along the bottom will just about fit the width of our roof.
So this morning I was delighted to see the panels delivered then the installers turn up, but was less delighted to be told that six panels won't fit across our roof - and "what do you want to do now?". In the end we agreed on the next-best configuration possible plus a decent discount for the mistake - and although the finished installation looks fine it doesn't quite have the aesthetic quality that the full-width would have had.
Once hooked up, the new inverter showed a measly 60W output from the 3.2 kW installed capacity. As spring is just around the corner, we'll be looking forward to seeing the Watts generated creeping up in the coming months.
I joined an interesting Gresham College lecture "Build Back Better" this evening which spanned a number of themes relating to Green Finance - and in particular the City of London's role in facilitating change and encouraging others to "follow the money". In amongst the panellist talks and debate was a clever twist on a popular villain quote from that 80s finance film:
"Green is Good" - Mark Carney
Here's to a roaring 2021 - and will be looking forward to that beer in March!