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Vancouver's Portable Electric start-up counting on sunny B.C. entertainment industries

Local green energy start-up hopes to provide solar power set ups to British Columbia film and festival productions
Portable Electric founder Mark Rabin thinks there’s a big market for rechargeable power in the film, TV and music festival sectors. | Portable Electric

Film location shoots and outdoor music festivals share a need for diesel generators to supply power for lighting and sound systems. 

Vancouver startup Portable Electric has a green alternative that it believes could supplant much of that diesel generation power with solar-powered mobile rechargeable batteries.

The company debut at the Calgary Stampede, where it showcased its products by providing free cell phone-charging kiosks powered by its batteries.

While the company, which has eight employees, thinks there are many potential markets, it’s the Vancouver’s film and TV industry that Portable Electric founder Mark Rabin sees as the big play.

 “The power requirements for the film industry are so vast,” he said. “This is where we see the big growth in terms of the larger units and hybrid generators.”

Portable Electric makes two products. A small, two-kilowatt/hour battery called the VoltStack Mini is for smaller events and can be recharged using solar panels. The larger 55-kilowatt/hour VoltStack Boss is designed for larger events like music festivals and film sets. 

Rabin said the company’s business model is based on renting, leasing and franchising.

“We’re looking at franchising or a distribution model, where we’re growing in North America by franchisees that turn into their own rental businesses that work with event planners, the film industry. We’re also speaking with production companies that rent out generators.”

The company rents the VoltStack Minis for $150 per day; the larger mobile charging stations, which come with a technician, rent for $2,500 per day.

Rabin, who has a master of science degree in energy economics and an MBA, plans to raise venture capital this year to finance a new manufacturing facility. He aims to manufacture 50 Boss units and 500 minis in 2017.