WrightGrid: Past B.E.T.A. Challenge Finalists: Where Are They Now? (2017 Series: Part 2)
Ryan Wright, who graduated from Babson’s evening MBA program in 2013, made it to the semifinals of the 2014 B.E.T.A. Challenge and came back the next year to win the alumni B.E.T.A. Challenge in 2015. His business, WrightGrid, is “on a mission to enhance personal connectivity by deploying accessible and sustainable power solutions in public spaces where power doesn’t currently exist.” Their first product, the Model Z, is a public solar-powered mobile hotspot and charging station.
According to Ryan, WrightGrid’s win in 2015 can be attributed to the traction it gained in the year after his initial B.E.T.A. Challenge application. In 2014, he had recently quit his day job to focus solely on WrightGrid full-time and was just beginning to hire employees. By the time WrightGrid re-applied in 2015, they were significantly more developed and ready to take home the $20,000 prize.
Having already been involved in the Butler Venture Accelerator program, Ryan saw the B.E.T.A. Challenge as a perfect opportunity to gain even more exposure. In addition, WrightGrid was a bootstrapped venture up until their 2015 win. Winning the award money was “hugely helpful” in giving the business additional runway. Since winning the B.E.T.A. Challenge, the number of people working full-time on the business has grown to 6, and Ryan mentioned that they are preparing to double that number this year! The money also allowed WrightGrid to launch systems both in the United States and Africa. They are now preparing for a large international deployment in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Ryan’s suggestions for future applicants to the B.E.T.A. Challenge? Make sure to demonstrate Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® and put strong emphasis on proving that there is a market for your product. It also helped to show how much his company had achieved with only bootstrapped money because it proved how creative and flexible his team was. Ryan encourages anyone with a startup idea to take part in the B.E.T.A. Challenge because it provides great exposure for your business and helps you meet interesting mentors and other companies you can stay in touch with afterwards!