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Prominent startup leaders throw support behind Elon Musk’s 100-day energy promise to South Australia – StartupSmart

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By Emma Koehn and Dinushi Dias 

Prominent members of the local startup sector say an offer from tech billionaire Elon Musk to fix South Australia’s energy “woes” within 100 days could be the start of “something epic”.

The offer unfolded through a Twitter exchange between Musk and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes on Friday afternoon, and over the weekend, Musk had conversations with both South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill, and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“This little interplay could be the beginning of something epic for Australia and certainly South Australia,” says Vinomofo co-founder Andre Eikmeier.

Eikmeier said in a statement that with the support of the right people in business and politics, “big things” can happen.

Musk’s offer has sparked widespread excitement across Adelaide and Australia’s broader startup sector.

“Lack of electricity goes to the heart of every individual in their home, but for startup businesses that often work around the clock, lack of energy doesn’t just wipe out revenue during the blackout, it saps the confidence of customers, partners and suppliers,” Startup Adelaide managing director Jenny Vandyke said in a statement.

Vandyke said the installation would be invaluable for entrepreneurs such as Proviso’s Luke Howes and Happyco’s Jindou Lee who are growing teams in Adelaide.

“Without reliable energy we risk the tide turning the other way,” Vandyke said.

In the same statement, Lee said the offer “spark” needed to put South Australia on the map.

“In Elon Musk and Mike Cannon Brookes we have two world class leaders looking to move the South Australian economy forward in leaps and bounds,” Lee said.

Steve Barrett, director of SouthStart and chief executive of GoReception, said of Tesla and Atlassian’s involvement: “Let them innovate”.

“Tesla and Atlassian are the giants that can move mountains,” he said.

How it all started

On Friday afternoon Cannon-Brookes tweeted out a Fairfax article that reported Tesla’s vice-president for energy products Lydon Rive said the company could solve South Australia’s energy crisis within 100 days by delivering 100-300 megawatt hours of its batteries in the state.

Cannon-Brookes went straight to Tesla chief executive Elon Musk to clarify how realistic this claim was, and the conversation quickly escalated.

On Sunday, Turnbull thanked Musk on Twitter for an “in depth discussion” about energy storage, and said he has asked the government’s energy finance agencies to “focus on storage”.

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