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After closing DigitMint in December, Josh Dunn plans to enter the solar power industry.
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After closing DigitMint in December, Josh Dunn plans to enter the solar power industry.

Cryptocurrency investor pivots toward solar

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The president of a short-lived cryptocurrency mining company is switching gears with plans for a battery production plant.

Josh Dunn, who launched DigitMint Inc. in January and opened a south Springfield office in July, shuttered the business in December, he said. He then formed Voltek Inc. with four partners and several vendors on board. The organizers are seeking land to build a factory capable of producing 20,000 small rechargeable lithium batteries per day, for use in residential solar power.

Dunn said Voltek is targeting a land purchase outside of Springfield within six months. The plant also would be powered by its own generated solar power, he said. Described as close friends and family members, Raul Montemayor, Lisette Montemayor, Juan Martinez and Graciela Martinez, share 20 percent equity, Dunn said, and will work in the new company in labor and management roles.

Still in the planning stage, Dunn is actively meeting with China-based MTI Corp.’s Richmond, California, office, to procure battery manufacturing equipment. Startup costs for equipment could top $4 million, he said. To limit labor costs, he also is attempting to automate where possible.

“The Chinese have informed me that unless you’re making 20,000 batteries a day, it’s not worth it,” he said. “So I said, ‘OK, quote me for 20,000 batteries a day.’”

The venture will be self-funded for the first $500,000, he said, before opening up to Kickstarter and venture capitalists.

Former DigitMint Vice President Jung Rok “Eric” Oh, of Georgia, plans to supply enclosures for the solar power systems produced by Voltek, Dunn said. Dunn also has partnered with Jeff Hwang, co-owner of Korean solar cell manufacturer Dabin Energy & Construction Co., to supply solar panels.

“We’re going to allow a household that uses about 40 kilowatt hours a day or less to be able to go off the grid for less than $10,000,” Dunn said, adding residential customers may qualify for federal solar tax credits.

At DigitMint, Dunn said the business ran into problems when employees decided to start their own currency mining company. Combined with decreasing profits from blockchain mining, he decided to close the doors and invest in bitcoin as a private individual.

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