Rather than finding a charging station for your electric car, why not have the charging station come to you? With this simple philosophy, Startup in Residence participant EVoltify is helping Campus Groningen facilitate mobile charging stations for campus visitors. Co-founder Antonio Fajardo discusses the campus pilot and the challenges of being a startup at the forefront of the EV revolution.
Electric cars are becoming more and more abundant, but charging stations, however, are still few and far between. For many drivers, also the ones still on the fence about switching to electric, this leads to one of the biggest roadblocks in the EV revolution: a thing called range anxiety. “You have a pizza delivered pretty much anywhere and anytime you want with an app, so why should charging be any different?”, Antonio says. “In our eyes, investing in expensive infrastructure everywhere is not a sustainable solution. Infrastructure is something from the past.”
EVoltify was born in 2018, out of the desire of making EV charging even easier than fueling a normal car. Through an app, EV drivers can share their parking location along with some information about things like the approximate amount of kWh needed and EVoltify takes care of the rest. It’s Charging as a Service, a simple principle, but nonetheless challenging to build a startup around it. “We’re a hardware startup”, Antonio explains. “And of course hardware is more expensive to develop than software. And you also need critical mass for it to work as a business model, so EV drivers may be our users, but they’re not our customers.
“We have to work with big organizations like municipalities, event organizers or parking management companies”, Antonio continues. “So we were looking for pilot programs to help with finetuning our hardware, but also to create a good revenue model around it. Startup in Residence sounded like an ideal opportunity, so we decided to sign up for the wildcard challenge. That meant we needed to find a challenge owner for our idea, rather than the other way around and we’re happy to have found one in Campus Groningen.”
Campus Groningen pilot
The pilot will kick off in June, but EVoltify has been very busy working up to it. “Campus Groningen is a collection of different organizations, so we’ve been working to get everyone involved and on board first. We’re currently working with students from the University of Groningen and Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen on the development of our product. So things are pretty busy at the moment”, Antonio laughs.
“The pilot includes challenges such as the right choice of battery cells, the functional design of the mobile EV chargers, safety and, not unimportantly, the revenue model and financial plan”, Antonio explains. “And we also want to compare the generation of energy with the actual energy demand on campus and what role EVoltify's batteries can play in this."
Ready to take on the market
"The challenge we mainly want to take on with the pilot is to prove that 'Charging as a Service' by EVoltify is interesting enough for the different parties on the Zernike Campus Groningen”, Antonio says. “Thanks to Campus Groningen, Hive.Mobility, Lode and BuildinG, we can actually test our solution on the Campus. By actually showing our solution on Campus and demonstrating the ease of use, we hope to create enough support to start an extensive pilot at the end of this year."
EVoltify is also currently in talks with the Investment and Development Agency for the Northern Netherlands (NOM), to discuss potential funding. “So if all goes well, we can make some pretty big steps as a startup this year and be ready to take on the market.”