Startup of the Week: CHRG Network
This time Startup of the week presents Lithuanian startup CHRG Network – it’s software platform for Electric vehicle (EV) charging that connects all charging stations into a single network, enabling owners to share and monetise their charging stations. For station owner it’s a software tool to manage his stations and collect payments for service provided. As Rokas Danusevičius, CEO and CO-FOUNDER said: we are “AirBnB” for EV charging stations where EV driver gets seamless user experience. Our app to enable charging with any smart charging station.
What are your competitors and competitive advantages?
Before talking about competition it is important to understand that market today is in a very early stage. If we compare the number of EV’s and charging stations available today to the number estimated for 2030 we are at 2% coverage today compared to where it will be in 10 years from now. Therefore, unlike in other sectors aggressively spending money on marketing in this industry today, may not guarantee dominating position in the future.
There are few players in the market. West Europe is dominated by Oil&Gas or utility companies (f.e. Shell is backing “NewMotion”, Fortum with “Plugsurfing” and few smaller ones) building their own station networks and providing their own software solutions to support it.
What we see is that private charging providers and small businesses are underserved by these giants and there is a need for truly open platform accessible to any small, medium or even large player.
What were the reasons behind coming up with this idea and launching this product?
As in many cases with startups first ideas come from personal experience. I started following EV developments in 2009. Next year I had a chance to test drive EV and in 2015 I bought my first EV and am still driving it. I noticed that charging market is underserved and drivers experience related to charging is terrible. That made me think how could this be improved.
In all other aspects (except charging) I found EVs to be superior compared to internal combustion engine powered cars. There was never a doubt about EV dominance in close future. Insufficient charging network is still one of the main reasons why people refrain from buying EVs. Hopefully with CHRG Network project we can mitigate this.
When exactly did you launch, what were the main challenges before launching?
We have several charging stations connected to our platform, unfortunately we are still not publicly live yet. We want to make sure everything runs smoothly when we launch our product in couple of weeks.
Geographically, we plan to set a firm foot in Baltics and Poland. In fact, we do not have direct competitors (with similar software solution) anywhere in Central Eastern European region. However, the most interesting market for us is Norway, where is highest number of EVs on road in Europe today.
We are now testing our product with few key players locally in Lithuania.
What are main challenges while working on this product and how are you overcoming them?
Sometimes it is hard to get access to charging stations of some manufacturers for testing purposes. We are not yet in a situation where we could buy a station simply for testing:)
How are you funded? Do you seek extra funding?
We are funded from private resources, also were happy to receive investments from three accelerators “Accelerator One” run by Contrarian ventures, Climate-KIC accelerator and most recently from Startup Wise Guys. We also got investment from Angel investor. In addition to that we were approved for few equity free grants.
EV market in Lithuania is still in infantry stage, therefore we seek additional funding to support our entry to Norwegian market.
Please introduce your founders, your core team and your broader team?
We have well balanced founders team. Gintaras Kuzmickas is our technical guy and CTO. He has extensive experience building and leading large scale IT projects both in Lithuania and with corporate partners from abroad. Zilvinas Paliukas is our business developer. He has built companies from scratch. May sound a bit crazy, but Zilvinas has built a company in Libya few years before war broke out. Both Zilvinas and Gintaras have left well paid corporate jobs to develop CHRG Network.
Myself, I had a corporate career before. My last employer was oil and drilling company in Denmark. However, after I bought electric car I left the “dark side” (oil drilling company) and now am fighting for EV mobility with CHRG Network project:)
How has business been so far? Could you share some numbers to illustrate this (users, sales, etc)?
As already mentioned we are still in testing stage therefore cannot boast with revenue numbers. However, we are currently building important partnerships and should have quite a few stations on platform since day one.
Future plans, ambitions? Simply speaking – what’s next?
If we talk about EV market today, we have to talk about Norway. And that is where we aim to get to during next year. Just to give you a perspective – Norway with 15 times smaller population has 3 times higher number of EVs on road today compared to Germany.
More than half of all new vehicles sold in Norway are EV’s. They have bravely adopted electric cars. Other countries seeing this transition working well are now following their example. What is happening today is that governments and local municipalities all around EU are giving incentives (f.e. tax credits) also additional perks for EV drivers that range from access to drive on bus lanes to waivers on fees (charging, parking or road tolls). On top of that buyers of cars with internal combustion engines have to pay additional registration fees, annual taxes and their access to city centres are being limited. It’s a matter of short period of time before we will see so many EVs driving on road in other EU countries as we can see them in Norway today.
Its exciting to be and contribute to this growing market. However, its always one step at a time. Today we are preparing our homework for our launch in Lithuania.
So if anyone is willing to install or already has a charging station for EV please contact us. We are distributors for a major station manufacturer in Lithuania, we can install a station for you and our station management system will help you earn money for the service provided.
Thank you for your answers!