HeyCharge Powering Up EVs in Offline Zones

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Extracted from InsightTech podcast episode, Chris and Statzon discuss about the complexities of the public commercial public charging market, discussing its dynamics, challenges, and potential for growth. 

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HeyCharge Powering Up EVs in Offline Zones 

In this episode, we will cover the following topics:  

  • HeyCharge and their SecureCharge technology 
  • Legacy Technology Issues in Public EV Charging 
  • Operating Market Areas 
  • Main Obstacles in EV Charging 
  • Customer Groups 
  • Competitive Landscape 
  • Emerging Technologies in EV Charging 
  • Highlighting Milestones and Achievements 

Chris Cardé, CEO & Founder at HeyCharge 

Chris Cardé, CEO of HeyCharge, drives global electrification with their SecureCharge technology. The HeyCharge app enables one-click setup, making installation swift. Ideal for apartments, offices, and hotels worldwide, HeyCharge upgrades EV charging with a simple wall installation and power connection. 

Chris's journey in electric mobility began over two decades ago while studying at the University of California, where he was involved in building plug-in hybrids and electric cars. After graduating from grad school in 2004, he pursued a career in the automotive industry, working for Mercedes-Benz R&D for about 15 years. He later joined Google in Germany and eventually moved into the energy sector by joining an energy utility company, Eon. 

In 2017, Chris brought his first electric car home to his city center apartment in Munich, where he faced challenges in getting EV charging installed in apartment buildings. Recognizing this market need, he founded HeyCharge in 2020 with a mission to address the challenges associated with EV charging accessibility. HeyCharge focuses on developing unique technology to make EV charging more accessible and affordable, particularly in environments where traditional solutions may not be feasible. Today, HeyCharge offers a differentiated technology that caters to various user needs and market demands, reflecting Chris's commitment to innovation in electric mobility. 


According to a recent study by Next Move Strategy Consulting, the global commercial public charging market was valued at $1.3 billion in 2022. While on-road charging holds a significant portion of this market, destination charging and parking space charging are also important components, comprising approximately 6% and 30% of the market, respectively. This translates to around $81 million and $370 million, respectively, in market value.

The company we will discuss today, HeyCharge, is focusing on these two segments to be more precise. HeyCharge is targeting spaces with low or no internet connectivity, offering solutions for places that might have been overlooked previously. It's important to note that the majority of charging occurs in private settings in Europe, with nearly 80% happening at home and an additional 15% at work. Workplace charging is another area HeyCharge is targeting, as providing charging solutions can be challenging for the 46% of EU residents living in apartment buildings, as well as for those employees sharing a parking garage. 


Statzon: I was checking your website, and you mentioned that legacy technology doesn't reach the users. What are the main issues with the legacy technology? 

Chris: Our journey as a startup taught us the importance of conducting an MVP and piloting assumptions. When we launched in 2020, we utilized IoT-style architecture, where each charger communicated with the cloud via the internet. However, this approach faced significant challenges, particularly in Germany's underground parking structures, where poor mobile network signals hindered connectivity. 
Recognizing the need to address this issue, we developed our proprietary technology, "SecureCharge," which enables chargers to operate without relying on internet connectivity. By leveraging distributed cryptography and asynchronous communication, we created a solution that allows chargers to be managed centrally from our cloud platform, without the need for an internet connection.   

What started as an attempt to solve a usability problem inadvertently led us to tackle a significant cost issue. By eliminating the reliance on connectivity, we streamlined installation processes and significantly reduced upfront and operating costs. This realization propelled us forward, affirming the value of our technology in revolutionizing EV charging solutions. 

Statzon: In Finland, underground parking in apartments isn't common, but public parking places usually have connectivity. However, like elsewhere, underground parking is becoming more common without reliable connectivity. 

Chris: So, that's exactly the discovery we made. We developed this technology to meet the needs of German apartment buildings, but we realized similar patterns exist in cities worldwide, especially in Europe. However, many of our assumptions were not entirely accurate. Originally, we thought we might not have much of a market in the US due to limited underground parking. 

However, the US faces different challenges. Firstly, mobile network coverage is often unreliable, especially in rural areas. Secondly, mobile network coverage is relatively expensive compared to Europe. Now, we understand that the same two problems—reliability and cost—exist, but they vary in different geographical locations and user demographics. In the US, our focus is on improving the reliability of user access to chargers and reducing the cost of connectivity. 

Unlike other systems that rely on internet connections for this, our technology works locally, saving on costs and complexity. It is a unique value proposition for us. 


Free EV charging market data

Statzon: Is Germany your current market area, where you are operating at the moment? 

Chris: Given that we're a pre-series A company. We essentially carried forward our original vision of delivering a comprehensive EV charging all-in-one solution, primarily in our home market of Germany. Here, we would be considered an operator. If you have a building, preferably from our perspective, if you're a large asset manager with over a billion Euros in building assets, you can come to us, and we'll integrate our value-leading infrastructure into your building, focusing on user experience and reliability. 

However, we realized that we shouldn't limit ourselves to Germany alone, but we also didn't want to build an operations-heavy business globally. So, we pivoted our product to a platform model, and now we have reseller-operator partners who can operate in any geography globally. They can offer a co-branded product, including our management platform and app, along with chargers that work with our technology. 

Furthermore, we took it a step further. We acknowledged that some companies just want the basic technology value proposition under their own brand. Thus, we stripped away even more layers and created a technology integration toolkit. For engineers, it's essentially an SDK (software development kit) to create their own app, and an HDK (hardware development kit) to create their own charger. We make this toolkit available to charger manufacturers and large utility-scale EV charging operators to white-label our technology, enhancing their cost and reliability value proposition to their end customers. 

Statzon: What are the main challenges right now? Given its rapid global growth, what do you perceive as the biggest obstacles at the moment? 

Chris: We're designing our technology to address those global market challenges. The good news is that we're focusing on tackling those challenges head-on with our technology. Our impact spans cost reduction, user experience enhancement, and scalability in deploying infrastructure quickly. Essentially, the biggest challenge is ensuring that the infrastructure is available at a reasonable price point, accessible to those who need it, and operational 100% of the time. As I mentioned earlier, this remains a priority for us. So, those are essentially the challenges that our technology solves, and we're pretty excited about it. 

As for our company's challenges, it's typical for early-stage technology scaling. We're actively addressing staffing and deal closures to navigate this phase. However, like many startups, it's all part of the journey. 

Statzon: In Finland, there is a considerable amount of power available in the building's grid. Additionally, due to the cold climate, we already have substantial power input into the buildings. Is the challenge actually in building the charging infrastructure and installing it in apartments in warmer regions? 

Chris: Yeah, so basically, the power grid and infrastructure in buildings weren't originally designed with electric vehicle charging in mind. But the good thing is that most systems were built with extra capacity as a safety measure. This means we can tap into this excess capacity by using smart energy management. At Heycharge, we have a system that allows chargers to communicate wirelessly within the building to share power efficiently.


 Free EV charging market data

Statzon: You have mentioned customers such as apartments and companies who have developed new projects. I saw your website, which includes hotels, among others. What other customer groups do you serve? 

Chris: One of the big challenges for our company has been figuring out the optimal way to categorize our customers and users. Generally, we look at it in a way that aligns with our different product lines. In Germany, where our business operates, our customers are building operators, managers, and owners, either individually or on a large scale. For our turnkey reseller product, the customer is someone who wants to run an E-mobility business by delivering, operating, maintaining, and even selling power to chargers in various types of buildings such as apartments, offices, mixed-use commercial spaces, hotels, and even vacation homes. On the larger scale, where it comes down to technology integration, the possibilities are endless. We envision our technology being integrated into hotel chain apps to make charging a seamless part of the digital customer experience. There are numerous customers with interesting ideas that we've talked to, but I can't discuss them here. Essentially, our technology can be integrated into any business where charging is either the product or is somehow related to the product. That's a neat aspect of what we offer. 


Statzon: Do you face major competition?

Chris:  Many have recognized the growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs) beyond just luxury markets. As EVs become more accessible, there's a widespread need for charging infrastructure. What sets HeyCharge apart is our focus on unique, technology-driven solutions. Unlike others, we're not simply reselling hardware and software. Instead, we've developed our own technology, allowing us to operate efficiently and provide cost-effective solutions. While there are few competitors in our space, our technology stands out for its low cost and scalability. We've engineered our solutions to function without relying on the cloud, although we also offer hybrid options for those who prefer a combination of both. This flexibility ensures reliable access and real-time monitoring, catering to various customer needs. 

Statzon: Returning to the competitive landscape, are the other companies you mentioned offering similar solutions or technology operating in the same market as HeyCharge? 

Chris: We're operating globally, so technically yes, they are in the same market. However, one of the key differentiators is that while they're constrained to the US market, we have a global presence. They lack our global reseller platform and our technology embedding platform, which we're developing as we approach our Series A funding. This is a crucial part of our investor message because the platform's white-labeled OEM aspect is a significant competitive advantage. It's what sets us apart and makes us a unique investment opportunity in the e-mobility space. 

Statzon: Yeah, it seems like you have a very strong foothold in the growing market, giving you a great opportunity to capture a significant share early on. 

Chris: The nice thing is, we're seeing demand explode. It's fascinating to witness the shift at industry shows year over year. Initially, it was questioning the need for EV charging, then it moved to only homeowners requiring it, and now we're at the point where people are recognizing the challenges of connectivity and its impact on user experience. We believe the floodgates are just starting to open for our technology, making it an exciting time for us. 

Statzon: Are there any other significant trends in the industry that you have observed? Do you see any emerging technologies that will become common in the future? 
Chris: Well, I think it's still early days for the EV charging industry. We're just starting to see widespread availability of EV charging infrastructure. One trend that excites us is wireless charging. While I can't predict the industry's exact direction, wireless charging aligns well with HeyCharge's technology. Our patent even includes integrating wireless charging into car infotainment units. Imagine the convenience of driving over a wireless charging pad and seamlessly powering up your vehicle without needing additional user interaction like RFID cards or mobile apps. This aligns perfectly with our technology and could potentially be a game-changer for both user experience and driving demand for our technology. We've had promising discussions with major automakers, and this could lead to significant advancements in the industry. 


Statzon: You mentioned wireless charging, and there are indeed challenges for its wider adoption. When you mentioned not needing to figure out which app to download or if I can charge without any extra steps when I'm away from home, I thought about my own experience driving an EV. It would be convenient if charging stations could simply recognize my car and bill my credit card directly without any additional hassle. 

Chris: Yeah, exactly. The potential with wireless charging is to charge without any hassle. You should be able to just drive up to an equipped space and charge. It would be a shame if you still had to deal with separate payment processes. Imagine just driving up, getting out, and walking away knowing your car will charge. That's an amazing user experience, and it's what we can offer. That would be the best future for users, at least. 


Statzon: What are HeyCharge's visions for the coming years? Are there any plans for future rounds, or anything else in your current research? 

Chris: Obviously, we aim to bring the advantages of our technology in terms of reliability and cost savings to as many users as possible. Our technology, with its potential for cost reduction and decentralized nature, lends itself well to bringing charging to underserved communities. We have a full initiative focused on building impact-based projects to achieve this goal in the US and globally. This initiative is a significant part of our growth strategy as our technology allows us to reach underserved communities at an affordable price point, contributing to the growth of our company. We're excited to expand our user base and install more devices before our Series A funding next year. Additionally, we're working on creating a third-party hardware ecosystem and a compatibility program. We aim to serve the demand for HeyCharge-enabled chargers through partners who can directly sell chargers that work with our platform. 

Statzon: I noticed on your blog that HeyCharge won the Automotive and Mobility Innovation Challenge Award. That's a great achievement! Are there any other milestones or achievements you'd like to highlight? 

Chris: We've won a couple of awards over the last year. We were recognized in the Smart Energy Transition 100, which features 100 energy-focused startups mainly in Germany and across Europe. Additionally, we were pitch finalists at South by Southwest and at the South Summit competition in Spain. These achievements show that our message is resonating. Now, we're focused on transitioning from winning competitions to winning business. Our priority is hyper-focused on revenue growth and other relevant KPIs for our Series A funding. Investors are looking for businesses with demonstrated growth and traction, which is what we're aiming for in the next year. 


Free EV charging market data


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