[Startup Bharat] This Vadodara-based startup is building charging infrastructures for electric vehicles
In an increasingly aware world, concerted efforts are being taken to shift to electric vehicles. And one of the critical requirements in this transition is the presence of right infrastructure.
Towards this, Vadodara-based CHARGE+ZONE is ensuring the availability and accessibility of a network of charging points for electric vehicles.
Founded in 2018 by Kartikey Hariyani, Pavan Bakeri, Kinnari Hariyani, and Ravindra Mohan, CHARGE+ZONE is building a network of electric vehicle charging points to strengthen the charging infrastructure in India.
Kartikey Hariyani, Founder and CEO, CHARGE+ZONE [Image Credit: CHARGE+ZONE]
Speaking to YourStory, Kartikey explains that his entrepreneurial journey started back in 2010 with TecSo Project Ltd, which focuses on energy and solar PV plants. Realising the opportunity in the electric vehicle segment, CHARGE+ZONE came into existence as a natural extension.
“At CHARGE+ZONE, we have a simple vision to build India’s largest electric vehicle charging station network. This is our motive behind launching this startup,” he says.
Illustration: YS Design
Building the infrastructure
According to Kartikey, who is also the CEO of the company, the startup aims to build a network of unmanned charging stations and bring in automation in the entire process.
“These charging stations are different from gas stations or petrol pumps, where the norm is to have attendants to help users. An EV charging station, on the other hand, is very different, and is going to be unmanned,” he adds.
The startup currently operates over 210 fast DC charging stations across several cities including Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Lucknow, Patna, Nasik, and Ahmedabad among others. It services about 2000 electric vehicles every day through its network, and delivers 30K units of electricity every day, claims the company.
CHARGE+ZONE users can utilise its mobile application (available on both Android and IoS) to find the nearest charging station, book slots for their vehicles, and make payments online.
It also offers a SaaS-based end-to-end solution named Charge+Cloud for managing and operating fast-charging stations and battery swapping stations. It works with e-mobility players and cab aggregators to provide charging stations and the SaaS solution to manage the network.
The services extend to large vehicles too. In December 2019, the startup launched a fast-charging network for electric buses, and in a fascinating trend, over 125 Ashok Leyland electric buses are using seven fast-charging hubs managed by CHARGE+ZONE for intra-city public transportation across Ahmedabad, Patna, and Chandigarh.
Speaking about starting up from Vadodara, Kartikey explains that the city is home to several electrical engineering colleges, helping CHARGE+ZONE get access to the required talent pool. CHARGE+ZONE currently has a team size of 45.
On marketing, he says the startup reaches out to users via B2B marketing strategies. It is also working on creating a network of dealers and franchisees across India.
[Image Credit: CHARGE+ZONE]
Business and revenue model
Speaking about the business model, Kartikey explains that the charging stations operate on the same model as gas stations, with the only difference being the availability of electricity instead of petrol or diesel at the stations.
CHARGE+ZONE also charges a subscription fee from its corporate clientele, which includes the likes of Ashok Leyland, BluSmart, EEE-Taxi, Shuttl, SmartE, and Bajaj Auto among others, for its SaaS platform.
Earlier in November 2020, CHARGE+ZONE had raised $3 million in pre-Series A round led by Venture Catalysts. The round also saw participation from other lead investors like Mumbai Angels, Keiretsu Forum, and Ramakrishnan Family Office. Prior to this round, it had also raised an undisclosed sum in funding from Mumbai Angels.
The startup, which is planning to build a network of 10,000 electric vehicle fast-DC charging stations across the country, is also exploring wireless inductive charging solutions.
According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the Indian electric vehicle market is expected to reach $47 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 44 percent.
On the topic of competition, Kartikey says the startup competes with several other EV charging infrastructure players such as Energy Efficiency Services Limited, Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Limited and others.
“However, going forward, we hope that more than competitors, we will all be collaborators in building the nation’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure,” he concludes.