[Startup Bharat] Jaipur-based Natural Battery is leading the charge with its Lithium-ion batteries for EVs
Hailing from a business family in Rajasthan, Puneet Jain always had a passion for entrepreneurship. And, it took a two-wheeler electric vehicle (EV) test ride to add fuel to his entrepreneurial journey.
Puneeth launched a Lithium-ion manufacturing venture – Natural Battery Technologies in 2019 in Jaipur. The startup recorded over 10X growth in revenues while being profitable in these last three years, he says.
On being asked why he chose Jaipur to launch the startup, Puneet quips, “This is home.”
However, he quickly adds that the Rajasthan government’s policies for the EV sector have encouraged startups like his to grow.
“We expect that a venture like ours will encourage more people to come into the EV segment,” Puneet tells YourStory.
An electronics engineer by training and an environmentalist by heart, Puneet had started quite a few ventures before launching Natural Battery.
“The test ride on an EV vehicle was a surreal experience and it got me introduced to the world of Lithium-ion batteries,” says Puneet.
Lithium-ion batteries are the mainstay of any EV and account for around 40-50 percent of the total cost.
Puneet decided that he would get into the manufacturing of Lithium-ion batteries. The idea was that Natural Battery would tinker with the various elements that go into this pack through R&D and come out with a product that would be superior in quality as well as performance.
Armed with the new idea, Natural Battery reached out to the dealers of EVs in Jaipur seeking their interest in its product.
“We went to the dealers asking them about the kind of batteries they would like and based on their response the custom made products were delivered,” says Puneet.
The response from the dealer community was encouraging for Natural Battery and this was during the time when EVs were not as popular as they are today.
Meanwhile, the startup also worked on the idea of supplying these battery packs for the e-autorickshaws but had to shut it down after three months due to various challenges. The challenges were around monitoring the movement of these battery packs and also certain trust issues which would make it financially unviable, the co-founder says.
Puneet knew that the prospects of his business would be better if EVs take off. Towards this end, he engaged with a couple of e-commerce companies in Rajasthan asking them to explore a more environmentally-friendly transport system and offered them fleet services.
Now Natural Battery had demand coming in from two segments — EV dealers and the fleet network. This led the startup to have direct partnerships with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of EVs.
The Rajasthan government also unveiled its EV policy in 2021, which has reimbursement of state GST and financial incentives based on the size of battery packs on the purchase of two and three-wheelers.
“The demand for our batteries was overwhelming and I had to look out for a partner who would bring in the expertise in areas like production and procurement,” says Puneet.
This led to the induction of Saurabh Patawari as a co-founder of Natural Battery. Like Puneet, Saurabh is also an electrical engineer by training. He comes from a family business that was into the manufacturing of transformers.
According to Puneet, his strengths were largely in R&D, sales, and marketing while Saurabh was strong in production, procurement, and finance.
The road ahead
Today, Natural Battery Technologies finds application in the segments of EVs, energy storage systems and biomedical devices. The customers include EV dealers, manufacturers, inverter companies and solar energy firms.
The startup sources the materials for the battery from across the globe with assembly done out of Jaipur.
Natural Battery’s key strength, Puneet says, lies in its R&D.
Products of Natural Battery Technologies
Given the various unfortunate developments surrounding EVs, with some vehicles catching fire or even exploding, Natural Battery Technologies is doubling down on its efforts to enhance the safety features of these products.
“We are changing the various internal parts of our batteries to add more safety features,” says Puneet.
As for the market, where there are a host of other manufacturers of such kinds of batteries, Puneet admits there is intense price competition but the startup’s focus on quality has helped it get better traction.
He further adds that deep connections it has made over the years in the battery ecosystem have given them a better understanding of customer requirements.
Now, Natural Battery Technologies is looking to deepen its engagement with the ecosystem where it aims to get into the complete infrastructure of battery development. This would include rolling out high-performance and safer batteries. Also, it has got plans to get into the leasing and swapping of batteries.
India's EV sector has received a boost after the central government introduced the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Hybrid & Electric Vehicles or the FAME policy in 2019. The aim is to provide various kinds of subsidies for the purchase of new electric vehicles that will promote electric mobility. The scheme has now been extended to March 2024.
As a bootstrapped venture with around 20 odd employees, Natural Battery is looking for venture funding for its future expansion plans.