Published on April 15th, 2016 | by Kyle Field0
Interview With Evercharge CEO Jason Appelbaum At Formula E (CleanTechnica Exclusive)
April 15th, 2016 by Kyle Field
Formula E in Long Beach was more than just a race — it was a hub of activity and networking for the entire cleantech industry. Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers were out in full force with an onsite ride & drive, charging technology companies sponsored suites, electric buses were at the event for folks to explore, and even utilities couldn’t help but to get in on the game as sponsors and attendees.
It was a great event not just to watch and enjoy the racing, but to mingle with some of the leading minds in cleantech … so that’s just what we did. Just before race time, we reconnected with Jason Appelbaum, founder and CEO of Evercharge, who I had interviewed in February about the work Evercharge is doing with Schneider Electric to revolutionize one of the most difficult challenges in the transition to electrified transportation — charging in multi-tenant buildings.
I was eager to reconnect with Jason to get the inside scoop on the backstory behind the company, understand more about who Evercharge is today, and dive into where the company is going. Check out our discussion below or scroll down for all the juicy details spelled out.
Where did Evercharge come from?
Evercharge came from a real life need in Jason’s life. Like many unsuspecting EV buyers, he assumed when he bought his first EV that charging would be as simple as plugging in — which it is … unless you live in a multi-tenant building, like Jason did. In apartments and many condos, charging gets complicated, as EVs pull a lot of power and that either requires a delicate, intelligent balancing act with the rest of the power being consumed by the building … or a massive investment in new electrical infrastructure that oftentimes makes the deal a no-go.
Jason found himself in a tough situation, and as a persistent engineer, opted to dig in and design his way out of his predicament. The result of that struggle is Evercharge and its flagship product, Wattson. To me, the name Wattson immediately brings to mind Dr. Watson from the classic Sherlock Holmes novels, who was the ever-present sidekick, always there, always willing to lend a hand. Similarly, Evercharge’s Wattson has been designed to be your go-to appliance for EV charging in multi-tenant buildings.
What is Evercharge working on now?
Evercharge’s Wattson is the flagship product from the company, which we unpacked back in January and at its very core seeks to crack the nut that is multi-tenant charging. As Wattson was purpose built to solve the problem that Evercharge was created to solve, it continues to be the core focus moving forward … but is not resting on successes to date by any means.
Jason shared that the company is pushing forward with the development of the next generation of Wattson, which will bring even more intelligence and ease of use to the Evercharge portfolio of solutions. Taking feedback and learnings from the first-generation Wattson, Evercharge is putting shape to those learnings in firming up the next-generation product.
While talking, Jason dropped the statement that he hopes consumers will soon be able to say that they “live in an Evercharge building,” which hints at where Evercharge is going and the angle it is taking on the market. As EVs continue to grow in popularity, more and more consumers will be looking for EV charging as a service as a key feature when shopping for a new apartment or condo. Partnering directly with building owners and creating a brand that’s easily recognizable to EV drivers seems like a great step towards not only getting the Evercharge product into buildings but, more importantly, in solving the challenge of charging EVs in multi-tenant buildings.
Service is a key component of the Evercharge solution. For the most part, EV charging is straightforward, but when it stops working, who do you call? For those living in an Evercharge building or using Wattson, it’s as simple as a phone call. This fills in a key void in the market today, where many chargers are sold by large companies that don’t specialize in EV products and, as such, can be disconnected from the actual use case and problems that may be encountered when charging.
Implementing a full-service support model meets the consumers where they are and gives not only consumers but building owners confidence that, when they invest in an Evercharge system, they aren’t just getting a piece of hardware that’s tossed over the wall — but rather, an end-to-end solution that adds value to tenants and that the building owner won’t have to worry about. The last thing a building manager wants is another piece of the building that stops working and turns into another service call, and it seems like Evercharge gets that.
Where is Evercharge headed in the next 5 years?
Moving forward, Evercharge is looking to continue penetrating the US market. With the unveiling of the Tesla Model 3, more and more multi-tenant buildings are going to be getting hit with requests for EV chargers, and Evercharge is well positioned to capitalize on the rush. The Evercharge solution already includes an option for a Tesla-compatible charger without any silly adapters, so Model 3 owners won’t have to look far for the perfect charger … if they’re in an Evercharge building at least.
Jason hinted at a possible entry into the European market in the near future, which, with French company Schneider Electric being a strategic partner for Evercharge, there’s already a foot in the door into the European market. We will be watching closely to see how this evolves, so stay tuned.
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