March 29, 2016
At 1776, one of our tools to accelerate innovation is our Seed Fund, which allows us to invest in startups poised to scale. When we spot a shifting landscape within one of our core sectors like transportation or energy, we search for startups that have the right combination of vision, leadership, and product to capitalize on it.
In the smart cities space, two such trends are the densification of metropolitan areas and the growing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs). At the confluence of both sits EverCharge, a startup based in Emeryville, California that dramatically increases the number of EVs that can be charged within an apartment building. From the first time we learned about EverCharge, we felt its EV-charging system had tremendous potential to catalyze EV adoption across cities worldwide.
EverCharge is now collaborating with Schneider Electric to integrate its EVlink Home EV Charger with Schneider’s SmartPower technology to solve at scale the challenges that residents of apartments and condominiums face when buying EVs. With the Schneider deal public, I wanted to share how 1776 met EverCharge and why we are so optimistic about its prospects as a portfolio investment within our Seed Fund.
EverCharge initially appeared on 1776’s radar a year ago when it won the Challenge Cup San Francisco pitch competition in the Smart Cities category. Jason Appelbaum, EverCharge’s founder, later traveled to Washington, D.C. and pitched the company at last year’s Challenge Festival, where judges chose EverCharge as one of the top eight winners out of over 450 Challenge Cup competitors worldwide. 1776 subsequently concluded an investment from our Seed Fund.
EverCharge provides a charging solution — from installation to regular maintenance — for EV owners living in multifamily residential buildings. Put simply, EverCharge’s patented technology allows buildings to increase by five or even 10 times the number of EVs — from a Tesla to a Chevy Volt — that can charge concurrently.
Maybe the idea of buying yourself an EV has begun to appeal to you, but you live in an apartment building without a charging station. Even if your residential building has a communal charger, only one person can use it at a time. A common-sense solution would be to add more chargers, but that becomes impossible if the building’s power capacity is maxed out by an additional EV, which can happen quickly.
EverCharge’s solution is an intelligent system that dictates when and where power is distributed across multiple charging stations within a residential building, customized for that building’s power capacity and mix of vehicles. The net effect is a sharp increase in a building’s EV charging capacity, with EverCharge collecting a monthly service fee from each of the building’s EV owners.
The potential for EverCharge’s technology is huge and timely. Americans are increasingly moving to large metropolitan regions, with a growing number opting for the neighborhood amenities and short commutes of centrally located condos or apartments instead of more isolated and distant suburban homes. Multifamily housing now comprises a higher proportion of overall residential construction than any time since the early 1970s, and EVs are steadily growing in popularity, thanks both to greater interest among consumers and tighter emission regulations from agencies like the California Air Resources Board.
The public sector is getting involved in the action, too, with national governments and counties such as those in the Bay Area offering subsidies for EV purchases. Government involvement is likely to expand as cities implement COP21’s Paris Agreement. As a veteran of three mayoral administrations (Mayor Bloomberg in New York and Mayors Fenty and Gray in Washington, D.C.), I have seen a growing interest among American mayors in developing sustainability plans, and catalyzing EV adoption is almost always a central element. All of these trends favor EverCharge in the future.
EverCharge evolved its product and expanded its customer base in 2015, but the partnership with Schneider is transformative. With Schneider’s scale, manufacturing expertise, and global sales network, EverCharge can lower costs and reach international markets that would otherwise have taken years to penetrate.
The Schneider partnership is a major milestone for EverCharge and the EV industry, which benefits whenever consumers face one less barrier to buying their first EVs. As an investor, I could not be more proud of EverCharge’s progress, and I look forward to helping the company make our cities a little bit greener.
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