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CEO Suhas Rajkumar on how Simple Energy is driving forward the electric mobility revolution

simple energy

The Indian automobile industry is witnessing a revolution with electric vehicles catching the attention of more and more people. The EV segment, which was earlier led by global players, is now observing several homegrown brands entering the space. 

Besides, there is a sharp rise in the adoption of a cleaner lifestyle which has several people looking at switching to electric vehicles. Experts suggest that the most profitable market in the EV segment is that of two-wheelers, as over 25% of the Indian population commutes to work either on bicycles or two-wheelers.

One of the homegrown EV startups is the Bengaluru-based ‘Simple Energy‘. The company strives to make smart, supercharging, and affordable scooters. StartupLanes was thrilled to interview Suhas Rajkumar, Founder and CEO, Simple Energy, who talked about the company as well as his experiences.

Edited excerpts of the interview: 

1. How did you come up with the idea of Simple Energy? 

Simple Energy was founded to overcome EV customer pain points like range, charging time, and performance-oriented e-scooters which are not only futuristic but also value for money. A few automobile enthusiasts from mechanical and electrical backgrounds formed the core team along with Mr. Suhas and took on the challenge of driving the electric mobility revolution forward. Simple Energy aims at building Smarter Electric Vehicles that can travel long distances before you even need to worry about charging. The company’s mission is to provide fast-charging vehicles in mere minutes by outpacing today’s IC Engines in both efficiency and power. 

It was in 2018 when Mr.Suhas was looking to buy a 2-wheeler for his family. Even after thorough research, he was unable to find the right EV. There was nothing closer to a good ideal value for money EV in the market which got him thinking. This led him to start reading about battery technology, charger technology and spending 9 months researching EVs. Post that, Mr.Suhas and 5 other like-minded people formed the core team. The company was started with an intent to achieve a 3X range from day 1.

2. What was the most difficult part in the early stages of the company’s growth? 

When Mr.Suhas pitched the idea of a startup venturing into EVs, his circle was skeptical of the idea due to the amount of capital needed to get into it. Suhas had soon gathered some funds. Next was Shreshth Mishra, the eventual co-founder of Simple Energy, who Suhas has met through a common friend. Initially, Shreshth thought that Suhas’s idea was crazy and something he had never heard of. Shreshth Mishra was the first investor in the company. After him, Suhas reached out to other people he knew in the EV sector, mechanical engineers and other design buffs, to buy into his vision. He convinced them that they were on the ground of something game-changing. They bought into his vision. Despite having well-paying jobs at the time, they shared a genuine passion to work on EVs. Thus, the core team was formed. 

3. What was the gap in the market that you identified? 

To overcome EV customer pain points, the team of Simple Energy has taken the challenge of driving the electric mobility revolution forward. Simple Energy is a startup that builds Smarter Electric Vehicle scooters that can travel long distances before you even need to worry about charging. It can charge in mere minutes by outpacing today’s IC Engines in both efficiency and power. The startup is ready with Mark 1 prototype and soon will be launching their first flagship product Mark2 in the Indian market in 2021. 

4. Can you explain your business model? 

The company has multi-dimensional revenue models as they develop a lot of components in-house which gives them an edge over technology. Thus, the company looks at its resources to develop new revenue streams for the organization. Some of the software partners are Ansys, CATIA, ALTAIR. The company also has great legacy component manufacturing support. 

5. Did your family/friends help you with funding your startup or did you approach investors? How did you find the investors? 

Shreshth Mishra was the first investor in the company. After him, Suhas reached out to other people he knew in the EV sector, mechanical engineers and other design buffs, to buy into his vision. Following the joining of Mr. Shreshth as the CoFounder, the company reached out to Angel investors who believed in the idea of Simple Energy and thus decided to invest.

6. Which factors do you see impacting your business over the coming years? 

A lot of factors will influence a company like Simple Energy like sustainability factor, awareness on EV itself, better-charging infrastructure, “The Tesla Effect”, government policies, etc.

7. Are you planning to hire fresh talent into your team as the company grows? What qualities do you look for while hiring? 

The company will be looking for more human capital as the company moves closer to production, and will also be looking at expanding the R&D team. The qualities depend on the requirement of the department. However, they must be a team player and passionate about the work they do.

8. What according to you are the personality traits of a good leader? 

A leader is someone who will be able to take his people on the right path by communicating the right information, constantly learning, and taking constructive criticism in the right manner.

9. What is the best and the worst part of being a CEO? 

The best part is being the driving force of the company on its way to achieving the vision and mission. The negative aspect is lesser time to have a work-life balance. 

10. Describe a time you had to make a tough decision. What did you do and what was the result? 

Finding the right team is a tough task for any business. Despite having well-paying jobs at the time, the team shared a genuine passion to work on EVs. Starting in early 2019, the team spent 13-14 months without pay. The team has had a moment where the development had halted and the prototype didn’t perform as expected. They did run out of money, giving them just 15 days of survival time with prototype failure and almost no funds. That was the most difficult phase as more funds were needed to improve the Mark 1 prototype along with many investors turning them down but the company sailed through that! 

Their biggest success has been throughout the development phase. Post that, the company has only gone upwards, and now it is looking forward to launching it this year.

11. Are you looking for any vendors to help you simplify any part of your business? 

The company has built a strong vendor synergy to scale up the operations and will continue to do so. 

12. What are the recent and long-term plans of Simple Energy?

Besides launching the first flagship e-scooter in 2021, the company is in talks to raise $15mn in Series A and plans to use the funds primarily to strengthen the production unit and plan the phase-1 production effectively as 60 percent of the funds shall be used for the factory. The company will also strengthen both its R&D and production team.

The Indian EV space will continue to grow and we hope Simple Energy will be successful in revolutionizing the 2-wheeler segment.

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