Saturday, August 13, 2022

Go ahead and give it a go if you have an idea

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Sabine Elsässer
Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

Rightcharge help EV drivers find the right charge point and energy tariff combination for their home or business charging needs

Please introduce yourself and your start-up Rightcharge to our readers!

I’m Charlie Cook, founder of Rightcharge. I originally trained as a Civil Engineer at Nottingham University but caught the bug for thinking about the climate challenge when I was at Melbourne University, where I was given the chance to study areas outside of concrete and steel. 

Learning about the scale of the climate challenge in 2012 was scary, but equally every area of climate mitigation (the economics, politics, technology and business opportunities) fascinated me. I decided then that I wanted to dedicate the rest of my career to something that makes a difference. I genuinely think the world is going through a technical and economic revolution that makes the previous industrial revolution look like small fry. There are infinite opportunities out there for entrepreneurs to apply their brains to areas that will do something to reduce emissions.

How did you get the idea of Rightcharge?

I was working at Octopus Energy, where we were working on EV charging innovation projects like vehicle-to-grid (where you earn money from your car as you sleep) and smart charging for flexibility markets (where the electricity grid will one day pay drivers to drop power temporarily overnight when they need to).However, the simplest form of smart charging is possible today and saves the average driver over £150 per year and helps them charge on electricity that’s 25% cleaner by charging overnight. But it wasn’t being adopted by most drivers – and still isn’t today. 

The technology and services have been there for a while, but the automotive sector has not had the tools, until today, to easily introduce drivers to EV-friendly energy tariffs and smart charge points (the two ingredients for smart charging).The idea for Rightcharge came from wanting to build tools that helps drivers to understand the benefits of smart charging, and easily get set up with the right tariff and charge point for their needs.

Why did you decide to start with Rightcharge?

The benefits of smart charging go beyond reducing the cost of switching to an electric car and charging on cleaner electricity. It’s also crucial that most drivers smart charge at home to avoid increasing the use of gas generated electricity, which is at its peak during the evening hours. 

The impact of most drivers smart charging by 2030 will mean we can save 7.5 million tonnes of C02 through this decade, in comparison to drivers charging their cars at peak times (during the evening). Saving 7.5 million tonnes of C02 is the same as planting 124 million trees and growing them for 10 years. So, that’s what we’re trying to achieve at Rightcharge.

What is the vision behind Rightcharge?

The vision is to ultimately save the planet and save people money. I want to be able to give all electric car drivers the chance to get the right charger and tariff and enough information so that they understand the benefits of smart charging and why it is so good for them and our planet.  I plan to help drivers save over £10 billion and 3.8 billion kilograms collectively by 2030 through better home charging.

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

At the start, absolutely everything is undetermined – the name, the logo, the brand colours, the business model etc. So, it is an exciting time but also a difficult time to know where to focus. Fortunately, there is a lot of guidance out there these days that helps you understand how to begin. The traditional model for starting a company, or launching a new product, was to keep it very quiet and spend a lot of time preparing the business before you then go out with a big launch publicly. 

The recommend strategy these days is very different. You test the idea by talking to people, iterate on the business model before you’ve even built anything, launch a very simple version of what you have in mind and then continue to iterate on it and develop it as you learn. The benefit of this is that you can start without much money at all. There are lots of tools available today that mean you can put together a service online without spending much money. I probably spent about £2,000 to get the first version of the site live and running. 

This means you don’t have to go out and try to raise money until you know you have something that works well enough to keep iterating and saves you giving away too much of your business too soon.

Who is your target audience?

Our target audience is electric vehicle owners who require charging of their vehicles. According to the Department of Transport, currently around 23 percent of the market is made up by EV customers and it will accelerate as we get closer the UK ban of petrol and diesel cars in 2030.  Specifically, we target millennials as the future of driving EVs and our target audience.  

We also partner with automotive dealerships that sell or lease EVs, helping them assist their customers who want to go electric and need the right charge point and energy tariffs to power their EVs. This year we announced partnerships with Lookers (one of the UK’s largest car retailers) and Leasing.com (the UK’s biggest car leasing comparison site). We plan to announce lots more partnerships in 2022 so stay tuned!

What is the USP of your start-up?

Our USP is that we provide a simple comparison that is accessible easily via your phone and is attractive to consumers as they look to compare charging points for the electric vehicles as we move closer to the 2030 ban of petrol and diesel cars in the UK.

We help EV drivers find the right charge point and energy tariff combination for their home or business charging needs. We do this via its transparent, easy to use online comparison tool which provides our customers opportunity to save money and also support our goal of saving of 7.5 million tonnes of C02 by 2030. 

Can you describe your typical workday?

When I think of the business, I think of it in three parts; Product, Marketing and Commercial. So, my days are made up of doing various things in each of those three areas, with some days leaning towards one or two of three, depending on what the priority happens to be at the time.

Product would be doing things like working with my Product Manager to prioritise which bits of the technology we want to build out next, Marketing could be prepping for an event or designing a new campaign and Commercial, lately, has been mostly managing the funding round and brining that to a close. I’m pleased to say that we recently announced that we had secured £700k in a fully subscribed Seed funding round!

There’s also team, which covers all three areas. That includes one-to-ones with my team, which are always a nice part of the week, and are about seeing whether they need anything from me as well as getting a feel for what’s going on in the business. Team also includes recruiting new team members, which is worth all of the time it takes (which is quite a lot).

Where do you see yourself and your start-up Rightcharge in five years?

I want to look back and see that we have made switching to an electric car easier for the general public. A big part of that will be that we have made smart charging part of the common lexicon. I’d like to think that any electric car driver would be able to tell you how to smart charge, and would be able to explain how much it’s reducing their energy bills and carbon footprint. Most smart charge points come with an app that will give the driver this information – so it’s just about making sure that drivers learn about smart charge points – and how to use them in conjunction with a smart energy tariff – when they buy their car. That’s what we have to make the norm.

The climate challenge is imminent. In fact, it’s historic. We’re already past the point at which we should have acted, so we have to move as fast as possible to make real, genuine change. For Rightcharge as a business, that means achieving our goals for smart charging quickly, and then progressing as soon as possible to further reduce carbon emissions from people’s homes across the world.

In five years, we should be at the point where we’re helping homeowners to easily reduce their bills & carbon footprint by creating a simple buying journey for solar panels, heat pumps, battery storage and home insulation. And we should be doing that as soon as possible in other markets, too, starting with the USA and Europe and then elsewhere.

What 3 tips would you give to founders?

Go ahead and give it a go if you have an idea

Transition gradually if you can and earn a salary on the side while you experiment with the first product or service. Even minimum wage can keep the need for funding away for a long time.

Your goal should be to avoid needing funding until you absolutely need it. This means using tools like Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, Zapier, Airtable and others to build the first version of your product before you spend any money on bespoke code

Thank you Charlie Cook for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

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