YC-backed Statiq wants to bootstrap India’s EV charging network – ProWellTech
Electric vehicles (electric vehicles) are spreading all over the world. While Tesla has attracted the utmost attention in the United States with its luxury and cutting edge cars, electric vehicles are becoming a mainstay in markets far from the surroundings of California.
Take India for example. In the local mobility market, two and three-wheeled vehicles are starting to emerge as a popular option for a rapidly expanding middle class in search of cheaper options. The EV versions are popular due to their reduced maintenance costs and greater reliability than petrol alternatives.
There is only one problem, and it is the same one faced by every country that has tried to switch from petrol to electricity: how do you build the network of charging stations to make these vehicles usable outside a small radius from their garage ?
It’s the classic chicken and egg problem. You need electric vehicles to make money with charging stations, but you can’t afford to build charging stations until electric vehicles are popular. Some startups attempted before building these networks alone. Perhaps the most famous example was Better Place, an Israeli startup that raised $ 800 million in venture capital before dying from a negative cash flow in 2013. Tesla attempted to solve the problem by being both chicken and egg creating a Supercharger network.
This is what makes Statiq so interesting. The company, based in the New Delhi suburb of Gurugram, is starting up a charging network for electric vehicles using a multi-turnover model which it hopes will allow it to avoid the financial challenges facing other charging networks. He is in the current Y Combinator group and will present at Demo Day later this month.
Akshit Bansal and Raghav Arora, the company’s co-founders, had previously worked together as consultants and created a company to purchase photos online, eventually reaching 50,000 monthly assets. They decided to make a pin – a real pin indeed – in electric vehicles and in particular charging equipment.
“We felt the need to do something about the climate because we lived in Delhi and Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world and India is home to many of the world’s polluted cities. So we wanted to do something about it, “said Bansal. While researching the causes of the pollution, they learned that car exhaust was a large part of the problem at the local level. They looked at alternatives, but charging stations for electric vehicles remain substantially non-existent across the country.
Therefore, they founded Statiq in October 2019 and officially launched last May. They have installed over 150 charging stations in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai and surrounding areas.
Let’s go into economics though, since for me it’s the most fascinating part of their history. Statiq, as I noticed, has a multi-billed model. First, end users purchase a subscription from Statiq to use the network, then users pay a fee per charge session. The session fee is split between Statiq and the owner, giving owners who install the stations an incremental increase in revenue.
When it comes to installation, Statiq has a few tricks up its sleeve. First, the company’s charging equipment – according to Bansal – costs roughly a third of the equivalent cost of US equipment. This makes basic technology cheaper to acquire. From there, the company negotiates the installations with the owners where the owners will pay the fixed installation costs in exchange for that continuous session fee.
Additionally, charging stations have advertisements on them, offering another revenue stream, particularly in high-visibility locations such as shopping malls that are key to a successful EV charging network.
In short, Statiq didn’t have to spend capital to put its charging equipment in place – and they were able to start the bootstrap before turning to YC earlier this year. Bansal said the company had dozens of charging stations and thousands of paid sessions on its platform before joining their YC lot, and “we are growing 20% week over week”.
What’s next? It is deliberate downsizing. The electric vehicle market is turning on in India and Statiq wants to be where those cars are located. Bansal and his co-founder hope to ride the wave, continuing to build critical infrastructure along the way. The Indian government will likely continue to help: its approved billions of incentives for electric vehicles and charging stations, further tilting the economy in the direction of a clean car future.