This Bengaluru based startup is building neighbourhoods of Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations by installing compact IoT based EV charging stations in Kirana stores, cafes, small shops, restaurants, apartments, and PGs. This public participation in the EV ecosystem is solving range anxiety for EV owners while providing an additional income for small businesses.
India has the world’s fifth largest automobile market. As the whole world is moving towards EV vehicles, India is still far behind compared to the rest of the world with abysmally low EV penetration. According to the Grant Thornton Bharat-Ficci report, India will need some 400,000 charging stations for the two million EVs that are to be running on its roads by 2026.
While the Indian EV market shows excitement in terms of favorable government policies, high fuel prices, fall in battery prices, etc., growth is still slow.
One of the main reasons why this growth has been slow is because of lack of public charging infrastructure. This gap contributes to range anxiety, the driver’s fear that a vehicle has inadequate energy to cover a distance.
To fill this gap, Charzer, a Bengaluru based startup, offers low cost, compact, and smart IoT powered EV charging stations. Their flagship product Kirana Charzer can be hosted by small shops, restaurants, homeowners, offices, PGs and those who are looking to earn an additional income. Additionally, the startup is also a tech-enabled aggregator of EV charging stations, where users can discover, reserve, pay-for and operate all public EV charging stations.
Range anxiety is a significant barrier for consumers to switch to EVs. Charzer is solving this problem by bringing in the public as stakeholders.
The Tech Panda spoke to Sameer Ranjan Jaiswal, Co-Founder of Charzer, about how they are targeting an India with a vast network of EV chargers, while helping kiranas and small business owners with an additional income.
We wanted to solve the chicken and egg problem by addressing the range anxiety of EV users by providing asset light, compact and affordable EV charging infrastructure and creating a network of it
“We wanted to solve the chicken and egg problem by addressing the range anxiety of EV users by providing asset light, compact and affordable EV charging infrastructure and creating a network of it,” he says.
What They Do
Charzer is a tech-enabled aggregator of EV charging stations, where users can discover, reserve, pay-for and operate all public EV charging stations. Their flagship product, Kirana Charzer is an affordable and scalable electric charging station.
With it, they are converting neighborhood cafeterias, restaurants, malls, mom and pop stores into EV charging stations and creating a vast and robust EV charging station network.
Not only individual shop owners, but we are also enabling anyone who is interested to set up one charging station or a network of charging stations
Their flagship product ‘Kirana Charzer’ is a compact, zero-maintenance and IoT enabled charging station that can be installed by small shops and individuals enabling them to earn an additional source of income.
The startup has installed 650 charging stations and has 17000+ users. Each EV charging station is compatible with 2,3, and 4 wheelers.
Charzer has developed customised solutions for apartments and residential societies and has onboarded its first set of apartments in Bangalore.
Charzer’s charging station features includes a compact design, so that a Kirana Charzer takes up limited space and can be installed in small kirana shops and PGs. It’s IoT enabled and communicates energy consumption and booking data in real-time to the host.
Also, it works with a basic single phase electricity connection. It can be installed without upgrading existing grid connections. At the same time, it’s made for Indian weather conditions. It’s sturdy, resistant to water, air pollution, and compatible in extreme Indian weather conditions.
The solution is low cost and ROI focused that can be adopted today rather than five years down the line. It requires zero maintenance and supervision since the host need not be present during charging sessions.
Also, users can use the app to start or stop charging and pay. Its proprietary algorithm enables Kirana Charzer to deliver smart features even in areas with low/no network.
Origin & Inspiration
The startup was founded by second time entrepreneurs, Jaiswal, Dheeraj Reddy, and Yugraj Shukla. Prior to Charzer, the team founded FAE Bikes, an EV scooter rental and fleet management startup.
Their in-depth experience in running and managing a large EV fleet helped them identify the pain points and adoption barriers for EVs in India. Having closely worked with OEMs, fleet owners, government organisations, and EV owners, they realised that the absence of EV charging infrastructure was a major obstacle in the adoption of EVs.
“We have been in the EV domain with our previous startup FAE Bikes since 2016 even when EV wasn’t a buzzword,” says Jaiswal.
We have been in the EV domain with our previous startup FAE Bikes since 2016 even when EV wasn’t a buzzword
The Charzer founding team has 15+ years of combined experience working in the EV space in India and have delivered 20mn+ EV kilometers.
The team is regularly invited for policy consultations by state governments for EV Policy formation. They have deep connections in the EV space from the top to bottom of the space including OEMs, EV sales dealers, fleet owners and the government.
The team has immense knowledge and insights of the EV ecosystem in India through their experience over the years. So, we had a unique insight into the ecosystem. We were concerned about the how lack of charging infrastructure is holding back our growth as well as the growth of the complete EV ecosystem.
Helping Kirana & Small Business Owners
Kirana owners and other small business owners can install a Kirana Charzer for INR 15,000 and Kirana Charzer Lite at INR 3000.
With the help of these chargers, kiranas and small businesses can earn 10-15% of additional income by providing EV charging. At the same time, they can benefit through increased footfall and an offline and in-app branding opportunity.
“We have removed a lot of fluff which is present in the usual charging stations without compromising on functionalities or safety to bring down the cost to INR 7000. We moved a lot of smartness from the operating system to our proprietary communication algorithm,” explains Jaiswal.
We have removed a lot of fluff which is present in the usual charging stations without compromising on functionalities or safety to bring down the cost
“Due to this, we have been able to remove all fixed monthly costs, and our hosts don’t incur any expense when the charging station is not being utilised. Hosts have the flexibility to set their own availability and pricing,” he adds.
The startup is targeting kirana stores, small shops, cafes, restaurants, hardware stores, supermarkets, and any other retail establishments on the roads for setting up the charging stations.
“Not only individual shop owners, but we are also enabling anyone who is interested to set up one charging station or a network of charging stations,” he says.
The startup has installed 650 charging stations so far and has 17000+ users. They offer a revenue share on charging in the Charzer network (80% for Kirana owners and 20% for the company).
Charzer is also a marketplace, where any individual or network can host their charging stations and start earning revenue. It has developed customised solutions for apartments and residential societies and has onboarded its first set of apartments in Bangalore.
Charzer has raised seed funding from investors of the like of serial entrepreneur and angel investor, Rakesh Saraf, MD, Windsor Specialty Services, Gaston Bilder (Impact Investor), MIT, Harvard Business School, Kiran Kamity: (Angel Investor), B.Tech IIT Madras, and MS Stanford.
By March 2022, the startup plans to scale up to 5000 charging stations serving 5.8 lakh EV owners.
“We will build our presence in five major cities. We are also raising a series A investment to support this effort. By 2025, we will scale up to two lakh charging stations serving 38 lakh EVs. We will be having a strong presence in 20 cities,” Jaiswal predicts.