As he made his pitch at a recent investment summit, Swift Charge founder Zhongyi Quan got a laugh from the crowd with his concluding words.
"Soon, Swift Charge stations will be everywhere, and you probably will be paying us to use them. So why don't you invest in us and own a piece of them?" he said at Startup TNT's Investment Summit VI in November.
That somewhat cheeky proposition from the EV charging company's CEO did not persuade Startup TNT's syndicate of investors that evening, as they decided to put their money into 48Hour Discovery, Umay, and SketchDeck.ai instead. But Swift Charge is on the radar of other investors as it seeks to raise a $1-million pre-seed round to help with software development and further research and development.
Foresight Canada deemed Swift Charge one of Canada's 50 most investable cleantech companies, and it has been through the Alberta Accelerator by 500 and Plug and Play Alberta's accelerator. It has also raised $1.6 million in non-dilutive grant funding from Alberta Innovates and the National Research Council.
The company, which has 14 employees, has started to generate revenue from customers who want to install multi-unit EV charging stations with minimal upfront costs.
"What we do is we have smart charging technology," Quan told Taproot. "We can … integrate the EV chargers with other power sources to avoid any infrastructure upgrades so that we can install chargers quickly and at a much lower cost."
They do that through microgrid technology and a new power converter that can tie in everything: "EV chargers, solar PV (photovoltaic) batteries, everything in a very scalable way," said Quan, who invented the technologies on which Swift Charge is based and has 12 years of experience in the power conversion industry.
Microgrids are not new — in fact, they already exist in most homes — but they are increasingly discussed as an option to accommodate the expected demand for power as more people transition to electric vehicles.
EV charging "has never been a software or a hardware problem," the company said in its pitch for the Plug and Play Alberta Expo in Banff in late November. "It is an electrical grid infrastructure problem. With our proprietary charging technology, we are here to de-bottleneck the grid infrastructure and to truly enable a widespread EV charging network."
Right now, Swift Charge is installing Level 2 chargers at the University of Alberta and NAIT, Quan said. The company's first commercial deal in the works with the Oswego Hotel in Victoria, with four Level 2 charters expected to generate $12,000 in annual recurring revenue, according to the Foresight Canada pitchbook.
Swift Charge charges a subscription or sets up revenue-sharing with the site owner, with a charger generating a profit in an average of 2.5 years, the company's pitchdeck indicates.
Next on the roadmap is the company's "fast charger," which it now expects to launch in the third quarter of 2023, Quan said in his Startup TNT pitch. "When that's ready, we can extend to an even larger market," he told Taproot.
Swift Charge's Level 2 chargers are about half the price of others in the market, and the fast chargers are even more attractive, he said.
"Especially for fast-charging stations, we can potentially reduce the cost up to 90%."
Swift Charge's ambitious goal is to deploy 200,000 Level 2 chargers and 7,500 fast chargers across North America by 2030, generating $1 billion in revenue.
"(When) we have our fast charger products ready, we're very confident that we can continue to market quickly and expand rapidly," Quan said.