Electric vehicles are spreading all over the world. During Tesla has garnered the greatest attention in the United States with its luxurious and ultra-modern cars. Electric vehicles are becoming a mainstay in markets far from the California area.
Take India, for example. In the local mobility market, two and three-wheeled vehicles are increasingly becoming a popular option for a rapidly growing middle class looking for cheaper options. EV versions are popular because of their lower maintenance costs and higher reliability compared to petrol alternatives.
There is only one problem, and it is the same as any country that has tried to switch from gasoline to electricity: how do you set up the charging station network to make these vehicles usable outside of a short range from their garage ?
It's the classic chicken and egg problem. You need electric vehicles to make money with charging stations, but cannot afford to build charging stations until electric vehicles are popular. Some startups first tried to build these networks themselves. Perhaps the most famous example was Better Place, an Israeli startup that raised $ 800 million in venture capital before dying from negative cash flow in 2013. Tesla tried to solve the problem by being both a chicken and an egg by building a network of compressors.
That's what makes Statiq so interesting. Based in Gurugram, a suburb of New Delhi, the company is booting an EV charging system using a multi-revenue model that will hopefully help it avoid the financial challenges other charging systems face. It is in the current Y Combinator batch and will be introduced later this month on the demo day.
Akshit Bansal and Raghav Arora, the co-founders of the company, previously worked as consultants and built an online photo buying company that eventually reached 50,000 monthly activities. They decided to turn a fulcrum – really a hard fulcrum – into electric vehicles and especially chargers.
“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 most polluted cities. So we wanted to do something about it, ”said Bansal. When they investigated the causes of the pollution, they found that car emissions are a big part of the problem on the ground. They were looking for alternatives, but there are basically no EV charging stations across the country.
So they founded Statiq in October 2019 and officially started last May. They have installed more than 150 charging stations in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and the surrounding area.
But let's get to business, because for me this is the most fascinating part of its history. As I mentioned before, Statiq has a multi-revenue model. First, end users buy a subscription from Statiq to use the network, and then users pay a fee per charging session. This session fee is shared between Statiq and the owner, which gives landlords who install the stations an additional boost in sales.
Statiq has a few tricks in store during installation. First, the company's chargers, according to Bansal, cost about a third of the equivalent cost for U.S. devices. This makes the purchase of basic technology cheaper. From there, the company negotiates installations with landlords, where the landlords pay the fixed installation costs in exchange for this fee for the continued session.
In addition, there are advertisements on the charging stations that offer a further source of income, especially in clearly visible places such as shopping centers, which are of crucial importance for a successful EV charging system.
In short, Statiq didn't have to spend any capital to set up its chargers – and they could bootstrap before applying to YC earlier this year. Bansal said the company had dozens of charging stations and thousands of paid sessions on its platform before joining its YC charge, and "we're growing 20% every week now."
What's next? It's about deliberate scaling. The market for electric vehicles is turning in India and Statiq wants to be where these cars are. Bansal and his co-founder hope to overcome the wave while continuing to build critical infrastructures. The Indian government is likely to continue to help: the billions of approved incentives for electric vehicles and charging stations will drive the economy even further towards a cleaner car future.