Plugzio is a Vancouver-based hardware and software company in the electric mobility space. The company provides electric vehicle charging plugs, paired with monitoring software, to deliver energy use management and monetization solutions to small and large property owners. The team recently entered the intercontinental market through a pilot project with Tata Group, one of India’s largest multinational conglomerates.
What Does Plugzio Do?
In 2016, co-founders Mohammad Akhlaghi and Ali Mohazab set out to find a solution to a simple issue: how can they incentivize property owners or managers of large public or private properties to increase their electric charging facilities for not just cars, but electric mobility vehicles of all types?
Plugzio’s technologies were created to facilitate the development of efficient, fair, and accessible electric vehicle charging infrastructure in urban environments as a result. The company’s electrical outlet devices make it possible for property owners to track and control who plugs into their outlets, billing users based on their energy consumption. By providing the tools to establish more electric charging stations, Plugzio aims to be a driving force behind incentivizing property owners to offer electric charging options in their facilities.
Plugzio has seen success because of its extremely optimized outlet manager and the personalization and customization that is possible to set up within this dashboard. It is their attention to detail, combined with simple and user-centric software design, that makes their offering so attractive, according to CEO and co-founder Mohammad Akhlaghi. Their range of services and their application in various properties including airports, shopping centres, academic institutions, multi-unit properties, and beyond is what makes this clean technology company so incredibly versatile.
Until recently, Plugzio’s technologies could only really be found across the west coast of North America. This geographical concentration resulted primarily from the fact that this region has seen to date some of the highest concentrations of electric vehicle ownership globally. However, as increasing numbers of people around the world opt to own electric vehicles, such as cars, bikes, and scooters, over traditional gas-powered vehicles, Plugzio’s technologies are rapidly becoming relevant across urban spaces worldwide. Projections show that 60% of new car sales could be electric by 2030, with the Chinese and Indian governments taking significant steps to encourage electric vehicle ownership over fossil-fuel powered vehicles.
Landing A Pilot Project with Tata Group in India
As a result of their recent entry into the Indian market through a pilot project with Tata Group, Plugzio has officially started installing its technologies across a range of residential and commercial facilities in New Delhi, and soon across other major cities in India. The technology will be deployed to provide charging capabilities for the many electric mobility devices currently used by India’s population of nearly 1.4 billion people. Local power production companies will be the main actors in spearheading and incentivizing the wide adoption of Plugzio’s technology and deployment.
“The sheer volume of potential unit deployment is what we are mostly excited about. To put it in perspective, each major city in India has a population comparable to the entire population of Canada. It is one thing to have hundreds of devices used daily by electric mobility users and quite another experience to have them being used by millions of people.” -Ali Mohazab, Co-founder and CTO at Plugzio
Plugzio’s work with Tata Group began in late 2020 with tests in Tata’s labs to determine the performance and versatility of the company’s hardware and software solutions. This pilot project with Tata Group is an excellent example of a company choosing to adapt its offering to a new place and market to take advantage of an existing opportunity.
“Each market has its own intricacies. These intricacies need to be respected when entering into that market and the Indian market is no different in that respect. There were both hardware and software changes that needed to be made to make the product optimal for the Indian market. Lowering down the cost to make it affordable for the mass deployment while keeping all the core features was certainly the main challenge. There were also concerns regarding the particular modes of hardware installation, connectivity, and environmental challenges such as potential heat or humidity.” -Ali Mohazab
While Plugzio’s business in North America to date has focused primarily on its hardware offerings, this contract with Tata Group places greater emphasis on Plugzio’s software offering, with particular interest on how to monitor consumption and adapt electrical grids to meet surges in demand. This sort of opportunity-specific pivot is ultimately what often enables small companies to “level-up” and take advantage of new revenue streams and scales of operation.
Enabling Electric Vehicle Charging Adoption
Plugzio owns its own manufacturing plant in Richmond, BC which can produce 1,000 units per month, with a process in place that’s ready to scale up. Plugzio is also proud to own its own servers which store the data used by its software, meaning that the data security of the company’s users is completely within Plugzio’s control.
Their technologies have proven to not only respond to rising interest in electric vehicles and charging, but to also encourage some people to opt into purchasing an electric vehicle instead of a traditional one due to the convenience offered by Plugzio’s charging solutions. More widespread installations of electric vehicle charging stations in buildings is a highly attractive option for property owners, and also makes the prospect of owning an electric vehicle more appealing for consumers.
One avenue that the Plugzio team has expressed increasing interest in exploring is the potential for the company’s proprietary technologies to be easily adapted for use in rural environments. Plugzio’s outlets and energy management dashboard can enable solar charging electric mobility by helping to make power generated by renewable sources in rural communities accessible and easy to manage.
Plugzio is thrilled to be formally entering the Indian energy management market because of the potential to grow and scale across India as electric vehicles, particularly e-bikes and e-scooters, become increasingly popular in the years and decades ahead. Plugzio has also seen increasing interest and demand coming from Singapore and Indonesia, which makes their move to India a very exciting first foray into the Asian continent.
“We were a bit surprised at the pace of progress and the milestones that were achieved. Expansion into India was in the background as something that has big potential for us in the future, but seemed like too big of a task to undertake at the moment. But the talks just kept moving forward very efficiently, to our surprise, putting some of our more local business development progression to shame.
The stakeholders on the Indian side grasped the potential of our technology quickly and they were very enthusiastic about its potential. Little convincing was required on our side from a strategic point of view and the issues that we have had to iron out were mostly tactical and operational.” -Ali Mohazab
Alacrity Canada Makes the Connection
Alacrity Canada advisors have worked closely with the Plugzio team since they first joined the Clean Technology Program as a portfolio company in the spring of 2020.
Alacrity’s global cleantech team has played an integral role in introducing Plugzio’s executive team to key industry leaders and potential customers in India. By nurturing close and ongoing discussions with Canada’s Trade Commissioner in India and supporting the Trade Commissioner to work with major Indian business players, Alacrity was able to connect Plugzio with the right people who could highlight opportunities and gaps in the electricity management market. This ultimately led to the pilot project between Plugzio and Tata Group.
“Connections are at least half of the story, if not the whole story. Getting in touch with people who have deep institutional knowledge in a new market is key. This allows us as entrepreneurs to focus on the right questions and to be put in contact with the right people to promote and market the product to potential customers. Munish Saini, [Alacrity Canada’s in-market advisor for India], has been instrumental in connecting us to the right people on the ground and has also helped us resolve some of the engineering challenges specific to India.” -Ali Mohazab
Helping portfolio companies to see opportunities where they might not have expected or planned to see them is a central tenet of the “customer-led” Alacrity approach and makes up a fundamental part of the value that Alacrity can deliver to its portfolio companies. The reality is that there are many cleantech business opportunities in any given geography that simply need to be identified and matched with a company that can provide the right solution. Through senior advisors with decades of experience supporting entrepreneurs in their business development and entering new markets, the Alacrity BC Cleantech Initiative helps cleantech companies sell their products and services at home and abroad.
“Let’s put it like this: without Alacrity, we would still be thinking about the Indian market as a plausible dream.” -Ali Mohazab
If you’d like to learn more about Plugzio’s offering, visit the Plugzio website or listen to our Cleantech Talks podcast episode featuring Mohammad Akhlaghi, Plugzio’s CEO.