According to Forbes, electric vehicle sales rose by 37 percent in 2016. That’s great news for the clean tech industry, but are we positioned to take full advantage of this growing renewable energy source?
The answer will soon be yes, if Dexter Turner, founder of OpConnect, gets his way. Here’s more from Dexter:
What was the spark that inspired the birth of your concept? I became interested in electric vehicles when a friend and I were considering a hack to our Priuses to convert them to plug-in electric Priuses. We decided that hacking our cars in this way probably wasn’t a good idea, but in the process I started researching electric vehicle charging, Smart Grid, and power grid storage, and this research led to the decision to start OpConnect.
What problem does it solve? As electric utilities bring more renewable energy sources onto the power grids, they are finding that they need grid storage and systems like demand response to help them balance the supply of energy versus the demands on the grid. Electric vehicles can be one part of this solution, but to take advantage of them, the utilities need charging stations through which they can fully control the flow of energy and control the associated software. This is the problem we solve.
How do you differentiate from your competition? We have a laser focus on our electric vehicle charging management software platform, and are tailoring our software to meet the needs of the most influential customers, utilities. We want to give utilities the tools they need to brand the charging experience and own their rate paying customers. Many competitors are positioning themselves between utilities and their customers and splitting their focus between hardware manufacturing and servicing.
How do you make money? We license software to utilities. Non-utility charging station owners pay recurring fees to have their chargers connected to our cloud based charging management system and we take a portion of the revenue generated by chargers under management.
What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur? The excitement and challenge of developing product offerings and business models and putting together a team to execute.
Your biggest success? One of the previous companies I started was sold in a nice exit.
As an entrepreneur, what keeps you up at night? Actually, I think we have a great strategy and the team to carry it out, so I’m not kept up at night worrying about the business.
What is the best entrepreneurial advice you have received? Don’t go into business with your friends.
What is your #1 piece of advice for a budding entrepreneur? Don’t go into business with your friends.
What is the #1 book you would recommend for a budding entrepreneur? I like “Blueprint to a Billion” and “Venture Deals.”
Imagine your venture becomes wildly successful. What does that look like? We will have hundreds of utilities all over the world that use our software as a service to manage millions of electric car chargers.
What’s your favorite local business and why? Blue Star Doughnuts. They know their niche and excel at it.
Do you think Oregon is a good place to start a business? There is a lot of support for entrepreneurs. Organizations like Oregon BEST and OEN provide assistance with connections to advisors and mentors, workshops, opportunities to showcase your company and technology and in some cases, financial assistance. And these advisors and mentors are willing to sit down with you and help.
Dexter Turner will be presenting a one-minute pitch at our April 27 Angel Oregon Showcase! Learn more here.