Buffalo, New York–based startup SparkCharge thinks it has the answer to not enough electric vehicle charging stations — bringing the charger directly to customers, wherever they may be.
“We've basically created a way for electric vehicle owners to have their car charged anytime and anywhere they want,” SparkCharge CEO Josh Aviv told Yahoo Finance Live. “With our mobile app - Currently - an EV owner can, with the push of a button, have range delivered to them anytime and anywhere they want, at home, at work, on the go. It really opens up a brand new way of EV charging that makes life far more convenient.”
The way SparkCharge works is customers summon a SparkCharge service vehicle using the company’s mobile app, Currently. The SparkCharge service vehicle comes to the customer’s location with a portable charge system called the Roadie, which is a “modular charging solution,” which is essentially several batteries stacked together into a unit, that can provide DC (direct current) fast charging on the spot.
Aviv says portable charging isn't just about convenience, it's also helping boost the nation's EV infrastructure and a way to provide service to underserved communities.
“What we found is that there's a lot of communities that sometimes get left out, or what we like to call ‘charging deserts,’ where, essentially, low-income communities don't have access to EV charging and are barred from the green economy,” Aviv said. “But when we think about mobile charging, it removes all those barriers for every community and every EV owner.”
Aviv says 60% of customers use the Currently app to get range delivered to their homes, and 40% get it delivered to where they work. At this time, use of the service as a "jumpstart," if you will, for stranded EV drivers is also available, but so far it’s only been used infrequently.
SparkCharge operates in four markets at the moment — Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and Dallas — but with a new fundraising round announced on Tuesday, the company hopes to be in 20 additional markets soon.
The SparkCharge’s Series A funding round of $23 million was led by Tale Venture Partners, Pendulum, and also includes capital from entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban, who originally invested in the company after hearing Aviv’s pitch on the TV show.
"SparkCharge is thriving by offering a unique concierge service, while everyone else is pushing the same old, same old self serves," Cuban said in a statement. "[The] Currently [app] makes charging convenient and accessible to a booming industry, reinvesting in them was an easy decision."