Q&A with Jordan Ramer
CEO and Founder of EV Connect.
Family Office Insights sits down with Jordan Ramer, CEO and Founder of EV Connect, to discuss the electric vehicle charging market, and how EV Connect’s flexible open platform technology has grown the company into the leading provider of electric vehicle charging management services in the US.
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Tell us about your background and your company, EV Connect.
I’ve been in and around clean and resource efficiency technologies since 2000. At that time, I joined AeroVironment, a leader in clean transportation and energy systems, to help commercialize and bring to market technologies that they had developed. I looked into the company’s intellectual property portfolio and its capabilities to help identify and bring about new products and business models to market within AeroVironment. During my 8 years there, I was heavily involved with the launch of an EV charging business in the industrial EV charging market and spent some time spearheading its international expansion and launching a fleet management software solution.
In 2008, I left AeroVironment after its IPO to lead corporate development for NanoH20, a venture-backed developer of energy efficient water purification technology. As one of its early employees, I had many non-technical responsibilities. NanoH2O was recently sold to LG Chem in 2014.
In 2010, I left NanoH2O and founded EV Connect – I believed it was the perfect time to start the company because I saw the opportunity for the electric vehicle, electric vehicle charging, and electricity as a transportation fuel industries. EV Connect is a market-leading company, which deploys and manages electric vehicle charging for government and enterprise customers across North America. We have grown into the leading provider of electric vehicle charging management services in North America and support thousands of drivers daily.
A market analogy for EV Connect that we use to describe what we do is that we are like the Android platform for the electric vehicle charging and energy management industry. 8 years ago Cellular phones were able to track contacts, had a calculator, and a few standard games to play, but at the end of the day, Motorola and Nokia weren’t software companies so they were unable to innovate to the next level. When introduced into the market, the Android operating system was able to create an ecosystem and provide services to smartphone users and network providers beyond what we imagined. EV Connect is working with many device manufacturers (charge stations), users (drivers), network providers (charge station owners) and energy providers (utilities) to provide an open, flexible, and robust platform.
Who is your target audience?
We are a B2B focused company, so we work with anyone that has a parking lot, or controls a series of parking lots. In the last 100 years we became accustomed to fueling our vehicles through gas stations, where the model of fueling our vehicles was with a dangerous material called gasoline that is so toxic and flammable that it needs to be brought in by trucks and then pumped and contained in tanks underground until it is needed. This is a highly centralized model for fueling a vehicle and rather inefficient. Electricity as a fuel enables the complete decentralization of vehicle fueling. Why not charge a car when it’s parked for a period of time in a safe and efficient manner? That recognition is what created the vision for EV Connect. There’s a need for a decentralized, distributed network of charging stations wherever there is electricity.
We work with large owner, operator, and managers of properties including governments like the State of New York, utilities companies such as Southern California Edison, hotel operators such as Hilton Worldwide, leading transit operators LA Metro and NYC Subway, real estate firms with office and multi-unit residential properties like CBRE and Jones Lang LaSalle, and major Fortune 500 companies with corporate workplace charging like Yahoo! and Dell. As for the face of modern electric cars, Tesla, they have their own proprietary connector on their vehicles, but with an adapter any Tesla car can charge on EV Connect managed charge stations.
What are some of the challenges you face in this market?
We have a software platform and focus on providing the market leading solution, but we are still dealing with the physical world, which brings about its own set of resource challenges. EV Connect provides the technology and know-how to set up and manage the charging stations, but it is the responsibility of our customers to dig up their parking lots and install the electrical infrastructure required to support the charge stations. We can’t control everything that happens on our customer’s properties.
Who are your key competitors and how are you different?
There are 3 types of players in the market: charge station manufacturers, station owners/operators, and software providers. Obviously, the charge station manufacturers are the ones who make the charging stations, but typically have minimal software capability. As a software player, we see these hardware players as partners, so we work with them to integrate their stations with our software and enable them to sell more charge stations by enhancing the services they can deliver with their stations. Owners and operators of charge stations are those investing in and putting the infrastructure in place to deliver charging services to drivers. Owners and operators of charging stations are our customers. EV Connect is one of the leading software providers with the most open, flexible, and robust platform in the market. We compete with certain players in the market that have software platforms for managing EV charge stations. One such competitor is ChargePoint. They bridge both the charge station manufacturer and software provider categories with an integrated solution. They are very much like the Blackberry of the smartphone industry 9 plus years ago if you use the market analogy I mentioned earlier. Customers are increasingly recognizing the value of an open software platform that gives them choices of many charge station devices and the flexibility to customize our software solution for the benefit of their drivers.
How are you changing the landscape of your industry?
We are changing the landscape of the electric vehicle charging industry by giving our customers choice of charging stations, flexibility with how they deploy their charging network, robust capabilities to provide great driver services, and features to minimize energy costs. Customers are recognizing that they don’t want to be stuck with one type of charge station hardware that they are using and they want choices. Having one manufacturer service all charging stations is not conducive to providing the best in class solution. This gives us a lot of opportunity because we architected our software platform with flexibility in mind. We also address the unique needs of each different industry since each charging application requires slightly different software capabilities and features.
Who is your ideal investor? How much capital are you looking to raise?
We are looking to raise $5-7M. In an ideal world, we are looking to accomplish a few different things: expand our sales and marketing capabilities to further penetrate the market and develop our channels; expand outside the US market; advance our roadmap into new applications such as supporting autonomous vehicles and energy storage; and improve the overall operations of the business by attracting the very best talent. We are looking for investment partners to support those objectives.
What’s your mission?
Our mission is to provide the world’s most flexible and open platform for managing the electric vehicle ecosystem.
What’s next for you?
Our big goal is to touch or manage at least 50% of the world’s electric vehicle charging stations. That is an audacious goal and will take some time, but we have our sights set on it. In the immediate term, we are looking to further proliferate our software platform to as many territories and charge station manufacturers as possible, as well as, expand the capabilities of the platform.
Jordan Ramer is the CEO and Founder of EV Connect.
An accomplished technology leader and entrepreneur, Mr. Ramer has helped raise tens of millions of dollars in financing for growth companies in the Cleantech, sustainability, and energy sectors. Over the past fourteen years, he has helped rapidly grow three companies into successful enterprises resulting in very significant increases in shareholder value.
Since 2010, Mr. Ramer has been Chief Executive Officer and Founder of EV Connect, a market-leading company which deploys and manages electric vehicle charge stations for government and enterprise customers across North America. EV Connect has grown into the leading provider of electric vehicle charge station management services in North America and supports thousands of drivers daily with its technology.
Prior to EV Connect, Mr. Ramer led corporate development for NanoH2O, a venture-backed developer of energy efficient water purification technology. As one of the first employees, he was instrumental in defining the company’s business model, helping to raise venture financing, and managing governmental affairs for the company, which was recently sold to LG Chem in 2014.
He also held executive positions for over 7 years in business development, product management and marketing at AeroVironment, a leader in clean transportation and energy systems, where he spent seven years elevating the company into the industry leader, spearheading the company’s international expansion and launching its fleet management software solution.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Ramer held roles in business development, finance and strategy for several venture-backed technology start-ups and received his CPA while working at his first professional job at Arthur Andersen.
Mr. Ramer has served as a Loaned Executive with the United Way, and the boards of the Wildwoods Foundation and UC Santa Barbara Bren School Eco-Entrepreneurship Council. His non-profit board service started after completing the Riordan Volunteer Leadership Development Program in 2002. In recognition of his board service with the Wildwoods Foundation, he was awarded the US President’s Volunteer Service Award, which was established in 2003 to recognize the valuable contributions volunteers are making in our communities and encourage more people to serve.
He holds a Masters of Business Administration from UCLA Anderson and graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Skidmore College. He is married and lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife and two children.
For more information, please reach out to Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org.