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Visual Bs

Balancing the B2B and B2C Worlds While Navigating Hardware and Software Demands

Building a tech company from scratch is very challenging. From the smallest local software provider to the largest multinational companies that we use every day, developing a sustainable, profitable company requires a tremendous amount of hard work, creative problem-solving, and a dash of good fortune.

This is especially true in an industry that is just beginning to take shape, like EV charging. There are no long-established business models. There is no historical reference to point at and say “Ah, yes, that is an example of a successful EV charging platform company. Let’s do what they did, but better.” Just as Netflix or Spotify entered uncharted waters more than a decade ago, with no historical streaming precedent, so are we at Monta faced with the task of charting success through the yet-to-be-defined world of electric vehicle charging. 
 

The segmentation challenge

There is one challenge I want to highlight in particular: the difficulty of straddling many different worlds: software, hardware, public utilities, oil & gas giants, other start-ups, and individual EV drivers. Depending on the context – and there are a lot of contexts – we are B2B, B2C, B2B2B, or B2B2C. That’s a lot of B’s and C’s and 2’s. 

With a direct-to-consumer app, there is one fundamental challenge: get more paying users of your App. You need to be on both major App stores so that anyone with a smartphone can download your app. You then try to accumulate users and sell that data to advertisers or data brokers. Or you have some freemium model and try to get users to pay for a subscription, additional in-app features, or maybe even order some real-life good or service. Obviously, I am painting in broad strokes, but those objectives largely cover the B2C tech space. It is certainly not easy. Consumers are flooded with apps. But the recipe is relatively straightforward: Build a slick-looking App (gamify it a little if you can). Accumulate users. Monetise those users.  

The B2B software path is also well-trodden. Develop a software tool that solves a problem for businesses. Target and contact all the businesses that might conceivably use your product with a laser-like focus on B2B marketing and sales. There is no need for B2C marketing on Instagram or TikTok because the average person on the street is not going to download your App. Your business may not even have an App. Your objective is to get in front of decision-makers at companies that could conceivably use your product and then convince them that your software is better than anything else on the market. Again, not easy, and that is a radical simplification, but there are long-standing businesses that have demonstrated how to succeed in this space.

The B’s and C’s of EV charging: understanding the complexity of the industry

That brings us to all the B’s and C’s of the EV charging industry. Our customers are both businesses and EV drivers. First, we sell a B2B solution – our Portal, a charge point management system – to operators of charge points. This can be one charge point at an AirBnB summer house or 5000 charge points managed by a large utility company. Right there, you already have VERY distinct use cases. The owner of three charge points at a hotel will have some pretty straightforward requirements: guests need to charge their EV, the hotel manager needs to know who charged and how much, and receipts and invoicing need to go to each party for the right amount of money. 

A large-scale charging solution provider with thousands of charge points at all manner of businesses will have complex system requirements to cover all of their use cases. We routinely receive tender submission requests with 1000+ questions/requirements. 

Our C’s – the consumer – are EV drivers. The function – charging a vehicle – may be the same, but a driver and their vehicle have a wide range of needs. A person charging at home doesn’t need anything radical. Just a charged car ready for the morning commute. The businessperson with a company car needs to be reimbursed immediately for home charging and charging on the road. The delivery driver needs to charge at a depot and ensure the right truck is connected to the right charger and ready for deliveries the next morning. Car rental companies have complex invoicing and receipt requirements. Then there are drivers who go on road trips and charge at three different external networks in three different countries. They need to charge and pay in different currencies while being charged the right amount of tax, every single time.

Breaker 1

Breaking down the challenges of building and maintaining a platform for EV charging

Then there is the matter of hardware. We don’t just need to work on two different App Stores or three different browsers. We are integrated with more than 250 models of charge points. The quality of the charge experience on all of those models varies widely, to put it mildly. How do you ensure 98% uptime across 20+ markets, 400+ partners, and untold amounts of EV drivers? It is not easy. But when you combine an incredibly talented team with incredibly advanced technology, you give yourself a damn good chance to do it. 

That is a distilled version of the challenges we face. We have to build, improve, and maintain our App and our Charge Point Management System (CPMS) in parallel. It is no good to develop incredible, complex features for a major solutions provider, while neglecting the App and how the EV driver experiences the charge. Conversely, we have to make sure our  CPMS is easy-to-use and meets the varying needs of charging providers because, well, they are the ones paying us at the end of the day.

The good news is we are doing both. We started with our App. Our founder – Casper Rasmussen – developed it himself in a matter of weeks. Its usability and flexibility are core to everything we do and that will not change. The original team then created our CPMS and began adding market-leading features like spot pricing and true dynamic load balancing. And there is a lot more to come very soon. Significant product and commercial opportunities start opening up when you bring thousands of charge points onto one platform. No matter where the B is headed, we’ll have a solution. 

Conclusion

Overall, creating a tech company in the EV charging industry is incredibly difficult, with complex hardware interactions that must be deeply understood and imperative software demands to provide an easy-to-navigate interface for customers. Companies that can strike the right balance are able to gain momentum under challenging conditions. 

While it may seem daunting to even consider joining this exciting area of technology development and business growth, platforms like Monta have made huge strides in making it easier to enter the market. Monta has worked hard to create an integrated software platform with both B2B features such as network management solutions, pricing options, opening/closing of public access points and more – along with thoughtful B2C features such as station search maps, queue management systems and App-based station controls – so anyone contemplating such a venture can put their goals into action. 

For any professionals eager to join the EV charging industry or those curious about how such a platform ties everything together, Monta can clearly show how to power your mission. Leveraging an established platform like Monta eliminates many of the tedious tasks associated with setting up complex EV network solutions from scratch. Discover how Monta has built an integrated software platform powering the entire suite of EV charging solutions.

Monta

Monta is the operating platform powering the EV ecosystem serving drivers, companies, cities, and the electricity grid with one integrated software solution.