1 designer, 2 developers, 1 product manager
Chargefox is Australia’s largest public EV charging network. It has over 1,000 plugs under management across Australia, and has processed over 50,000 charging sessions. That’s enough electricity to power the average household for four decades.
With a commitment to making EV charging as simple and clean as possible for all Australians, Chargefox is building Australia’s first ultra-rapid EV charging network powered 100% by renewable energy.
Chargefox was formed as a result of Tim Washington, CEO of JET Charge, approaching Cogent looking for a local software solution to manage the high volume of EV chargers being installed across the country – it didn’t exist.
With the software expertise Cogent has and the hardware expertise JET Charge has, a natural joint venture was formed and Chargefox was created. As well as this, the JET Charge team were able to bring to the table deep category expertise and relationships, while Cogent was able to bring experience in building the business case and and raising investment through Cogent Ventures.
The challenge for Chargefox was three-fold:
1) Test whether there is in fact a market for the product,
2) Raise funds to build both the software and charging infrastructure, and
3) Build a robust and scalable product suitable for different customers, including fleet managers, site hosts and EV drivers.
“When you work with Cogent, you know you’re working with people who are true experts in their field, but without the ego usually attached to that.”
To tackle the first challenge, the Cogent team built an MVP – a piece of software that was a really simplified way of managing charging stations. The team at JET Charge then sold this onto customers alongside charging stations and it became clear very quickly that this was a product customers needed.
With the growth of Chargefox reliant on the arrival and uptake of EVs in Australia, investment was then needed for the long term sustainability of the business. Mark Wells, CEO of Cogent and Investment Director of Cogent Ventures, lead the Chargefox team through building a business case and evaluation case to then go out and find investors.
To solve the third challenge and build a scalable, secure and robust product, Cogent brought its full range of skills to the table, including product management, design and software development. There was extensive user research involved to better understand the needs of the people who manage multiple stations (eg. Councils and shopping centres) and well as fleet managers and EV drivers. The different needs means Chargefox is essentially two different but intertwined software products: the driver facing app, and the dashboard interface used by station managers.
“The level of trust and respect is huge both ways, which lets us move forward fast. I know the Cogent team care deeply about the success of Chargefox, so I trust their guidance.”
The process of raising investment is a long one. With the help of Cogent Ventures, it took almost a year to secure funding for Chargefox. At the time of writing, Chargefox has secured $17 million of funding.
This is made up of investment by the Australian Motoring Services (RACV, NRMA, RACQ, RAC, RAA and RACT), Wilson Transformers and the founder of Carsales, Greg Roebuck. It is supported with grants from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Victorian Government.
Chargefox is well underway in building the first 22 ultra-rapid charging stations around Australia, all powered by renewable energy. They’ve also signed deals with major car manufacturers like Jaguar Land Rover, Nissan and BMW to offer charging discounts to drivers.
As an investor, Cogent Ventures continues to provide investment and fundraising advice to Chargefox, while Cogent designers, developers and product managers continue to work on improving the Chargefox product.
“Cogent has been a core part of launching and scaling Chargefox to what it is today, and we continue to work closely together.”