SparkCharge Before Shark Tank
Before appearing on Shark Tank, Josh founded SparkCharge in August 2014. Christopher Ellis came on to the project as Chief Technology Officer in the fall of 2017. In 2018, the company won first place in the 43North competition, taking home $1 million.
43North is a company based in Buffalo, NY that attracts businesses to move to the area with the prize money. They’ve held the competition every fall since 2014. Now SparkCharge has 2 locations, one in MA, and the other in Buffalo, NY.
SparkCharge on Shark Tank
Joshua Aviv and Chris entered into the Shark Tank and introduced themselves and their company, Spark Charge, from Massachusetts. Josh told the Sharks they were seeking $1,000,000 in exchange for a 6% stake in the company. That was a valuation of over $16,000,000. The Sharks were interested and asked them to explain more about the company.
Chris jumpstarted the presentation by saying that everyone knew that electric vehicles were the future – they are great for the environment, and they would be everywhere soon. There was one thing keeping people from jumping into the deep end, though. Range-anxiety. Josh explained the term. He said it was the fear that an electric vehicle would not have enough charge to get to where it needed to go.
He introduced the Sharks to SparkCharge’s solution – the Roadie, the first and only portable modular and ultrafast EV charger. Chris said that the anxiety of finding a charging station was high, and the time wasted waiting for the vehicle to charge goes away when the charging station comes to you.
Josh said that their product had 3 core features – modularity- units can be fashioned together for the right amount of charge, portability – can be dispatched at any time, anywhere, and speed – can charge at 1 mile every 60 seconds. He was very proud of these features and felt they set their product apart from the competition. Josh was confident that their product would be a success.
Josh explained that they sell directly to businesses. They worked with roadside rescue companies, OEMs, on-demand, and service providers. These companies would use the hardware to charge EVs and get money from the EV owners. Lori asked if it would work like or with AAA. Josh confirmed that they have a deal with AAA.
Josh told Mark that their power modules cost roughly $2500 to make. He also said that they charged companies a $1000 per module deposit and a $150 monthly fee. Josh let him know that they had done over $500,000 in sales.
They were on track to do over $1000000 in sales by the end of the year. By the end of next year, they were expected to do $10 million in sales. The unit was patented, and Josh said that they had not only built the unit from the ground up, but also the manufacturing facility in Buffalo NY. They had a great team in place, and things were looking very promising for the company.
Josh said they had been very strategic with their funding, and they won a lot of grants and awards that didn’t need to be paid back to get there. Blake, the guest Shark, wanted to know how much they had gotten from investors as opposed to the grants they had received. They raised $3 million in venture capital. They won $3 million in awards from various competitions.
Lori praised them for being very smart with their money. Blake asked what percentage of the company they owned now. Chris told the Sharks that they owned a little more than 50%. Mark Cuban winced. Daymond wanted to know why they thought they would get to $10 million the following year when they only had half a million now.
Josh explained that the EV market was growing rapidly, and they needed the money to scale to keep up with the demand. Kevin said that they obviously needed to burn some cash to get to where they were today. Josh said that they went through $4 million in an effort to build SparkCharge.
Blake asked if they were in a bad spot. Chris said that they had leeway – and Josh inserted that they still had $1 million left. Mark pointed out that to grow, they needed to have the capital to build more batteries. Kevin asked how much capital he would have to tie up in inventory in order to be successful.
Josh said that a third of the investment, or about $333,000, would be tied up in the leased property. Kevin pointed out that it may be easier to sell the modules outright. Josh said that they could sell it, but they controlled the asset by leasing it, and they could repurpose the batteries that came back to them.
Mark pointed out that it would take 12 months of leasing the module to get the $2500 it cost to make it back. Josh said SparkCharge commissioned each module at a rate of $1000 to start the leasing contract, which was nonrefundable. There was some heated back and forth over whether the $1000 was a deposit or a payment.
Lori said that she really liked what they were doing and that somewhere down the road, they could come up with something the end user would be able to keep in their own car for their piece of mind. Josh let her know that they were planning on releasing a consumer product. The tech inside would be the same, but it would be packaged differently. It would be smaller, lighter, and more appropriate for consumer use.
Blake wanted to know what it would retail for. Josh said that depending on the scale, they could get it to under $1500. Blake asked how many units they currently had in rotation. Josh said that they had 50 units. They had orders for more, but they were back-ordered.
Kevin said he hated owning risk and that the lease part of the deal was a roadblock for him. Blake said he agreed with Lori that the ultimate goal should be to develop a consumer unit. Blake said that he found it hard to believe that they would be able to deliver on that with a price point under $1000 when the commercial units are thousands of dollars to make Blake went out.
Lori said she felt like the idea was smart and innovative. Lori called Mark the master of technology, and she would always look to him for things that she didn’t quite understand. He nodded and said it was more of a capital issue. Lori asked Mark if he would be willing to go in on a deal with her.
Mark said that he also liked the concept of the company. He saw a challenge in it and thought it would be a multibillion dollar company. Josh said that he did believe it would be a multibillion-dollar company, but they would have to borrow money instead of raising it because they couldn’t lose any more of their equity in the company.
Mark said that six would not be enough for both of them. He wanted to let them make an offer and he and Lori could accept it or not. They didn’t show the pair of entrepreneurs even looking at each other for confirmation. Josh countered with $1,000,000 in exchange for 10% split 50/50 with 2% advisor equity each and a board seat.
Lori nodded, and Mark confirmed the deal. Kevin said that when they started their presentation, he believed that their chance of getting a deal was zero. But after seeing Lori and Mark’s passion for their product, he knew they had a chance.
SparkCharge Now in 2023 – The After Shark Tank Update
SparkCharge, a startup that makes universal electric-vehicle charging ports, raised $23 million in a series A investment round from 29 investors in May of 2022, according to Pitchfork.com. The company has 3 patents pending, including for the charging mechanism and the battery module itself. SparkCharge’s products aim to make charging EVs easier and more convenient for drivers.
The SparkCharge is an incredible charging station that offers 8 times the charging speed of a standard wired charger. The BoostEV app allows electric vehicle drivers to order a charger to come and charge their car if they are in a bind. It’s only available in select cities, but SparkCharge is looking to add more locations in the future.
SparkCharge makes a portable charger that is under 20lbs and easy to use. A single module increases a car’s range by 20 miles. This could help in local emergencies. They are a private company with about 40 employees.
Currently, the app is available for iOS and Android and offers different pricing tiers for consumers, from $4.99 to $29.99. All three tiers offer unlimited deliveries and up to 100 miles per charge. The difference seems to be the price per kWh or kilowatt hour. The app has 4 stars on the iOS App Store. The one one-star review from an irate user who was unable to add his vehicle to the app