Venture Talk #1
Kai-Philipp from ACCURE Battery Intelligence
In this venture talk, we sat down with Kai-Philipp from the Aachen based startup ACCURE Battery Intelligence, who just closed a successful seed funding. Alexander Meyer, Managing Partner of 42Cap and one of the investors, added his thoughts.
Niklas: Kai-Philipp, please tell us more about ACCURE. What is your business model and what are your USPs?
Kai-Philipp: ACCURE provides companies in industries such as e-mobility and renewable energy storage with an intelligent and scalable web platform to monitor and analyze their battery systems. That way we optimize storage system design and operation, improving their economics and lowering the carbon footprint. Having worked as technical consultants for many energy and mobility companies, we started ACCURE with a clear value proposition: Make batteries easier! For us this means providing actionable insights with a hassle-free implementation.
Niklas: You just closed a successful seed funding round. What was your strategy for identifying relevant investors? How many investors did you contact and which kind of responses did you receive?
Kai-Philipp: We conducted our fundraising in a very structured way - testing and optimizing our pitch deck with a small number of investors first and then reaching out to about 30 European VCs. We were looking actively for an investor who shared our clean energy vision while complementing our expertise and network. In the end it took us about 7 months (a large part of that during the Corona lockdown) to receive a good handful of high-profile term sheets.
Niklas: What would you advise other founders to do when looking for investors?
Kai-Philipp: That’s a tough one – every startup journey is different and there surely is no straight line to success. But ultimately, VCs have a pretty predictable view on startups: Can they become billion-dollar ventures or not? And it’s your job as a founder to prepare compelling arguments to affirm that outcome, using as many proof points as possible. As an example: The three main founders of ACCURE all did successful PHDs, worked as business consultants, and practice competitive sports which gave investors confidence in our ability to successfully execute our strategy even during challenging times.
Another important aspect is to get proper legal advice early on. Navigating issues like an IP transfer or negotiating deal terms with top level VCs should not be done without professional support. For our seed round we worked together with the law firm Orrick who recently built a partnership with the RWTH Entrepreneurship Center and their backing really was invaluable to us. In general, I can recommend to contact the team of the RWTH Entrepreneurship Center if you are interested in founding a venture.
Niklas: How did you finally convince the investors?
Kai-Philipp: That is an excellent question – we should probably ask them!
Alex: Thanks for asking – We are generally “product first”. We get excited when we meet teams with great engineering credentials and a superior product offering in a very large market opportunity. KP and his co-founders hit it on the nail with us already in the first meeting and from then on it was all downhill.
Niklas: 42Cap has recently invested into two Aachen-based startups, Enlyze and ACCURE. What makes Aachen interesting for you as an investor?
Alex: I have a master’s degree in Aero- and Astronautics from the Technical University in Munich and I live in Munich. But I haven’t been able to invest in a good team in my home turf (TUM). So, I had to be more active at the other good technical university in Germany to make up for that. Jokes aside, it has probably been more coincidence, but we are thrilled to have been chosen by the teams of Enlyze and Accure as co-pilots on this long journey to entrepreneurial success. And we are looking forward to meeting more such promising startups from the RWTH Aachen.
Niklas: What are the next steps and investment plans of ACCURE?
Kai-Philipp: We have been operating in stealth mode for quite some time, building strong relationships with industry partners around the world but now that we published our seed round, we will ramp up our marketing and sales operations. At the same time, we are constantly pushing forward our battery diagnostics and optimization to offer our customers the best-in-class results that they expect from us. We are on our way to become the world’s central hub for smart batteries – and if that sounds cool to your readers, I just want to say that - We are hiring!
Niklas: A personal question, Kai-Philipp, why did you choose to become an entrepreneur?
Kai-Philipp: I actually never really thought about starting a company, but seeing so many industries struggle with the adaption of batteries really got me curios if there wasn’t a way to solve this challenge and to help make batteries more predictable and more sustainable. So we started working on a first prototype of the ACCURE platform with a couple of friends in our free time. About six months later we presented it (quite shyly) to one of my industry contacts, and her response was basically: “This is exactly what we need, where can I buy it?” So we said “right here!”, one thing led to another and today we are a team of fifteen amazing people from around the globe, running one of the largest battery databases on the planet – pretty crazy if you think about it that way…
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