[Startup Interview] Jason Gras, Emile Fulcheri, Stima, Kenya
Stima is a Kenya-based startup that operates a smart service swap stations providing charging services to enable moto-taxi riders to switch to electric motorcycles. The startup is introducing the concept to assist in reducing carbon emissions and taming air pollution. Jason Gras explains.
Tell us about your company
Stima is a start-up that provides charging services for electric moto-taxis in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Stima operates a network of smart self-service swap stations to enable moto-taxi riders to switch to electric motorcycles. Riders can exchange their battery when they need to charge in Stima swap stations in less than a minute.
Electric motorcycles are sold cash or via credit. Riders pays for the swaps via a pay-as-you-go mobile payment.
Who are the founders and what are their professional backgrounds?
Jason Gras is CEO while Emile Fulcheri is CTO.
Jason and Emile are two young engineer-managers specialized in energy, who met doing a Master in International Energy Management at Mines ParisTech and Tsinghua University. Jason and Emile both live Kenya.
Jason Gras graduated from Mines ParisTech and Tsinghua. He worked for 2 years as representative of CEA Tech at the French Embassy in Beijing. He then worked for World Bank IFC on the financing of renewable energy projects in Western Africa.
Emile Fulcheri (CTO) graduated from Centrale Nantes, DTU, Mines ParisTech and Tsinghua. He worked for EDF, CEA and Orsted on energy projects.
How is Stima financed?
Stima is very early stage, and financed via a mix of friends and family and business angels. The startup is currently looking for pre-seed financing to develop a pilot of swap stations, including about 15 electric motorcycles to test.
What in your opinion are the dynamics shaping the industry you work in?
The market of moto-taxi riders in Kenya and Sub-Saharan Africa is extremely dynamic. There are 1.5 million moto-taxi riders in Kenya and more than 20 million in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya only, there are more than 200 000 more moto-taxi riders per year.
Why did you start Stima? What opportunities did you see?
We started Stima when we realized that electric mobility is booming in China and India, and that moto-taxis are perfectly adapted for electrification because of the lower energy cost and intensive usage (more than 100km a day on average).
Stima co-founding team is also motivated by the social and environmental impact of the start-up. In addition to reducing operating expenses for riders, electric motorcycles reduce CO2 emissions by more than 80 per cent in Kenya (where about 90 per cent of the electricity is generated from renewable energies). Electric motorcycles eliminate air pollution from motorcycle exhaust. They also support the Kenyan economy by replacing fuel imports with electricity generated nationally.
What problem or problems does Stima solve?
Stima provides a convenient, reliable and affordable charging service to enable moto-taxi riders to switch to electric motorcycles.
With petrol motorcycles, riders spend more than $5 a day on fuel and maintenance, Stima reduces operating expenses of motorcycles (saving about $1 a day) while providing riders with a better motorcycle. Electric motorcycles have more acceleration at city speeds, are more comfortable and more attractive for passengers.
What are the USPs of Stima?
Stima operates self-service swap stations to provide a charging service for electric moto-taxi riders. The startup has expertise in collecting battery data to optimize their charging in the stations. Stima is developing a flexible charging features coupled with prediction algorithms to minimize investment costs and operating costs, maximize battery lifetime while ensuring 100 per cent service reliability.
Our model of self-service swap stations is much lighter in CAPEX, OPEX and much easier to scale than other models of charging stations developed by our competitors.
Who are your customers?
Our customers are individual moto-taxi riders in Kenya. They are all men, aged between 20 and 45 years old. They make a profit between $5 and $15 a day.
What is your growth strategy?
Stima has the support of BAK, the national association of moto-taxis in Kenya. BAK is mandated by the Kenyan government to help organize and professionalize the sector of moto-taxis in Kenya.
STIMA model of self-service swap stations is designed to be extremely modular and replicable. One station can serve about 50 moto-taxi riders and is a profitable unit. Because of the specific driving pattern of moto-taxi riders in Kenyan cities, there is no need to start deploying a dense network of many swap stations to start operating the business. The business can start with a single swap station.
In which markets are you looking to establish your presence?
Stima will start operating in Nairobi, before expanding to Kenyan cities and Sub-Saharan African cities (in Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Togo, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Cameroun, etc.).
What are your plans for the coming 12 months?
Stima 's objective is to build a pilot battery swap station, including about 10-15 motorcycles. The objective is to collect data, to demonstrate market traction, generate revenue and start operating the business with the partners already identified (motorcycle manufacturers, battery manufactuers, swap stations manufacturers, motorcycle dealers, asset financing companies).
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