How do you partner with a major client to achieve growth?

Calvey Taylor-Haw had worked in advertising photography and marketing for thirty years when he decided, at the age of 46, that it was time for a career change. As a motor fanatic, he’d started becoming interested in green vehicle technology, and for a time thought about building an electric motor scooter.

The idea that would become Elektromotive began after a conversation with his brother Brandon, outside his flat in Battersea. Brandon was interested in buying an electric car in order to avoid paying the London congestion charge on his school run, but didn’t own a garage in which to charge it.

What was needed, the brothers agreed, was a universal charging post that could be installed next to a resident’s parking space. They went upstairs and sketched the first designs then and there.

Over the next year, Calvey worked on his new business alongside his day job running the marketing agency. It quickly became clear that there were several political obstacles to installing charging posts for individuals’ use, but a greater opportunity lay in working directly with local authorities themselves.

By 2005, Elektromotive had moved operations into a small office at the Sussex Innovation Centre. What was holding the business back, Calvey felt, was the need to convince local authorities that their infrastructure was worth investing in.

The growth of the electric car market at that time was hampered by the lack of infrastructure to support it. What was needed was readily available charging station technology, which could be provided by Elektromotive. Unless charging stations in public places became a more common sight, there would be limited consumer interest in electric cars, and consequently, limited quantities of energy would be used for this purpose.

In some cases the introduction of new technology requires the input of resources beyond that available to an early-stage business. This can be as much about credibility as money or human resources. For this reason, we introduced Calvey to a potential partner, a large national energy provider that was keen to become more involved in the emerging clean energy market in the UK.

Realising the value of market insight

It was vital for Elektromotive’s growth that it realised the value of the market insight that it could provide, and the competitive advantage that a close relationship with big business could afford it. In discussing the sector with Elektromotive, the provider was able to visualize this emerging opportunity from a new perspective.

The mutual benefit to both businesses was obvious. The energy company sponsored some of the initial installations, and helped give Elektromotive both credibility and visibility. With their confidence and support, a nationwide charging station network developed over the decade, with Elektromotive involved every step of the way.

Going global

Elektromotive moved its offices within the Centre five times during the decade it spent here, as the business grew into multi-million pound revenues and its team expanded to 17 full-time employees, offering both hardware and software support for electric vehicle technology. Eventually, in 2016, they left the Centre for their own premises, and shortly afterwards Chargemaster plc acquired a controlling stake in the business for £500,000, creating the UK's largest charging point network.

Calvey’s company has exported to more than 20 countries across Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and installed thousands of charge points, becoming one of the largest electric vehicle supply equipment vendors in Europe. They’ve also found the time to install a charge point in our members’ car park.