The AirBnB of charging stations?
“Knock, knock… how much longer do you need to stay at this charging station?”, another 30 minutes or so, the other person replies. Tom gets back to his EV and looks for another station. Most EV drivers face these challenges frequently. How is Tom different? He decided to do something about it.
Tom Sun is a typical bootstrapped entrepreneur. He started NAD Grip Corp in 2018, a peer-to-peer blockchain-based electricity trading company. With a zero dollar salary, Tom decided to get an EV, the 2018 Nissan Leaf, to reduce his driving costs. When the electrician came to his older Bay Area home, the quote was more than $3,000 for a home charger - an amount Tom couldn’t afford at the time. NAD Grid didn’t have workplace charging at that time, so Tom became a charging nomad. He tried other peer-to-peer charging platforms and had some nice experiences, but a host offering their WiFi password so Tom could work while his car was charging was not enough. More often, the experience was frustrating, such as forgetting to bring cash to pay for charging.
After countless EV charging challenges, Tom decided to pivot from NAD Grid and switch to P2P electricity on wheels. ampUp was born. Tom took ampUp through the YCombinator incubation program, and with guidance from AirBnB and other mentors, the app was released on iOS and Android in April 2019.
So what is ampUp?
ampUp is a mobile app that allows EV drivers to find, reserve, and charge their vehicles on a shared network of public and private chargers. ampUp exists to support the EV driving community. Many people are in Tom’s shoes - they don’t have access to home charging. Maybe their landlord doesn’t allow changes to the home, or the home-owners association is challenging to work with. ampUp is working hard to demonstrate that anyone can own and drive an EV. While other players already exist in the EV charging space, Tom created ampUp to make the EV charging space truly simple and convenient for the average person.
“The user experience is important for ampUp. When trying other charging apps, they felt analog and clunky. Being born out of the Silicon Valley technology ecosystem, we realized that our users have high expectations. The baseline user experience bar is set high by companies such as Waze, Uber, Robinhood, and Slack. This is the bar that we continuously set at ampUp. We waited for six months before reaching out to the general EV driving community because we wanted to be sure that the app works smoothly.”
How does ampUp work?
The ampUp premise is simple - in roughly 20 seconds a user can find, reserve, and pay for charging via the app. The EV driver doesn’t need to worry if someone else will be charging, as the spot is reserved during the period designated by the driver. ampUp also allows charger hosts to earn money back on their investment. In less than one minute a host can list their charger, select the price, and set specific hours and days their charger is available.
Now that ampUp feels comfortable with the base functionalities of their platform, they are developing new and exciting features they will be sharing over the next few months.