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Hugh Sheehy: Speeding the Transition to Electric Vehicles by Making Charging, and Fast Charging, Easy and Cheap

Our mission is to speed the transition to electric vehicles by making charging, and FAST charging, easy and cheap.

Tell us about yourself?

By this stage my background is a bit of a mess. I’m Irish. My brother is American. My wife is Dutch and my children are Spanish. I grew up in Ireland and did Mechanical Engineering before going on to spend a decade in the oil industry. It was a fun time, but I also got to see that the oil industry wasn’t the future. I quit and did an MBA in France, at INSEAD, and then moved to Spain and worked all over the world in the telecom and internet industries.

A return to Ireland was next where I spent time in Google and eventually back into the energy business. The EV opportunity came from my connections with the innovation groups at University College Dublin, who also introduced me and my co-founder John Goodbody to the team at Imperial College London.

John, the other co-founder of the business, has a long background in marketing – focused primarily in the auto industry. We make a great team.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Win the lottery!
More seriously, being in a startup and having a young family can be nerve-racking. While I want to do something to help save the planet (even if only a little bit), it sometimes feels as if the world wants to keep burning oil more than it wants to help green entrepreneurs.

What problem does your business solve?

Access to charging is one of the main issues facing people who want to move to an EV and – more particularly – for fleets that want to move to EVs.

The patent-pending DockChain technology allows fleets and other parking locations to have fast DC charging speeds at the cost of slow AC charging. This is transformative for companies like car rental operators, delivery fleets, etc.

Locations like Hotels or Offices can also offer fast DC charging speeds for anyone who needs to recharge quickly while keeping the system cost as low as most slow AC charging solutions.

See our solution described briefly here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFVclhhIPQ0

What is the inspiration behind your business?

The DockChain technology was invented at UCD a few years ago. The original idea was for households. Many households have more than one car, and a domestic DockChain would be perfect to avoid people having to fight over the house’s single EV charger. The day isn’t far away when all cars will be electric so we intend to make a domestic DockChain too, in a couple of years.

Meantime we’re working now with UCD in Dublin and Imperial College in London and we’re going to make this a global success.

What is your magic sauce?

Our magic is that we can give many cars access to one EV charger and we can do it cheaply.

That allows fast DC charging on lots of parking spaces, perfect for fleets. It allows easy access to a single domestic EV charger. It allows vehicle distribution locations to maintain charge on thousands of cars without spending a fortune.

In the future it will also be important for vehicle-to-grid services, but that’s a couple of years out.

DockChain is truly unique. And patent-pending.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Our focus for the next two years is to get the basic fleet system up and running during 2022, including some single-site pilots with selected customers.

We aim to be production ready by the end of 2022, working with manufacturing partners already active in the space, and to start to roll out at scale during 2023.

Beyond 2023 there are lots of possibilities. While our focus now is on people like hotel chains, delivery fleets and car-rental companies, there are multiple other areas….including the domestic market. DockChains are needed all over the world so we expect to work with partners to achieve real scale. We need to move fast and there are many companies already in the space that could work with us to get DockChain out there quickly. A win-win.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

We’re working with great people so we can manage the tech and the marketing and all the internal aspects of the business. Honestly, Brexit has been more of a pain in the neck than anything. We’re a British/Irish company from day 1, with founders and shareholders and partners on both sides of the Irish Sea. Previously, with the UK in the EU, that wasn’t a problem. Now it causes all sorts of niggly annoyance.

It’s only a problem in the short term though and we’ve worked through nearly all the issues already. Plus, we’ve already got a Head of North America working with us and we’re aiming to be a global business. It’s just a hassle that we could have done without. The British-Irish Chamber were a great help, as were people like Forsters (lawyers!) in London.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

Well, right now we are looking for investors, so get in touch with me or with John Goodbody! Also we’re looking for software developers, particularly people with a C++ background and embedded systems. Plus, people who want to speed the transition to EVs.

And if you have a fleet, get in touch!

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