Are you the first Product Manager at a company? Here's some crowdsourced wisdom for you

https://twitter.com/lennysan/status/1250870043216232448If you’re starting as a Product Manager at a company that’s never had one before, then you should find this Twitter thread super useful. Lenny Rachitsky, former Growth PM @ Airbnb posted a request for advice for first PMs at a company and received lots of interesting replies. Check it out, absorb the insights and bookmark it.

This AI meme generator makes better memes than you

https://www.hindustantimes.com/tech/meme-lovers-there-is-an-ai-meme-generator-and-it-is-everything-you-had-hoped-for/story-OflFaSEwXjc1oOITxcGjaM.htmlImgflip’s meme creation tool has been used millions of times to create memes, and the website decided to put all of that data to good use by creating a deep artificial neural network that is capable of generating memes all by itself. And the results are, as one site put it, absurdist art.

Funny, nonsensical and surprisingly witty all by turns, the website is a potent distraction for the kind of boredom we’re used to these days. The top 48 meme templates were chosen for this experiment and it covers much of meme-dom.

If you’re interested in the technical details of the neural network, you can find it in this post here.

Content Marketing Goals: 15 Ways to Set, Track, Measure Your Efforts

Content marketing is now a domain that has as many metrics as some of the other more numerically-oriented domains. For any company that is serious about its content marketing, it is necessary to be able to track the performance of their content. But what about goals?  What should a content marketer be aiming for? Is it merely driving leads?

In this article by Elsie Dopson at Databox, she provides a thorough list of the goals of content marketing as defined by a survey of close to 200 marketers. While some of them might seem obvious, it is worth noting the importance of having a holistic list like this to help you know what you’re ultimately aiming for.

1. Provide non-salesy value
2. Increase brand awareness
3. Build authority in your industry
4. Engage your target audience
5. Build industry education
6. Drive visitors to your site
7. Generate leads
8. Convert readers
9. Increase revenue
10. Build SEO power
11. Collect strong backlinks
12. Improve keyword rankings
13. Differentiate from competitors
14. Support existing customers
15. Push customers through the sales funnel

Via

Personal Data Protection Bill approved by Cabinet

The Union Cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has approved the Personal Data Protection Bill. It is anticipated that the bill will lay down a framework for how public and private entities will process personal data that they collect.

Guidelines on collection, storage and processing of personal data, consent of individuals, penalties and compensation, code of conduct and enforcement mechanisms are likely to be part of the law.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in the Parliament recently that the government will introduce a robust data protection bill, adding that India will never compromise on data sovereignty.

Along the lines of Europe’s recently introduced GDPR law, the government had introduced a draft of the bill last year to regulate the use of personal data by government and private companies. The draft bill, however, faced delay due amid inter-ministerial consultations.

20 Books For Founders & Business Leaders In 2020 That Will Take You To The Next Level

Founders and Business Leaders who are looking to up their game in the coming year will find much to savour and enjoy in NextBigWhat’s annual listing of the best – and by best, we mean THE best – ’20 Books For 2020′ collection dedicated just to them.

As a Founder, you’re looking for books that go beyond the standard humdrum self-improvement format and truly offer actionable advice, relatable case studies and stuff that can help you build a steady base of knowledge that drives on your hustle.

As a Business Leader, you’re not looking simply to hustle. You want wisdom, and focused high-level knowledge from domain experts and veteran thinkers that can help you propel your business to the next level. Basically, help you be the better you.

We have it all. If you’re convinced, then just click below to go the list. If you’re not… we would strongly suggest that you at least check out the list, because we’re sure you’ll find something that works for you.

Get the latest updates from this list by subscribing to our Founders newsletter!






20 Product Management Books For 2020 – That You Should Definitely Read

Reading is a habit that every Product Manager should inculcate – considering how multi-disciplinary the field is, and not to mention how quickly things change and move in today’s world.

If you’re worried about what to read – fear not! We’ve gone ahead and done all of the heavy lifting for you.

As 2020 is closing in, we decided to do a special, carefully curated list of books for product managers – spanning design thinking, product, analytics, customer success, sales and much more to help you get all set for the new year.

Laser targeted to ensure that you get only the best, this list will be your go-to guide that you can come back to over and over again to find something fresh to tickle your intellect.

Sold? Go to the list directly by clicking below and get started reading this awesome collection of books for product managers and leaders.

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This startup looks to make batteries smarter and last longer with an AI based cloud platform [Interview]

Why Read This?

  • Learn about the how and why of battery management systems (BMS).
  • Find out about an Indian startup working on the software layer of battery technology with clients on a global scale.
  • Learn about the role AI can play in improving the life of a battery.

ION Energy is a Mumbai-based startup offering a range of battery management solutions aimed at improving the life and performance of lithium-ion batteries powering electric vehicles and energy storage systems.

This includes the ION Energy platform focused on proprietary battery management systems for lithium-ion batteries and Edison Analytics, a backend platform that combines battery data, analytics and AI to remotely monitor and improve battery life.

Having acquired Freemens SAS – a French battery management systems developer – in 2017, only a year after inception, the company says it now has a strong presence in SE Asia, North America and Europe with over 40 enterprise clients.

With a broad, global transition to electric, and with progress in li-ion being largely stagnant, the technologies that underlie battery management have come to the fore, aiming to allow OEMs, battery manufacturers, fleet operators and others to manage and improve battery lifecycles, reduce degradation, and ultimately positively effect their bottom line.

We spoke with Akhil Aryan, Co-founder and CEO @ ION Energy to find out more about the startup, the importance of battery management systems, their AI-based backend platform ‘Edison’ and the state of energy storage in India.


Could you give us a short intro to ION Energy and its history?

The energy space has always been very close to my heart. I believe that building, maintaining and optimizing the Energy Ecosystem is the greatest opportunity of our generation. Not only from a financial unit economics point of view but also environmental impact. 

I founded ION Energy in 2016 with a clear mission to accelerate Earth’s transition to an all-electric planet. ION is one of the world’s most advanced battery management and intelligence platform that is building technology for electric mobility and energy storage.

We initially started as a battery pack maker. We’ve built a few battery packs and the idea throughout was that in an ideal world you would be able to access the battery independently of a vehicle, just like when you use an ICE vehicle, you only pay for the distance you drive. 

Soon enough, we realized that if we wanted to make energy available as a service instead of an asset, we need to extend the life and performance of the batteries to make it a viable solution. That’s how we started designing our own BMS and found a few companies we could partner with. 

In 2017, we acquired an 8-year-old French Battery Management System (BMS) developer – Freemens SAS, in a first of its kind cross-border acquisition and started commercializing our flagship BMS platform. 

ION Energy Battery Management System Model ‘FS-LT’

Please shed some light on the importance of Battery Management Systems for our readers and how your offering stands out.

Electric vehicles are powered by batteries, which need careful monitoring and maintenance. They come with fixed lifespans, safe operating levels, and charge/discharge cycle track. Due to their high energy density, long lifespan and lightweight, Lithium-Ion batteries are favored by EV manufacturers.

Here, criteria such as voltage rating and Ah (ampere-hour) rating indicates when the battery must be charged. To attain higher voltage and Ah ratings, the cells are connected in series or parallel combinations. In fact, manufacturers often custom design the cell for improvising on application-specific characteristics.

Here is what really sets the battery of an electric vehicle apart from the fuel tank of a conventional vehicle: 

Firstly, safety. When operated at a constant voltage, while drawing large amounts of current, the temperature of the vehicle may sharply rise due to thermal runaway. Thanks to the volatile composition of a lithium-ion battery, it might even catch fire. This obviously risks the safety of the vehicle and passengers.

Further, the chemical composition of a Li-ion battery tends to deteriorate over time and intensity of usage. The charge/discharge rates, as well as the efficiency, begins to decrease with age and usage. When crucial performance parameters dip below/ shoot above normal value, the user must be notified. Thus timely repair or replacement can be initiated. 

With all these affecting factors, to preserve the health and lifespan of a battery, a battery management system is essential. If the battery is the heart of the vehicle, the BMS is its brain. It maintains optimum performance and notifies the user in case the health fails. It monitors various parameters to collect data for enhanced battery life and health. Be it simply alerting in case of under/overcharging, a sudden spike in temperature or a prediction for battery aging, a timely notification from the BMS can enable the user to take steps to prevent further damage.

Essentially, what ION does is that it offers the fundamental layer of battery technology & software that Battery Makers and OEMs leverage to build world-class batteries.

It is a battery management and intelligence platform with a focus on building technologies that improve the life and performance of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and energy storage systems. We leverage advanced electronics and software that accelerates the effort of engineering teams. 

ION Energy Battery Management System Model ‘FS-XT’

Tell us a little about Edison Analytics.

The life of a lithium-ion battery, on average, is up to 3 years or 500-700 charge cycles, after which, they need to be replaced. With batteries in modern EVs amounting to over 40% of the vehicle cost, there is anxiety around their life, performance (charging time, safety, etc) that requires more than just local safety protection. 

At present, the expected life of the battery is largely unknown and based on assumptions made by most companies. Because of the huge cost investment in li-ion batteries, it is critical to optimize the battery life, and the key to improving battery life lies in the data. By being able to remotely monitor, manage and improve battery life, Edison Analytics will make a data-driven case for consumers and fleet owners to choose EVs.

A full-stack advanced battery management and intelligence SaaS platform solution, Edison uses Data Science, Machine Learning, Digital Twin technology to determine, predict and exceptionally improve the life of lithium-ion batteries by up to 40%. 

A screengrab of ION Energy’s Edison Platform

What can you tell us about the AI part of Edison Analytics, which you say ‘improves battery life by 40%’?

Lithium-ion batteries today, are powering EVs, homes & large solar/wind micro-grids. They have one of the highest energy densities of any battery tech, a relatively low self-discharge, & require low maintenance, while on the other hand, they have a limited life that could be affected by usage, charging patterns and the environment in which they operate in, etc. 

On average, the life of a lithium-ion battery is up to 3 years or 500-700 charge cycles, after which, they need to be replaced. Today, the expected life of the battery is largely unknown and based on assumptions made by most companies. Since batteries amount to 40% of the actual vehicle cost, it becomes critical to optimize the battery life

We identified the underlying, core potential of battery data, leveraged it with machine learning, artificial intelligence & analytics to accurately determine, predict and improve battery life. 

Our battery intelligence platform Edison Analytics has been designed to use predictive intelligence and analytics to make sense of battery data and derive valuable insights, that can considerably reduce the overall ownership cost. 

Edison Analytics unifies data from the triple Es that majorly impact on battery life, i.e. entity (factors that are inside the battery), environment (factors that lie outside the battery but beyond the control of the user) and experience (dependent on user conditions). Edison amalgamates and assesses the data from these three sources to to customize the life and performance.

Edison uses real-time simulations and visualizations to accelerate deployment speed, data analytics to improve uptime, and machine learning to improve battery life. It ingests and analyzes data sets to identify what factors are contributing to abnormal degradation of health and what is their magnitude of contribution so that businesses can take appropriate actions like configuration changes over the air, drive profile changes or environment changes to extend battery life by up to 40%. 

A screengrab of ION Energy’s Edison Platform

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How did you go about choosing to go down the SAAS route as opposed to bespoke deployment?

Bespoke software development has advantages like ability to customise or tailor make the solution to fit the exact need of the customer. In case of Edison Analytics, it would mean developing the exact analytics, reports and insights which a particular customer would look for.

We took the SaaS approach with this flexibility in mind. Edison Analytics allows the user to customise the software by making changes to the model, dashboards, reporting and insights to make it fit their needs, but without having to build a costly bespoke software.

Thus Edison Analytics carries the advantage of a flexible solution without increasing the costs. 

Would it be safe to say that the software and BMS layer of battery technology is where innovation is truly happening, considering progress in li-ion seems stagnant? Is that impression correct?

Batteries contribute to 50% of the total cost of an electric vehicle. These include: 

  1. Cells: Practically a commodity, cells have a similar power and energy capacity, are engineered by many brands in the market and made available for all battery makers. 
  2. Battery pack assembly: Battery pack manufacturing is simply an assembly and design function. The packaging is offered by all battery makers and only differs as per the needs of the application 
  3. BMS & Software: This is where innovation truly happens. In an electric vehicle, the battery management system and software are the core differentiators between battery pack makers. The ‘brain’ of the battery – BMS and the software is responsible for safety, communication, performance, and better battery life. The software constantly helps monitor key parameters like the State of Charge (SoC), State of Health (SoH), residual life, etc, to gain key insights into the health of the battery. 
‘ION Trace’ – A companion app to track the lifecycle of assets.

How has your experience been working with a number of industry behemoths?

We’ve had a brilliant experience working with enterprise customers and a majority of customers are committed towards accelerating the all-electric transition.

Working with large enterprises has enabled our Battery Management Systems to become versatile and multi-functional across applications (low voltage to high voltage) and lithium-ion chemistries.

We’ve taken up electrification projects with OEMs to help them explore multiple lithium ION chemistries. Since our products are chemistry agnostic we are helping them to benchmark different chemistries and their performance. Our Platform has helped our clients scale up their battery deployments faster and reduce time to market.

Have you deployed your technology to non-vehicular environments like microgrids? What is the state of energy storage in India in that regard?

We have deployed our platforms in other sectors like Energy Storage, Telecom, Defence, etc.

At present, more than 90% of the ESS (Energy Storage Systems) market in India is completely driven by government policies.

As per the ISGF report on Energy Storage System in India – roadmap for 2019-2032, the total requirements of ESS for grid support is 17 GWh by 2022, for e-Mobility is 40 GWh and total from all sectors is 178.5 GWh by 2022. Depending upon the overall economic growth and development of the infrastructure sectors, this could be certainly above 100 GWh.

Most of these are likely to be imported. The cumulative demand of ESS by 2032 estimated is in excess of 2700 GWh which is a strong case for setting up of giga-scale battery manufacturing plans in India on fast track. [Source]

What is your take on the current government policies towards the EV ecosystem?

Government policies are paving the way and playing an important role in the all-electric future by encouraging electric vehicle adoption, enabling faster deployment of charging stations and improving affordability. The push for Electric Vehicles in the country is truly commendable.

It’s important to encourage localisation of battery technology and not be reliant on China and other countries as lithium-ion batteries amount to a significant cost of an Electric Vehicle.

GoI seems committed to developing the complete EV ecosystem that includes charging infrastructure, manufacturing batteries and other components domestically, which is definitely the need of the hour. 

What’s next for ION Energy?

ION is building a core layer of infrastructure to enable electric mobility and clean energy adoption in Asia with a focus on India. We are aiming to rapidly expand our global operations to 20+ countries and set up new branches in the USA and Bangalore. Our target is to sell over 50,000 BMSs and have upwards of 1GWh of batteries under management on the platform by 2020.


[Interview] Fast, furious & electric? Emflux Motors is building India’s first ‘electric superbike’.

Why Read This?

  • Learn about the fledgling two-wheeler EV space in India.
  • Find out about Bengaluru based EV startup Emflux Motors which is building India’s first ‘electric superbike’ with a claimed top speed of 200 kmph.

While most electric vehicle startups globally, and in India, are concerning themselves with solving purely the functional problems of commuting and short distance intra-city travel, Bengaluru-based EV startup Emflux Motors has chosen to go a little offroad. Founded in 2016, Emflux Motors have set themselves about tackling the more rarified desire of those who ride for pleasure, speed and an adrenaline rush (Indian roads might be inclined to blush here) – superbike enthusiasts.

The Emflux ONE, Emflux Motors’ ‘electric superbike’, is claimed to go from 0 to 100 kmph in 3 seconds, with a top speed of 200 km/h along with a range of 200 km on a full charge. If those numbers weren’t impressive enough, the bike also boasts custom performance biking parts from brands like Ohlins, Pirelli and Brembo which are commonplace on traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) superbikes.

While the Emflux ONE is still in a pre-production prototype phase (expected launch in late 2020 in limited numbers), we figured it would be worthwhile to learn more and caught up with Ankit Khatry, COO & Co-founder, Emflux Motors for a chat about the bike, the team behind it, and the challenges in building an electric superbike as a startup in India.

For those who’re unaware, could you give us a short intro to Emflux Motors and its history?

Emflux Motors was founded in August 2016 by the confluence of a common vision shared by three guys from very different backgrounds – myself, Varun Mittal and Vinay Raj Somashekar. Emflux aims to build products and services which are desirable, meaningful, and come with zero compromise on the quality and the vision they are based on. These qualities are willed into the avatar of our first product – The Emflux ONE – an electric superbike that is capable of accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.0 sec, has a top speed of 200 km/h, and a city range of 200 km on a full charge.

How did you hit upon the idea of performance biking in the EV space and what were the initial challenges?

The whole idea of building a high performance vehicle was to demonstrate the tremendous potential of electric technology not only in terms of performance, but also in terms of ruggedness, reliability, and of course, range.

The performance bike segment also is seeing a high rate of growth in India. These reasons coupled with the fact that the high cost of Li-Ion cells wouldn’t make economic sense for us is what drove us to build a full-blown Electric Superbike instead of a run of the mill commuter or some semi high-performance motorcycle.

Tell us a little about the Emflux One.

Emflux One is an electric superbike and a flagship product of Emflux. It’s insane acceleration of 0-100 km/h in 3.0 sec coupled with a top speed of 200 km/h and a city range of 200 km should rest any and all apprehensions that people may have about electric vehicles.

Our technologies are indigenously developed in order to get better integration and full control over the bike which will increase its efficiency and deliver better performance overall.

While many of the parts in the bike are sourced from leading names, you have also built a number of components in-house, like the EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment). Tell us about those. 

Barring the Brembo brakes, the Ohlins suspension, Pirelli tyres, some small accessories, and the individual Li-Ion 18650 cells, every single component on the Emflux ONE has been conceptualized, designed, and engineered in-house.

This includes the entire styling design, the mechanical structure, the motor, the drivetrain, the battery pack, and all the technologies such as the BMS, the Motor Controller, the Charger Circuit, the Master Controller, and also the wall-mount charger or EVSE. These technologies can be up-scaled or down-scaled to fit any sort of EV. In fact, we are finalizing talks with several OEMs as well as EV start-ups for design and development of their technology, mechanical, and styling design.

Where are you currently at in terms of manufacturing and launch?

Our pre-production prototypes are undergoing rigorous testing on our test-benches and out in the real world. We have achieved 70-80% of our claimed acceleration figures during our test runs of the newest prototype.

The production-ready version of the bike should be ready mid-next year, and following homologation and certification, we should be able to deliver the first Emflux ONE to our customer in 15 months.

What changes to the standard electric two-wheeler engineering stack does the performance biking aspect entail?

There are minor changes to the architecture of the vehicle, but as such, the stack is quite similar. Obviously we have had to design each and every component for much higher current and voltage levels.

For example, our motor and motor controller is rated for twice the voltage and five times the current of the best electric scooter available in India. Also our motor peaks at 16,000 RPM which is much faster than any other two-wheeler.


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How do you intend to position, market & service the bike considering the premium price tag? Would it be via the traditional route of setting up showrooms or something else?

We have received overwhelming responses to our social media posts and in emails from the people of our country as well as outside the country.

We will be having an experience center in Bangalore, followed by other metro cities. A customer can walk into our experience center and know more about the bike. Some customers can test our bike on track days (invitation only) which we will have across different cities. Purchases would be completely online through our website via digital payment methods.

Our bike will require minimal service, and any services required will be done at the customer’s home or at any place that the customer chooses.

Your vision statement mentions that you would like to become a technology and component supplier to OEMs. In that context, is the Emflux One somewhat of a proof-of-concept? Is the long term plan to strengthen & license your technology IPs?

The Emflux ONE will be our first full-blown product for the world. The key strategy is to create a high-end product in order to create a brand image as well as to support initial production capabilities, following which, we will introduce higher volume mid-segment products into the market. We are finalizing talks with several OEMs as well as EV start-ups for design and development of their technology, mechanicals, and styling design. Maybe in the future, we can see the market of components supplier as an opportunity, but we will have a separate subsidiary for that. Emflux will only cater to the premium electric bikes segment.

Tell us about your rather funky looking ‘Master Controller’. What ‘smart’ features and information can a rider expect from it?

The dashboard will be based on what we showcased in Auto Expo’18 but will have a much cleaner, more intuitive, and better designed interface. Apart from the standard smart features that are available on most smart EVs today, we will have some very cool and useful features which will set our bike apart. We want our users to have a better riding experience than any bike out there in the market today.

What’s your take on the government’s current policies towards the EV ecosystem?

The category for Emflux One will not fall under FAME subsidies for now. However, the good thing about the policy is that the Indian government is supporting hardware manufacturers. It will help India grow as a full-fledged automobile manufacturer and cement its position as one of the leading nations in the world in this regard.

How do you see the two-wheeler EV segment in India playing out over the next few years?

Even though there are a lot of EV startups in India doing incredible development work, lack of funding is hindering their growth. We believe that, ultimately, one or two startups will succeed in becoming OEMs over the next 10 years.

We feel that the EV market will play out like the mobile phone market and Chinese EV startups will give tough competition to the established OEMs in India. As far as we know about the internal EV programs of these OEMs, they have a lot of catching up to do.

What’s next for Emflux Motors?

We are progressing well in terms of in-house R&D, however, lack of funding is slowing down our progress considerably. Should we overcome this obstacle, the launch of our products will be in phases. The Emflux One will be limited to 200 numbers for India. The Emflux Two, a mid-performance two-wheeler, is being designed for higher volume manufacturing and sales. In parallel, we have started selling different EV components and products that we have made for ourselves. These include our Automated Spot Welder (used to spot weld nickel strips to battery cells to make battery packs), a Cell Penetration Test Bench, Two-wheeler EV Dynamometer, Wall Mounted and Portable EVSEs which are more cost-effective and better in many aspects than products available in the market. We are looking to sell these products to other startups and established companies.

Why should all electric vehicles look like bulky sedans? Meet Strom Motors’ funky 3-wheeled electric car.

Why Read This?

  • Learn about an upstart firm aiming to compete in the Indian four-wheeler EV space.
  • Take a look at India’s first passenger vehicle with a unique ‘reverse trike’ arrangment – two wheels at the front and one at the rear – to have gained ARAI approval.
  • What does designing an electric vehicle for urban India mean?

Strom Motors is a Mumbai-based EV startup working on building made-in-India ‘urban mobility solutions’, the first of which is an electric car with a rather unique ‘reverse trike’ arrangement called the Strom-R3. In a ‘reverse trike’ structure, the vehicle has two wheels at the front and one at the rear. Having recently received ARAI (Automotive Research Association of India) approval – making the Strom-R3 the first Indian passenger segment vehicle with this arrangement to do so – the company is currently in the process of setting up manufacturing and gaining other government clearances.

We spoke with Pratik Gupta, Founder & CEO @ Strom Motors, to learn more about the startup, the Strom-R3, its standout features as well as his take on some of the challenges for EV in India currently.


The Strom-R3 electric car.

For those who’re unaware, could you give us a short intro to Strom Motors and its history?

Strom Motors is a wholly owned subsidiary of E14 Technologies Pvt Ltd, a Mumbai based RnD company (founded in 2011). The original founders of the company have a combined RnD and product building experience of over 75 years. Strom Motors is a result of an internal RnD project, where we identified that the new-age automobile customer is completely different than what car companies are building for.

“Shared mobility and minimal carbon footprint are now front and center issues of urban consumers, while big and bulky Sedans & SUVs are not so attractive to millennials; who do not wish to spend a large part of their paycheck towards a vehicle that is not used much.”

Tell us a little about your electric car – the ‘Strom-R3’ – its variants and its standout features.

Strom-R3 is an urban mobility solution which is 100% electric and provides a safe and air-conditioned comfortable cabin for two. Strom-R3 is designed and built for an urban user of any modern city around the world. We foresee three major market segments using this platform –

  • the daily office commuter who is looking for a quick and safe vehicle around town
  • as an additional car in the family for running errands around 10km radius
  • first/last mile shared mobility solution parked at metro stations and bus stops
The Strom-R3 with a ‘reverse trike’ arrangement.

It has been said that the car has been designed specifically for India’s urban areas. What does that mean in terms of feature design?

The Indian consumer, as we all know, is extremely value driven and not price driven. With Strom-R3 the focus was to cater to particular needs to our target audience and just concentrate on price reductions.

Some of the major design decisions we took early on revolve around how we foresee the eco-system evolve. Given the condition of power distribution and parking issues in India, for mass adoption compact mobility solutions (2 and 3 wheelers) can only hit mass volumes if we shift to swappable battery solutions.

Given that Strom-R3 battery requirements are fairly small we have designed the batteries to be modular and installed under the bonnet of the car making them easier to swap compared to a typical car which has them as part of the floor of their entire car length. Using modular batteries also come in handy during middle-of-the-road stranded situations where mobile support vans can replace a few battery packs to help the user reach their destination. Some of the other aspects revolve around ease of use like having both front and rear storage, multiple LCD displays with fully customizable UI for dedicated and personalized interfaces.

“In future, we also plan to offer semi-autonomous features like ability to follow the vehicle in front of you at speeds less than 25kmph to avoid stresses of stop-and-go traffic which are common in most cities. Remote phone controlled driving for tight parking spots where opening a door is not a possibility and users can remotely drive the car into the spot.”


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The Strom-R3 has – for the Indian market – quite a unique ‘reverse trike’ configuration. What are the benefits of such a system and why did you choose to go ahead with it?

I am glad you asked this. With current li-ion battery prices, extra weight on the car means you require bigger battery which then raises product pricing and operating costs. This is the main reason behind the fact that current EVs on the market costs over Rs.10L and only go for 120kms. With an average occupancy of 1.6 in cities, urban consumers are looking for a compact two-seater solution which is affordable and easy to park.

Three-wheeled reverse trike platform fits perfectly for this need and provides similar stability as a hatchback while reducing weight by almost half which increases drive efficiency by three times. This directly translates into extremely affordable prices for 200kms on a single charge and about Rs.0.40 per km.

Where are you currently at in terms of manufacturing and launch?

Strom-R3 was unveiled in April, 2018 in Mumbai and has received a lot of excitement and support since. We are currently setting up our manufacturing and the vehicle itself has recently passed government approvals. We will announce launch and availability dates soon.

How do you plan to deal with the charging infrastructure paucity in India at the moment?

Strom-R3 will come with three range options of 120/160/200 kms per charge. Given that the platform is designed for urban usage, most use cases involve a daily driving distance of 20-100kms.

“We expect bulk of our users to charge at home or office and never having to depend on public charging infra. Having said that, this does limit us currently to users with fixed parking spaces at home or work, but we believe as the eco-system develops swapping solutions will become ubiquitous.”

Till then, with an onboard charger that takes 3 hours for a fully depleted charge cycle users can charge at any location with a 15Amp single phase power supply (most hotels, restaurants offices etc). We are also compatible with almost all publically available charging infra that is coming up around the country and even in future, will support our users if standards change.

‘Smart’ vehicles is the ‘in’ thing at the moment. Are there any web and mobile connected features in your vehicles worthy of mention?

We take the term “Smart” very seriously and for us, it just does not mean that you can track your car or turn your AC, lights using an App. Strom-R3s come with 4G connected diagnostic engine where users can track not just location and status of charge but can also get a complete health report of critical components like brake pads, motors and electronics. The new Indian consumer expects these features as standard fitment rather than pricey upgrades.

“EVs can use upto 20% extra energy while going over bad roads or rain affected conditions. The on-board system continuously tracks the road terrain and driver habits along with machine learning based navigation engine to learn your daily drive routes and help with intelligently predicted real-world range rather than a State-Of-Charge based range estimation.”

This data rich system also feeds into our citywide database to help other Strom users with alerts about impending bad roads resulting in lower than expected driving range so that they can plan accordingly rather than being stranded in the middle of the road.

Some of these features will be made available directly through the on-board touch screen interface or via the Strom Connect App. For us Smart means providing users with smart insights and actionable inputs.

What is your take on the government’s current policies towards the EV ecosystem?

We welcome the positive initiatives that the government has taken so far especially with awareness and urgency to convert to EVs. India being a diverse democracy, things sometimes take time to get implemented but the current transparent and corruption free environment really helps startups like Strom to compete on technology and product value rather than company size, political tie-ups and family backgrounds.

As the market matures, Indians will have multiple choices and more evolved products on offer. It is similar to the radical change that cellular phone industry went through where after the launch of app based software driven phones, the industry grew from two or three major manufacturers to over 50, each with better and more nuanced product offering catering to larger part of population.

What’s next for Strom Motors?

Currently we are working tirelessly to bring Strom-R3 to market and expand to multiple Indian cities. We are also in discussion with some European companies to take Strom to global cities. On the product front, we are working with IIT, Mumbai’s Industrial Design Center to design inner-city delivery van on the same platform for a clean and efficient logistics delivery market. Looking forward to the exciting opportunities that Indian market now offers.

Your need for speed can be electric. Meet Ultraviolette Automotive. [Interview]

Why read this:

  • Learn about the emerging two-wheeler EV space in India.
  • Ultraviolette Automotive happens to be one of the most exciting amongst them, on the verge of launching the fastest 200-250cc equivalent electric bike in the country.
  • What does it take to build a high performance electric two-wheeler from scratch?
    Find out.

Ultraviolette Automotive is a three-year-old Bengaluru-based EV startup that is close to launching their first two-wheeler, the F77 – a premium electric bike, equivalent to a 200-250cc motorcycle, claimed to be the fastest in its category. Backed by TVS Motors, the startup aims to fill the gap of providing a high-tech power-packed and power-efficient alternative to ICE (internal combustion engine) two-wheelers in the premium category.

One of the interesting things about Ultraviolette Automotive is the fact that they seem to be working on a lot of components from the ground up, with 9 international patents for their battery technology alone. And apart from the standard ‘smart’ enabling bells and whistles that are seemingly accompanying every new two & four wheeler, the company seems to be expending a lot of smarts on engineering their bike. Which makes them truly worth watching out for.

We caught up with Narayan Subramaniam, CEO & co-founder of Ultraviolette Automotive, for a chat on the F77, the state of EV in India, and how he sees the government’s policies towards EV right now.

(L-R) Narayan Subramaniam, Chief Executive Officer along with Niraj Rajmohan, Chief Technology Officer of Ultraviolette Automotive.

For those who’re unaware, could you give us a short intro to Ultraviolette Automotive and its history?

Our goal at Ultraviolette Automotive is to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles – in India to begin with. This is the vision we started with, and it made sense to start with two wheelers because typically, for two-wheelers, the product development timelines are in the range of 2.5 – 3 years.

“One of the major concerns that we at Ultraviolette Automotive are addressing is the fact that the entire electric vehicle industry in India has always been associated with low performance and a zero desirability quotient. Today, we are living in times where all forms of vehicles come with a certain pride of ownership. Right from the first bicycle you want as a child, the motorcycle you want to ride in college, to the car you aspire to own later in life.”

At Ultraviolette Automotive, all our products and solutions are designed and developed with a single-minded focus towards delivering high levels of performance and unparalleled user experience across the usage and ownership experience cycles. In essence, a completely new identity for electric vehicles.

Now coming to the other side of the equation – energy. We realized very early on that a good product alone will not accelerate the transition towards electric mobility. There needs to be reliability and predictability built around the availability and usage of energy. We have spent considerable time and built a lot of IP around the development of batteries and various forms of charging technology that will soon become a crucial part of the electric ecosystem.

f77_ultraviolette
Ultraviolette Automotive F77 Electric Bike.

Tell us a little about the F77 and its standout features.

India represents a very unique and interesting culture, when it comes to vehicles. Premium and performance oriented products are seeing a steady rise in demand. Today, we are far more connected and aware of the world than ever before, thanks to the insanely accelerated development in the electronics industry. So, why not the same when it comes to our vehicles.

“I believe that it is about time we create and offer world-class technology in the two-wheeler space as well. Any vehicle we own, is seen as an extension of our personality. And it is this unique culture that we are addressing with the F77.”

The F77 is a high-end technology oriented, high performance electric motorcycle. It has been developed ground up, with principles used in the aviation industry – right from the advanced engineering simulations, multi-level safety systems to the design identity of the motorcycle. It is an urban sports motorcycle with a battery range in 3 digit figures 0-100 kmph in sub 8 seconds and a power output to the tune of 25 KW.

The F77 is a smart and connected electric motorcycle that comes with remote diagnostics, over-the-air (OTA) upgrades, regenerative braking, multiple ride modes, bike tracking, ride diagnostics and a whole lot of other features.

Why has the power-packed + power-efficient combination been so hard to crack for the two-wheeler EV industry so far?

There are 2 parts to this answer:

Electric two-wheeler markets and their perception:

“There has been a lot of development in power-packed and efficient electric four wheeler technology in various parts of the globe. There is a lot to be learnt from how companies like Tesla have tackled various problems, right from technology, to the business side of things.”

However, when it comes two wheelers, there are a very few companies worldwide working on performance oriented motorcycles. This is largely due to two factors: 

  • In the western world, the two wheeler segment is predominantly a recreational and an enthusiast segment. These segments are not large enough for companies to achieve economies of scale.
  • In the east, electric scooters have become the lowest common denominator when it comes to commute. There are vehicles being operated under various kinds of business models, that are not necessarily ownership based. Hence, these scooters are devoid of any emotional attachment (pride of ownership).

India however, represents a very different market with a different mindset. Pride of ownership is an important factor, as are aspects like performance, technology and style, when it comes to purchasing vehicles.

Technology barriers that come with the development of high performance vehicle:

“Building a high performance motorcycle comes with no shortcuts, and neither are there enough benchmark vehicles to learn and improve upon. What we had to do was start the development of the motorcycle from ground up – right from the chassis and a new architecture for the motorcycle to the battery tech that can deliver the kind of energy required, keeping multiple complex safety constraints and harsh Indian conditions in mind.”

Having had to redefine the fundamentals, there were a lot more supporting components that had to be developed as they simply did not exist. For this, you need an accomplished R&D team, both on the mechanical and electronic systems front, without which building this sort of vehicle would not be possible.

I believe these are the major reasons as to why this segment has seen less action and most (not all) companies have tried avoiding this loop of R&D and have chosen to enter the market with lower powered electric vehicle kits.

Ultraviolette Automotive Battery Pack.

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You seem to have a full stack approach to building your EV ecosystem – extending to innovating on your batteries as well. Could you shed some light on this?

Using two wheeler battery packs imported from SE Asia comes with critical drawbacks as they are not built for aggressive Indian usage conditions. Most of these battery packs are not developed to operate at the kind of temperatures we see on a summer day (read 45 deg +) and neither are they designed to offer the durability and reliability to last the average ownership cycle of a two-wheeler in India.

Most importantly, safety is a critical aspect that is often not addressed, especially when it comes to Indian conditions. They do however, serve the purpose of low powered, low range applications. But this is far from what you require for a full blown, performance motorcycle.

There are a few companies across the world that make Li-ion cells. Engineering of the battery pack is the most crucial aspect when it comes to optimizing the energy available from these cells.

“Our crucial efforts in the R&D have been around thermal management, safety loops across mechanical, thermal, electrical and software systems and we have done several months of testing and iterative improvements to meet the aggressive requirements we started out with.”

For instance, today we are running our production ready 10th generation of the battery management system.

Where are you at currently when it comes manufacturing and launch?

Our production ready prototypes are now going through various forms of testing and we looking to launch our motorcycle towards the end of 2019. 

Your partnership with TVS Motors must provide you with access to some serious expertise in building two-wheelers. Tell us a little about it.

“We see long term synergy when it comes to our association with TVS Motors, considering the rich heritage and decades of industry experience that TVSM brings and the innovations in design, technology and business at Ultraviolette Automotive.”

Ultraviolette Automotive Charger.

What is your take on the current government policies towards EV?

It is commendable to see the government being pro-electric and addressing sustainability at a both at a central and state level. We think there has been significant development in laying the foundation for EVs and the eco-system. There are several factors that will contribute to the exponential growth of EVs across India.

Standards around charging infrastructure have been finalized this year and we should start seeing a push towards nationwide deployment of charging infrastructure. Apart from this, we have seen a clear indication of renewed subsidies through the FAME program.

“Overcoming range anxiety is the real issue here. At the outset there are two ways to deal with this problem. First, by providing a significant range – sufficient to cover the heaviest usage scenarios. Second, by building a network of energy stations that would provide access to energy on-the-go. We believe a combination of both of these approaches will support the growth of EVs.”

However, we are still at a nascent stage and with time and increased adoption, there will be well rounded-policies right from manufacturing support to customer incentives.

ultraviolette_automotive_app
A mock-up of the app accompanying the F77.

What’s next for Ultraviolette Automotive?

Our goal is to help influence our country and in due course of time, the world, to move towards a smarter and more energy efficient future and we will keep pushing boundaries on this front. The F77 is what we hope will create a new identity for EVs, dispel any myths associated with EVs and kick-start this revolution.

How do you see the two-wheeler EV segment playing out over the course of the next few years?

“Electricity as a form of energy in the transportation space, is here to stay. It is no more a question of ‘is it going to be electric’, it is more of ‘how soon’. The electricity grid is already in place across the planet and operates at a significantly higher efficiency than any other currently available form of energy distribution and storage.”

With regard to the transportation industry, I believe this will carve out multiple interesting use cases for vehicles and foster new business models as well.  Both consumer owned as well as shared mobility use cases will rise, and new segments could arise as well. 

Electric is inherently suited for both ‘stop and go’ traffic scenarios and for pushing the boundaries of ‘high performance’.


Samsung’s Galaxy Home release may be close at hand – will compete with Amazon Echo & Google Home

While it’s been over a year since Samsung first revealed the Galaxy Home, it’s Bixby-powered alternative to Amazon Echo & Google Home, it hasn’t yet released the device and the company has been pretty mum about it.

However, Kim Hyun-suk, CEO of Samsung’s Consumer Electronics Division, said four months ago that the speaker would be released in the “mid-second half of the year” – which is right about now, and some slight evidence has surfaced that the launch may be imminent.

Sammobile, a tech coverage site, recently revealed a screenshot from a user of a pop-up he received on the Spotify app encouraging users to link their account to their Samsung account, so that they can stream music on all of their Samsung devices. In the pop-up, the distinctive outline of the Galaxy Home is quite clearly visible.

galaxy-screen

This could suggest that the release of the device may not be too far off. Other users have commented that they too have received such a pop-up on Spotify, across geographies.

Samsung and Spotify do have a partnership in place for integration of the music streaming service across Samsung’s devices. Let’s wait and watch.

2 lakh two wheelers & 50,000 three wheelers planned in Kerala’s ambitious new EV drive

Kerala is planning to replace all of its 15-year-old ICE three-wheelers with electric and other ultra low emission vehicles from April 2021.

This is part of an ambitious target set by the government of introducing 2 lakh electric two-wheelers and 50,000 three-wheelers by 2020.

Principal secretary, transport and aviation, KR Jyotilal said Kerala has issued a draft notification in this regard that all autorickshaws which turn 15 will have to be replaced with electric, LNG, CNG or hybrid. He added that Kerala would probably be the first state to do so.

Kerala has low tax and free parking for electric vehicles and Jyotilal said that the state government would like to promote the EV eco-system further as it is demand driven.

Jyotilal also said that the government has identified 186 locations for charging stations and that Tata Power has expressed interest in investing in setting up the infrastructure.

Announcing NextBigWhat Meetup: Essential Skills Of A Product Manager

The role of a Product Manager varies from company to company and industry to industry, however, the core skills remain the same across sectors. To help you identify those and to ensure that your focus is on the right areas as aspiring PMs, our next meetup is all about the essential skills that a Product Manager should have.

Ashish Sinha, founder at NextBigWhat will be joined by a special guest speaker who will be sharing insights for practitioners and aspiring PMs alike. This time we are delighted that Diwakar Kaushik, VP – Products at Go-Jek will be joining us.

Keep growing. Keep learning. Sign up for the meetup below.


Meetup Agenda

TimingTopicSpeaker
2:00 PMRegistration Begins
2:30 PMRoles of a Product ManagerAshish Sinha
3:00 PMEssential Skills Of A Product ManagerDiwakar Kaushik
4:00 PMAMA with the speakersYou.
4:20 PMNetworking & Coffee BreakAll of us. 🙂

Date : Oct 19th
Timing: 14:00 PM to 16:30 PM
Venue: Gojek Office, Diamond District, Bengaluru.
Pricing: This is a free event..
Who should attend? Aspiring Product Managers, Current Product Managers and Founders (who are hiring their first product manager).


Register


Meetup Speakers

Diwakar Kaushik, VP – Products @ Go-Jek

Diwakar is VP – Products at Go-Jek. He has been heading the product team responsible for creating and scaling GoJek’s payments product GoPay which is now the largest digital wallet in Indonesia and is still one of the fastest growing payments products in the world. Previously a 2x founder, he has worked with PepperTap, Snapdeal, Sapient and CGI. He tweets about product management, startups, teams etc @pentropy.

Talk topic: Essential Skills Of A Product Manager

Ashish Sinha

Ashish Sinha, Founder
NextBigWhat

Ashish Sinha is the founder of NextBigWhat and an instructor at NextBigWhat Academy’s Product Management Course.

Talk topic: Roles Of A Product Manager.


PS: The meetup is part of NextBigWhat’s Unboxing Product Management Series of events, webinars and activities.

If you are venturing into product management function – go ahead and apply for the upcoming batch of NextBigWhat Academy’s Product Management Course.

Beijing’s $11 billion AI-powered airport to start services soon

After 5 years of construction, Beijing’s $11 billion Daxing International Airport will be opening for passengers on September 30, ahead of China’s national day celebrations on October 1.

What’s interesting about the airport – designed by architect Zaha Hadid – is its state of the art AI powered security system said to be the country’s most advanced. Passengers at the sprawling five terminal building will be able to check in and board their flights via face recognition systems that will require little human intervention.

As per the state broadcaster CCTV, passengers will require to only go through a single check that combines passport control and security screening before boarding their flights.

More than 30 high-tech infrared monitors have been placed at gates in the arrival area, which will check identity, collect body temperature and scan luggage within seconds.

Beijing currently has world’s second busiest airport with Beijing Capital International Airport that handled 101 million passengers last year. The new airport is expected to double the air transport capacity of the city.

AMA Notes: “Tons of pain points still worth solving in travel.” [With Aloke Bajpai of Ixigo]

NextBigWhat’s Wednesday AMAs are now something that a lot of you in the product and growth community look forward to, and we do our best to get the top minds who can answer your queries and share their wisdom.

Last week, we had New York Times bestselling author and Founder & CEO of Basecamp, Jason Fried who shared his take on productivity, building products and much more.

In this week’s AMA, we had the co-founder and CEO of one of the most well-known names in the travel sector in India – Aloke Bajpai of Ixigo. As someone behind an incredibly efficient startup, Aloke was able to provide lots of useful advice.

aloke
Aloke Bajpai: AMA @ NextBigWhat

The NextBigWhat AMA is supported by the awesome team @GOJEK. GOJEK is hiring great engineers and product leaders for its India offices (checkout the openings here).

Here are a few excerpts from the AMA:

How do you guys measure the success of your content marketing teams?

We don’t have a budget for our content marketing team. Most of our videos were made with very little spend – we rent most of our equipment, and most of the actors in our videos are ixigems. Viral videos are an output of a culture of experimentation and understanding the pulse of your audience and what they are likely to share. We measure success by how much our videos get talked about and shared. [Read More]

In a highly competitive market like OTAs, how did you go about identifying your differentiator?

We started out as a meta-search, comparing OTAs with one another and airline site fares. Over time we became a marketplace, and now, considering our scale and reach among next billion users, for many of our business lines we are the merchant / OTA. Our differentiation has been to always start with innovations that saved time/money and anxiety for travelers without trying to sell them something. Turns out once that trust is built, they will buy from you as well. [Read More]

What does ‘Building For Bharat’ (as espoused by Rajnish) entail today for ixigo and what should it mean for startups in general? Considering that many of the technological shackles that held the ecosystem back have been either removed or are on the verge of removal.

Building for Bharat is about understanding the needs of someone from Etawah and Neyveli as effectively as the ones for Delhi and Bengaluru. It is about understanding the pain points of a first time internet user with a Jio device. It is about connecting with someone who doesnt write / speak in English, or even Hindi. So technology can play a big role by localizing and simplifying the user experience, but there is also a psychographical understanding that needs to be developed for this market. [Read More]

How has your understanding of PMF evolved over the last few years ?

Most of our successful products created or opened up new markets and so PMF discovery was harder for us. What we found is PMF is not static, and that is a huge advantage for nimble startups who can iterate fast. Once you find it, you need to constantly evolve to maintain it, because the market discovers and moves rapidly to the best product or offering. [Read More]

Are there any pain points in travel that you still feel are inadequately addressed and which excite you to solve?

Tons of them. Despite being the industry that kick-started e-commerce in most countries and considered a “mature” internet industry by many, there are glaring big gaps and voids in the industry even today. Every moment of anxiety in a traveler’s life from inspiration to planning to research to booking to in-trip experience to sharing is up for disruption even today. [Read More]

Being capital efficient: How do you define that within your team? How do you measure that ? How does one build a culture around it?

Doing more with less, and keeping an eye on cash. We have a daily P&L sheet to keep track of how much money we made or lost in the business every single day. Our marketing budgets are derived from a % of revenue we want to invest back into growth, and more dependent on LTV/CAC achieved than having fixed budgets. We do a lot of barter deals even at scale. Our hiring process is a non-scalable one with founders still doing last rounds so we end up hiring fewer people every year, and we think hard before throwing people at problems. [Read More]

[Read the rest here]

» Subscribe to NextBigWhat Community Updates.









If you are getting into Product Management, do apply for the upcoming cohort of NextBigWhat’s Product Management Course.

Aside, the next AMA is scheduled for Wednesday — go ahead and join the community of DOERs and stay Pluggd.in

AMA Notes: “Launch plan: Build half a product. Not a half-ass product.” [With Jason Fried of Basecamp]

NextBigWhat’s Wednesday AMAs are now something that a lot of you in the product and growth community look forward to, and we do our best to get the top minds who can answer your queries and share their wisdom.

In the week prior to this, we had Shashank Mehta, Director of Product Strategy at Razorpay sharing his insights on Product Management and his take on the field.

In this week’s AMA, we had an incredibly well-known name – New York Times bestselling author and Founder & CEO of Basecamp, Jason Fried. It was an absolute delight to have him over and he took on all the questions – ranging from building a product to dealing with distraction – with aplomb.

Jason Fried: AMA @NextBigWhat
Jason Fried: AMA @NextBigWhat

The NextBigWhat AMA is supported by the awesome team @GOJEK. GOJEK is hiring great engineers and product leaders for its India offices (checkout the openings here).

Here are a few excerpts from the AMA:

How does Basecamp approach new product development?

We’ve always approached product development the same way: selfishly. We build what we need, and then we find other people like us that want what we’ve made. When you make things for other people it’s really hard to know if it’s any good. When you make something for yourself, you can directly judge efficacy. [Read More]

Does Basecamp have roadmaps?

No roadmaps. We think 6-weeks at a time (https://basecamp.com/shapeup/0.3-chapter-01#six-week-cycles). The future is a direction. It’s like “heading towards something” without having to define every single step along the way. “Let’s go this way”, or “Let’s generally head in this direction” and then you figure it out 6 weeks a time as you go. [Read More]

What makes you so productive?

I get a lot done because I don’t have much to do. I know that sounds odd, but it’s true. On any given day I have a couple things to do, and I try to focus entirely on those things. I don’t keep a personal to-do list, I don’t overwhelm myself with a long list of stuff I’ll never get to, I don’t keep a backlog of things I must do in the future. I ruthlessly edit down what I need to do, and just do what’s left. [Read More]

What kind of a launch plan would you recommend to young entrepreneurs?

Launch plan… “Build half a product, not a half-ass product”. The tendency is to want to make version 1 AMAZING and include EVERYTHING, but that leads to super long projects and time frames which can be demoralizing. So we recommend ruthlessly editing down and picking the best half of your ideas. Start there for your first version. And then add more and improve once you’re released. [Read More]

What books would you recommend?

I think “Turn The Ship Around” is a great book on leadership. And “Thinking In Bets” is a good one re: decision making. But I typically think business books are too long. I think you can learn more from reading good short writing like Warren Buffet’s annual shareholder letters. Bezos’s shareholder letters, too.

Books by Jason Fried:

[Read the rest here]

» Subscribe to NextBigWhat Community Updates.









If you are getting into Product Management, do apply for the upcoming cohort of NextBigWhat’s Product Management Course.

Aside, the next AMA is scheduled for Wednesday — go ahead and join the community of DOERs and stay Pluggd.in