In preparation of FLI’s next event, the Future Lab, we have talked to the CEO of the startup MotionWerk GmbH about their first product Share&Charge, which is developing an innovative e-charging system.
It is basically a decentralised e-car charging system that enables anyone to share one’s private, public or semi-public charging station and/or to use one nearby. With Share&Charge, there are currently 1200 charging stations shared among the community in Germany.
One interesting aspect and certainly the most attractive one is the fact that it is a completely open & decentralised network based on the blockhain technology, an innovation that is bound to make itself heard a lot in the near future (see „What is the blockchain?“ below). Thanks to the blockchain, it has never become more easy to find charging station according to one’s needs, to share the own station by defining its charging price and to involve friends, family and colleagues into the community. This facilitates anyone to be part of the e-mobility revolution. Besides private charging stations also public and semi-public charging stations can be integrated.
What is the blockchain?
The blockchain today is what the internet was in the 1990s- nobody really knows how far it will impact us, but it will most certainly change the world we live in.
Simply put, the blockchain is a technology on which many applications can be build (the most famous one is the cryptocurrency bitcoin). The innovation behind is that it doesn’t operate on one centralised data base, but simultaneously on several millions of computers, making it practically unhackable and decentralised.
Why is it so highly disruptive? It enables a completely decentralised, transparent, open and secure network, in which intermediaries become unnecessary. Thus, classical intermediaries such as the bank could possibly become obsolete in the future, if financial applications on the blockchain become mainstream. There are many other applications the blockchain enables, such as in the food distribution, smart contracts and more.
Despite the fact that Share&Charge deals with a young technology (blockchain) in a young market (e-mobility), the CEO of MotionWerk Dietrich Sümmermann is confident about the start-up: indeed, he states that its aim is to become the leading Blockchain provider in the field of e-mobility, 10 years from now.
His vision is to be part of the future e-mobility world that, he hopes, is entirely based on a decentralised organisation, a structure where not one unique platform detains all the data. There could be a second scenario of urban mobility in 30 years from now, and this would be an organisational model where there would be a few centralised Platforms “Uber-style”, in which companies have mainly a provider role. Today, he sees rather the latter case take form: large corporations are currently more trying to develop their own mobility platform rather than cooperating together. The CEO of MotionWerk regrets that, and calls for greater collaboration amongst companies if they want to succeed:
The main challenge of urban mobility is the current fragmentation of different IT systems, which is in part due to the fact that corporations are not collaborating together. The need for new business models is emerging, in which greater collaboration is essential. But engaging in new forms of cooperation for a more decentralised organisation is a real challenge for companies: it needs courage for it, and a real change of mind-set. Right now, companies are more trying to create their own platform separately, but that is not going to work.“
Finally, in regards to fostering innovation, there are 5 recommendations that Dietrich Sümmermann has for larger corporations:
A failure culture should be in place to foster innovation.
A company should be aware of its core competence and know-how, have a clear focus on that, and be consciously using them.
A company should always look outside of its organisation. Having a constant focus on the market is important.
When collaborating with start-ups, companies should know that they can become a real threat to start-ups, by either seriously challenging their independency, or through their slow decision-making, which can be deadly for start-ups. Companies should focus on delivering their assets, such as access to clients or a specific technology.
A good leader should provide trust and freedom. And most importantly, a clear framework & metrics which enable employees to be aware of the common goal, while giving them the freedom & autonomy to achieve that in their own best way.
About the author:
Currently doing her Masters at EMLyon Business School, Stella Veneziano is a curious and open-minded person who is particularly passionnate about social innovation. As Global Operations Manager at the NGO Ampion for instance, she fully organized the “Venture Bus” tours through several African regions, a 7-day incubation program for entrepreneurs. Today, she is responsible for the Future of Leadership Initiative, whose aim to foster inspiring leadership.