2023 has been a busy and exciting year for SETsquared Surrey member Reserve & Charge.
The company has secured approximately £140,000 of angel investment to catalyse the deployment of its advance EV charging stationreservation platform across the UK.
As the demand for public EV charging points skyrockets nationwide, Reserve & Charge addresses a critical challenge faced by users: the struggle to locate accessible, available and dependable charging stations. Amid the overarching shift toward electric and the broader pursuit of achieving net-zero emissions, the question looms large: if EV infrastructure falls short, where does this leave us?
Through strategic partnerships with charge point operators, the Reserve & Charge platform enables users to make reservations for public EV charging stations at designated locations and times. This ensures an unrivalled customer experience, defined by reliability, accessibility, and the assurance of charger availability during journeys.
Reserve & Charge’s origins are firmly embedded in the vibrant ecosystem of SETsquared Surrey. This innovative platform is the brainchild of Accelogress, a leading software and development company headquartered at Surrey Technology Centre. SETsquared has been a steadfast supporter of Founder and CEO Ralf Kernchen since the launch of Accelogress in 2012. From humble beginnings to driving the evolution of a brand-new venture, the partnership remains robust even after more than a decade.
The inception of Reserve & Charge traces back to an Accelogress project focused on creating a reservation and parking management platform for train station car parks. The Save-a-Space app, supported by government-backed innovation funding, set out to address commuter challenges in securing parking spaces for timely and stress-free train arrivals. Encouraged by its success in collaboration with Transport for West Midlands, the team recognised its potential applicability in the EV infrastructure market. This led them to explore and implement reservation solutions for EV charging stations.
Ralf explains that Save-a-Space is currently in an exciting phase, having reached a major milestone. The team launched three new car parks on the 27th of November, completing their initial Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and officially launching the app into Android Play and Apple iOS apps stores, which means they are now engaged in integrating and establishing pilots with partners.
Reserve & Charge aims to emulate this success, utilising the angel investment received so far to construct an MVP, with pilot programs extending into 2024. The company continues to explore additional investment opportunities, including participating in SETsquared’s Investment Futures 24 Showcase, to fill the remaining investment round, and is meticulously crafting a strategic roadmap for scaling. This comprehensive strategy is set to culminate in the official launch of the Reserve & Charge platform with its APIs for EV charge point reservations fully integrated into existing charging apps and the forging of impactful strategic partnerships.
Since 2021, leading up to the Accelogress spin out, Reserve & Charge has actively tapped into the diverse support offered through SETsquared Surrey and its Scale-Up Programme. A key figure in the start-up’s journey is Ian James, serving as the Entrepreneur in Residence at the SETsquared Surrey incubator. Ralf explains: “Ian has been with us since the inception of the Save-a-Space and Reserve & Charge ideas. He has been exceptional in offering regular one-to-one advice, investor-readiness support, connecting us with a network of mentors and professional service providers, and facilitating targeted business skills workshops. In general, the SETsquared Surrey team is great – they are approachable, fostering open communication, and always ready to provide valuable connections.”
As a member of SETsquared Surrey based at Surrey Research Park, Reserve & Charge thrives within the synergistic, collaborative environment. Ralf emphasises the beauty of interacting with diverse individuals at various stages of their entrepreneurial journeys. “One of the most rewarding aspects is the opportunity to connect with people navigating different points in their paths,” he reflects. “Companies actively collaborate, extending mutual support by discussing shared challenges and providing advice.”
Ralf adds: “Additionally, the community fosters excellent networking avenues, including engaging breakfast events and social gatherings, and the links with the University of Surrey have proven highly beneficial, facilitating our acquisition and retention of top-quality talent, including two university graduates.”
Ralf expresses anticipation for deeper collaboration with SETsquared Surrey, aiming to further engage with investors and, in the future, possibly leverage the research capabilities of the University of Surrey. “SETsquared has been with us throughout our journey – from setting up Accelogress and building our first prototypes to a new company, Reserve & Charge, being founded,” he says. “Over time, we’ve benefited from invaluable, multifaceted support in refining our business proposition, gaining insights into strategic market positioning for both product and investment purposes, and identifying a compelling market where investors are eager to participate.”
The journey from Accelogress to Reserve & Charge, sparked by the Save-a-Space project, encapsulates the innovative ethos of SETsquared – fostering revolutionary ideas and propelling transformative endeavours. Fuelled by substantial investment, Reserve & Charge propels itself into 2024 armed with a strategic roadmap for scaling. The company aspires not only to make a significant mark in the UK with its revolutionary EV charging station reservation platform, but also to extend its influence across Europe and beyond. For this start-up, the future is fully charged.
Image: Dr Ralf Kernchen meeting with His Majesty’s Ambassador to Poland, Anna Clunes at the Mobility Congress in Lodz, Poland