Jumptech CEO Phil Nunn shares views on his previous company Q.ton (Smart Meter installation), how Jumptech helps CPOs and others to manage the EV charger installation journey by co-ordinating engineers, surveys etc., new stakeholders in the emerging EV charging ecosystem, what will happen next, crossing the chasm from early adopters to mainstream users, effects of OZEV grant disappearing, new business models, service relationships, implications of the business-criticality of charging, domestic vs. public vs. fleet charging, mindset shift to achieve Net Zero ...and more!
Pilgrim: Hello, I'm Pilgrim Beart of DevicePilot. With me here today I'm very pleased to welcome Phil Nunn of Jumptech to share his experiences in Smart Energy. Welcome Phil.
Phil: Thank you for having me.
Pilgrim: So how did you get into Smart Energy in the first place?
Phil: It was in my previous business actually, at Q.ton solutions we built a platform that was used for a lot of the smart meter installs, and we came across that - goodness knows - like early 2013-14 I think, and ended up building a platform that was used for gas meter installs and then dual fuel. and then smart came along, and our platform was used by a lot of the big energy suppliers to install the smart gas and electric meters. So very much stumbled into it in the early days, but then it was a real opportunity to build something there in that niche.
Pilgrim: Great, so that was your previous company, and now you're running Jumptech. Can you tell us a little bit more about what Jumptech does in Smart Energy?
Phil: Yes, so it was an interesting journey where I moved from selling that business in 2016 to SMS plc, at which point I bought an electric car and had a charger installed and then recognized that the process of having a charger installed was both complex and something that needed to be able to scale. And the experience we'd had from Qton for building that platform and that business was very relevant to low-carbon technologies, in particular EV charger installs. So in 2016 I sold the business in 2018, I I left SMS and set up Jumptech and essentially started working with installers to see how we could help streamline their process, so it’s everything from “how do you simplify the survey that the customer could do themselves”? through to making sure that when the engineer did the install it was compliant and all the correct data was collected. And that was particularly relevant where we could see that, as an industry, we anticipated and hoped was going to scale up soon and rapidly, that being able to guide engineers through that process for example and being able to make it much more prescriptive was very valuable. And in 2018, 2019 that wasn't so much the case but in the last 18 months or so things have really ramped up and now we're seeing significant traction and value that we can have with the platform.
Pilgrim: Yes, I repeatedly hear that installation is a bottleneck for EV charging. So, one of the things that's interesting in any new market is as it becomes an ecosystem, and you start to have clearly differentiated types of player in the market, each perhaps focusing on just one part of the value chain, so can you just just briefly explain who your customers are - to some extent you're presumably serving the people who want the chargepoints installed, the charge point operators mainly? But then some people have got to do that as well, do you have an offering for them? Can you just talk a little bit about your your role in helping to join up the ecosystem, and who are the players that you interact with and deliver value to, whether or not you charge them directly for that, but you're helping to join them up.
Phil: Yes, the multiple stakeholders is definitely a key part of what could hold the industry back, or make it harder for it to scale and grow efficiently. And we saw that in metering where we were involved with meter asset owners and then providers and other maintenance people have installers and they're all different organizations with different priorities. And in a similar way in EV we see that effectively you have people who need charge points installed - organizations such as car dealers, car manufacturers, energy suppliers - and then you have organizations that actually do the install themselves. And in the very early days with the likes of Pod Point and BP Chargemaster as it was then, they had to do everything because there weren't any charger installers. So you will find a very vertically integrated business. Today you have OEMs and manufacturers who manufacture chargers, and then you have companies of electricians and engineers and installers who go and do the install, and then you have the energy suppliers as well on top. So what we do is we essentially provide the tools to the installers to go and do the work efficiently, so that means that they can they can schedule and manage their engineers and do the quoting and actually carry a mobile app when the engineers are on site. But also there's a big requirement from car manufacturers and the charger manufacturers themselves to manage that customer journey and have visibility - know what's going on with that and better define it as well. So we enable them to design their own customer journey, have complete visibility on that and then that customer journey effectively in the type in as a workflow goes onto the installer's platform and then that's the journey they follow and then that gives the visibility to the charge manufacturer or the car manufacturer to see what's going on with their customers and the ability the ability to performance manage and report on those. So they need to know if a job was aborted, they need to know if the engineers are turning up on time, they need to know if they need to be converted, there's a lot of insights that we can give to for them to know in advance how their customer journey is going on, what their customer experience is.
Pilgrim: Very clear. So you talked earlier on about how the market was very early in 2019, here we are 2022. It's a bit less immature, but probably still some way to go. Any thoughts on where the market's at at the moment, where does the industry stand, what's happening to the industry at the moment, and what's going to happen in the next few years?
Phil: It’s very interesting to observe. It's moving fast but it's also very big changes. When I bought my electric car in 2018 I think we all agreed that we were suffering together as early adopters who'd made this crazy decision which gave us a very high level of tolerance for all sorts of things - be it bugs in the software and there's one point where I couldn't untether my car from this charger without walking around the car five times or something peculiar. Now we're seeing that tolerance drop off I think as we're moving from the innovators and early adopters into the early majority and the mass market coming in, just expecting things to work. And there being a huge need for education amongst those people as to the way EVs are, and how people drive them, and when you charge them and not really just taking the habits of a petrol car that you can fill up in five minutes and thinking that you could behave in the same way with an EV. But then, once you recognize that if you're fortunate you can charge at home, that you always have a full tank when you wake up in the morning and the benefits of that, and then planning a bit more and maybe slowing your life down a little bit which could be healthy too. We see that manifesting in frustration, or people getting annoyed that things don't work as well. So I think we're in a fairly bumpy phase around a lack of education, but the adoption happening at the same time, and that's not just amongst the general public we see that in the industry generally as well. A lot of new players coming into the space not having a very clear understanding of like how things all fit together and trying to figure it all out which is interesting and exciting to observe as well, we're glad to be part of it.
Pilgrim: Interesting to see what all of that does is pile pressure on all the operational teams and mechanisms within within the companies that are providing charge points and operating them and yes, doing that whilst growing fast is quite challenging isn't it? So in the UK there's a grant scheme - the OZEV home EV charge scheme or something - which I think it's £350 subsidy for installing a charge point outside your home, that's coming to an end at the end of March - any thoughts about what that will do to the industry? We could sort of imagine, we've seen this before with things like solar PV and obviously in the short term it it causes a peak in bookings and then perhaps a bit of a dip behind that, but at a slightly larger scale - do you think that will drive any shift in the industry?
Phil: I guess the home charge scheme is ending in its current form and it's moving more towards supporting multiple occupancy dwellings - flats and so forth - which I think makes a lot of sense. I think it's much much harder, there's a greater challenge around getting those charge points installed. I think for the people at home and having their domestic charge points installed - and the industry behind that, so the charge manufacturers, the installers - we're seeing them need to evolve their business model from what it currently is and that's really because it now becomes a significantly more capital cost, so I think that's the downside. I think the upside is that now they have much more flexibility on the way they construct their business models to spread that cost, and to pivot that into more of a service than just a one-off install, but then provide more of an ongoing service with ongoing monthly payments rather than just a capital cost to those customers, so I think we'll definitely see that evolving.
Pilgrim: So I can see that providing as a financed product effectively is one way to spread out the capital cost. But do you see any other sort of changes happening in the market that are going more towards an ongoing service relationship, rather than a product relationship, in terms of EV charging?
Phil: Yes I think there are some companies out there that are looking to offer those things. I think where this becomes significant is where it's not just an early adopter having brought an EV as a gadget, almost a component of that the tolerance that comes with those early adopters, but also then it becoming like a business critical investment and the people who have to wake up in the morning and they can't do their job because the car's not charged, or their van to go and do their deliveries. All those things, it becomes a very different thing. So it's not just an inconvenience, there's a very significant business cost associated and therefore I think seeing maintenance with response times and predictive maintenance and all these things is definitely something we're going to see them moving towards. There's a lot of fleets out there that are charged at home, a lot of the vans get taken home at night and they will need to be charged at home wherever possible and it's important that that infrastructure is is maintained and that it works correctly otherwise you're going to see all sorts of ramifications.
Pilgrim: I don't know about you, but from people I've talked to recently it feels like more organizations are facing-up to the Net Zero challenge, and are starting to make big commitments to their shareholders about when they're going to achieve Net Zero and so on, and that's then rippling down into behavior and planning month by month, week by week. But as you say there are big challenges, and it's not often obvious even how to address them. If you're speaking to a company that's getting into EV charging in any way - and lots of different companies are from different directions - do you have any thoughts really about how they should think about that stuff, what sort of mindset they should have? Will it have any other effects on their business that they haven't haven't thought of? Sometimes people tend to view change like this is just a thing that you do and then forget about, but often it changes the whole business and the way it thinks and the way it works. Any thoughts about the mindset shift that we might be going through?
Phil: I think one of the areas is it's important for businesses who are involved in EV charging like provision of service etc., to be very very clear and focused on where they fit in the market. And the difference between high volume domestic installs versus commercial installs or public DC charging infrastructure for example is huge. And one worrying about customer journey and then the other worrying more about maybe multiple companies being involved with ground works and restatement and all those things as well. So I think understanding and be very clear on exactly where the opportunity is for them, with their strengths and where they fit. But I think also then appreciating the capital cost that comes with then providing those services ongoing, and so the organizations that are looking to provide more charging service - be it public or for domestic use - need access to significant capital, partly for the hardware, partly for the cost of the install, partly just to get more men in vans and all the all the stuff that goes with that, and making sure they've got the deep pockets to do that, because it does get very expensive very quickly.
Pilgrim: Great, it's been fascinating talking to you Phil, we're at the beginning of what's clearly going to be a very exciting journey, I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts with us today.
Phil: An absolute pleasure.