By Eric Cohen, Marketing Manager at WiTricity
One of the first things I did as a new member of the WiTricity team was to interview as many people as I could. It was the perfect opportunity to get to know what people did, learn why they joined the team (and stayed), and discover what excites them about working at WiTricity.
Inevitably, one name kept cropping up in many of my conversations – Alex Gruzen, WiTricity’s CEO. Since he’s managing the team that is changing the world with wireless charging, I knew I needed to meet Alex and learn what we’re doing … and why. Here’s our conversation.
What brought you to WiTricity?
After working for several companies developing new technologies into products, and founding a small venture capital fund, I decided to join WiTricity in 2014. I realized that I missed building a business, managing a team, and bringing a product to market. Ultimately, I wanted to help a startup company grow.
My initial meeting with WiTricity was an eye-opening experience. Here was a small company with a unique technology and a powerful patent pool that needed to be productized and scaled for an emerging market. My first thought was, “this is potentially world changing!” I had led the worlds #1 notebook computer business through the transition from ethernet cables to Wi-Fi and I knew I needed to part of this next big transition.
How did you get us to where we are today?
When I joined, everyone thought we were 12-18 months away from bringing product to market. But, like most products, we had a lot more work to do. To go deep, and complete the solution, we also had to focus the company on one market – wireless charging for EVs. We knew we had to work with OEMs and Tier 1 providers and provide them with a fully baked solution that they could bring to the consumer market. Easy, right?
No, it doesn’t sound easy. Were you disappointed that it was going to take longer than you thought?
Yes and no. Sure, I would have loved something available tomorrow. But I knew it was critically important that we get the technology right. And we have. We never imagined that it would take as long as it has, but we are now on the cusp of delivering a life-changing product that will eliminate the challenges of plug-in charging and make wireless charging easy and efficient. As I’ve said before, “Simpler always wins. Once a technology goes wireless, it stays that way – people will never want to plug in again.”
Where would you like to see the company in 3 years?
We’re working with multiple automakers to include wireless charging in their vehicles directly off the assembly line and consumers will have a wireless charger in their homes. We will experience an adoption wave – once people experience wireless charging, they won’t want to go back to plugging-in. Looking further out, we will become ubiquitous, and most new cars will be sold with a wireless charging vehicle assembly. People won’t even have to think about charging their vehicles. Remember when cell phones were new, and we differentiated between our cell phones and our home phones (land lines)? Kids today don’t even think of their phones as “cell” phones – they’re simply phones (if they even make calls on them at all). It will be the same for charging. What was plug-in charging?
So, it’s a journey, right?
Absolutely! I think it’s important people remember that only 2% of the market – today – is EVs. For those living in California or China, it may seem like a larger percentage but worldwide, we’re still in the beginning stages of transforming our world. With more and more states and countries banning the sale of new gas-powered cars and trucks, it’s inevitable that the world will quickly transform to electric – and wireless charging will be a part of that. In fact, I could see half of all EVs in 2030 (only 9 years away) shipping with wireless charging. All of us at WiTricity look forward being part of this transformation.