What’s it all about?
Hot on the heels of their recent announcement of a £110m fundraise, I catch up with Be.EV CEO and Co-Founder Asif Ghafoor. We talk all things emobility, disruptive markets, fundraising, company culture, entrepreneur insanity and community-based EV charging hubs, and much more.
About Asif Ghafoor:
After 25 years working in UK infrastructure investment, Asif co-founded Be.EV to change the way public EV charging infrastructure is delivered: faster, fairer, rooted in local communities and nice to look at. Today, Be.EV is the fastest-growing public EV charging network in the North. It has just won the backing of Octopus Energy Generation, who are investing up to £110m to dramatically scale the network and take it national. It’s Octopus’ first investment in EV charging – and comes with a target of delivering 1,000 new charge points by 2024.
Be.EV is the largest EV charging network across Greater Manchester, and is expanding at a rapid pace across the north of England in order to make charging simple, reliable, and effortless. They work closely with the communities in which they operate and were appointed by TfGM in 2019 to grow and maintain the city-region’s publicly owned EV charging network. This included a major upgrade of the existing network as well as the delivery of additional public and private funded chargers. Their mission is to give all drivers what they want: more chargers, in more places that they can access more easily and more cost-effectively.
- Asif Ghafoor on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/asif-ghafoor-095486/
- Be.EV. website: https://be-ev.co.uk/
- Be.EV. on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BeEV_Charging
- Be.EV. on Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/company/be-ev/
- Be.EV. on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Be.EVchargingnetwork
About Hyperion Cleantech Group:
Hyperion Cleantech Group is the holding company for businesses focused exclusively in cleantech talent acquisition, retention, leadership development. working with some of the most innovative cleantech companies in the world, helping to find extraordinary talent to enable their growth and success. Partnering with leading cleantech VCs, as well as directly with founders and entrepreneurs in the sector. With our clients we are transforming business and growing a strong and prosperous cleantech economy. We work across EMEA and NORAM, with teams based in the UK, Germany and the US.
Hyperion Executive Search is a retained search firm operating at Board, NED, C-Suite, VP and Heads of… level www.hyperionsearch.com
Fully Charged Recruitment is a contingent recruitment firm operating in the Mid/Senior level. www.fullychargedrecruitment.com
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David Hunt 0:00
Hello, I’m David Hunt CEO and founder of Hyperion clean tech group and your host for these includes that podcast. Now I’m always keen to listen to feedback from from the audience. And recently I’ve been asked quite a few times actually about getting the episodes onto YouTube. So, as from today, not only will you be able to download and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, all the usual podcast platforms, you’ll be able to subscribe on YouTube. So if you are watching, welcome, thanks for joining us. And if you’re still listening, great, thanks very much for the feedback so far. Today we’re doing something a little bit unusual in terms it’s the first face to face podcast I’ve done since pre pandemic actually, namely because a great entrepreneur, based in the northwest of England, Asif before who is the CEO and co founder of BV is my guest today. They’ve just dropped a fantastic 100 and 10 million pound raise, which has enabled them to go out into the field and build clean mobility and Evie charging hubs across the north of England. I hope you enjoy the episode. Asif Great to have you on the leaders and fintech podcast, thank you for the invitation. And it’s great to do it face to face actually, because it’s been a I think pre pandemic was the first or the last time we did a podcast face to face. So it’s great to host you here in your hometown or Liverpool. Yeah, it’s
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 1:10
great to be back and I know the local area as well. So as more than happy to come in
David Hunt 1:14
great, are you doing some you’re all over the place at the moment with with the Wii. But there’s, so there’s lots to get into. But I always like to start with my guest, just a little bit of a flavour of your journey, because the podcast is as much about entrepreneurship as it is about technology and a combination of things. And you’ve asked them most people got an interesting backstory. So perhaps you can share a little bit of where and how you came to cofound be Evie.
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 1:36
So I’ve got a background really in infrastructure. So I’ve been involved in infrastructure for 2025 years. And and the bit which got me interested, probably about 10 years ago, was looking at the way infrastructure has been delivered, and how the fact that it hasn’t really changed the last 100 years. But if you look at the forward vision and take technology, data and sustainability into account, then the sector is ripe for disruption. And and actually from there becomes opportunity if you want to try and grab that. And that’s kind of where the idea of let’s set up a business around this, these forces and try and develop it.
David Hunt 2:14
Okay. I mean, obviously, the whole mobility thing is is hugely disruptive. But again, within technology and within solutions, there’s lots of things going on, where it’s been renewables, whether it be in in AI, or you know, other platforms, why why particular mobility?
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 2:27
Well, the I kind of started as real focus was looking at autonomous vehicles. Actually, I haven’t been really honest. And I’ll probably ahead of myself slightly in looking at the connectivity between telecommunications energy and mobility. If you recall that backwards, five steps you arrive at Evie, and Evie charging and the lack of infrastructure, which is kind of where we end up starting as business as well.
David Hunt 2:53
So when did you actually found the business or co founder business? So we
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 2:57
set up the business in March 2020. So actually, in lockdown, timing. So yeah, perfect time and set up a business. And actually, the idea the idea been developing for five years earlier. So it wasn’t as if we just worked on a bit of lockdown. We just recognise working in large organisations trying to do what we wanted to do work, the oil tanker was not going to turn at the pace we wanted it to. So we decided I decided, let’s go for it. And I called a close friend, who is my business partner, Adrian grey now basically pulled it together,
David Hunt 3:32
okay. It’s been quite a journey in that reasonably short period of time to a big fundraiser recently, which we’ll talk about but again, looking at the the mobility space, a lot of us obviously know that and those that drive EVs in cities do normally reasonably okay. And motorways to an extent, there’s still lots of work that needs to be done. But in rural areas and sort of, sort of non city centres, it’s a bit more of a challenge finding infrastructure and finding of structure works as much as anything. And that seems to be the problem you’re looking to solve.
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 4:02
No, actually, we’re trying to what we’re trying to do is build concentrated networks in locations where we’re based. So instead of going down the route of saying, let’s set up, put charges everywhere in the whole of the UK at step one, we kind of went in a regional model, because we want to and we started with transport for Greater Manchester and and the Greater Manchester area and the cities are massively underserved. The rural rural areas have got nothing at all and there’s no real plan. And if we really want to drive policy objectives, which are clean air targets, and in Greater Manchester Claire’s got the mares got a very clean, clear target of achieving clean air by 2040. And transport being such a large emitter of that, then having that policy meant that actually we had lots of support and confidence that once we go out there, we’ll be able to work with public private sector and being able to deliver that infrastructure and deliver it in a concentrated form. ASEAN.
David Hunt 5:00
Okay, so that in terms of your previous experience, because you mentioned the mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, and Steve Rodman in Liverpool, both very progressive, I think mayors and have a clean and clean that agenda, both the air and for creating jobs. Was this the first time you started to work with public sector in that way? And what kind of response did you get when you started to reach out to those organisations?
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 5:23
Well, we followed a traditional tender process with Greater Manchester so but when we approached them and actually came up with our ideas, which we were competing against, incumbents already had evey businesses set up. Yeah, they thought our ideas were fresh, they were different. And and the fact that we spent a huge amount of time in the business today spends a huge amount of time thinking about the community, and how you can actually get the community involved in the way the infrastructure is being built. And they thought they thought that was different. And they liked it. And they selected us. That’s kind of what we’ve been building on since then, as well
David Hunt 5:59
talking more about that communities and Nassif, because again, that is a factor that oftentimes I felt as an Eevee driver, you’re kind of stuck, and you kind of put up with it. And unfortunately, most of us Drive Charger home. But that sense of community and having people involved in where and how sites sort of chosen. And and that kind of sense of making the easy process to move from a nice vehicle to an electric vehicle. Tell us a bit about more how you perceive that from a BV point of view? What’s your sort of mission, if you like? Or how do you perceive solving the challenges that Evie drivers have?
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 6:32
The I’m not making a political statement about this. But if you take a step back away from Evie for a second and look at just a fan events around us. So you’ve had we’ve had Brexit, we’ve had a rise in populism. And in my own personal experience, every time I’ve ever built an infrastructure project, I’ve had people complaining, people are unhappy, you build a new school people are out protesting. So how do you actually get people who are affected by this infrastructure daily involved? And how do you get their voice listened to and actually talk and find out what they want out of this? That’s the whole idea behind the community as a step one. So when we’re building this infrastructure isn’t just let’s get loads of charges in the ground where I think they should go. We have a membership programme. Okay, so we have 16,000 members signed up, we ask them questions, we have members events, we invite them in. And they have some interesting views. But and we’re conscious also that this early adopter group are giving us some views. But actually, we also need to think about the mass market, because the behaviours may be different. And how do we then engage with the communities? And how do we actually get the viewpoints across because fundamentally, these are the drivers of the future as well, who we should be targeting. So we spend a huge amount of time as a business, just thinking about that community engagement and getting that community voice into the business,
David Hunt 7:54
and what sort of places where we start to see the product already in situ? And what are sort of on horizon, whether that retail parks or public charging is that workspace and sort of fleet charging, what’s the sort of, I guess, the sweet spot for where you’re looking for sites and where you’re starting to build infrastructure?
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 8:11
Yeah, the the big challenge, actually always find a mine, my niece made me laugh recently, because we run a competition with our members to select and send in ideas of where to put charges, and they get credits and, and prizes. And she put in for nominations. And she highlights a problem, which we have, which is actually when you look in, in a concentrated network, as let’s just say Greater Manchester, or Merseyside or Newcastle, it can go anywhere, and you need to come up with a plan and their plan. Having done quite a lot of trial and error, we have 140 units in the ground today. Some of those in car parks, some of those aren’t streets, we found the best model is really to try and create local hubs and put in try and put in rapid Ultra rapid charging, and make those into some typically their destinations. So people are doing something there. But also the same time people are also local people can actually park the vehicle actually stay with it and do something or park and go home. And we do lots of data analytics, of looking at how we map these out across a particular region and create a 10 minute walk in isochrones on the back of graphs and so on. So we’re creating, we’ve gone off a little bit off the street because we’ve had so many issues with traffic management and cables on pavements and so on. And we’ve tried to pull people into regional and local hubs and develop concentrating networks on the back of that,
David Hunt 9:39
okay. And how have you coped with because there’s a lot of complexity in a choosing a site that’s either suggested to or is receptive from your members and from the community overlaid on that you’ve obviously got basic planning in terms of the site and then you’ve got the issues with getting power to supply and sufficiently so how are you approaching those issues in terms of the or the complexity of getting them Once you’ve chosen or highlighted a potential site as you’re bringing that to success,
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 10:04
well, that’s where I think you, if you ever look, I’m gonna spend my entire time now out on the road looking at car parks as as my whole team. It doesn’t get any more exciting than that. But we’re actually, physically we visit every site. So we may do a desktop step one, but we go to the site, we go and have a look at the site, we engage with the district network operators who can tell us how much power there is on on every site before we take the customer, the site owner any further, and then we spend a heap and then we actually throw data through throw that site into our data pool and our data lake to look at how does it fit around all of the other sites we’re developing nearby? What else is already in that particular area? So we’re not cannibalising the market as well. We’re thinking about utilisation, fundamentally, all of that all of those various events and activities are thinking about the end user and that end user experience. Why will someone come to that particular site? And why will they keep on coming back to it in three years? Five years? Seven years? 10 years? That’s what we’re thinking about women looking at those particular sites.
David Hunt 11:12
Future plans is an interesting one. Because again, the rollout of EVs is significant and exponential, but there’s still a relatively small number, we all know that this kind of change fairly drastic over the next four or five, six years. How are you sort of future proofing sites? Because again, the way that people charge and where and how they conduct would evolve, obviously, how are you looking at the sort of long term for both your sites and for the business.
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 11:35
So we’re trying to create these local hubs and those hubs will expand based on again, on the data we get from them from the charges, and how people are using them, we have created quite detailed demand modelling, so we’re tracking potential usage against our own cars, we today 2% of vehicles on the road are electric, by 2030, will be 30%. So we’ve mapped all that out. And we can track our usage versus our predicted usage. And if that is exceeding it, we’re actually starting to build more equipment onto that particular site and add more and more. So because we don’t want again, by the end user experience, we don’t want people queuing Yeah, as well. So the opposite effect of no infrastructure can be actually are to pay no longer there. Because if you never get on to the infrastructure in those peak periods, so we’re planning that out. And when we go to a site, we’re trying to put in what we call the minimum. So we’re not trying to go, oh, there’s 100 spaces less than 100 chargers out there, we’re thinking about the site and saying, Okay, maybe 812 bays at a starter, start looking at the data, look at the user behaviour, and think about that site as a growing site and build the power infrastructure. So we can actually grow it over time, because the equipment and the technology will move on as well. So this phase of what we’re trying to put in, is what we think is the most up to date tech, but actually, we know it’s going to change, so you don’t want again put too much in because it’s going to get better and better as as as the world as the world develops
David Hunt 13:08
as an old PC charging at the moment,
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 13:11
but predominantly, but we’re not anti AC, so we are putting fast chargers in certain behaviour, we look at the dwell behaviour, and then make a decision. So in a hospital environment where you’ve got staff coming in and dwelling all day, you’re getting a C, but in the similar same hospital, where you’ve got patients coming in getting their bloods done, there’ll be there’ll be their three, four hours that rapid. And for the people dropping off patients or taxis, they’re Ultra rapid. So we can actually have three different solutions on one site. And because we’re going out to the site and looking at the behaviour and the activity, we then blend that and work out the right mix
David Hunt 13:50
of first really interesting blend of using data and also the sort of the physical on site, if anyone actually looks at your LinkedIn profile, and we’ll share that on the podcast page or you are literally here, there and everywhere. Check it out these car parks, as you say, I used to look at roofs and I was in solar, every roof I was staring at so but you’re combining this physically getting to the site with the panellists of data rather than just thinking well, there’s a hub there as well. And there’s, you know, 70 miles between to this pump and in the middle. It’s quite a lot of sophistication of using data and being a lot more purposeful about where you’re ordering our infrastructure.
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 14:24
Yeah, and we also employ a lot of local people in the area. So our model today covers predominantly the north of England because we do a lot we are doing a number of national contracts, as well. But we started somewhere we had to start somewhere. So we said North of England let’s build out concentrated networks. We say Newcastle, you know I said 2% of vehicles on the road are electric and Newcastle is naught point four 1%. So, you know, there’s bit of catch up and of course, people aren’t switching over because there’s no infrastructure in that particular area, but we employ local people who know the local area Whether it’s land agents, whether it’s local businesses, the whole model is based around this, building out a national network by using local contacts and local support and creating local jobs on the back of it as well.
David Hunt 15:14
We’ll talk about that for a moment. Again, we’ll come back to the technology, we talked about sort of having teams in various different places, you started the business in the beginning of the pandemic, you’ve obviously grown in a very fast paced and disruptive marketplace, how many employees do you have at the moment,
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 15:27
so we’ve got 17, grown to 20. Okay,
David Hunt 15:30
I know the team at fully charged are supporting with that says, we can talk about more about that what you’re looking for in a moment. But in terms of that, local jobs and local local content, there’s there’s a lot going on, as for any founder, talk on a personal level about the challenges of starting a business early and pandemic, nobody knew quite how long it would last or how it impacts and all these other kinds of things. And just running a business or creating a business is always challenging what have been some of the biggest personal challenges and rewards for you in the business so far,
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 16:01
I think the I’ll be very honest, maybe it is self belief, but I always thought when we kind of came up with the idea, people will get over the pandemic one way or another, and people are gonna want shiny new electric cars. So there’s going to be a market there fundamentally, and we should build on the on the basis that the horrible situation we were in will will be solved one way or another. The challenges of the classic, you know, we started we moved on the cliches, we’ve sat in the around my kitchen table, as a group, trying to build a business to borrowing a friend’s office in Manchester, to taken up our own office space. And all the way through that, you know, because this is a very capital intensive sector. And and we’ve kind of all the way through being planning for the next step. So we’ve raised the funding now, I’m already planning for the next two steps in terms of how much more additional capital and what scale of business, we’re going to need to be able to remain relevant. And that’s kind of a key thing in this space. Yeah. From a personal challenge, you know, it’s just, it’s bonkers, is the best way to describe it, you know, I have no personal life, really, by the time I finally get home on a Friday, I’m exhausted. Saturday, I’m working. And then I’m kind of coming back to work again and getting getting going again, there’s no off. But actually, my business partner and I both have kind of sat and talked about this and said it’s it’s enjoyable. And while it’s enjoyable, and hopefully the team are is enjoying it as much as we are, then we’re gonna keep on going at this pace. And and we’ve done a lot in such a small period of time, as well.
David Hunt 17:46
It’s really interesting, the number of guests on the podcast who say that basically, if you weren’t insane, you’ve never started a business. Which you have which resonates black, you say the other key factor is its work. But there’s a sense of mission and a sense of enjoyment. Yes, that sort of gets you over those hurdles.
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 18:02
Yeah, no, absolutely. And actually, interestingly, I’ve had some very close friends kind of stopped me and say, You need to stop and enjoy and celebrate certain successes, because what tends to happen is, you know, we got the phone raise over the line, and I’m like, Okay, guys, let’s get going and the light No, no, no, have you stopped and just something with that in terms of celebration, and so on. So what we try, I’m trying I’m very, I’m trying to be really conscious of just kind of stopping and enjoying it, but when you’re also on quite a mission and a speed around it, then I’m kind of like okay, yes, we’ll have a bit of time, then we’ll move on.
David Hunt 18:39
Yes, it was capitalising on the on the successes and or even the picking stuff up quickly from the failures which will face this business, isn’t it? So things go? Well, we straight back out back on the horse, so to speak. And when things do go well, it means you think about what’s the next thing?
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 18:51
Yeah. And you need to remember I find I need to remember the people element. So there’s so when there was just the six of us, it was a slightly different dynamic. Now we’re in our 20 people. People want to stop and celebrate and they want the praise and they want to enjoy success, rather than just be on a permanent driven route to the ultimate business growth. And that’s important as well. Definitely. And that requires especially someone like me who’s kind of on a mission Yeah, I need to kind of stop and think about that and say, Okay, now I agree. I need to do need to kind of pause
David Hunt 19:26
Yeah, and then revert to the coach who makes these exceptions important as you scale the team but that’s not overscan or forget to sort of, I guess, celebrate the the recent fundraise, which was 110 million from octopus or up to 110 million from from octopus, which is brilliant, a big number. Any fundraising is challenging every founder as you know, as that distraction of always looking at the next round of funding, particularly when you’re capital intensive as you are. That was a tremendous and must felt great even if didn’t perhaps smell the flowers or roses as much as you could have done, but also must take a lot of time where you’re both running the business building the team and you’ve got this big thing to get done. Yeah. How did you cope with that?
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 20:06
Well, I mean, my background, I’ve done a lot of large fundraisers as part of building out infrastructure. So I kind of recognised in an agent’s done similar. So we both kind of knew how much work was going to be involved. So early on, we decided that even though we felt we could do it ourselves, we’re going to bring in experts. So we appointed EY, as financial advisors, GLA, legal advisors and wrapped ourselves with a whole team around us recognising they’re going to have to do huge amounts of push. Yeah. And in between, we got a guy called Tom Shara to come and join the team, as well, he kind of led the daily charge. So we organised ourselves knowing it was going to be huge amounts of work. And then and that made it a little bit easier. But you know, there were certain days where we did the whole day job from 7am to 7pm. And then a 7pm. We started the fundraiser activities in midnight, and then back on it again.
David Hunt 21:05
It’s not just students that pull all nighters rain,
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 21:09
start offering to do anymore.
David Hunt 21:13
Entrepreneurs often do, yeah. So again, we touched, we touched on briefly the culture evolve a business and that always fascinates me the sort of the journey of the business in terms of scaling, but also as it evolves, more people come involved, you delegate more, you have to trust more, you have to let go of certain things as a founder, and then you create this culture where everybody of course, has to share the mission. But not everybody is a founder, you know, so that that can be sometimes be challenging. Tell me a little bit about your, the culture evolving as a business, I know from Joseph, so Dr. Who’s joined recently, so I know it’s a positive place, but give us a flavour of sort of the the environment that you’re in the culture that you’re looking to build within your organisation?
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 21:51
Well, I think the the interesting thing is the dynamic is different because you got founder owners running the business. And so in a lot our culture and our behaviours kind of drives away, the business will grow. And if you just take myself and Adrian very different personalities, but that’s why it works. So I’m slightly off my mind is on a race and on a mission to kind of go let’s build this business, let’s keep on cracking on. And historically, agents nickname used to be acid was brain. And that’s how we really operate is kind of, you know, is considered his cake. Like he’s working things out. He’s saying, doing the bit of the detail around that and actually keeping the operations of the business, pretty sane. And with that pace, there is a high level of pace and high level of work required, which actually I think everyone has come in has kind of gone Wow, this is slightly chaotic, but slightly very fast. And, and actually, and majority people kind of get on very quickly and actually get work out their pattern of how they’re able to work in that kind of environment, we for us was quite important that we actually gave employees some ownership in the business. So we’ve done that equally. So we’ve not said Oh, juniors don’t get anything, seniors get everything. Because for the compensation for all that work, people are putting in the effort. And the strain, you know, you’ve got to feel like I’m actually part of this. So that’s been important to us. And then the rest of time, actually the team, the dynamics work, while it’s quite a happy, Jolly dynamic. Within the team, we brought on non exec, who’s now our chairman, Willstrop Morris is the chief executive of Cafe Nero. And he’d run a few workshops on culture for us quite early on, as well, because I was conscious, the culture of the six was going to be massively different from 20. Exactly, and it needs to adapt. But I still would like to keep the core essence of the way we operate, the way we behave, and so on, the big thing you’ll always have to remember when you when you work with us is certain things we’ve just banned. So we’re not shopping on Amazon. Right? I’m proud to say, because I just think you’ve got to have some values and beliefs that you want to live by as an organisation. And, you know, small things like that are as important to us. As you know, the type of partner we selected for the fundraise. The partners we work with the type of sites is one or two operators, when we’ve looked to sites who then we’ve done a bit of investigation, we’ve kind of when they’ve got great sites, but do we want to be in a relationship with them? And the answer is I’d rather not. Yeah, you know, I’d rather there’s plenty of sites out there for us to go for. And I think we need to have some sort of moral code in the way we operate.
David Hunt 24:38
Definitely. I think there’s a blessing to some extent, because the market is so dynamic, and there’s so much going on. It’s tough, of course, because it’s also competitive. But that element of having some core values that Northstar I think you refer to as I think is so important for the comprehensive scales. Like you say, cultures evolve and teams grow and things get delegated, but the essence of the values I think is critical. Hyperion, we have a manifesto which is on the wall as much as not people, everyone comes to the office so everyone hopefully has on their laptop or their screens. But there’s a manifesto, which does include some very simple things which are technically not work related. It’s just what we believe in. Yeah. And having that I should say, is scalable because values don’t change whether 100 people or 1000 people. Yes. Well, they shouldn’t do
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 25:16
at least Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And we spend, we try and have a formal session with the team at least once a month, just kind of talk about things. We have at least a one week, everyone together, discussion as well. And trying to try to also make sure the voices all the voices are being heard, as well amongst amongst the people who are coming into the business. Yeah,
David Hunt 25:38
yeah. Have we covered in one? I think we’ve touched on this before I started in solar in 2007. And there’s a lot of things that summit is the solar rush and like the Wild West, and to some extent it was, and there’s an element of that within the mobility or Evie, charging infrastructure space and learn how to collaborate or interact with others in the space other CPAs other people that are rolling out infrastructure, do you have any particular partnerships? Or how do you perceive competitors?
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 26:04
Interesting, you say that, because we’ve taken a view that at this stage of our life, we’re not getting distracted by what the competition is doing. We’ve got we think we’ve got very strong views of what we want out of this business, the way we want to build it, we’ve been doing a lot of work. And if you’ve seen the way we’ve been doing our aesthetics, around building, Park, charging hubs, the forecourt at the future, for us, that’s an opportunity to create a park where you can charge and and we’re building those sites across. So we haven’t been looking over our shoulder. So you know, what, if Sheldon here, what if BP down there, and so on and so on, and you know, I’m not knocking that let them and let them carry on with it. And I kind of feel a little bit there isn’t anyone who’s kind of wowing me at this moment in the sector, you know, for bumping into competitor at an event, we actually not been going to events or conferences, where it’s just a competitor chitchat. Because I’m kinda like, well, it’s not really where we are as a business for us, we need to be building out our networks, that’s where our 100% effort needs to be. So we haven’t been doing a lot in that particular space. And I think the challenge what worries me a little bit with the space, and it’s interesting, you called it I call it the wild west of charging, I know one large mail delivery business went out to market. And they had 110 responses from different Evie ChargePoint providers, from your local electrician who’s going to buy something off the internet all the way through to professional organisations. And that isn’t sustainable. And you know, the market will South sort of solve itself over time. But in the meantime, there’s quite a lot of MIS selling going on. And in particular, for us, one of the big things, which we’re pushing really hard is making sure that whatever we put in to the ground, is working all the time, which is a big, big thing not happening in this sector is the worst thing is either you haven’t got charging second worst thing, you’ve got charging, and it doesn’t work. And a lot of competitors are selling kit, not interested in making sure the network’s working properly. And nothing about Django most the end user experience that community piece, not thinking about that, and the impact that has on those communities and those end users. And so for us, you know, some of the competitive activities are slightly, you know, we see some of the pictures they make. And I’m just like, like, this is just slightly not right. Yeah,
David Hunt 28:39
it’s frustrating. There’s an element of because it’s so new, everybody can be an expert. And it’s very difficult for people outside of the sector to to know who is the expert, and who isn’t to an extent initially, when they’re like, say, Get 110 bids, and you’ve never done this before, if you’re in a procurement office, how do you know, there’s an element of that. And to your other point, there is an element of festivals with the solar business in the recharging. It’s kind of a land grab, let’s just get as much sites as many sites as much stuff in the ground. And kind of not if you know, utilisation rates and if it’s working on the uptime seems to be not irrelevant, but certainly aren’t adhere to aren’t as focused as you’re talking about,
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 29:13
yeah, most of our customers, we actually spend a huge amount of time we’ll get approached by say a local authority, who says I’m looking for some charges in my leisure centre. And my first question is, what’s your strategy? And the like, we haven’t got any Bobigny we need to get some in because the planning request and like guys, you’re gonna hate me in 12 months time because you’ll think of put the wrong charges in at the wrong speeds or dadadada da first thing everybody needs to do whether it’s public or private sector and this is the first sector ever worked in where both public and private are not quite sure what’s going on. You know, suddenly we’ve gone into a world we’ve gone from petrol and diesel which was the hardest decision was e five e 10. At one point and petrol we’ve gone into so slow, fast, rapid kilowatts ACDC CHAdeMO CCS amplify what is going on here. And so we’re spending huge amount of time actually stopping potential clients from making decisions. And suggesting they take a step back, step back, and re evaluate their strategy. And we provide them with quite a lot of data. So it’s become quite a consult free consultation process, which we’re happy to do. Because for me, the prize isn’t winning that customer today and gain some charging in the ground today, the prizes are they’re going to be working with me in five years. Exactly. And because have I behaved well, have I given them a network, which works? And did they understand what they were buying fundamentally, and if they haven’t done the strategy piece, and we haven’t find that free advice, they won’t know what they’re buying. And they’re always going to be thinking, Oh, that wasn’t right. And there’s a there’s an effort required
David Hunt 30:53
fingers, really talking back about values is really a big issue that being prepared to walk away from something where you don’t compromise yourself, I just think one particular site going back to planning permission, we had health centres that we need a wind turbine on site, and it’s in planning, and we need one. So we can they came to our company. And it was just the most ridiculous site. And we told them that and in the end, they went and sort of put one end that was very rapidly taken down by somebody else. And we just had to say, look, it’s not the best decision for you. But we actually the contractor we stayed with, because they recognise that in the future. Yeah. And I think there’s that value around the long term play. And ultimately, this kind of thing about the rising tide floats all boats, if we do things, right, going back to collaboration and competitors, and we just do the right thing, then a, our businesses thrive, but the business as a whole,
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 31:38
the whole sector, will the whole survival benefit from it. And you know, there have been circumstances where I’ve turned around to site owners, and they’ve said, I’ve been working with x operator, for 18 months, I’ve been to board. And I thought I’d just double check in market. And I’m like, I looked at the solution. I was like, well, we could deliver it. However, I hate to say this, but if I was you have been in your position, just sign that as a phase one, you’re gonna have another five phases. I said, I’ve looked at the solution. And it looks okay, that’s what I would have suggested. But I’m not going to try and try and bump someone off on that particular because trying to read because they’ll end up doing nothing, because I’ve taken the meeting once. However, I think I’ll have a better relationship when they come to a phase two, or phase three, and so on. And it’s about actually everything isn’t an immediate win. Yeah, a lot of this has got to be thought through about the long run,
David Hunt 32:30
absolutely. Joined back to SoCo, there’s a lot of pressure when you drop a lot of money and appreciate it wasn’t 170 Mount check in on day one, but it’s still a lot of investment, a lot of faith in your business. And now it’s a case of deploying that. So how has that changed apart from you? It’s obviously given you more scope. But how do you? How are you the steward of that investment and those partnerships and relationships and how now, the next three or four years looking for BTV, versus how it was before that money dropped?
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 32:58
Well, what it’s done is actually, because we’ve done a number of fundraisers previously through an abundance, green platform, to actually get the business kind of moving at a reasonable pace. But now all that done is is fatally given us a real forward focus, where we don’t have to keep on looking back and saying, Okay, we need to be back in market to raise more capital is given a lot of confidence, we had actually built the team up in the belief, we’d get the funding, I think you’ve always got to have your belief in yourself and keep on making that investment. But now we know we’ve got the capital sitting behind us. If we get through that capital faster, you know, I’m confident octopus energy generation would be wanting to put more capital in. So if we deploy it at the, you know, and produce good results on the back of this, there’s, there’s further streams are funding sitting behind that. And that’s, that’s quite exciting, actually. And the CEO, you know, kind of gets you out of bed and think, Okay, let’s go from focused. From a day to day perspective. We’re now in I’m in forensic mode. So the T, you know, I sit with Adrian, twice a week, he’s on it every day, going through every single step of what could go wrong. Because to avoid things, you know, we’ve got to get that capital deployed. We, you know, we built up a good build up of pipeline of sites and customers or relationships. Now we’re trying to we’ve got to scale this in multiples over the next few years.
David Hunt 34:24
Yeah, yeah. Driven slightly aside, I think there are two critical things because a lot of the audience that we have our entrepreneurs and founders and investors, but two things, one of which is actually co founding, I suppose the founding, so multiple partners rather than one one founder and your thoughts on that than you’ve ever experienced. I’ve experienced both in the past and there were pros and cons, of course, to both but it’s really interesting to get your thoughts because clearly the the relationship with Adrian is fundamental to the success of the business. And the other thing is about the quality of the investor because not all money is equal. And octopus are a great bunch of people. And again, sometimes really tempted as a founder just to take the money that’s on the table because it gives you a bit more runway and it gives you the opportunity to do things, but it’s not necessarily the right money for the future of the business. And just broadly some thoughts around funding teams or are co or single founders. And choosing the right investor.
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 35:11
Yeah, when I had kind of been. So Adrian and I knew each other back in the early 20s. And we’d work together. And I know we say it’s a big age gap between us, but 15 years 16 years age gap between us. However, we immediately got on when we work together, first time around, because we saw the way we complemented each other, he then went off and worked for Sky and, and he was at Sky when I kind of approached him again, at the start of 2020, and said, I’ve got this great idea, do you want to join and leave sky? To he was like, and we’ve talked about a number of times when we’re setting up our own business. So he was like, Yeah, I’d love to be able to do that. I decided quite early on that actually, the burden on one for the scale of what we wanted to achieve was just too much. And actually having someone who can actually complement the bonkers pneus of my brain versus actually getting delivery done as well would be perfect. And so that’s why the match. And then if you look at the other people we brought around us, again, I knew number of people, and I kind of was like these are great individuals who are going to actually you’re a surround yourself with a team who actually complement each of the skills. And that’s what we’ve really created with the group, which we’ve got all the way up to the 20. Now, in terms of and I’m not just saying this, and you’ll think Oh, god, he’s you’re saying this, if you’d said to me, we started asked this fundraise back in November 2021. And so it’s taken nearly a year, taking 11 months, 10 months to get to this point. But when we started in November, and you’d said to me, who’s your most who’s a preferred partner, from a funding perspective, in my head, it was octopus energy generation, for two main factors, but three main factors, one, I just liked, I loved their values and their brand. And I thought it complimented us. And secondly, they had a strong appetite to invest in Eevee. And he understood if you look at their complementary investments in in this in the other spaces, and the third was, I thought it’d be great lead generation, because the way the sector’s they’re going to be operating in and actually going to be sectors were operating in. And some of the stuff which you know, I want it you know, to further improve our end user experience. They’re an expert in disrupting end user experience in energy, and actually been able to get some of that expertise and some of that advice into the business. So for me, day one, they were a perfect partner, we had a lot of a lot of interest, which was just so we’d originally agree with EY phase one of fundraise. We will meet everyone, right? Our everyone was 29 Interested parties. So we just said to Adrian, we’re not meeting everyone spending, I haven’t got that much time available. So we say we’ll try and do that by phase, we end up phase three, is when we actually started meeting the investors and the second favourite investor, I knew for a long time, and I really value the people there. But we were, we were pushing up to Busan. And there were a few along the way, who basically, were offering the cash, but just was just, and we’d already have pre sifted. So we didn’t go a lot of companies approached us approached Ey and said, Can we have a look at the information memorandum? And I’d said no, I don’t even want to show it to them because they don’t live up to the values of what we want to try and create. So even within the gang, who we decided there were a few who were just throwing money, but again, their behaviours once you got into the one on ones wasn’t great. Yeah. And so we kind of dismissed them as well. So for us, we’ve we have ended up someone up there as looking after us. But we’ve ended up where I wanted to end up on the fundraise perspective. And actually, the individuals were sitting opposite, who put the who organise all the exercise around it. But it was interesting, because normally, when you’re buying a business to quiet, you know, you can end up in this Buy Sell relationship, they were actually there was a bit of buy sell relationship, but also quite collaborative, at times are saying, we think we can do this with you. And we think we can do that and so on. And actually all of that made me happy. And think actually, this is the right decision. And I have no doubt where we know when we had to sign I had no doubt that this was the right
David Hunt 39:30
time. Where it was things are critical. I think having the right partner or the right funding the right values we’ve touched on as well the right team touched on very briefly. And I think it shows a lot of self awareness for a leader to be able to recognise these are my strengths and they’re abundant. But actually these are the weaknesses. And I need to either fill those in either with a with a with a founder, if it’s early enough or with the right leadership team, which is what we do at Hyperion is just making sure that there’s a great fit, so that the team ticks all of the boxes. It’s not down for everyone individual, particularly the CEO to do everything or to know everything takes a little bit some In terms of a self awareness, and I found that to not think of themselves as the The Lone Ranger who comes in and solves all the problems, right.
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 40:07
And the interest, the one thing I haven’t touched on is partners. So we have developed, our whole model is very much heavily reliant on partners are coming along board. So we had DLA the law firm, some of the senior partners, they’re kind of believed on day one. And so when I approached them back in January with the January 2020, with the idea, you know, their view was, we love the idea, we think this could work really well. And we won’t charge you any legal fees until you think you’re ready. Okay. So wow, okay, and they did some introductions and so on. Similar with EY, similar with Marsh, commercial, HSBC, and so on, and so on. If you look at the ecosystem around us, those partners are actually become part of the wider team. And then if you look at the supply chain, who and the way we’re managing their supplier, supply chain relationships, a lot of this is for us, again, like I talked about the site owners with supply chain partners who are trying to build long term relationships. This isn’t about can I get something 50? P cheaper? Yeah, we need to be we need to be okay, on price. But actually, is that partner? Does that partner enjoy working with us? Can they see the forward the pipeline of work coming through? And do they want to work? Do they ultimately want to work with me over one of my competitors? That’s where I want to get that kind of relationship? And if I’m not, and we have check ins with them, and I asked him simple questions, like, am I behaving? You know, Have I done something wrong? And they’ll say, a payment took x dates? And I’d be like, Adrian, I’ll blame Adrian. Adrian, why didn’t we do that? Yeah, that’s why you need the brain there. Remember? That wasn’t a stupid decision.
David Hunt 41:49
No, there’s really important factors of any successful businesses having those, say, partners, right team, the right partner, the right mentality, the right ethos, the right values, and it’s great that you’ve shared a few of those things with us today. Just in closing, it’s a hugely dynamic marketplace. What would you like to see broadly in the sector, bear in mind, we’ve got cop going on, we’ve got a sort of relatively unstable political situation in the UK at the time at the moment, what factors or changes will enhance not just your business, but the the mission to get people clean driving clean vehicles over the next 345 years? What kind of things would you like to see improve?
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 42:23
Well, it makes me and actually an interesting, I was listening to Radio four on the way in, and somebody made the comment about the fact that a lot of the activity we need to be doing to be able to deliver the one and a half percent is available now. So people switching out of combustion engine vehicles into electric, that’s not a choice about, oh, do I fancy doing it, if people really believe in it, people should be doing it. It’s as simple as that. And the infrastructure will get built, you know, the faster people are moving, the faster the infrastructure is going to get built, that I’m convinced of, but actually, you know, trying to give the communities and people a choice, and an ability to be able to make that switch and actually given them the incentives and the drive to be able to make that switch, I think is is you know, massively important. For me, one of the areas where I kind of, it wasn’t meant to be a differentiator, but I think it is in our own the way we look at this, I kind of said, when we build this infrastructure, we’re building sometimes into quite bleak urban environments. And we need to be building beautiful charging environments, charging stations, people want to go to and and effectively not going to call them the cathedrals. I’ve called them historically, the the, the, the way the Victorians built the railway. And we now look back 150 years and think, Wow, what a beautiful building. That’s what I’d like to be creating as a legacy here of the the way we build and the way sites are developed and where people want to go and charge and the way they look and the way that involves the community than the community and we mustn’t forget, this cannot become a charging for the privilege the ones who can afford we’ve got to create an environment here where a charging is available for all otherwise we failed in our mission as as a community driven business and the sector has failed. Yes, as well.
David Hunt 44:21
No, I agree. I agree. Thanks very much for sharing those thoughts with us as well. I’ll share on to the website page, links to Asif on LinkedIn, you can find out all about his travels around the UK and the work that they’re doing and some links to the to the website and all that information will be there. But for now, thanks so much for joining us. Thank
ASIF GHAFOOR – BE.EV 44:36
you very much.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai