Bertrand Lepage, WattPark CEO. Photo credit: VivaTech
When the right people meet at the right time, conversations start, ideas are born and partnerships are made. Thousands of startups, investors, media, and partners come together at VivaTech to find their crowd every year. And when they do, some pretty inspiring VivaStories come out of it. We found some exciting ones that hit home this year.
Sector: Mobility, transportation
HQ: Saclas, France
Year founded: 2020
Who we interviewed: Bertrand Lepage, CEO
Airbnb raised the bar for successful C2C platforms in 2008. Now comes the revolution for the electric charging stations market. French startup WattPark has designed the first ever bookable and monetizable charge point for electric vehicles (EV). People with an extra parking space and access to an electric outlet can rent out their space for EV owners needing a charge.
Charging station owners have control over the price per hour, availability, who can use it for free (like employees, or visitors), and when to cash out their earnings. Fully controlled by a mobile application, the charging unit doesn’t need a connection to the internet, which means it can be located anywhere.
Charging up success
Setting their sights on an ambitious future, WattPark applied in 2020 to be evaluated for a Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label, awarded to companies that pass a rigorous evaluation process. It aims to shed light on economically viable solutions that protect the environment. WattPark earned their label in May 2022.
“We were one of the thousand solutions selected by the Solar Impulse Foundation in 2020. Among them, we got invited as one of only 10 other startups to go to VivaTech in 2021. The foundation had a big booth, so we had the chance to showcase WattPark and talk to many key stakeholders in our ecosystem,” Bertrand Lepage, CEO of WattPark explained.
WattPark’s charging station outlet. Photo credit: VivaTech
Through the hundreds of chats during the four days of VivaTech, WattPark got to meet many politicians, tech leaders, and other innovators like them.
“VivaTech is a place where you meet so many people that you don"e;t get to interact with on a daily basis,” Lepage said. “There are executive committees, just wandering around all day. If I’m totally transparent, I am an introverted person, but VivaTech creates this kind of environment that makes it feel safe to approach those people. They"e;re here to talk to you. It"e;s a safe space to create those connections.”
Besides getting to meet personalities like Bertrand Piccard, renowned explorer and founder of the Solar Impulse Foundation, and Bruno Le Maire and Cedric O, two French Government Ministers, WattPark also got to meet some important players from the Parisian regional government.
“We met with the Prefect of the Île de France [the region surrounding Paris] and they were so into the solution that we ended up making a deal with them to put 50 WattPark charging stations across the entire region. That was just one deal for us that year, but it was huge for us in terms of politics and communication.”
Marc Lepage, President of WattPark with the first charging station at the Préfecture de Paris. Photo credit: Préfecture de Paris
2022: A year to ramp up
After an exciting year of wins for the French startup, 2022 was a year of partnerships and pushing their technology further. They opened their first manufacturing plant and aimed to manufacture at least 6,000 units in 2022.
“We are really ramping up production this year. By 2023 we want to manufacture more than 30,000 charging stations just to address the colossal demand that we already have received,” explained Lepage.
In June of 2022, WattPark was invited back to VivaTech, but with a new partner. Renault, France’s largest automobile manufacturer, had the EV charging startup exhibiting on their stand.
WattPark’s advice for first-time VivaTech startups
“Just be as open as possible. I don"e;t know any other events where we can have these kinds of exchanges and you just need to enjoy those four days because it goes fast. You meet so many startups that you could do partnerships with. But you only have four days to find collaborations. So being open to new connections, that"e;s the key thing,” shared Lepage.
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