Startup stories: Making batteries great again!

We love a good startup story here at My Accountant Friend, especially when it’s a success story involving one of our own MAFters. This week we’re delighted to be chatting to Amrit Chandan, the co-founder of Aceleron. Already named as one of Forbes Under 30, Amrit and his team is spearheading the drive to “make batteries great again”. In other words, they’ve worked out ways to recycle lithium ion batteries and use them to provide electrical storage to people in limited situations. It’s one of those inspiring stories you hear about relatively often, without realising that it’s taking place right here under your nose.

You’re “helping to make batteries great again”, which sounds like an amazing thing to be doing. But before you tell me how you’re doing that, can you explain why batteries stopped being great in the first place?

Battery packs are not designed to be easily taken apart for reuse, or for recycling. Conventionally, battery packs are sent for material recovery recycling, which is a wasteful process, especially when you consider that the batteries still have typically 70% state of health remaining.

And what are you doing to make them great again?

At Aceleron, we have developed the technology to understand how we can extract as much value out of Lithium Ion batteries as we can. Especially when you consider that there is a lot of recoverable energy storage inside the battery. We can use this energy storage to help revolutionise access to low cost energy storage for many people who have little to no access to energy storage but want to use renewable technologies.

How are people who receive your battery packs making use of them?

The global demand for energy storage, particularly Lithium Ion batteries, is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Aceleron is producing battery packs for a range of applications. The first battery packs produced will be used for solar energy storage in Central America.

How did you come up with the idea for that business?

Aceleron started out as a conversation between myself and my co-founder, Carlton Cummins. We both worked at a low carbon vehicle consultancy at the time and both share a passion for electric vehicles. So we started out by asking the simple question: what happens to electric vehicle batteries at the end of life? We did a bit of basic research and realised that this was a looming problem to which there was no easy solution. From there, we entered what is now Aceleron into some competitions to get expert feedback as quickly as possible. What started out as an ‘after work’ project quickly developed a life of its own. Carlton and I made the decision to leave our jobs in March 2016 and incorporated Aceleron is August 2016.

You are based in Birmingham, I believe. What makes Brum a good place for your kind of work?

I was born and raised in Birmingham so it made sense to be based here. For me, Birmingham is centrally located which makes it relatively easy to visit partner sites all over the country. Culturally, the city is thriving and there is always something different to do.

What challenges do you find everyday in being a young entrepreneur?

The main challenge I face is that there is so much to do – there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. However, it is very exciting and I love learning new skills so the challenges faced are definitely one of the best parts of the jobs. We also have a really fantastic set of advisers, so learning from their vast experience is one of the best things which has come from the whole Aceleron experience. The Aceleron team is also an awesome group of people who make working everyday a real pleasure.

What are the perks?

For me, the biggest perk is knowing that if everything works out, we are able to make a difference to so many people’s lives. The other big perk is seeing how much support we have from organisations – it’s a real confidence booster.

You were chosen as one of Forbes Under 30 – that’s pretty amazing! Can you tell me a bit more about that?

We were selected to be on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in January 2017. It was a real shock for me and took quite a while for the news to sink in. I don’t think I realised the importance of the listing for quite a while until someone who works in marketing asked why I wasn’t jumping up and down with joy. Personally, I’ll celebrate once we actually achieve the level of impact that we are looking for.

As a My Accountant Friend client, what have they done for you that you’ve found really helpful?

Richard Ingledew, our MAF Partner, has been phenomenal at giving us support on anything we ask about. I just have to pick up the phone to get the advice needed. If Richard doesn’t know, then he is very happy to put us in touch with the experts who do. I’m looking forward to continuing working with Richard!

For more info on Amrit and his Aceleron team, head to www.aceleronltd.com. If you’ve got an idea for a startup and you need help working out the financial side of things, feel free to give My Accountant Friend a call. We love to chat!

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