By Alexander Soule
A Stamford startup won a pitch contest sponsored by the Stamford Innovation Center and the Angel Investor Forum, promising a newfangled business model for electric vehicles.
Talino EV plans to launch in mid-February, but its founders gave a preview of its business at the Feb. 5 Startup Pitch Night competition at the Stamford Innovation Center.
CEO Henry Abreu and cofounder Marc Ira have brainstormed a system of “smart” battery packs that would function akin to prepaid cellphones, charging a small payment each time an electric vehicle’s battery is recharged.
Spreading out the cost of the battery over time puts the upfront sticker cost of the electric vehicle itself in line with gas-powered counterparts. Abreu and Ira believe that in turn will jumpstart sales of electric vehicles, which can cost thousands of dollars more than regular cars.
Talino EV is focusing initially on the Philippines, where millions of gas-powered motorcycles — dubbed tricycles there — spew pollution.
“Talino enables on-demand, necessary, short-distance, clean high-technology transportation,” Ira told an audience at the Stamford Innovation Center. “If this sounds familiar, it is because this is the strategy Uber is using to go global … We believe that we offer a lot more to our client base — and we believe we have a lot more clients in our client base.”
Talino EV envisions two revenue streams — manufacturing the smart battery packs that electric vehicle makers would install, and then recurring revenue from vehicle owners replenishing their batteries. Abreu and Ira did not outline what a vehicle owner could expect to pay as calculated by the mile or kilometer. Over time, Abreu said the company would make “multiples” of the upfront cost of manufacturing the battery.
Talino EV beat out four other entrants, with the runner-up prize awarded to Optical Academy, which offers low-cost vision appraisal and eyeglasses to schools in New Jersey, where it is based, and other states. Optical Academy is working out deals with teacher unions to bring advanced vision-testing systems to schools, at a cost of about $30 for the assessment and another $30 for the eyeglasses. Founder Abby Ayoub said that easily undercuts what families would pay through their insurance or otherwise to get their kids tested and fitted for glasses.
Ayoub said Optical Academy has yet to begin operating in Connecticut, but expects to do so “soon” and will likely seek a franchisee to offer the service here.
The Stamford Innovation Center and the Angel Investor Forum do not award much in the way of cash — $1,000 for first place, $500 for second — but offer a good opportunity for entrepreneurs to hone their presentations.
“If we can incent startups to work on delivering great, concise presentations, we’re convinced the quality of startups overall will improve,” said Ed Goodwin, president of the Angel Investor Forum and a longtime genetic researcher at Yale University.
The Stamford Innovation Center gave Arccos co-founders Sal Syed and Ammad Faisal its Abraham Davenport award as the “most fearless”local startup leaders, with the Stamford-based company selling a system in the Apple Store to help golfers track shots and improve their game.
And the John Mackie Brown award went to Orthozon Technologies‘ CEO Joshua Aferzon as the “hardest working leader of a startup” in the iCenter’s orbit. Stamford-based Orthozon has developed a retraction tool for spine procedures and other surgeries that allows for smaller incisions, improving recovery times for patients.
Aferzon had a word of advice for the entrepreneurs who competed in the contest.
“It’s a lot of hard work to build a company — it takes a long time and it takes a lot of `no’s,’ ” Aferzon said. “When you are an entrepreneur, it’s not just `no’ — it’s not just `we’re not interested, we’re going to move on,’ It’s `no’ and a list of reasons as to why you are going to fail — every single time.”