SageBrush
Posts: 4907
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:28 am
Delivery Date: 13 Feb 2017
Location: NM

Re: Fenix Power: A new third party battery replacement?

Wed Feb 06, 2019 4:45 pm

Oils4AsphaultOnly wrote: Isn't this being a little harsh?
The escrow would be relevant to the deposits he collects while trying to convince investors to put money is his company. Off-hand I'll guess that numbers in the couple of dozens although John could say for sure. But by all means, he can charge $10 if a deposit is requested back before a year is up. If he cannot absorb a few hundred dollars in escrow charges then he is not running 'lean,' he is running broke.

I think it is fairly obvious that John is trying to build a business from a deck of cards. By that I mean:
1. Collect deposits on a promise
2. Use deposits to collect a large sum of investor money
3. Use investor money to build a profitable company.

John knows that a fairly large group of people have been left hanging by Nissan, so he sees a market. Beyond that I don't get the slightest hint that he actually understands the barriers involved in solving the LEAF battery replacement problem. I strongly suspect that he thinks that all that is needed is an organizer in the middle, a few hours of contracted engineering, and a couple of people willing to work part time for a couple of months in return for company equity. Oh, and some technical jargon to give an appearance of competence.

OK, that last bit was harsh. $10 is peanuts. Should I point out that he didn't actually know what an escrow would cost, that it was available for the amounts being discussed, or that his first impulse was to BS with blockchain nonsense ? Does that behavior strike you as consistent with his pronouncements that deposits are safe ? Do you think a person without an EE background and without money is going to succeed here ?
Last edited by SageBrush on Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:48 am, edited 5 times in total.
2013 LEAF 'S' Model with QC & rear-view camera
Bought off-lease Jan 2017 from N. California
Two years in Colorado, now in NM
03/2018: 58 Ahr, 28k miles
11/2018: 56.16 Ahr, 30k miles
-----
2018 Tesla Model 3 LR, Delivered 6/2018

Oilpan4
Gold Member
Posts: 888
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:51 pm
Delivery Date: 10 May 2018
Leaf Number: 004270

Re: Fenix Power: A new third party battery replacement?

Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:27 pm

I may be interested in getting in on an IPO.
2011 white SL leaf with 2014 batt.
Chargers: Panasonic brick moded for 240v, duosida 16a 240v and a 10kw setec portable CHAdeMO
Location: 88103

SageBrush
Posts: 4907
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:28 am
Delivery Date: 13 Feb 2017
Location: NM

Re: Fenix Power: A new third party battery replacement?

Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:06 am

Oilpan4 wrote:I may be interested in getting in on an IPO.
LOL !!
2013 LEAF 'S' Model with QC & rear-view camera
Bought off-lease Jan 2017 from N. California
Two years in Colorado, now in NM
03/2018: 58 Ahr, 28k miles
11/2018: 56.16 Ahr, 30k miles
-----
2018 Tesla Model 3 LR, Delivered 6/2018

joeriv
Posts: 249
Joined: Sun Mar 24, 2013 1:33 pm
Location: Fairfield County CT

Re: Fenix Power: A new third party battery replacement?

Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:50 am

“John knows that a fairly large group of people have been left hanging by Nissan, so he sees a market. Beyond that I don't get the slightest hint that he actually understands the barriers involved in solving the LEAF battery replacement problem. I strongly suspect that he thinks that all that is needed is an organizer in the middle, a few hours of contracted engineering, and a couple of people willing to work part time for a couple of months in return for company equity. Oh, and some technical jargon to give an appearance of competence.

OK, that last bit was harsh.”

You think? Just call him a con artist and get over it.

I spent some years in new business ventures so what I see is quite different from SB. There are two critical steps in launching a new business:

1. Proof of Concept. After developing a business plan the next step is to prove it can be done. That’s where Fenix is now. The investor group is monitoring tech progress probably on a monthly basis - if it can’t be done, they pull the plug.

2. Proof of Business. A LOT tougher! I have seen more than a few start-ups demonstrate that the technology can be done but fall flat when trying to roll out the technology into a viable business. There is no way to do this than roll out the business and see what happens. Lots of new ventures fail at this point.

SB has every right to be skeptical - new business development is very tough, but I would watch closely before making sweeping judgments on motives.
2017 Leaf S with QC, JUN mfg date

SageBrush
Posts: 4907
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 2:28 am
Delivery Date: 13 Feb 2017
Location: NM

Re: Fenix Power: A new third party battery replacement?

Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:55 am

^^ If I had to guess I would say with some confidence that John is NOT a scam and I have nothing to say about his motives other than he wants to make money.

My point is that I don't think he has any tech progress to show investors; in fact, I don't think he has investors yet. I strongly suspect that his business plan so far is to lure money in by showing deposits, and then .... well, he has ideas but no real clue how to turn concept into product. My money is on Hanlon's razor with a sac of hubris along for the ride.

There is a fellow in Colorado who sells replacement battery packs for the Prius that he assembles from modules that he buys in Asia. This is a *much* simpler business than LEAF battery pack replacements but his approach was informative:
First, he bought and built ONE pack for himself and drove around with it for a year. When he found that it was still working well he found a couple of neighbors willing to take a chance, so he built some 2-3 packs and took upon himself the installation. After another year or so he convinced himself that those packs were also continuing to perform well, and at that time he started to advertise by opening a website and mentioning his venture on Prius centric sites. If I am not mistaken, he takes in a batch (maybe 5?) of orders in order to buy enough cells at discount, assemble them in a reasonable time period, and get the packs shipped out to customers. It is the customer responsibility to install the pack and that has lead to problems since DIY skills vary, even though a Prius pack replacement is trivial compared to a LEAF.

Should he ever want to scale, he might then want to take in investor money but the product is real and the early track record is promising. John is going about this arse-back wards.
Last edited by SageBrush on Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:41 am, edited 5 times in total.
2013 LEAF 'S' Model with QC & rear-view camera
Bought off-lease Jan 2017 from N. California
Two years in Colorado, now in NM
03/2018: 58 Ahr, 28k miles
11/2018: 56.16 Ahr, 30k miles
-----
2018 Tesla Model 3 LR, Delivered 6/2018

WetEV
Posts: 3153
Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 8:25 am
Delivery Date: 16 Feb 2014
Location: Near Seattle, WA

Re: Fenix Power: A new third party battery replacement?

Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:01 am

joeriv wrote:SB has every right to be skeptical - new business development is very tough, but I would watch closely before making sweeping judgments on motives.
At minimum, new business development is tough. Lots of expensive things to buy, people to pay and such before the first real revenue. Still more expenses until the first real profit. And cash flow problems can make even a profitable business fail.

If you put in a deposit, expect to lose it.
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red
2019 eTron Blue

Lothsahn
Posts: 511
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:35 pm
Delivery Date: 04 Jan 2018
Leaf Number: 007797

Re: Fenix Power: A new third party battery replacement?

Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:51 am

WetEV wrote:If you put in a deposit, expect to lose it.
That's exactly what I did. I view the $99 deposit exactly as a kickstarter payment. It's very high risk, but I want to support Fenix Power in trying to solve the Leaf battery problem. I could completely lose it all and acknowledge that. The upside, however, is huge. If the product launches and I can convert my Leaf to a 150-200 mile car, the impact is huge. Not only does my car gain tremendous value, but the environment is also helped by avoiding all of those Leafs going into wreckers.

I agree that using escrow.com would increase the likelihood of people committing. If he's not touching the escrow money, it is the path he should go, because the increased confidence from escrow would outweigh the $10 cost. But John's running his business the way he wants, and honestly, he's been having problems even getting the payment processor working. He's probably pulling 80+ hour work weeks trying to get this thing to work, and every little thing like this is a distraction from launching the company.
2011 Silver SV, purchased 2018, lives in Missouri (previously in CA)
LeafSpy Pro + BAFX Products OBDII dongle
Battery swap 2019/04/24 (87% SOH, 12 bar)

JohnBysinger
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2016 2:16 am

Re: Fenix Power: A new third party battery replacement?

Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:20 pm

It looks like I missed quite a bit of discussion, so I'll try to address a few things in this reply.

First, Kickstarter and Crowdfunding. I did quite a bit of research into using a number of crowdfunding models, including the newer equity/stake models and the even newer ICO or Initial Coin Offering via minting a cryptocurrency. Here's what I learned from that research:

Traditional crowdfunding (Kirkstarter, Indegogo) success has very little to do with the product or the business plan, and has everything to do with bringing a large social following to the program BEFORE you even launch on the platform. Thousands of followers, huge social reach. In short, it's a marketing challenge. Though we're growing our social presence daily, with the numbers I see today, I still don't believe it's enough to drive a successful crowd funding effort. Another huge component is video. As this thread alone demonstrates, the power of seeing something for yourself is huge. And right now what we have to show is 4 things: a bench-top pair of "modules" that can interact with each other, and I use quotes here because it's proto-boards, a collection of 18650s and a mess of wires that honestly doesn't look much different than you'd find from any other battery tinkerer online. We also have another collection of boards and hardware emulating our battery to car interface, again, a spiderweb of components. We also have a "LEAF" that we used for testing, that has no car around it. just the electronics, for testing the above with. And finally we have our prototype service, essentially a cluster of virtual servers that we're working on the service portion of the product. Since we're relocating to Charlotte, showing these things off is a challenge, I've left the battery and interface hardware in the hands of one engineer in Seattle, the "car" is in a shipping container waiting for a physical facility here, and the software, is just code at this point. As mentioned above, it's all proof of concept, and currently only tested against a 2011/24kWh "car' if you can call it that.

So yes, if you want to call what we have "vaporware" I can't completely disagree, And when I started this business 4 years ago, I didn't want to even consider showing, let alone asking for a reservation, until not only we had a full vehicle on the road, but several, tested, built, with polish and finish fit for production. But the reality is, there's only one way to pull that off, you already have millions of dollars to spend. Every investor I spoke with 3 years ago said to come back when I have customers. I learned a very important lesson from them, their concern about the technology is surprisingly low. They want to know it's possible, sure, but it takes a much lower priority than two other things: Do I understand the market, and do I have real, paying customers who want what I'm building. "Go get deposits, prove the market is there."

Now I've spent the last 4 years talking to very literally hundreds of people about what we're doing, mostly LEAF owners, many other EV owners, and quite a few who've never driven an EV in their life or even considered one. I've done interviews, I track dozens of market metrics, growth, age, spend, problems, etc. I've got good data, but even with that, without even a single deposit, conversations with investors are a non-starter. Prove it, I kept hearing back. When I had one customer, I asked, not enough, can you get 10? I got 10, ok, some people want it, but that's just a hobby, can you get 100? As mentioned above, scale is extremely hard. Every doubling or order of magnitude changes the challenge, the questions, problems, and costs are all different. So right now, the zeros on the deposit mean much less than the number of people that placed one. But the deposit has to be meaningful. If I asked for $10, I could have 500 by now, but when you get over $100, people have to really consider their choice. And considering the above and the state of where we are in development, asking for the full $1500 is frankly absurd.

Now, I also see in the posts I missed, that there's a question about talent. Do we know the right things to pull this off? I believe we do. Ok, so what do we need? We obviously need to know battery, but also embedded software, distributed applications, managing thousands or millions of devices and their communication, manufacturing, and dozens of other business challenges.

Battery: we have an ME/MBA from Dell who spent 20 years beginning in laptop design in the 90's and progressed through managing their battery supply chain. We have an EE with 5 years building battery systems, including time with a startup focused on fast charging innovation.
Software: we have the previously mentioned EE who has built BMS from the ground up, and we have an amazing talented systems architect who has developed from machine code and FPGA through massively distributed and mobile applications in the cloud and knows blockchain like I've never seen before, including a project that manages GPU power supply for higher mining efficiency.
Manufacturing: We have a semi-retired MS executive that ran their hardware division for 10 years as an advisor, and I studied manufacturing systems and process engineering during my ME studies with 5 years of practical application at Reynolds Metals and Boeing.
Communications: Well this is where I get to brag, I've been involved in cellular/wireless data since 2000 beginning with engineering of CDPD solutions for businesses through engineering and building consumer cellular data from 2.5G/GPRS through EDGE, 3G, 4G and early 5G working from handset/device through core network architecture. I've helped Apple, the Pentagon, UPS, RIM, and hundreds of other businesses deploy wireless data solutions. I've also published 3 papers accurately predicting the explosive growth of both smartphones and mobile applications while they were still early-adopter technologies.

I could go on, but I think that might help to understand our talent pool a bit more. There are of course others, marketing and business folks that we're talking to but haven't hired yet as they come after the funding round. But they're anxious to get on board. For example, while I'm currently acting as CEO, that too will change as my skills are best applied in a CTO role, and we're actively seeking someone for that role with successful startup exits. I'm a very fast learner, but I know my limits and when to step aside.


Finally there was a bit of discussion about the funding piece. Unfortunately I can't address how much we're raising, how we're raising it, the terms we're seeking, who or how many are interested, or if we're aiming for IPO. SEC rules prevent me from discussing anything related to that. However when we complete this round, you'll likely be able to find out on crunchbase, or other similar sites. What I can say is we're engineering our solution to be adaptable to a large variety of applications, LEAF is just the beginning. So outside funding is a very necessary evil to get there.

JohnBysinger
Posts: 33
Joined: Mon Jul 18, 2016 2:16 am

Re: Fenix Power: A new third party battery replacement?

Thu Feb 07, 2019 1:22 pm

It seems I forgot to address the equity crowd funding and ICO, and since they're a simple reply, I'll just add that real quick. Both are very young, and highly risky propositions. The rules aren't fully baked on equity funding, and ICO is nearly wild-west status still, with lots of scams and is earning a poor reputation for the businesses trying it. So we're avoiding both.

mcain
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2019 3:18 pm
Delivery Date: 02 Feb 2019

Re: Fenix Power: A new third party battery replacement?

Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:24 am

I pick up my first leaf tomorrow. A used 2013 with QC and solid state of health. For me it’s that the difference between 1st round deposit and 2nd round deposit just isn’t that much money and I doubt think I’ll “need” the service for a couple of years. So, opportunity is there and a bench model is there but i don’t have to pull the trigger.

If you start an indie Gogo page, simply include a perk at $150 and set limit to 100. This will Track the first 100 donors on a log. edit post, for the next round. Edit the perk, make it $300 - track 101-1000. Lots of PAT PENDING items on there all the time.

I’d be more happy giving a charitable contribution to a team of supersmart dudes than entering my credit card on the Felix site and wonder how many years it might be until the tech pans out.

Get a millennial on board with Indiegogo experience, get $250k+ without answering potential investors questions about market potential and get the thing built. I had a great founder once who said the hardest business to double was from 100 to 200.

Thanks for being so dedicated and keeping an open mind. There are 2011-2012 LEAFS I would buy, put in your modules and start renting on TURO today if this was further along. Same for the C5 too- that is going to be a beast.

Again, not a leaf owner yet but super supportive

Return to “General / Main Owners Forum”