The Excitement of Starting Companies
Every startup, even if it is rated as on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies list has obstacles that it needs to overcome. Jim Castelez, Founder and CEO of Motiv Power Systems, shares some of the challenges that his company has overcome.
It’s difficult to bring a new product into a new market. One of my favorite moments was when we were bringing our very first demonstration vehicle to our very first trade show. WE had the date set and it was fast approaching and this demonstration vehicle wasn’t operating. It was a pretty novel shuttle bus in the way that it used multiple battery technologies on the vehicle at one time. No one had ever done this. And I remember slightly the week leading up to the show, because eight days leading up to the show I got a total of 16 hours of sleep. So like two hours a day, which you can sustain for a couple days but after eight days… yeah. The longest I slept was in a corner on some blankets that our painters had discarded when they were putting the final vinyl wrap on the vehicle, but over that time period we were just tweaking things to get the vehicle to work and to work optimally. And one by one our team just fell off from exhaustion. And it was just me and one power electronics engineer. And he’s kind of just passed out there in the vehicle and we’re hacking away trying to figure out what was happening in the software that was preventing our vehicle from driving. The tow truck was there to take our vehicle to the show which was in Indianapolis, and he’d post-poned as long as he could, he was going to dead head straight there from California, say “okay we got to go.” They hook up the shuttle and wench it onto the flat bed truck and I’m still inside of there coding and eventually some of my team has to come and pull me out of the vehicle so that the guy can finally drive away. And then we get on the phone with our software engineer and we have about 12 hours until our flight hacking away and we think we fix it, we get to the show, load on the new code, and lo and behold it runs! We had never charged the vehicle before though. So my poor power electronics engineer who was with me until the end volunteered to sleep in the vehicle over night just to make sure that it could charge correctly at this show so it could be already. This was March in Indianapolis so he had a little space heater, the pillows from the hotel room that we gave him and he was in the floor of the shuttle bus sleeping. We gave him a break; he didn’t have to man the booth the next day though. But it actually all went very well, and the ride ’n drive was successful and we were able to demonstrate the technology. We’ve come a long way since then but that story is always going to be part of an example of the excitement of starting a company.
About Jim Castelez:
Jim Castelez is the founder and CEO of Motiv Power Systems; a company that works to retrofits diesel trucks into electric vehicles. Before he founded Motiv Power Systems, Jim worked as Chief Architect at an EV start-up focused on designing electric buses. Jim received a BS in Engineering and Economics from Harvey Mudd College and an MSEE from Stanford University.