San Diego based PowerGenix is taking their business to a new level, recently announcing a distribution deal with Ingram Micro to distribute the firm’s next generation batteries throughout retail stores in Canada.
“PowerGenix’s Nickel-Zinc AA’s are the first rechargeable batteries to deliver a power equivalent to disposable alkaline batteries—a 30-percent increase compared to conventional AA rechargeable battery technologies.” These batteries are also non-combustible and non-toxic- a decent sized leap forward in the evolution of batteries. The firm is proving that next generation batteries are not around the corner- they are available right now online, and in retail stores (in Canada) in two weeks.
PowerGenix is backed with $60MM in funding from VC notables such as: Bessemer Venture Partners, Advent International, Angeleno Group, Braemar Energy Ventures, Granite Ventures, OnPoint Technologies and Technology Partners.
Now, contrast PowerGenix with Imara- also a next generation battery maker. Based in Menlo Park- it was “months” away from generating revenues. Backed with $19.1MM from Battery Ventures and Nth Power, it had been seeking another $20MM round over the past 8 months, but had to close its doors and shut down just two weeks ago. Their battery supposedly had a 60% energy density advantage over the A123 technology. A lack of DOE funding, unsigned contracts, poor economy and unsuccessful capital raise combined together to the demise of Imara. Because batteries, like the solar industry, are capital intensive- it makes being a start up challenging. Even the two battery start ups to win significant DOE funding, Ener1 and A123, are not exactly very profitable right now.
Imara appears to be the first of an inevitable shake up in the sector, much like we saw with solar. PowerGenix will succeed for the time being because it has revenues, a strong product ready and access to customers. A123 and Ener1 both have client contracts, strong backing, DOE funding and manufacturing facilities existing or on the way. Imara and PowerGenix demonstrate the finite amount of capital and client contracts available as well as the value we place on picking winners. It is easier to understand the bullish undertones of a sector yet much more difficult to correctly select the individual winners.