OpenGrid Technologies

Democratizing Urban EV Charging



EmBossed 3D

As Featured In:

INNOVATE® Washington DMV Edition

Charging an EV (electric vehicle) outside your city home can be problematic for most urban EV drivers. Simply put, public charging operators aren’t incentivized to build urban fast-charging networks due to the uncertainty in demand, lack of access to prime locations, and power availability issues. What’s more, private charging isn’t feasible, either. Less than 10% of multi-family buildings have electrical access for EV charging. As a result, 40 million urban dwellers are left behind by the scarcity of public charging infrastructures in this electrified era.

OpenGrid Technologies is a dynamic force transforming the urban electric vehicle (EV) charging landscape – from the heart of Washington, D.C. Founded by Nanbo Liu, Theo Hebblethwaite, and Mike Wen, visionary minds from Georgetown University, OpenGrid is more than just a company; it’s a mission-driven campaign dedicated to making EV charging in urban settings effortless and universal. Their elevator pitch, “Urban EV fast-charging made easy,” encapsulates their groundbreaking solution.

Working on the factory floor.

Democratizing Urban EV Charging
OpenGrid’s mission is sharply focused: to revolutionize urban EV charging. Nanbo, with his deep insights into the urban mobility sector, highlights a critical issue: “The real challenge for urban EV drivers is the scarcity of efficient charging infrastructure.” OpenGrid responds innovatively with a network of proprietary DC fast chargers, offering subscription-based electricity packages that blend seamlessly into the urban fabric. “Our unique approach brings the Uber magic to urban EV charging,” shares Theo. “With a mix of dedicated and partnership charging stations, we sit in the middle of EV drivers and the urban environment. Thanks to the proprietary design of fast charging stations and an innovative subscription model, urban EV drivers can confidently top off their day in minutes at a low cost. Our dedicated locations and the no-cost partnership program with local businesses ensure us access to prime locations that serve the drivers best. Simply put, we are establishing a highly scalable urban EV charging standard of speed, cost stability, proximity, and driver experience that can’t be matched.”

From Concept to Concrete Solutions
The evolution of OpenGrid from an MBA classroom concept at Georgetown to a market innovator in urban EV charging encapsulates a journey of relentless research, global networking, and technological innovation.

Mike recalls: “We realized that EV charging in urban environments significantly hindered EV adoption.” This led to the birth of OpenGrid, inspired by models like Uber and Lime e-scooters, redefining urban EV charging with a unique blend of technology and innovative business models. Reflecting on OpenGrid’s inception, Nanbo says: “It was about combining technology with a new business model.” OpenGrid’s proprietary-design charging stations serve not just as a functional aspect of their service but as a vital extension of their overarching business model and ecosystem. Embracing a philosophy akin to that of a software company, the firm aims to transform urban EV charging into an experience that is as rapid, effortless, and dependable as it rightfully should be. This approach marries the efficiency of bringing a software company ethos to the hardware service.

A Unique Charging Solution
OpenGrid’s uniqueness lies not just in its charging stations but also in the way it reimagines urban infrastructure. “Our charging stations aren’t just points; they are integral to the urban landscape,” Nanbo emphasizes. These stations, equipped with EV batteries, offer enhanced output and user-friendly plug-and play applications, highlighted by the innovative use of QR codes for easy access. “Our charging stations are highly scalable, and we believe instead of building jumbo charging stations sporadically distributed throughout the cities, fast charging stations should be on every street, every corner for us to embrace an electrified future,” Theo adds. The goal extends beyond solving current challenges; it’s about shaping the future of urban mobility with sustainability as a cornerstone, including the potential for stations to self-generate electricity using solar panels.

OpenGrid’s vision extends to creating a cohesive ecosystem for EV users through strategic alliances with automotive companies, technology firms, and urban developers. “We are also working with local business district improvement projects and Smart City initiatives to make Washington, D.C., and adjacent areas more EV-ready and sustainable,” asserts Mike. This approach aims to provide a comprehensive urban mobility experience, not just limited to charging stations.

Embracing Challenges as Opportunities
OpenGrid’s ambition is palpable: “Our mission is to build tomorrow’s climate technology today,” shares Nanbo. This vision embodies OpenGrid’s ethos – deeply invested in the present and actively shaping the future of urban EV charging. In the face of an evolving marketplace, OpenGrid sees a landscape brimming with opportunities. Nanbo remarks: “Combining business model innovation with technology is rare.” Committed to sustainability, user-centric design, and a forward-thinking approach, OpenGrid is not just redefining urban EV charging – it’s pioneering the future of urban mobility.

Other INNOVATE® Ecosystems