Peer Guidance

TealEV – Telling It Like It Is – Peer Guidance

0:00 Sharing knowledge and stories is why i started telling it like it is it is a live show if you have any questions plop
them in the comments section and we will answer them if you’re watching this after the fact put your questions in
there and we will get to them i have two sponsors and i’m excited about both of them startup tnt our cleantech finale is
tomorrow here at platform calgary starting at four pitches go live at five we’ll have a big networking event after
we’ll also have a satellite events going on in edmonton regina and saskatoon so go to to get your tickets
they are free and of course we have the alberta technology symposium which is going april 20th and 21st here in
calgary we’re at 200 plus of tickets sold already we also have a big gala
wednesday night which we will have three alberta uh ministers here so you can come network and uh start meeting some
like-minded people but let’s start talking about electric vehicles today with sohil akbari how are you today i’m
doing great yeah thanks for having me having me here no i we had a really good conversation
and we kicked off our little sask sask month of of interviews and we had alex alex and jesse on and uh jesse was the
one that introduced us and and i’m extremely excited to hear your story yeah well thanks
yeah absolutely so why don’t we why don’t we get right into it so why don’t uh what you know everybody probably wants
to know and i would love to hear a little bit about your backstory on you know how why you started uh tlev and and
and why in saskatoon like that that that that’s really intriguing to me yeah yeah well it’s um i graduated exactly 10
years ago from a master’s degree in uh mechanical engineering here here at u of s
and uh you know i was born and raised in a family of automotive enthusiasts and i started you
know an alden with a business in town here i continued that business for seven
years and then at seven years ago i decided to pivot and do something different and uh when i got into teal
um and you know all my resources all my you know i was
quite settled here all my resources were here and for me kind of relocating from saskatoon was something really tough to
do at that point and i decided to um you know start a business here and um
i definitely don’t regret it i got um you know great people here that are working with me i love the kind of work
ethics and um you know saskatchewan people in general um the
biggest challenge has been you know the smaller economy here and um you know
very tough um to raise funds um and also talent acquisition remains a bit of a challenge in saskatoon but
other than that you know anywhere in prairies basically is a great uh place for the type of technology we’re
developing because we’re focused on cold climates and you know uh here you get a full six
months the year that you could you know test your technology and make sure you bring it up uh to a level that’s uh
that’s acceptable for for the industry so so i guess you know
you have an obviously an automotive background i mean but what made you kind of pivot into electric vehicles is that
kind of just it was a hot topic or something that really interest you or did did you think you could do something different yeah no actually um you know
i’ve operated um electric vehicles and electrified vehicles for nine years i’m totally aware of the challenges they
have uh in the wintertime we have a lot of issues with heating a lot of you know range loss and those
challenges um you know my engineering background i knew there is a solution for it and that’s kind of what we focused on uh as a part of the teal to
bring an innovative you know solution to to improve the performance and uh reliability of electric vehicles in cold
climates and that was basically the triggering point that um you know really helped to
build a technology that serves a real purpose well i think that’s an interesting concept so why don’t we just touch on
that a little bit like the difference everybody talk i mean i see tesla’s driving around here things along those
lines i have friends that have them but what’s the difference between creating one that will work in california or
texas or wherever compared to saskatoon edmonton calgary well yeah
the real short answer is the difference are in details it’s um you know technology nowadays uh what makes a big
difference is those fine details that how they’re built and how they’re kind of wired and connected to each other and
um it’s no different difference for us um you know every single decision we’ve
made while we developed this technology was was about making a robust and reliable
solution for operating in harsh climates uh brings up all a couple you know
simple examples um uh you know up to this state all the
commercially available vehicles in the market they’ll rely on their batteries for providing heat in the winter time
and that’s one of the main causes of you know losing a lot of range
in the winter whereas our our technology relies on a heat storage system on board that has
nothing to do with the battery and as the temperature goes down the heat storage you know system charges off and
provides you directly heat uh from that whereas uh you know passenger vehicles their payload is very limited they
cannot have that extra you know space space and extra weight to to accommodate those kind of technologies and
again we’re in a commercial space um you know passenger vehicles for example tesla model 3 has 3 000 small kind of
cylindrical cells all glued to each other and it’s basically a non-serviceable system
the type of systems we’re building uh you know on a long range you know versions of our products um
um the battery pack is six times as a battery pack it goes in a tesla model
tree so it’s a huge pack it costs like a hundred thousand dollars and it’s meant you know to
to operate that vehicle for a million kilometers so it’s something that basically cannot fail because it’s such
a big investment and if there is any issues associated with it it should be highly serviceable so every single
decision we’ve made is that make these things extremely robust you know efficient in cold climate and um
um very reliable and serviceable down to the cell level so if any of these cells
were any any reason goes wrong we could uh you know within half an hour basically get that cell replaced them
you know put the vehicle back in service and uh for commercial vehicles meant for
being operated you know 10 hours a day you know in a delivery business uh on the road every day you know we
cannot have the penalties that come with range losses they have to keep their range
consistently to be to be considered you know a passenger private vehicle you know owners they might kind of cope with
that but for us uh you know fleet operators and enterprise companies they cannot afford
that these vehicles they have to be reliable they’re what actually drives their business and has to you
know have that kind of robust robust operation that we’ve been kind of
focused on there’s a lot of other you know innovative elements that goes in in our
vehicles that is not present any uh kind of passenger type technology that is
just probably beyond the focus of this um this meeting but um but yeah those are kind of a couple um
simple examples of what’s actually different between what we do and uh uh
what’s happening in the industry now well i think you said again i’m talking with uh sohilak berry the founder of you can click on their website in the comment section to find out more information about them
i think you said something really interesting there that i want to kind of dive into and then maybe this has to do with your background i just you know even even my
vehicle right now i i can’t take it almost to a regular it has to go to the dealership and it just kind of pisses me
off right it’s like you know back when i lived in saskatoon i could take it to aggie he would fix it i would trust him
things like that now you said that you you’ll be able to kind of access your cars where i know tesla’s that’s pretty
much almost impossible so like is that was that a big big feature
that you wanted to focus on uh can you say it again i didn’t quite get
to eat well they you said that you were able to actually fix your cars
a lot of i mean does that come from your your automotive background you don’t want to do this rather than taking it to
tesla you have it somewhere no actually that’s one of the head design mentalities for sure we want to design
the products in a way that you know the fleet operators with very kind of minimal uh training that we will provide
they will be able to maintain these things uh when it’s you know beyond the the warranty period and these are meant
to be workhorses and you know for long-term operation um and really the mentality of
the companies to serve the client is not you know to automotive industry has been you know going in an interesting
direction in the last few decades that a lot of money are made on the you know after sales world that’s uh you know you
need this maintenance you gotta do that they’re so competitive and um it’s been quite challenging we’re in different
release different space and our focus is to make these things very reliable um
very robust and you know easy to maintain and service and you know
give the the customers a peace of mind that this thing is going to be a workhorse for them for the next basically 15 years of operation
so with it um with it being more of a workhorse is that will that affect the longevity of uh you know a of the
batteries or of the of the truck itself well the decisions are made um to to
accommodate for that you know the type of chemistries we’re using is um they last um
roughly three times as a chemistry that goes in the tesla um they’re the reason they’re not using them in tells us that they’re a bit
heavier and didn’t have as much energy density which for a passenger vehicle that all the payload the passenger
vehicle has four passengers four passengers and uh basically uh a couple you know luggages so they can’t have
that extra weight on board but for commercial applications we you know size the axles and size the vehicle in a way
that they could have that extra weight and um you know definitely you know type of you know chemistry we’re using is
just lasts much longer than um than kind of the eevees the past tvs
and are you coming out with uh like just a one one type of truck or do you’re gonna think you’re gonna have an entire
fleet eventually well we are um mostly focused on the electrification part of the game so um for us like
really the type of chassis doesn’t matter what it goes on it could be any commercial vehicle of kind of any size
really and uh while we’re focused we don’t um you don’t we don’t build the chassis we outsource the chassis we
built the electrification system that’s you know winter proof and uh you know um
kind of anything that’s ip-related and new we’re building in-house anything that’s kind of done over and over and
you know it’s not uh it’s capital intensive and it’s hard to do we kind of outsource and that’s how we do things but yeah definitely there’ll be a
variety of products that we are um hoping to offer and um and yeah that’s
no i mean i think that’s pretty cool i mean you got to start with one oh absolutely that’s that’s
you got to get the first one out there and and uh you know improve it works and especially in the in the so why don’t
you share some of the challenges that you’ve had to overcome creating a a an electric vehicle vehicle that’s going to
pretty much operate in a cold climate well challenges are there’s a lot of
them like i mean it’s um um just making sure these batteries they do operate while you know
from our winters to kind of you know arizona summer that is a wide range of temperatures that is uh you know hard to
manage we we’ve designed you know the pack in a way that you know all year around the battery pack feels it’s in
you know prairies kind of late may and early june just always happy and
making that happen usually there’s been a lot of you know challenges how to build the pack how to insulate it how to
actually heat it and cool it all year round very efficiently and um
how to scavenge every bit of heat that comes out of the system to use for you know warming up the cabin or you know adding
a heat storage system to the uh to the vehicle to to provide you know extra
heat to the cabin there’s been a lot of you know technical challenges that um is quite novel and innovative and we have
you know kind of overcome and um and yeah it’s been it’s been quite entertaining it’s been
oh i bet i mean and i’m sure there’s lots of things that popped up that you didn’t even think would pop up
oh yeah absolutely those are just our daily life right yes exactly and we touched on this a little
bit and uh you know yesterday or last week i guess with alex alex and and jesse talking about some of the
challenges of the actual ecosystem itself um you know being a smaller ecosystem
you know you know not as many maybe you know angel funds or or c funds things along those lines there uh what what what have
you what have you found you know in the saskatchewan one and i mean obviously this is telling it like it is i mean
sometimes it’s not all good but it could be good uh you know please share kind of your challenges and and what you see
the saskatchewan ecosystem needs well we definitely need more kind of a
angel investment you know here in the province companies like us were early stage with
pre-revenue and of course you know the vcs and kind of professional investors
um they’re not considering us because we’re too early for them and you need that you know gap to be filled by by
angels and also by you know provincial government to some extent unfortunately the government here has not been
supporting any e-related projects or technologies they recently left last year they put some extra attacks on evs
uh you know people are basically yeah you know pushing against government to support evs just the very opposite of
the world yeah globally you know all the governments are pushing for for evs and in our province is the very opposite so
it’s been um uh been very challenging um i would see like you know um
organizations like startup tnt that are bringing these angels you know to the table to bringing the awareness you know
putting them uh putting companies in front of these at these people and um you know helping
them to raise a seed capital and precede capital is very important because um you know there’s a
lot of challenges to doing a startup and um you know um financial challenge is one of the major ones and any help that
could be could be done in that front it’s really helping the startups to grow yeah you know we’ve actually seen that
uh really you know again and it’s not me being biased it’s me being active in this you know in the alberta ecosystem
for eight years not only as an investor but as someone who who helps out and i
really believe that in the you know the two two and a half years that startup tnt has been here um it it’s been the
company or the organization that has made the most difference handing out six million dollars to 35 companies like not
very many people can say that and these are early stage companies like yours so i i think you know we i you
know with jesse jesse out there doing a fantastic job what a champion he’s been and and and i think it’s probably gonna
you know take a little time maybe another year or so for for us to grow that ecosystem to to kind of get where
alberta is but i i mean i hope that startup tnt makes its biggest difference in saskatchewan as it did in alberta
yeah for us has been actually great we’ve been part of one of their just early summits we managed to raise
some uh you know capital we’ve uh you know successful some kind of level of experience expertise
that we could not have on board otherwise so it’s been uh really great for us i would recommend it to other
companies to be a part of this um uh if there is any you know investors and people who are thinking about
investing into companies i uh really you know suggest to to connect with startup tnt and
join the uh join the the movement and um is
is definitely playing a role and filling the gap that has been existing in our kind of ecosystem across prairies
oh absolutely again i’m talking with suhil akbari the founder of you can uh go to their website right
from the comments section and uh and then be able to check out their website
let’s talk like why wh where did this name come from i’m just curious for myself like t lev i mean i obviously i
get the ev but what i mean teal where did that come like ryder you so i thought maybe ryder green or something or just i don’t know like what’s going
on yeah well teal is a combination of uh you know kind of blue and green in in
english to something that’s called greenish blue uh the blue part of it comes from uh the blue sky where we’re
trying to you know reduce emissions as much as we can and the green part of it is um uh we’re up cycling some
components from uh eb world and uh basically reusing them in our products uh this this components and stuff being
recycled um you know uh we basically engineered them and we use them in our products um of course there is the
option for you know uh not upcycled just brand brand new product you know components of those couple main
components that we’re using but um that comes with an extra cost for for the customers and uh doing this we’re
basically saving a lot on you know the energy required to basically recycle these
components and also all the mining and the effort goes through you know extracting this material and building
them so with giving him a second life it’s very very important to
kind of reduce the dimension and basically build a product in the the most
environmental friendly kind of manner and that’s where the idea comes from um and also teal you know from the
simplistic kind of view is a symbol of kind of renewal and symbol of you know morality and and the nature and that’s
all the goals of the company to kind of kind of achieve and yeah that’s that’s where the name comes
from well that’s pretty cool and i think i might steal your answer because teal’s in the pure guidance logo but i didn’t
know any of that i steal a lot of answers from people
here because there’s way more smarter people than i am so i was like i’m going to steal that i like that
oh my goodness that is that i mean that’s a really interesting i love that i i love that uh
i love how how that name came together i think that’s awesome because i was i was just always curious about how how how
why why teal like i was just a color right type thing so interesting so i get i mean moving
forward here like what do you see some of the the challenges or the main advantages and challenges for um for
e-mobility and clean transportation today and and in the future well the the main advantages is
definitely uh you know the cost savings like uh now with this new uh you know fuel prices uh
you know different depends where you are but in places like saskatchewan you you’re looking at 85 percent less you
know um cost of energy if you go electric compared to
gas and places like you know quebec that number is more like 95 so it’s it’s it’s
huge is if you’re you know you’re filling up at you know eight cents leader in correct so it’s um
you know the energy savings is is incredible and also the the maintenance
saving that comes with this vehicle to do the simplicity of these um is a roughly 65 less than any diesel or
gas counterpart so um uh you know these vehicles they come with you know depends how much they used and
you know how they operated but two to five years payback period which is uh well within the the warranty period that
this these products are offered so um um you know there is definitely the
economical justification to adopt this uh the challenges that we’ve noticed is uh number one for fleet and kind of
enterprise clients that we’re mostly uh focused on is um charging infrastructure is is a
challenge you know the fleets didn’t want to adopt an ev before having a charger running on the premises and yeah
uh that charger gonna be properly sized you got to be you know properly priced uh this is
right now a project we’re working on to build uh this dc fast chargers that are meant for larger you know applications
very affordably and we’re hoping uh to kind of commercialize that uh by q4 2022
um and yeah the charge infrastructure remains one of the challenges the second challenge is the upfront cost of
electric vehicles now uh we have one competitor company out of quebec and the cost is like similar to depends on the
type of range but three to four times as a diesel and um that is definitely um
a major challenge for mainstream you know and normal customers to adopt these evs um you know
some municipalities they still have the budget to do such thing but really does not scale at that kind of price point so
our goal goal is for uh you know up to 200 kilometers range you know offer this commercial vehicles for the same cost as
a diesel that uh you know allow uh delivery companies and you know smaller
companies to buy these instant diesels and kind of take advantage of the savings and the environmental benefits
that come from it and hopefully the government will support you know to make that happen but uh yeah those are the
upfront costs and basically charge infrastructure is definitely the biggest biggest challenges
yeah that makes sense right does it take a little longer to charge uh you know like i guess a commercial vehicle in in
your home than it would uh a regular vehicle actually the type of stuff we’re building just can’t be charged from home
okay the you know the home um we don’t have a three-phase service that you know residential system right it’s all
single-based and type of power is available is not sufficient but um you know for enterprise customers and
commercial operations there’s three phase and yeah no problem they’ll have they’ll have it out there their shop or
whatever right yeah or are they hob or they they’re kind of um you know the place that they they store their
vehicles overnight so um wouldn’t be definitely a challenge for those kind of operations but you know a
large truck that we’re talking about is a nine-ton truck i mean it’s a huge unit no one takes it home just they’re not even allowed to be parked in residential
areas right no no doubt there no doubt allegations
i hope they’re not parking that out front of my house
so so i guess uh you know i guess uh sohil what uh what what’s your plan short term let’s say in the next year
and then maybe long term in the next five or so years what’s next for tlav well short term is as i said q4 2022 uh plan
is to release a series of kind of dc fast chargers we think it’s a very important step stone for what we’re
doing and you know if the financials go well and get you know access to some extra capital uh you know um delivering
vehicles are scheduled for q2 2023 uh for uh you know initial customers um
again um this is you know assuming like stuff goes um according to the plan
um and you know long term is just really um building the technology that’s highly
scalable and you know compete with the the current solution
the market that are diesels um one thing i like about tesla’s they’re just really focusing on
competing with internal combustion engines uh and they’re they’re working toward that and that’s type of goal so
we have you know um if you’re competing with another ev company that is is in the space uh you know and the prices are
so high that no one could afford those probably you’re not doing the right thing so um you know any design any plan
you’re doing um to build a product should should be around affordability it is very important uh for for end
customers to adopt these technologies and uh yeah the focus is um over time to really bring that product at uh cost
even lower than current diesels and um you know just um scale the uh the
technologies as much as we can so well that’s good i mean i think you know obviously getting the cost down is is
good and it’s disappointing to hear that uh you’re getting taxed not helped by the by the saskatchewan government which
really strikes yeah it seems i mean honestly it seems to be the opposite here i mean we’ve got nothing but
support even even minister schweitzer is going to be at our tech support symposium right he’s talking tomorrow at
the startup tnt event like they’re very very active in our ecosystem which which is positive because you need the support
you need the government support for some of these companies to to get to the next level yeah i know it’s here
unfortunately that oil and gas propaganda they just don’t you know they just they just don’t want to
believe it the air is over like really alberta that was huge in oil and gas they’ve come up you know come to this
conclusion that well this is over really you can’t just you know you can’t rely on it it’s time for it is over you know
burning something and making a lot of smoke just a basically a very prehistoric way of doing things right
and uh now you know especially in a country like canada 82 percent of foreign power is
hydro and nuclear is completely carbon free right and this is a great country to take take
advantage of electrification to you know to scale evs to help people to adopt tvs
which um you know the um federal government is focusing on but uh you know just fellow government on its own
is not not sufficient because you know as a company in saskatchewan it’s very competitive uh you know
in national level and getting those funds um remains very very hard for us so we need a bit of a support from
provincial government too to be able to to execute but um yeah that’s no it is you need you need support at
all levels which is it doesn’t matter what uh what industry you’re in you need that support but no i
mean this is uh i mean i’m always sad when these interviews come to an end and uh it’s uh
it’s been a great conversation and i i applaud what you’re doing and obviously you got the same struggles as a lot of
other uh and maybe even even a few more but i guess i kind of want to put a little
twist on my last uh my last question because it’s always the same and it’s been the same for a while
but so he’ll if you had one piece of advice for a small business or startup in a
smaller economy or ecosystem what would that be
well honestly just making it one piece of advice is hard because
a lot of them i could just write a book basically on it but uh yeah they they gotta know you
know startup’s not for everyone um you’re gonna be really believing what you’re doing you’re gonna be willing to
sacrifice a lot of things to make a startup really work uh it’s gonna be a kind of a lonely
journey it’s gonna be a lot of hardship it’s going to be a lot of hard work it’s going to be a lot of you know chaos and
you know stress and if you are an entrepreneur thinking on executing on an idea really be ready for
a lot of hard work you’re ready for tackling you know 15 20 problems at the same time for for a number of years to
get this thing to a to a level uh that um you know everyone at that point might love you and might want to help you and
you know jump on board but until you get there it’s gonna be a lot of hard work you know a lot of a lot of different
things from financials from you know talent acquisition from uh you know keeping this talent you always like all
day long i’m losing my my staff and people you know to to larger companies that they have you know
better brands they have a better you know benefits for people that they prefer to go work for those and you know
you you’re facing a lot of challenges a lot of real real tough ones so um if you
do choose to do a startup make sure you really love what you’re doing that you’re uh you know willing to sacrifice
a bunch of things steep less you know work really hard and put everything into it
you know my personal experience i’ve put you know anything i made in that last seven years into this uh all my you know investments
i just recently also sold my i owned a commercial property that i ran my uh my
previous business on i sold the property i’m just playing it and all in game just putting everything into this and um
trying to make it work and even though you know doing it this way there’s no guarantee but uh that’s
just about the best uh i could do as a founder of the company so um it’s going to be a long
long tough journey um and i want people to be aware of that
and you know take that very seriously no i and i agree right and and one of
those things that you comment or you brought up earlier it’s a lonely jersey and a journey and that’s definitely
something that you know we notice and and i truly believe that’s one of the the biggest benefits that we supply pure
guidance right is that it doesn’t have to be a lonely journey it can be someone there to bounce ideas off of or help you
or uh it’s getting out there and making sure that you’re connecting and networking with
people and and and you know any problems that you may have probably someone else has been there maybe not on the
electrical vehicle side or technical side but you know other problems are scaling or whatever it is right it’s so
important to make sure that you stay out there and keep positive and because you can you can get you can get pretty down
quite easily absolutely yeah yeah no so heel i really appreciate you coming on and sharing
your knowledge today and and talking a little bit about tlev and again anybody that wants to find out any more
information just click on the website in the comments section and uh and of course
we got our clean tech finale tomorrow starting at four o’clock at platform in calgary with satellite events in
edmonton cal or regina and saskatoon and the alberta technology symposium april 21st 20th and 21st in calgary your
tickets are available again the links are all in the comments section and again so heel thank you so
much for sharing your time with us today and i look forward to meeting you in person at unite the prairies absolutely
thanks for having me jade