For the last decade, battery chemistry company Sila has strived to replace the graphite anode of lithium-ion batteries with silicon, a material that is easier to find, more environmentally friendly and allows for a denser battery cell. and cheaper.
In September, the company shipped its first commercial product with Whoop portable devices. Now, Sila aims to multiply by 100 so that it can supply its battery chemistry to power electric vehicles by 2025.
Prior to Sila’s founding, co-founder and CEO Gene Berdichevsky was the seventh employee of Tesla, where he led the production of the battery that was used in the Tesla Roadster, the world’s first electric vehicle allowed on the highway to operate. lithium-ion. Battery.
Given his background and experience with scale, we caught up with Berdichevsky to explore how founders working on emerging technologies should think about scale, how they should approach finance, and why they should d ‘tackle the most difficult problem first.
Scaling up as part of the innovation process
Billions of dollars have been spent producing different battery chemistries to make better, cheaper, and more efficient batteries, but Berdichevsky says there’s a reason they haven’t hit the market yet. A startup could produce stellar new technology, but if it can’t scale, no one will buy it.
“One of the things we did very early on was we told our scientists and engineers that they can only use global commodity inputs so that we know we can make enough for millions of cars. “Berdichevsky told TechCrunch. “You can’t use anything bespoke; you can’t say we’ll find out later.
Supply chains are strained, especially as COVID-19 drags on, so creating technology that can scale quickly and affordably is critical. To do this, Sila also uses bulk manufacturing techniques and ensures that its technology can be seamlessly integrated into any existing battery and cell factory.
To date, Sila has raised $ 925 million through this strategy.