Ukraine became the first among the EBRD countries to implement the mechanism of innovation vouchers. This project implemented by the EBRD in Ukraine under the EU-funded FINTECC project, promotes innovations in climate technology and development of “green” economy.
The projects have been already implemented by 25 Ukrainian companies and raised EUR 850,000 from the EU and the EBRD for improvement of their development and certification of technological solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ensure resource and energy efficiency.
The full list of innovative winners is available at the program’s website.
Go To-U from Lviv was one of such companies involved in the development of charging station management systems to help socially and environmentally responsible businesses and electric car drivers find each other. In its turn, this stimulates electric mobility and reduces environmental damage.
The funds received by the company under the program “Climate Innovation Vouchers” were spent for the development of a mobile platform for electric car drivers.
In particular, Go To-U has created an owner’s account to collect and track statistics, and most importantly – to reserve an access to charging stations in the right place and at a convenient time.
The issues of environmental protection, reduction of harmful emissions into the atmosphere and rational use of resources are now more important than ever. First of all, because of the pandemic, which affects the economy and future decisions of businesses and governments.
“Quarantine has made us stronger, taught us to act faster and more balanced. We have reformatted some processes and become more efficient”, said Olena Artemenko, the Product Development and Marketing Director and the co-founder of Go To-U Ukraine.
The company’s scope of activity has allowed to mobilize resources, develop and create products remotely.
“The greatest value for us is a human being and his/her health, so we still adhere to quarantine. We are convinced that personal transport is very important, so the development of electric mobility is relevant.
Reservation of charging stations through our platform helps drivers better plan their routes and makes travel safer. Safety, both environmental and physical, is of the greatest priority”, added Artemenko.
Go To-U is a platform with charging devices for electric cars. The number of such cars is increasing in Ukraine, so it is very important to create and maintain the appropriate level of infrastructure for them.
The service provided by the company helps integrate the charging station into the work of any institution, whether it is a business center or a medical clinic, a bank or a hotel.
Service partners are well-known businesses in Ukraine: Oshchadbank, Renault Ukraine, Ukrenergo, General Directorate for Servicing Foreign Representative Offices, IMAX Cinema Planet, Hyundai, Metro Cash & Carry, Dima Borysov’s Family of Restaurants, hotels, clinics, car washes, shopping malls, restaurants, development and investment companies.
About the experiment with Tesla Model S
“We started in 2013. At first, there was interest in Tesla. We were guided by the realization of how many benefits an electric car can bring. It’s not just a mode of transport, it’s a completely different attitude to resources. The transition to electric mobility will bring many benefits to humanity”, Artemenko said.
According to her, this contributes both to preservation of the environment and introduction of smart technologies in transport, for example, when cars can communicate. “These technologies are already available, you just need to start using them. We do not see any obstacles to this”, said the co-founder of Go To-U Ukraine.
In 2014, after the Revolution of Dignity, Artemenko and her companions – husband Nazar and sister Liubov – decided not to stop and continue their business.
They realized that energy independence was fundamental to economic safety of Ukraine. So, in order the country could develop innovatively and feel safe, the innovations are important. It is necessary to use solar and wind energy. The general interest in electric cars increases people’s interest in “green” energy.
In 2014, the couple bought the first electric car in Lviv, Tesla Model S, and conducted an experiment. They drove a record 560 km from Lviv to Kyiv on a single battery charge.
The journey was a real challenge. No one in Ukraine has covered such distances by an electric car without recharging. In addition, according to passport data of Tesla Model S 85 the range was limited to 500 kilometers.
“We just understood that to change something in society, you need to attract maximum attention of the public. And there are various ways to do it.
You can scare people, say that we will all die, suffocate from carbon dioxide, or we can say: look, it’s really fun, it’s much more convenient, comfortable and cleaner.
Of course, Tesla attracted much more attention than any other electric car. Actually, this was the main victory of Elon Musk. He didn’t start with small cars similar to golf cars like other manufacturers did.
He started immediately with a roadster – a car that caught everyone’s eye. Everyone wanted it, it was fast, it was “sexy”. Tesla is what each of us would like to have.
Our strategy was the same: to attract attention, to give an opportunity to try this car. We arranged many free test drives, held great number of meetings, presentations aimed at the introduction of this type of transport to people.
Tesla is not a cheap car, however there are other electric cars on the market. At that time, Nissan Leaf was imported into the country, which was much cheaper.
The presence of electric cars obliges the state to develop in this direction. For example, at that time VAT on purchase of electric cars was not abolished and there were no special soft loans.
However, we clearly realized that it was worth lobbying the interests of potential owners of electric cars. All this quickly became a reality.
We do not sell Tesla and will not do so, because Tesla opposes dealerships. The company’s position is simple: if a person wants a car, he/she should order it at the website, and not overpay to intermediaries. We help deliver the car to Ukraine”, explains Artemenko.
According to the Ministry of Infrastructure, almost 20,000 electric cars are registered in Ukraine. Over the past two years, a share of electric cars has increased by 300%. Ukraine ranks third in Europe in terms of the growth in the number of electric cars and charging infrastructure.
In 2019, 7,542 electric cars were registered in the country. Nissan Leaf became the most popular electric car among the Ukrainians.
About the interest of the Ukrainians in innovative solutions
“We, the Ukrainians, are a highly educated people. We really need innovations, we accept them very well.
When we created Tesla Club Ukraine, we saw how different are the knowledge and reactions of people in our country and, for example, in Poland or Germany. The Ukrainians who came to get acquainted with Tesla knew the technical parameters and various nuances.
Instead, in Poland they thought it was just another model of a Mercedes.
I had the impression that the Ukrainians have experienced a certain “famine” during the restrictions that existed in the USSR. Now, when we have an opportunity to touch innovations and get them, we do it with pleasure”, says Artemenko.
In fact, the idea of a platform with charging stations for electric cars arose after the electric car appeared.
Nazar, Olena and Liubov watched how it works in the EU, traveled across the European Union and Ukraine. They realized that the issue of charging for the car is not just important, but critical. And they travelled to the United States to get experience.
“In the United States, this infrastructure is not very convenient. The companies that started to install charging stations tried to follow the model of conventional petrol filling stations. We believe this is wrong”, said Artemenko.
The team’s thoughts were as follows: when we come to the petrol filling station, we refuel and this takes five minutes. When we run out of fuel, we drive to another petrol filling station. There are many petrol filling stations in the country, we have a wide choice.
An electric car may be charged from a regular power outlet at home. It will be slower, but in eight hours of sleep you can charge for 100-120 km. That’s enough to drive around the town all day long. And what about charging stations?
About streamlining the infrastructure for electric cars
“Where can the owner charge his/her car, if he/she does not have an underground parking lot or a special place equipped with charging device? People either rent or buy a garage, or throw an extension cord from the guard to the parking lot.
This is a temporary option. It is good that there is a draft law that obliges to build parking lots with charging stations for electric cars. This harmonizes the issues of security and convenience.
Our charging infrastructure looked chaotic. Each operator had its own access card. We had situations when we drove to a hotel at night, which was supposed to have a charging station, and then it turned out that to turn it on you need a card, which must be ordered in advance (!) by fax and received by mail. Can you imagine?
This was also the case in the EU, where the infrastructure has been developing since 2012. There was no charging station in Ukraine at that time, and we were interested in the issue of infrastructure”, said Artemenko.
The company began to think about how to make the infrastructure comfortable, so that the use provided benefits and did not produce stress.
“A person who has switched to the side of good, that is, who uses an electric car, should get a positive experience of driving an electric car, in particular, while charging it”, Artemenko is convinced.
To do this, a platform Go To-U has been created. It brings together electric car drivers and businesses that install charging stations in their parking lots. Artemenko is convinced that the infrastructure for electric cars should be different from that for conventional cars.
What’s the difference? The car is charged for at least 30 minutes. Accordingly, the charging station should be located where drivers and passengers will be able to spend quality time: in restaurants, hotels, resorts, shopping malls.
If the driver is on business, he/she must be able to recharge the electric car while travelling. It should happen imperceptibly, conveniently and comfortably. Business centers where people work should also have charging stations.
If a person lives in a multi-storied building and does not have the ability to charge the car, he/she can do so at work near the business center.
An important issue is high-speed charging stations, when the car is charged during 30 minutes. Such stations should be located between the cities, where people are not ready to do anything other than drink coffee.
More than 100 charging stations are currently connected to the platform in Ukraine. Go To-U is not a monopolist. The platform displays other operators that provide charging services at high-quality charging stations.
The partnership is built to provide the customer with quality service and maximum convenience. It looks something like Booking.com when looking for accommodation: there is a platform, and you choose the best option for you.
About faith in one’s business and global dream
“We believe in what we do. We see maximum increase in the number of electric cars as our global goal.
We didn’t want to start a small business to earn money for one more car. We wanted to make sure that people in the world could get the most out of an electric car.
We focus on consumer preferences. Our mobile application is free for the consumer. On the one hand, there are software products that the business uses together with the charging station, and on the other hand, there is a mobile application for drivers.
The main criteria are convenience, comfort and ease of use of the service by owners of electric cars. We have an option of “reservation of charging station”, which for some reason is not used by other service providers.
A person can plan the charging time and understand what he/she will do. This is important”, said Artemenko.
Go To-U has ambitious plans. For example, to increase the number of charging stations at least twice and add high-speed charging stations on the routes between the cities. To enter the markets of other countries and increase the list of application functions.
The current crisis is accelerating the implementation of many technological aspects. The companies fight for customer loyalty and attention. Business, using innovative solutions, increases the customer lifetime value (CLV), reduces the cost of attracting them, increases the percentage of customer returns, the level of customer satisfaction, trust in the company and its products.
The level of use of electric cars in Ukraine is growing because it is more profitable and environmentally friendly. This means that the demand for the platform and mobile application created by the company will increase.
Today, each driver of the electric car can make the route taking into account all charging stations. The platform combines about 200 charging stations of 22 kW in Ukraine, Thailand, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Poland and Austria, and the mobile application Go To-U has 65 thousand charging stations in the world and supports seven languages.
Go To-U employs 14 people. The founders are the couple Nazar Shymone-Davyda, Olena Artemenko and Liubov Artemenko.
It is an international platform that allows drivers of electric vehicles to find and reserve charging stations at a convenient time. The company also sells and services charging stations, electric cars and accessories. The company is valued at USD 3 mln.
The Ukrainian startup Go To-U was among the winners of the international clean technology competition ClimateLaunchpad, which took place in Cyprus.
The place of the ClimateLaunchpad winner means participation in the specialized Climate-KIC accelerator and funding in the amount of EUR 95,000. The funding is granted in three tranches over a year and a half. This will allow to improve the product and enter new markets.
Liubov Artemenko will take part in WiSE24 – a global startup event for women. It will be a 24-hour non-stop event that will be watched by thousands of investors. More than 50 “pitches” from representatives of startups from ten regions of the world are expected.
Ukraine is represented for the first time by a separate delegation and presents six startups, including the Go To-U platform.
According to the results of the Michelin Movin’On Startup Challenge 2020, Go To-U is one of the ten leading companies implementing solutions in the field of sustainable mobility.
In London, the jury of the MOVE2020 Start-Me-Up competition chose Go To-U as the best startup of the year.
Go To-U supports Techstars (Smart Mobility ‘20 acceleration program). The company attracted USD 270,000 in external funding and announced a Seed round.
Author: Zoya Kazanzhy