There is an open secret in the world of battery startup – everyone uses their cells to urge consumers to ditch their gas-guzzling SUVs for sleek, fast-charging electric vehicles with ranges across the country, even if they really have something else in mind. Of course, some companies will surpass the steady 5% annual improvements that lithium-ion batteries have made in recent years. (Most don’t, but that shouldn’t stop businesses from trying!)
Sometimes, though, the EV pitch is just that: a pitch. Battery powered startups are almost obligated to notice this in their press releases and pitch decks. Investors love the growth potential that EVs represent, and startups would be remiss if they didn’t at least mention the huge potential market.
As investors have realized the limitless potential of the EV market, money is flowing into battery start-ups. In the past five years alone, $42 billion in venture and growth capital has been invested in the industry, according to an analysis by Marketingwithanoy and PitchBook.
Still, EVs are only part of the story. The reality is that as batteries have radically improved over the past decade, startups like Form Energy and EcoFlow no longer have to pretend to be the Next Big Thing in electric mobility. Instead, they can recognize that they have much more potential to disrupt other parts of the economy.
One of the latest examples is Natron Energy. Natron was founded ten years ago after its CEO, Colin Wessells, came up with a battery that used Prussian blue instead of nickel or cobalt – the pigment that revolutionized the art world in the 18th century.e and 19e centuries.
Other researchers had explored the use of Prussian blue in batteries for decades, but Wessells found a way to make a commercially viable cell using a version of the pigment combined with a sodium-based electrolyte. Perhaps more important than what materials it uses are the materials it doesn’t: lithium, cobalt, nickel, or other rare materials whose prices have risen in the past year.
But aside from a brief, almost rudimentary mention of EVs in a recent press release, Natron acknowledges that the strength of its cells lies in other markets and has focused on that.