Coming from a Rajasthani business family, Puneet Jain has always had a passion for entrepreneurship. And, it took a two-wheeled electric vehicle (EV) test ride to add fuel to his entrepreneurial journey.
Puneeth started a lithium-ion manufacturing company – Natural Battery Technologies in 2019 in Jaipur. The startup has grown more than 10 times its revenue while being profitable over the past three years, he says.
When asked why he chose Jaipur to launch the startup, Puneet replied, “It’s my home.”
However, he is quick to add that the policies of the Rajasthan government for the electric vehicle sector have encouraged startups like his to grow.
“We expect a company like ours to encourage more people to enter the electric vehicle segment,” Puneet said. Your story.
The launch pad
An electronics engineer by training and environmentalist at heart, Puneet had started quite a few businesses before launching Natural Battery.
“Testing on an electric vehicle was a surreal experience and introduced me to the world of lithium-ion batteries,” says Puneet.
Lithium-ion batteries are the mainstay of any electric vehicle and account for around 40-50% of the total cost.
Puneet decided that it would go into the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries. The idea was that Natural Battery would tinker with the various elements that go into this pack through R&D and come out with a product that would be superior in quality as well as performance.
Armed with the new idea, Natural Battery reached out to electric vehicle dealers in Jaipur to seek their interest in its product.
“We went to the dealers to ask them what type of batteries they wanted and based on their response, the bespoke products were delivered,” says Puneet.
The response from the dealer community has been encouraging for Natural Battery and this was back when electric vehicles weren’t as popular as they are today.
During this time, the startup also worked on the idea of supplying these batteries for e-autorickshaws but had to stop it after three months due to various challenges. The challenges were around monitoring the movement of these batteries as well as some trust issues that would make them financially unviable, says the co-founder.
Puneet knew his company’s prospects would be better if electric vehicles took off. To this end, he engaged with a few e-commerce companies in Rajasthan asking them to explore a more eco-friendly transport system and offered them fleet services.
Now, Natural Battery had demand from two segments – electric vehicle dealerships and the fleet network. This has led the startup to forge direct partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of electric vehicles.
The Rajasthan government has also unveiled its EV policy in 2021, which provides for state GST rebate and financial incentives based on battery size on the purchase of two- and three-wheelers.
“The demand for our batteries was overwhelming and I had to look for a partner who would provide expertise in areas such as production and supply,” explains Puneet.
This led to the induction of Saurabh Patawari as co-founder of Natural Battery. Like Puneet, Saurabh is also an electrical engineer by training. He comes from a family business that made transformers.
According to Puneet, its strengths were largely in R&D, sales and marketing while Saurabh was strong in production, supply and finance.
The road ahead
Today, Natural Battery Technologies finds application in the segments of electric vehicles, energy storage systems and biomedical devices. Customers include electric vehicle dealers, manufacturers, inverter companies and solar energy companies.
The startup sources materials for the battery from across the globe with assembly done in Jaipur.
According to Puneet, Natural Battery’s main strength lies in its R&D.
Natural Battery Technologies Products
Given the various unfortunate developments surrounding electric vehicles, with some vehicles catching fire or even exploding, Natural Battery Technologies is redoubling its efforts to improve the safety features of these products.
“We are changing the various internal parts of our batteries to add more safety features,” says Puneet.
As for the market, where there are a multitude of other manufacturers of this type of battery, Puneet admits that there is intense competition on price, but the startup’s emphasis on quality has helped it obtain a better traction.
He further adds that the deep connections he has made over the years in the battery ecosystem have given them a better understanding of customer requirements.
Now, Natural Battery Technologies is looking to deepen its engagement with the ecosystem where it aims to enter the complete infrastructure of battery development. This would include the deployment of high performance and safer batteries. In addition, he plans to get into battery rental and swapping.
India’s electric vehicle sector received a boost after the central government introduced the faster adoption and manufacture of hybrid and electric vehicles or FAME policy in 2019. The aim is to provide various types of subsidies for the purchase of new electric vehicles that will promote electric mobility. . The program has now been extended until March 2024.
As a start-up company with about 20 odd employees, Natural Battery is seeking venture capital funding for future expansion plans.