How we turned our deep tech startup into a SaaS company TechCrunch

for foreseeable In the future, global markets will demand billions of highly specialized electric motors that perform far better than inefficient remnants of the past.

Initially, we saw this as a hardware challenge until we determined that the key to meeting the needs of the next generation of electric motors was actually in the software. That’s why we moved to a SaaS model.

Like any major boot redirection, there are several “aha!” implementations, along with trials to make everything work. Fortunately, the SaaS direction has delivered benefits: we’ve achieved relatively strong product-market fit and cash flow positivity without large VC raises or burn rates.

The process wasn’t exactly linear, but (in retrospect) we did four core things to conclude that SaaS was our model:

  • Evaluate the true disruptive, scalable and profitable nature of our technology;
  • engages candidly with our board and investors;
  • Research global market and technology trends;
  • Get our MVP to market fast, choosing to polish in public instead of perfecting in private.

Moving from hardware to SaaS was the right move for our EV design startup, but the journey wasn’t entirely linear.

ECM PCB Stator Technology is MIT trained electrical and software engineer Dr. Steven Shaw, our Chief Scientist. After launch, we began developing a proprietary printed circuit board stator to replace the bulky copper windings – the heart of the electric motor – and used in-house software to make them lighter, faster and more efficient.

Two years later, after leading scale-ups and acquisitions at two energy technology companies, I joined as a growth-stage CEO. At that time, we were still relatively early in terms of funding and product market fit. The startup has raised a round of venture capital and intends to become an axial flux motor manufacturing company. The initial impetus for the SaaS transition came when I began evaluating the company with fresh eyes and educating Steve and the board about our inherent strengths and path to profitability.

At that time, we also attracted some new investors.

At a macro level, we negotiated our competitive advantage and target market. An early observation is that there are already several large, established companies producing off-the-shelf electric motors. Assessments of global trends (e.g. mass electrification, automation, reduction of carbon emissions) also show that the needs and requirements for next-generation electric motors are changing rapidly.

After much analysis and many board meetings, the assessment emerged that the global market will demand more efficient, better performing and custom designed electric motors that can be produced in the hundreds of millions more sustainably.

With this in mind, I turned to Steve and our board to evaluate the best business model. We concluded that the most competitive aspect is the ability to utilize printed circuit boards through “motor CAD” software to create custom motor designs that require less raw material and outperform conventional products.

We then addressed a key question: How can we bring this technology to market quickly with a favorable capex profile?

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