Interview with Hugo Pereira
By bringing smart and scalable charging solutions to electric vehicles around the world, EVBox’s
mission is to help build a future where everyday transport is technologically advanced, emission-free, and sustained by a green charging infrastructure.
Hugo is heading growth & strategy, which includes overall go-to-market strategy, marketing, inside sales, policy, and brand positioning.
Hi Hugo! Could you please introduce your work with EVBox and tell us a bit more about how your position with the company has changed or shifted since you joined the company in 2015?
Hi! Thanks again for the question. Maybe to get started, and share a bit about EVBox: it's a clean tech company, a leading global playing electric vehicle charging solutions with over 85,000 charging points across 55 countries. And 4 years ago, when I joined in 2015, it was a Dutch player, with about 15 people and about 25-30,000 charging points. Really focused on the Dutch market, and starting exploring other markets in Europe North America. I joined initially with a focus on building the brand and the foundation for marketing and, fast forward 4 years, we built a really solid brand positioning, but also we grew the company and today I'm getting as VP of growth and strategy. So I oversee marketing, but also the strategy of long term thinking, as well the policy development. And today, we are 400 plus people and we have charging points across 55 countries, partners worldwide, and the biggest shift is really thinking from these local play - with a strong positioning - to a global mindset that has to be future-proof for the extreme growth of the market.
The rising accessibility of electric vehicles is changing many aspects of the customer journey; how has EVBox ensured that it's charging stations meet the different needs of its customers?
Looking at the growth, and how growth is evolving, and how we measure growth these days, I think there are two ways - or I believe that there are two ways - that the growth is going to evolve and change over the next couple of years. The first one is that today, growth is very much related to valuation, yeah? We all talk about being a unicorn, and the unicorn company valued at 1 billion euros or 1 billion dollars. I think that mindset, and what we start to see a lot of the unicorn, is that despite being a highly valuable company, they haven't fully justified it with their business model - they cannot really prove that the business model is going to be profitable over time and over decades. I think that's going to be the shift of growth over the next couple of years, to look not just from a valuation point of view with the growth pattern, but also from a profitability and sustainability point of view: how sustainable is the business? How profitable can it also be, while providing a great environment? So that's the first level. Then there is a level of growth, which is not just a growth on the high level, on the turnover, but also growth in terms of engagement. And I think engagement and attention is going to be a model of currency that we're going to have facing forward, which means that we're going to start looking at not how many people visit our website, but how much time we spend there. Or, not so how many people sign up with help, but how many people stay there. So we've started looking more at retention, at awareness, at engagement as metrics that also are valuable for a brand, especially because a new generation of people and consumers value the story as much as the end results of the product.
What's next for your work with EVBox - what will be your main focus throughout the next year?
The misconceptions of growth and scaling up is a really interesting question, and not just because of my time at EVBox, but before when I was also helping scaling up or other type of startups. And there are about three things that come to my mind in terms of misconceptions. The first one is the concept that if it works here, then it can work elsewhere. The second one is the customer wants this, and the third - which is the last, but not least - is the concept that we reached a product market fit, hence, we can scale up. And the reason why there is a misconception because the first one comes with the idea that just because it's working in one region, it can work and duplicate exactly the model for another one. What I learned quickly is that you have to keep on building hypotheses, and test your model and experiment. The second one comes with the thinking that the customer wants this is a sales approach, while we are living in an era of data and we can actually really get to know the customer, and even know pains and gains that they don't know that they have. And the last one is the concept that the product market fit is a definite moment, and not always in transition. So it comes with the idea that the growth and scale up, you have to continuously challenge your product market fit and build a strong proposition.
What are some of the main misconceptions the general public has regarding the growth and scaling process?
So really important question on such a fast growing market: how could we keep meeting the customer needs? And I think it starts by: stop focusing on the product and start focusing on the experience of our customers. And I think that's the biggest shift that we have learned over the last couple of years. People see a charging station, but there's so much behind that: there's the service; there's installation; there the support; there's the service experience; and there's the whole interaction behind it, with not just with the mobility and with the car, but with all the stakeholders involved. I think the changing mindset to an experience-based approach, or a solution-based approach, really make a whole difference on how we understand our customers, because then we start asking how are we part of their daily lifestyles, rather than just how they experience our product one time off. So looking at the accessibility of charging stations, how the mobility of the future is evolving, and the electric drivers; really look at how our solution can be completed on the daily lifestyles of a person. And that's that's basically a three-year question for everything else.
How are the mainstream parameters for growth changing today - what new ways will we be measuring growth in say, five years?
So the main focus for next year at EVBox, but also in general, as a startup and as a scale-up, mostly, it's really going to be how to prepare ourselves for extreme growth. The electric vehicle market keeps on growing at a very rapid pace: we have over 5 million electric vehicles on the road today worldwide, and in a couple of years we'll have 20-30 million. So it's a very different dynamic that is happening. As an organization, we have to understand that a company like EVBox might ship, next year, the same amount of charging stations in a quarter, than the last three years together. So the whole operation setting; the whole service; the whole marketing; the whole sales has to evolve to be able to cope with this extreme growth. So that's the focus: how to build that easy, to understand and to experience a journey without a with a company like EVBox, like us, but also how do we evolving innovate our business model and products to be the ones that the market wants and needs, today and tomorrow. So that's what's ahead for us, and we are very excited to join this exciting growth of the industry.