While working for Uber as the company’s regional operations manager in India and South Asia, Tushar Misra became fascinated with how electric vehicles could be used to improve transportation in cities.
The biggest obstacle he saw was a lack of infrastructure to support cars and a growing fleet of mopeds and motorcycles.
“The charging structure basically doesn’t exist,” he said.
That realization led him to start Grido at Haas with fellow students Sid Mullick and Jorge Morel, all MBA 20.
Grido designed a portable, e-scooter charging dock that the company launched in April. Since then, Grido hasn’t stopped, partnering with companies, including Lime (founded by Haas alumni), Bird, Movo, and Grin and has built charging stations in Oakland, Atlanta, Puebla, Mexico City, and Guadalajara.
Grido’s business model is two-fold: it provides scooter companies access to charging stations and increases foot traffic to local businesses that host its charging docks. The portable charging docks, which look like A-Frame signs, are placed on sidewalk curbs. So far, Grido has charged over 15,000 e-scooters
Heading to SkyDeck
The founders developed Grido from the ground up. Mullick, with his mechanical engineering experience, built the charging docks, while Morel devised a plan to turn Grido into a profitable business.
The trio began pitching their business plan and raising capital last year receiving a total of $25,000 in Haas fellowships, including the Trione Student Venture Fund, the Hansoo Lee Fellowship, and the Jack Larson Fellowship. They also raised $250,000 from Contrary Capital and had four angel investors from Berkeley, Uber, and Energy Space.
In April, Misra and his co-founders participated in LAUNCH Demo Day, competing against 11 teams for prizes ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. While they didn’t win, the competition led to an opportunity to pitch to 60 investors – and eventually to their acceptance into Berkeley’s SkyDeck Accelerator Program.
“LAUNCH was literally our turning point in some ways,” he said. “We were hoping to make it into the top three, but we didn’t. We were so sad but one week later, everything changed.
Now, the Grido team has access to SkyDeck mentors, a network of Silicon Valley venture capitalists, and $100,000 in funding. Soon, they’ll pitch Grido to more than 600 investors at SkyDeck Demo Day.
While success has come fast, they’ve also experienced a few setbacks, including a first trial run in Mexico City that was a failure. Business owners didn’t want to hang the charging docks, which at the time looked like fuse boxes, to their walls. After Mullick redesigned the charging docks in the form of A-Frame signs, their signs were a hit.
Another setback has been hiring the wrong people, Misra said.
“Hiring is one of the most difficult aspects for startups because you’re resource constrained but at the same time you want top talent and those two things don’t usually match,” he said.
Despite these hurdles, Grido is growing, and fast. The team has hired five part-time MBA students and seven engineers and operations staff to assist with the company’s expansion.
“We want Grido to become the back end of the micro-mobility industry,” said Misra. “We want to build a network of charging stations that are equipped to charge any form of electric vehicles, from electric scooters to electric skateboards.”