FlexCharging: Why this Microsoft Vet Quit and Launched an EV Smart Charging HubFlexcharging

Posted November 7, 2022

In 2014, Brian Grunkemeyer was a Microsoft principal software engineer with a passion for fighting climate change. That year he bought a Tesla Model S and drove it from his home in Redmond, Wash. to San Jose, Calif.

“On a road trip like that, you have a lot of time to think deeply about EV charging,” Grunkemeyer said.

His realization? That if projections were correct, electric car charging was going to require a huge amount of power.

Grunkemeyer began working on a solution, creating a startup that launched in 2019 as FlexCharging. The company recently landed the initial close of its first venture round, bringing total funding to $6.2 million. Its lead investor is Accurant International.

The challenge that Grunkemeyer set out tackle is the fact that energy supply and demand fluctuate over time. Solar panels and wind turbines produce more power during daylight or windy conditions. Demand or “load” can spike if everyone gets home from work, for example, and plugs in their cars at the same time. If demand outpaces supply, utilities can fire up backup sources, often coal or gas-powered generators. In the long term, they might build new power plants to meet peak demand — or risk power outages.

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Brian Grunkemeyer, founder and CEO of FlexCharging. (FlexCharging Photo)

Grunkemeyer’s solution helps EV drivers charge when energy is more plentiful. Using data from utilities and a nonprofit called WattTime, the FlexCharging app automatically manages charging to coincide with times when demand is at its lowest and supply the greenest. Drivers enter information setting the window of time their vehicle will be plugged in and the minimum charge level that they need to reach.

The app is free to drivers. It currently works for vehicles from 19 automakers and more than 60 EV models.

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