Like many other Tech students, Isaac Wittenstein wants to show the world what he learns in his classes. This particular fifth-year ME came together with fellow students to create a business, and was able to sell it so well that he won the regional level of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA).
His company is called TEQ, which stands for “The Electric Que” and attempts to improve user experience of electric cars in a variety of ways. TEQ produces a small, boxlike device that allows charging stations to share power lines, cutting down on costs and encouraging more charging stations to pop up. Their real bread and butter, however, is an algorithm that runs in the cloud and allows charging stations to distribute power more effectively. Users, parking at a hotel or at work or airports, can enter their departure time, and algorithm determines who needs to get a charge first and who can wait.
With the help of Startup Lab, a program within the CREATE-X initiative, Wittenstein and his partners explored the area of electric vehicles and conceived the idea for TEQ.
“We knew that there was a problem in the market that there were too many vehicles and not enough charging stations,” Wittenstein said. “We realized that the need doesn’t necessarily reside with just the drivers. The pain is not just the driver’s pain, but it’s also the charging station’s cost.”
As co-founder and CEO of the company, one of the programs he attended to help develop his networking and entrepreneurial skills was the intensive Techstars IoT (Internet of Things) program in New York City. This program also helped TEQ to sign pilot installs to get their product to market.
After other startup programs and lots of work, TEQ was getting off the ground. Wittenstein applied to compete in the regional GSEA competition, which was hosted by the Atlanta chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization.
“You never know who you’re up against, and we luckily had a lot of experience of explaining our story,” Wittenstein said. “There were five companies who competed, and we happened to win. Now we are going to the big leagues.”
During the regional level of the GSEA competition, Wittenstein spoke about the place that his company’s problem and solution have in the market. He had to professionally pitch what they are doing and go into detail about the technology they use.
Since TEQ emerged victorious from this round of competition, Wittenstein came away with $3,000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national competition on March 6 in Kansas City, Mo.
“I don’t know what to expect. I’m definitely nervous but I think it will be a great series of events,” said Wittenstein. “I am looking forward to seeing who we will meet there and seeing all the other companies. That will certainly be exciting.”
In the next few weeks, the national competitor will be doing heavy preparations for the upcoming event. Wittenstein will make sure he is up to date on the market and on the material that he will cover in his presentation.
If he progresses past semifinals, finals and wins the national competition, Wittenstein will have a chance to go to Frankfurt, Germany to compete against undergraduate students from all over the world, in the GSEA Global Finals in April.
The stakes are high. The winner of these Global Finals takes home $20,000 in cash and additional donated prizes, along with networking opportunities.
Regardless of how well Wittenstein does at the upcoming competition, TEQ has big things in its future. The executives of the company are working on getting more leads in the near future and are moving towards a more scalable manufacturing solution.
Long term goals are still a little undefined for Wittenstein, and he is working towards figuring out what the company will look like in the future.
“Are we going to be the app that users open when they want to charge their vehicle, or are we going to be the backend interfacing? Or are we going to be something else entirely?” Wittenstein said. “We want to make the electric vehicle driving experience as easy and user friendly as possible.”
No matter what the company looks like in the future, entrepreneurs from Tech, like Wittenstein, will continue to use their engineering expertise to attempt to better the world.