All charged UP

Akshay Singhal, co-founder of a city-based startup was one of the few from Bengaluru who met Bill Gates on his recent visit to India 
All charged UP

BENGALURU: In the latest post on his blog on March 7, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates wrote about his experience on his recent visit to India and why it made him optimistic about the future. The itinerary of the billionaire included a quiet visit to Bengaluru where he met a handful of select entrepreneurs. And one of them was Akshay Singhal, co-founder of Log 9 Material. 

After the meeting, Singhal took to social media to post a picture, “This one doesn’t need a caption, but his problem-solving passion is what I aspire to have even at that age. (sic)” Describing Gates as one of the most knowledgeable people he has met, Singhal said, “He is easy to talk to, well-informed, well-read and very bullish about India.”

Giving a sneak-peek into their discussion, Singhal says Gates has made a lot of investment in nuclear energy projects. “We discussed his overall commitment to charity and his foundation which is valued at over 100 billion dollars. He was talking about disruptive projects he wants to invest in. A part of that goes to advance nuclear technology, he is buying farmlands in the US so that he can enable improvements in techniques,” says Singhal, who moved to the city six years ago and co-founded Log 9 Materials during his time at IIT-Roorkee in 2015.

What prompted Gates, one of the most famous people in the world, to meet this startup owner from the city? The answer lies in the company’s objective. “We are a battery technology company. We start right from lithium cells and we have filed more than 60 patents. We work with EV manufacturers and provide them batteries. We provide batteries for two-wheelers, three-wheelers, cargo vehicles, and passenger vehicles. What differentiates us from many others is that nobody has the ability to make cells in India, everybody just imports cells and right now we are commissioning a commercial cell production line which is coming up in April. That will become a milestone to set up large factories in India for cell production,” 
explain Singhal, adding they have supported a company called Meta stable which is about extracting metals from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries

Gates’ interest in climate change is what facilitated this meeting. “He was interested in meeting us  primarily because he is passionate about climate change. He was interested in knowing how this product will create a positive impact. If we make longer lasting batteries, that equals fewer batteries, less manufacturing and less pollution,” says Singhal, adding the meeting was also possible due to Infosys’ co-founder Nandan Nilekani, a supporter of their ideas. 

Their conversation mostly revolved around creating batteries which resiliently work in tropical Indian conditions or in extreme weather conditions, like high temperatures where batteries can catch fire. “We want to make the safest and fastest-charging batteries for the Indian market and then deploy them across South-East Asia, Middle East, Africa and Latin America,” he says.

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