[Accelerator Interview] EV Charging Service Platform Operator ‘SoftBerry’


1. Overview of SoftBerry

SoftBerry runs EV Infra, an integrated service platform for electric vehicles. Currently, we are the no.1 platform for electric vehicles and we have 150,000 users. EV Infra is more about people than technologies. We simply receive information about EV charging stations that changes constantly from actual EV users, update the information to our system and share it with other users. Users can conveniently access accurate information about EV charging stations and also charge their EVs using our app. We are also prepared to offer convenient services to central and local governments, companies and individual customers. 

 2. Company Background

After applying for and winning the 2014 Seoul Electric Car Competition, I sold my diesel car and started the business with a single electric car. I started using Ministry of Environment’s www.ev.or.kr which is the website that provides information about EV charging stations but I found the website inconvenient to use for the following reasons.


1. The website didn’t provide information about all of the charging stations in the nation.

2. This website run by the Ministry of Environment was web-based and was inconvenient to access on my smartphone.

3. The website said I could use a charging station so I got to the charging station with my battery low but the charging station

I had to spend a lot of money to get my electric car towed because several times, when I got to the charging station with my battery low, the charging station either couldn’t process payment or didn’t have any working cables.

4. Sometimes, arriving at the address of the charging station, I couldn’t find the charging station and I had to wonder around the area to find it.

Because of these experiences, I developed EV Infra, an app that allow the users to access information about EV charging stations in the country and constantly improve the service.


3. SoftBerry’s Strengths and Differentiating Factors

SoftBerry is the one and only, EV charging platform company that provides service without its own charging stations but by connecting to the servers of EV charge point operators. More than 90% of people at SoftBerry are highly experienced software developers. We wanted to use our software technologies and skills to integrate technologies like NB IoT with information about EVs and create new values. The ability to offer easily accessible information in real-time to 150,000 users is our key strength.


4. Most Difficult Experience While Running a Business?

I think the real competition has just started for us. The EV industry has only recently been showing some noticeable growth and companies have been busy developing strategies but now with the government’s “Green New Deal” policy, eco-friendly and mobility industries will really take off and players will invest all their resources and technologies to compete and become the leader in the market.


5. Business Accomplishments

We are only a small startup company. We also don’t have actual hardware. But we have great software developers that can provide solutions the customers want. We will utilize the charging stations major companies like GS Caltex, KEPCO and Straffic own to carry out our EV roaming business and provide individually-tailored service to major companies.


6. What Inspires You While Running a Business?

Publicness is the concept that inspires us. SoftBerry’s real assets are the experiences our users share. These experiences and information our users share will connect people, people and the government and, people and businesses in our rapidly changing world and further expand the EV market.


7. Advice for Those Preparing to Start a Business

Don’t let others discourage you if you’re doing what you enjoy and find necessary. We didn’t generate revenue in our first 3 years but we were able to maintain our service because we were a EV charging platform with the largest number of users. Things might not work as you’ve planned in the beginning but don’t give up, be active and hang in there.


8. What Are Your Business Plans and Vision for the Future and Your Thoughts on ZER01NE?

Korea is a global ICT powerhouse. All of the systems we see today will be automated in 2 years and become much more advanced systems. The platforms that enable the administrators and EV users to easily access these systems will be developed as well. Also, key mobility players like Hyundai Motor Group, SK Mobility and Kakao will compete fiercely with their platforms and provide more new services to EV users. We want to thank ZER01NE for investing in us, allowing us the opportunity to collaborate Hyundai Motor group and supporting us to become an eco-friendly information platform for all things that move on electricity.


9. Anything Else You Want to Say?

Every country is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Korea has also announced its plan to supply 1.13 million EVs by 2025. As more internal-combustion-engine vehicles get replaced by EVs, GHG emissions will decline. We can make a program for giving carbon credits to EV drivers based on the distances they’ve travelled on their EVs for their contribution in reducing GHG emission which would have otherwise occurred if the drivers had driven internal-combustion-engine vehicles. We will develop a service that is realistically beneficial to EV users so that we can contribute to saving the environment for our next generations.