The demand for reliable battery solutions has surged as the auto industry moves towards EVs. In this episode of the Auto Supply Chain Prophets Podcast, hosts Jan and Terry tackle the critical issues surrounding start-ups as they face the challenges of scaling up in this exciting new field of battery technology.
They invited Benjamin Ferstad and Jan Børge Sagmo from ZNL Energy, a tech startup at the forefront of innovative battery technology, to explore this topic.
The conversation covers various aspects, including ZNL's breakthrough technology that addresses the safety concerns associated with battery hazards, ZNL's mission to commercialize next-generation battery technology, the supply chain challenges they face in sourcing materials, and the impact of legislation such as the IRA Act in the US on their startup.
Moreover, they discuss ZNL's strategies for ensuring a smooth startup operation, emphasizing the importance of strategic partnerships and seeking expertise where needed. The dialogue extends to managing suppliers effectively and understanding the dynamic nature of customer requirements, highlighting ZNL's customer-centric approach.
Finally, Jan and Benjamin offer valuable advice for aspiring tech startups, emphasizing the need for boldness in selling their product early and the importance of building a solid team to handle diverse tasks, allowing the CEO to focus on strategic growth and fundraising initiatives.
Themes discussed in this episode:
- Challenges of battery performance
- Importance of addressing battery safety concerns in electric vehicles
- ZNL Energy's innovative battery separator technology
- Supply chain challenges and opportunities in the battery industry
- The impact of legislation like the IRA Act on tech startups
- Strategies for managing suppliers and fostering strategic partnerships
- Prioritizing customer engagement and feedback in product development
- Scaling up operations effectively in a startup environment
- Advice for tech startups on delegation and focusing on core responsibilities as CEO
Featured on this episode:
Name: Benjamin Ferstad
Title: Chief Executive Officer, ZNL Energy
About: Benjamin is a seasoned management professional known for his exceptional interpersonal abilities and adeptness in P&L management within global corporate settings. Armed with a Master of Science degree in Industrial Economics from the University of Stavanger and a Bachelor of Science in Subsea Technology from Bergen University College, Benjamin brings a wealth of expertise in financial data analysis and process optimization.
Name: Jan Børge Sagmo
Title: Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, ZNL Energy
About: Jan is a process engineer and manager serving as the Strategy and Marketing Officer at ZNL Energy, where they’re revolutionizing battery technology with an innovative separator, ZnL-NPx. With a background in chemical engineering, he led successful ventures like Bergen Carbon Solutions, and he’s passionate about investing, writing, and contributing to cutting-edge developments in technology and beyond.
Mentioned in this episode:
- QAD Redzone Connected Workforce
- IRA Act of 2022
- Schneider Electric
- Upcell Alliance
- NAATBatt US & NAATBatt 2024
- GlobalWelsh USA
[02:31] Battery Solutions: How ZNL’s innovative product addresses prevalent battery issues, offering a promising solution for the automotive industry’s transition to electric vehicles.
[06:30] ZNL’s Mission: Benjamin articulates ZNL’s mission, emphasizing their commitment to revolutionizing battery technology.
[08:59] Supply and Legislation: They discussed the supply chain challenges that ZNL tackles and the impact of legislation such as the IRA Act in the US on ZNL’s startup.
[12:41] Smooth Startup: Benjamin and Jan elaborate on their strategies to ensure a seamless startup for ZNL’s operations.
[16:20] Supplier Management: ZNL outlines its approach to managing suppliers and emphasizes the importance of a partner-based approach for startup success.
[23:49] Customer Side: Benjamin explains their process for managing customer requirements, emphasizing the importance of establishing clear communication and ownership of the testing process through structured agreements like test contracts.
[25:31] Expert Advice: Jan and Benjamin share advice for entrepreneurs and startups facing launch and scale challenges.
[07:52] Benjamin: “What we want to get out on the market and really help the industry with the adoption of our technology is you would be reducing or close to limiting the hazards of fire in batteries.”
[08:47] Benjamin: “Everybody is talking about how we can work more sustainably and utilize energy as best as we can, and batteries are part of that solution. So, that's what we want to help with in this world that we live in.”
[11:32] Benjamin: “I'm not saying that we have to have subsidizers to be successful in this industry, but for these very critical industries that have to succeed against the competition of the Chinese and the other Asian players, it's probably a necessity to build up an industry.”
[13:05] Jan Børge: “One of the first things we did was to ensure that we had the best partners to help us do the scaling. We are continuously in discussion with these partners that can help us because we are good at what we are doing, but there is always somebody better.”
[14:06] Benjamin: “The choice of doing this as a partner-based approach is quite important to us. In all the things we do, we try to find partners that are good in the things that they are experts in. And then we have the core competency in us. It's something we have been doing and will continue to do until we are successful.”
[16:56] Benjamin: “We're telling our vendors that we don't want you as a vendor. We want you as a partner. We want to buy your lab scale machine or your pilot scale machine because we see that you can also deliver this larger, giga-scale machine that could serve us a couple of years down the road.”
[23:50] Benjamin: “On the customer side, people are coming to us because they see we are solving one of the major headaches in the battery industry because of the fire hazard and short-circuiting and thermal runaway. So, they see that our product is really exciting.”
[16:56] Benjamin: “We're telling our vendors that we don't want you as a vendor. We want you as a partner. We want to buy your lab scale machine or your pilot scale machine because we see that you can also deliver this larger, giga-scale machine that could serve us a couple of years down the road.”
[25:50] Jan Børge: “Don't be afraid to sell the product in the early stage because of the value proposition; just talk to the clients, talk to the customers, get the feedback, and then you can iterate.”
[27:46] Benjamin: “I would recommend any CEO of a brand new startup to make sure that you find some good people around you who can do the tasks that you probably want to do yourself and that you can trust that they will be able to perform them so that you can relieve yourself to have enough time to go raise money because you are going to be raising money all the time, and you need to have time for that.”
[00:00:04] Jan Griffiths: This is the Auto Supply Chain Prophets Podcast, where you'll hear from experts of all facets of supply chain in the auto industry to help you prepare for the future. I'm Jan Griffiths, your co-host and producer.
[00:00:17] Terry Onica: I'm Terry Onica, your podcast co-host. Let's dive in.
[00:00:23] Jan Griffiths: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Auto Supply Chain Prophets Podcast. Let's check in with my co-host, Terry Onica. What trouble have you been getting into lately, Terry?
[00:00:33] Terry Onica: Actually, yesterday I had such a wonderful day. I'm a part of the Women Inspiring Success and Empowerment Team at QAD, and our goal is really to go out there and inspire people and the next generation into careers in manufacturing. So yesterday, I was in St. Louis, Missouri, and we were at Companion Bakery, we had the high school students from Galaxy High School come in, and we did a factory tour, and we showed them how they made bread at the factory. And I tell you, that factory was amazing. The CEO there has just an amazing culture. Everybody on that line was so proud of what they did, and they explained their background and how they got there. And it was just wonderful. And you know, at the end of the day, I thought we all need to share our stories more because a lot of people look at you and think, "Oh, you. Look at where you're at," but they don't know your journey, that you're just like them. In the end, we had so many students come up to us saying they were very interested in the technology because we showed RedZone. They're a very big user of RedZone, and it was just an amazing day. I just loved it.
[00:01:40] Jan Griffiths: Yeah. That's great. I love it when we can inspire others into this wonderful industry of ours, into the fabulous industry of our beloved automotive industry.
[00:01:50] Terry Onica: Exactly.
[00:01:50] Jan Griffiths: Well, I will tell you, I am still working on the book and this book, I love it. I love how it's coming together, but Terry, I don't even want to tell you how many iterations we've gone through for the title.
[00:02:02] Terry Onica: Oh no.
[00:02:03] Jan Griffiths: And also, for the cover art, but it's happening, and we have a launch date. The book will be out on March 7th. So, look out.
[00:02:12] Terry Onica: I can't wait.
[00:02:13] Jan Griffiths: Yeah. Thank you. But one thing that I've been intrigued with lately is the failure of EVs due to this frigid weather, you know, the news coverage that's been happening because the charges aren't working, the cars are not holding their charge. So many problems. And that's a great intro for our next guests because we are going through a massive transition in this industry, and there are problems. Now, frigid cold temperatures is one thing. But the other thing that we're all concerned about is battery setting on fire. That's very real. And our guests today have a solution.
[00:03:01] Terry Onica: Yay.
[00:03:02] Jan Griffiths: That might be a huge, massive statement to make. But by their own admission, they could be the next unicorn in the space of battery technology. And I love their website. It says, "Option is power and power needs option. ZNL Energy brings power options to the market." Oh, I absolutely love that. And with us today, we have Benjamin Ferstad and Jan Børge Sagmo. Welcome to the show.
[00:03:36] Jan Borge Sagmo: Thank you.
[00:03:37] Benjamin Ferstad: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.
[00:03:39] Jan Griffiths: We are very excited to be talking to a startup in this space and a startup that could well be the next unicorn. And we want to understand more about the technology. We want you to explain to us, in simple terms, please, what this technology is and what it does. But then, we really want to get into the challenges that you have as a technology startup. So, let's start with you, Jan. Go ahead, tell us a little bit about this product.
[00:04:13] Jan Borge Sagmo: Yes. So, actually, what we have produced is a porous separator because you have a plus and minus sign in batteries, and then you have this separator that makes sure that you don't short circuit these batteries. So, back in 2012, our inventor and founders of ZNL Energy, they started developing a dry electron manufacturing method for zinc ion batteries. Even though zinc ion batteries are maybe the long-lived battery technologies from Alexander Volta back in the 1900s, it has issues with the extreme thermal runway and then drift formation, basically about the battery short-circuiting. So, they saw that they needed to instead of using their own conventional separators, they had to manufacture their own. So, that's what they started. And in 2019, they got like this 'Eureka moment.' This is really cool. We need to commercialize this and we need to talk to somebody that has done commercialization before, and that's when me and a guy called Marcus and Dag came into the discussions with this company. In the battery industry, there's the battery chemistry— you have the plus and the minus, and you have this battery acid that transports these ions through the batteries. And our separator is, since it's non-porous, we are transporting these ions through something called diffusions. It's like if you have a helium balloon and you just let it stand there for a while, the air comes into the balloon, and the helium goes out. Even though the balloon seems like it's totally airtight, but it's not. That's the diffusion part that happens. And that, of course, if we have that in the battery, you don't have this dendrite formation or these issues because the ion can go through this separated because of this crystalline structure, meaning that you have a very good transport of these ions through the whole separate and not only just the small parts in there because you can't really decide where the pores are on the conventional separator, because when you produce it, it's like this stretching in it, and then you get these pores, and you can't evenly decide where these pores are. So that's why you get concentration of this pore somewhere, and somewhere it's not. That's basically what we do.
[00:06:30] Jan Griffiths: Very interesting. Now, Benjamin, you are the CEO of the company. What's the mission of this company?
[00:06:39] Benjamin Ferstad: The mission started out to really commercialize next-generation battery technology, right? And get it into the market. Started out with an idea of getting cheaper energy storage available to the market through the zinc ion battery technology that we have in-house. We quickly realized that the separator technology may maybe have an even larger market adoption potential than what the zinc ion battery technology alone has. So, our goal is to get the separator out on the market and make safer batteries basically. We see that there's a lot of fuss around the world about batteries catching fire. There's been a lot of incidents in the past. You have a couple of telephones or cell phones that have been consistently catching fire. There have been large energy storage plants that have caught on fire. You have ships going over the Atlantic full of electric vehicles that have caught on fire. And the issue with fires in batteries is that once they start, it's kind of hard to stop them from burning. and it's the heat that they're propagating is easily starting fires. When you have battery cells, healthy, good battery cells next to them will catch on fire just as through a propagation process. So, what we want to get out on the market and really help the industry with the adoption of is with our technology, you would be reducing or close to limiting the hazards of fire in batteries. Now, intrinsically, this gives you better safety, just out of the box, but it can also give you cost benefits on spending capex on fire safety systems related to batteries. You can reduce some other factors in battery cell manufacturing. So overall, we think we have a product that can help on many fronts to propagate the adoption of battery technology, which is definitely going to be needed because the electrification is coming and being more and more widely adopted in many different industries, right? And the car industry is probably the one where we've seen the widest adoption so far, but it's going to have to expand into the grid and into people's homes, and in almost every single industry, everybody is talking about how we can work more sustainably, utilize the energy as best as we can, and batteries is part of that solution. So, that's what we want to help with in this world that we live in.
[00:08:59] Terry Onica: That's amazing that you've solved that problem of batteries catching on fire. That's awesome cause it is one of the big reasons for a lot of people and for the safety of everybody as well too. That's just awesome. So, what kind of supply chain challenges are you solving? Because I think there's even more to this story.
[00:09:20] Benjamin Ferstad: Yeah, there absolutely is. So, today there's a lot of talk both in Europe and the US about ensuring that our societies have equal access to this battery technology to make sure that we don't lag behind on development. There's been a lot of dominance from Asian players over the past 20 years, naturally because they started focusing on developing battery technology earlier than what we did. But now, we're seeing that they're starting to get a big adoption. A lot of new battery cell manufacturing plants are being announced, and that is obviously a very good thing. But it's also important to understand that it doesn't help to just establish a battery cell manufacturing plant. You have to still source all the materials and all the components that you need to build these battery cells, which will also have to come from somewhere. And for us, focusing on the separator part of a battery cell that is a component that is almost exclusively being manufactured in Asia today. So, by setting up shop here in Europe and potentially the US as well, we would be part of kind of helping the transition into a self-sustainable manufacturing environment in these two regions, which are dearly needed, to be quite frank.
[00:10:42] Terry Onica: What about the IRA Act here in the US and establishing? We obviously want more battery operations here. Has that presented any challenges to you?
[00:10:53] Benjamin Ferstad: Well, it's both a challenge and an opportunity, I would say, right? That's Europe has always been very good on funding research and getting companies ready for the commercial stage, but there's always been a lack of support on strategic initiatives in the post-commercialization phase. And this is where the IRA came in, and kind of rattled the tree a little bit here because the subsidies that you will get in the US are a bit different. They can actually give you production tax credits that will help you during your critical initial years of manufacturing. Now, I'm not saying that we have to have subsidizers to be successful in this industry, but for these very critical industries that have to succeed against the competition of the Chinese and the other Asian players, it's probably a necessity in order to build up an industry. It's not going to be the first industry that has been built in this way, but I think it's just been a long time since it was last performed. The oil and gas industry had a similar case back in the 70s, at least here in Norway, right? Where a lot of subsidies helped to build it up, and then you turn it over to the companies, and then they can run it on further. So, for us, maybe the biggest challenge with the IRA is that we actually have to look at two commercialization scopes at the same time. We can't ignore the fact that setting up shops in the US is something that should be on our radar. But then again, that also drives us to adapt to the market faster in the US, right? And helps us be on our toes when we're considering where we should be setting up our first large plant for manufacturing our technology. So, all in all positive, I would say.
[00:12:41] Terry Onica: I know your operations are set up in Norway, and you just talked about your plans to expand. One of the things I really want to ask you about is a lot of startups struggle. So, they have this great invention and then it goes to mass production and then they underestimate it, and it fails. What are you doing at ZNL to ensure a smooth startup of your operations?
[00:13:04] Jan Borge Sagmo: So basically, one of the first things we did was to make sure that we have the best partners that can help us do the scaling. Like we've been in dialogue with Honeywell, we've been in dialogue with Schneider Electric. We are being continuously in discussion with these partners that can help us because we are good at what we are doing, but there is always somebody better, you know, in automations or in the ERP systems or the CRM systems. So that's one of the key things that we saw from the beginning, from learning from other startups because this is my second time around, and the first time I did everything this myself. But this time, I thought, no, we need help. You're going to make this smoother, better than, I mean, he came from the oil and gas industry where their supply chain is totally different. So that's one of the key things that we see. Of course, hiring or having the best people around to help you succeed is the key, I think.
[00:14:03] Benjamin Ferstad: I think what Jan says there is very important, right? The choice of doing this as a partner-based approach is quite important to us. In all the things we do, we try to find partners that are good at the things that they are experts in. And then we have the core competency in us. It's something that we have been doing and something we will be continuing to do until we are successful.
[00:14:26] Jan Borge Sagmo: It's not like that you are an expert in accounting just because you have a startup is less better to actually hire an external accountant that can help you do this because you save time there as well, not sitting there going around and trying to learn something you've never done before, right? So, I think that's the main thing: to just do what you're good at and let other people do what they are good at. And then you collaborate, and, yeah, it's a little costly, but then again, you succeed more often than not.
[00:14:52] Jan Griffiths: Wow, there's some wisdom right there. There it is. You have to get over yourself, right? You have to really understand that you have to come to accept that you don't have all the skills. And I think a lot of people are reluctant to do that. They underestimate the task, they underestimate what's involved, and then they try to do it themselves, and then they get stressed out, and they fail. So, this mindset that you have of look, we need help. We need partners who are better at these things than we are. You are the integrator. You have the ultimate technology and the product. You're going to put it all together. That, I believe, will put you light years ahead of other startups because that's why a lot of these startups fail. I've seen it even myself in my own business, this question of whether or not to outsource something. Because it's a money factor, there's a pride factor, but there's also a money factor. You've got to have the funding because you, there's this tendency to say, "Oh, I'll just do it myself."
[00:15:55] Jan Borge Sagmo: Yeah, we experienced the same in my former company. Like, I used three months doing this legal stuff, and I had to hire a lawyer, and it cost like twice the price it should have because you need to clean up everything I did wrong in the beginning. So, I learned the hard way, basically. So that's why we're doing it the best way, and that's why me and Ben is collaborating as good as well, because we have the same mindset of how to set up this business and how to get help where you needed help.
[00:16:20] Terry Onica: One of the other areas I know that's a challenge to a startup is managing your suppliers. I know initially in talking to startups a lot of times. Maybe they don't have the volume, so it's difficult to bring new suppliers on board. And some startups have actually failed because they weren't able to manage their suppliers correctly. So, what are you going to do in your startup to really manage your suppliers?
[00:16:45] Benjamin Ferstad: We're kind of coming back to this partnership structure again because when we're now in a scale-up phase, we're going into a pilot and then going on to a larger scale manufacturing plant. What we're telling our vendors is that we don't want you as a vendor. We want you as a partner. We want to buy your lab scale machine or your pilot scale machine because we see that you have the ability to also deliver this larger scale, a giga-scale machine that could serve us a couple of years down the road. So, what we tell them is that we want help from you guys to choose the best machine for this phase so that we are successful in the phase we are in, and our job in that process is to tell them, be very specific on what is the wanted outcome of the pilot? What are we trying to achieve here? Well, we're trying to prove manufacturability, for instance, right? We're not trying to produce as much as possible in that phase, but by doing the, call it the least amount necessary while still being able to prove it to be scalable and then letting our vendors know that then they will know that, okay, as long as we make this successful in this pilot plant, they will be very likely to be chosen in the giga plant, and that the revenue they can get from that is significantly higher than what the revenue from just delivering to the pilot plant is going to be. So, we take the same approach there as well. We make sure that we get a team behind us. It's not just us. It's all the different vendors, from the legal team that we're using to the raw material vendors that we're talking to, to the machine builders. We all give them the same story and make sure that if you want to deliver to us, this is what we need you to be a part of. And so far, we've been quite successful with that. We've seen a lot of leniency from vendors that they are willing to help us. They are willing to stick the extra hour and to make sure that we actually get what we need and not what they would like us to buy if we were just another customer, right? So, I think for us right now, that's a very livable approach as a startup because you build a lot of trust and relationships with your vendors.
[00:18:58] Jan Griffiths: I agree, and I love the mindset that you have and the partnership approach. It's absolutely the right thing to have but bringing it down to more of the nuts-and-bolts level, you have to understand the capability of each one of those partners from a manufacturing perspective, and running a pilot and ramping up to tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of parts, and components, or whatever the unit is, is vastly different. And when startups ramp up, we've seen that startups feel like, well, you know, we just ramp, right? We'll just go from a hundred to a thousand to ten thousand in a month, and we'll be good, right? Yeah. But, without recognizing all that research and validation of the process and going through an initial sample and checking the process capability, all of these things have to happen, and having a system in place that communicates demand effectively, all of those things have to be in place. What are your thoughts around that?
[00:20:11] Benjamin Ferstad: Well, we've recently partnered with an EPC firm that has a pedigree from building large pharmaceutical automated production lines and hydrogen electrolyzer plants. And we did the grunt work initially to find our, call it, example vendors who we want to talk to. Some of them are already kind of categorized as strategic. And then, this EPC provider is definitely on this partner list, right? It's one of the top strategic partners we have. And together with them, we tell them, okay, you guys have done groundbreaking work in automation in the past to make sure that a plant will be successful in various different business areas like industries in pharmaceuticals or in thin film production. And we have a combination of those types of processes in our products to be made. So, when we talk to them, we tell them that you go out, you take over from now as an EPC provider, and deliver us a turnkey solution where we are on your team, and you are on our team to make this work, right? Then it's back to the partnership. But I understand what you mean, right? That you really need to know the ins and outs of your process. And you, Jan, you have a lot of experience in this from your former company, right? And where are the pitfalls when scaling up? So.
[00:21:31] Jan Borge Sagmo: Yeah, and that's some of the things that we're looking at right now, like going for the ERP system, have all these nuts and bolts already in the system, right? Because in my former company, we didn't do that. We waited like a couple of years. We did what you just said, and we learned the hard way again. And we use like one year and three months just going into the starting this process with the ERP system because it's easier to make the system when it's 10 types of bits and bolts, not 10,000, right? Because then you're spending a lot of time, a lot of costs doing that part. So, it's important to start as early as possible. And just as you scale the system, as long as you're scaling the business, because then these two things are aligned. And also, on the partner side is that we already saw that. We need to be in alliances. That's why we are a part of the members of the Upcell Alliance. We're looking at the NAATBatt United States to make sure that we have these partners around because, like me and Ben, we are going to the NATTBat convention in February in Carlsbad, California, and then we will meet up people that have done the same thing that we're going to do the next six months to a year because they have the experience and then you can just talk to them. How did you do that? What's the pitfall on that part? And, of course, you meet these vendors that are experienced in talking to a company like us and are willing to help because we are on the same boat, right? We sitting there and maybe having a drink after dinner, just talking. And then we have a discussion, but I can help you, but that I know this guy, or I know this woman who is actually an expert on that process, and she can help you out. That's also an important thing, I think.
[00:23:07] Terry Onica: You know, we also find, too, with startups, a couple of areas for technology that they like to look at, too, is a supplier relationship management tool, because tracking, to what Jan said, everything about what that supplier's doing, their capabilities, and then we also find that a lot of our startup customers look at the quality side too. Obviously, that's really super important as well, in addition to the ERP. So, that's great that you're already thinking about that because I think that's where a lot of companies go wrong because as you start to scale, you need tools that can help you see where your position is immediately. So, that's great. Switching now to the customer side. How are you managing requirements? Do you see them changing or how is it working on the customer side?
[00:23:49] Benjamin Ferstad: So, on the customer side, people are coming to us because they see we are solving one of the major headaches in the battery industry because of the fire hazard and short-circuiting and thermal runaway. So, they see that our product is really exciting. And, of course, we also know that there's a track before you're signing a commercial deal. That's why we have a process there also. The first thing we do, we sign the NDAs, non-disclosure agreements, we send maybe an LOI, make sure that we are in discussion if everything is in up the line. Then we go to the next phase; who is this test contract? And the test contract is a contract between us and the customers because we want to own the narrative, right? We want to make sure that when you're testing our product, you're actually testing it the way it should be tested, not the other way around the way they think. They are going to test it because then it can be a misunderstanding, and they can not get the results that we want them to do. And that's one of the key things that we're doing. And we have test contracts with several European players and several United States players in the battery industry, and we see this works quite well to own the narrative and own the discussion. So, like me and our technical director, Talat, when we are going to sales meeting, I usually take him with me because it's important for their engineer and their research team to actually meet our research team and our people that know how, so they can, because it's a tribe language, basically. That's just how it is. And they can discuss, and then they can ask this question. Instead of going around sending 150 emails back and forth, back and forward, it's just easier to just be there and talk about it basically.
[00:25:31] Jan Griffiths: Jan, you've got experience. This is not your first rodeo, as they say, and that's great. What's the one piece of advice that you would give to a tech startup that's thinking about scaling up right now. One thing, just one thing, what would it be?
[00:25:50] Jan Borge Sagmo: Don't be afraid to selling the product in an early stage because of the value proposition; just talk to the clients, talk to the customers, get the feedback, and then you can iterate. Because as I see, a lot of engineers, and I was a little bit like that in the beginning also, I'm just like, a little bit more tweaking, a little bit more, a little bit more. And it takes a lot of time. And in the worst-case scenario is that you've been tweaking in the lab so much that somebody is already up the market with the of same type of solutions that you have. So just don't be afraid to talk to the market. And I see from an investor standpoint because I invest in companies also, the US startups and people that work in the US are a hundred miles in front when it comes to marketing and sales selling. We Norwegian guys, we're a little bit cautious. We're a little bit more afraid to sell the product, but what if they say no? Oh my God, what happens then? It's just. Let them. I'll say it's okay to say no, but then again, they could say yes, right? It's good. Oh, hallelujah. This is the best product ever. Where have you been all my life? That can be a thing, right?
[00:26:52] Jan Griffiths: You know, you bring up an excellent point. And I also lead an organization called Global Welsh because as you know, I'm from Wales originally. And we were talking about how to help Welsh businesses export into the US and that cultural issue of being bold, it's very sort of, Oh, you know, but I don't want to offend anybody and what if it's wrong and what if it doesn't work, it's more of a cultural thing, whereas in the US we're like, okay, let's go talk to the customer. This is the best product ever on the planet. Now, give me some feedback. Yeah. Okay. You know, we're very bold and like in your face and other cultures are not. So, I think that's a very valid point. Thank you. Benjamin, one piece of advice. As the CEO, one piece of advice to a tech startup company, what would it be?
[00:27:44] Benjamin Ferstad: Well, as the CEO of the company, you have to kind of wear all the hats. So I would recommend any CEO of a brand new startup to make sure that you find some good people around you who can do the tasks that you probably want to do yourself and that you can trust that they will be able to perform them so that you can relieve yourself to have enough time to go raise money because you are going to be raising money all the time, and you need to have time for that. And you need to have time for all the tasks that come with being a CEO because you need to be able to talk about your product, and talk about your marketing, and talk about your supply chain, and talk about your strategy for HR, and all those things. So, in the beginning, make sure that you have someone who can sell the product for you and make sure that you have someone who can make the product for you. And then you can have a bit more flexibility in your day to actually do more valuable stuff for your company because there's going to be a lot of administrative stuff that will eat you up alive if you don't have enough spare time for it.
[00:28:44] Jan Griffiths: Great advice. Benjamin and Jan, thank you so much for joining us today.
[00:28:49] Jan Borge Sagmo: Thank you for having us.
[00:28:50] Benjamin Ferstad: Thank you for having us so much.
[00:28:51] Terry Onica: Thank you so much. It was great having you today.
[00:28:57] Jan Griffiths: Are you ready to find the money in your supply chain? Visit www.autosupplychainprophets.com to learn how or click the link in the show notes below.