By Scott Meacham
The acquisition of Spiers New Technologies is the Oklahoma Innovation Model working at its very best.
At i2E, we are in the business of commercializing new technologies. It’s exciting work, especially when we have the opportunity to connect with a new startup in the first year or two of its existence and continue to support the company as it grows.
Spiers New Technologies (SNT) became an i2E client company in 2015. Dirk Spiers, a visionary of exceptional grit and determination, founded SNT in 2014 in Oklahoma City. A true pioneer in EV battery management and recycling, Dirk Spiers founded a company and an entire industry.
Since then, the company has become the leading provider of EV (electronic vehicle) battery life cycle management, including repair, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and repurposing of batteries. The business is recognized by EV manufacturers as well as other key players in the EV industry worldwide.
i2E worked alongside SNT as Dirk took the business from himself to a few engineers to 80 employees in new facilities in South Oklahoma City and five employees in the company’s international headquarters in The Netherlands. As the startup grew, i2E assisted SNT in evaluating the business concept, in gathering and analyzing market data, and in preparing the company for other capital sources. i2E’s Accelerate OK fund invested $500,000 in a Series A round of $2.0 million in August 2015.
Earlier this month, Spiers New Technologies was acquired by Cox Mobility, a division of Cox Automotive. (Cox Automotive is a business unit of Cox Enterprises, a privately held global conglomerate with about 55,000 employees and $21 billion in total revenue.) Cox Mobility describes the deal as a foundational investment in Cox’s new global EV (electric vehicle) battery service network. Cox Mobility is focused on being the world’s best end-to-end caretaker for electric vehicles at every stage of vehicle life.
Typically, we see that when a young company proves its viability and grows as SNT has, it gets swallowed up by some giant corporation with the deep pockets, industry knowledge, and market strategy and resources to move the idea forward aggressively — and that is often a viable exit strategy for founders and early stage investors.
Occasionally, we see an acquirer come in that likes the company, what it does, and how it operates. Acquirers of this type invest in growing the company as it stands. That’s Cox Mobility’s direction with SCT. If you believe that batteries are going to be powering vehicles around the world and you want to be a market leader, where is the best place to invest? Battery management.
This acquisition is a great move for Cox Mobility and SNT. Cox can grow in a strategic space nationally and internationally. It is a great win for Dirk and the team at SNT, a validation of everything they have done. It is also a great outcome for the initial investors who took a big risk, and it is especially a great win for Oklahoma as SNT is a business that is going to remain in the state and do even more.
This is the Oklahoma Innovation Model working at its best — a new very high growth company in Oklahoma, now validated by another huge, privately owned conglomerate from another state.
Scott Meacham CEO of i2E Inc., a nonprofit corporation that mentors many of the state’s technology-based startup companies. i2E receives state support from the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology and is an integral part of Oklahoma’s Innovation Model. Contact Meacham at i2E_Comments@i2E.org.