CEO, Board Member
Idan draws upon 14 years of power sources product development in the aerospace and automotive industries. His experience includes 4 years in UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) development and 6 years in automotive powertrains development, both with emphasis on system integration. Idan led complex development projects in aerospace, automotive and academy including development of power sources, powertrains and entire UAVs. He has a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, and a Master of Science in Alternative Energy Technologies.
Idan, tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Idan Kovent, President, CEO, and founder of eMatrix. I started my professional career as an aerospace engineer designing, building, and testing drones. My specialty was electric propulsion and electric-powered applications. After that, I worked as an electric propulsion product designer, battery engineer, project manager, COO, and CEO in small and large companies.
What motivates you to get out of bed and work every day?
My alarm clock. Also, our vision is my main motivator, “To supply everybody, everywhere with custom energy solutions” — I really believe energy, just like many products today, can and should be tailored to each customer and application, and should not be an inhibitor of other technologies but rather a catalyst.
What does a typical day in your position look like?
I get to the office at 5 AM, I like to start when it’s still quiet. I walk through the production line and warehouse to get a quick idea of what has been done the previous day and that everything is ready for the new day. If I see something quick I can do to make the production team’s life a bit easier, I do it. It’s usually something simple like cutting some wire, re-stocking a station, updating a log file, etc. Then, I go to the office and try to review any overnight emails before our production manager comes in. Then, I have a short talk with him on our daily priorities. After, I try to get all my executive duties completed by noon. I usually eat lunch at the office while I work. I try to spend the afternoon supporting the engineering team. Add to those a few planned and unplanned calls and it’s 5 PM before I know it. I try to leave by 5 PM at the latest so I get to spend some time with my kids before they go to sleep. Sometimes I work after they fall asleep, but I try to avoid it.
What do you enjoy most about your position?
I get to express my creativity every day and in many ways. Every day is a riddle to be solved. Some riddles are tougher than others, but there’s a lot of satisfaction in solving them.
What is your personal strategy to succeed in your position as a boss and CEO?
Learn from your investors, learn from your employees, learn from your customers — they all have a lot to teach you, much more than any school will.
What is one piece of advice you would share with someone who wants to start a company?
I heard a good quote the other day, “entrepreneurs are the only people who work 160 hours/week to avoid having to work 80 hours/week”. Most people won’t even understand what this means. When you start a company it takes a lot of time and energy. There are many tough moments when you want to quit and good-scary moments where you realize things just got real. At some point, things start moving a million miles an hour and you are always fighting to stay on top of it. But looking back at the last four years — it is FUN. There hasn’t been a day that I have not learned something new.
So my advice is don’t start a company alone, find people you trust that will help you during the hard times and celebrate the good ones with you. Make sure your family is on-board and ready for a rough ride. This way you have that support at the office and when you go home.
What inspired you to start an energy technology company?
I have been a consumer of the energy technology market since my first professional job. In 2016 I was already working on the eBrick technology with the other founders for a previous employer. The design was very different from anything out there and we saw we have a unique solution that we can bring to the market quickly. And that’s how eMatrix started.
Where did the idea come from to create eMatrix’s batteries?
When the other three founders and I worked together for a previous employer, we had to define a new battery for every new platform, and there were many platforms. Battery suppliers charged us a LOT of money to design each battery. We were always disappointed with their designs, whether because they missed important elements or just expected the platform to be designed around the battery and not the other way around. We felt like “the supplier is always right”. So we started designing our own battery elements — modules, distribution system, control system, enclosures — so we could one day make our own batteries. We designed everything as modular as we could so we can quickly adapt the original design to any platform and every application. And that is how the eBrick and RNA-BMS started.
What are you most proud about eMatrix’s batteries?
I worked in the past for start-ups that had zero sales after eight years in business. I keep seeing other startups just like that. We had sales in our second year in business. In the third year, we made 10 times the revenue of the previous year. In the fourth year, we doubled revenue and already have purchase orders for 2021 to match our 2020 revenue. We have over 200 battery packs on the road today. We are a startup that actually makes a product, sells a product, and that product is actually being used. And we are only four years old!
What excites you most about the industry eMatrix is in?
The energy industry is one of the fastest growing hardware industries out there. The famous Kardashev scale ranks civilizations based on the amount of energy it can store and use. Developing and improving our energy technology is what drives our entire civilization forward and I love being a part of the industry that will drive humanity to new heights.
What major challenges or struggles have you faced with the company?
We have faced many challenges. But challenges are part of the fun of starting a company and engineering in general. eMatrix is the first startup I founded. I had to learn many new skills quickly to make sure we were on the right track for success. When we just started, the challenge was getting the technology to the market, proving it out, and getting seed funding. As we grow, challenges change — handling personnel issues, supply chain, running after new orders, and keeping ahead of the competition. My biggest challenge as we grow is delegating more of my duties to others. As a founder, eMatrix is like one of my kids. It’s hard to see your kids grow up and leave the nest or spend time with others more than they do with you. But it is also lots of fun and makes you proud to watch them do things on their own.
How would you describe eMatrix’s work culture? How do you ensure that a healthy and positive work culture is maintained with everyone at the company?
This is one of the challenges as the company grows. It’s an even greater challenge these days with COVID restrictions. From day one we wanted to have a company that is fun to work for. We started with free coffee, drinks, and snacks, but that’s just a small gesture. We try to think of the company as a big family where we care about each and every employee. As part of that I make it a point to go out to the production floor every day and see how the employees are doing. I have a feedback interview with every employee every 6 months, and an open-door policy where everyone knows they can come to me with any problem they have. I expect the same from all the managers and supervisors at the company. We always make our best effort to listen to every employee and improve their experience where we can. We also try to celebrate birthdays and new hirings with a company lunch but that is a bit more difficult these days. Finally, we try to reward outstanding employees and help struggling employees so everyone is part of the daily effort to “build the future one eBrick at a time”.
How does eMatrix differentiate itself from competitors?
One word: customization. While other energy companies shy away from trying new things unless they get a huge order, we are always happy to accept new challenges and remain affordable. We do this by always designing our hardware and software to be highly modular, yet very scalable. We are implementing many elements of the consumer electronics development cycle to our product development cycle which allows us to keep a high level of customization at an affordable price while still being able to scale up when needed. Finally, when a customer comes with a new challenge, we do not look at it as an opportunity to charge the customer extra. We look at it as an opportunity to add to our technology, capabilities, and portfolio and improve existing and future products.
Where do you see the company in the next five years?
I see eMatrix becoming a major player in the non-fossil-fuel energy industry. We will provide hardware and software energy solutions beyond batteries and to existing and new markets with worldwide sales. As we grow bigger, we will always keep our core competency of lean and agile development processes and highly-customized products.