Better Place: Lessons From a Failed $836M Start-Up

Peter Cohan enumerates four reasons he sees for the failure of Better Place's electric car network business model.

Published: 14-Jun-2013

In 2007, Shai Agassi founded Better Place in Palo Alto, Calif., hoping to lower the price of electric cars and make them more accessible. To do so, he planned to build switchable electric car battery stations around the world. But while the company secured $836 million in venture capital from funders including General Electric and Morgan Stanley, on May 26, it was forced to shut its doors.

Here are four valuable lessons for any entrepreneur growing their business:

1. Be close to your target market.
In today's global economy, there's a good chance you'll be reaching markets far beyond your home base. That said, if you are trying to get customers, partners, employees and investors to feel confident in your business -- particularly if you have bricks-and-mortar operations like Better Place -- it's important to make the effort to be near these stakeholders.


Better Place Battery Switch Station robotically exchanged depleted battery with recharged one in minutes.

The stations located in Israel and Denmark have now completed 15,000 battery exchanges.

Quartet of Renault Fluence electric cars are part of Better Place network.

Electric car network pioneer offers simplified payment plan in order to break into a consumer market in Israel, reports Haaretz newspaper.

Better Place Battery Switch Station in Israel.

NPR profile on Better Place and its nascent start-up activities in Israel where it's introducing an electric car network concept.


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