Secrets of Success: Michael Colijn, CEO of Heliox
There’s nothing more current right now than the notion of sustainability and EV powered products.
Rapid charging therefore is essential to the framework for the country moving to adhere to all of the Government’s plans for a more planet friendly future. Heliox provides rapid charging infrastructure for some of the largest EV projects in Europe. Michael Colijn talks to Business Matters …
What products or services do you provide?
Heliox designs, builds, installs, maintains and monitors such infrastructure based on the needs of partners, prioritising on rapid charging, ability to scale in the medium and long run, and interoperability of fleet and charging infrastructure.
We work across public transport, e-trucks and a number of different sectors to provide fast charging systems that can efficiently power EVs for business and consumer convenience. We recently announced that in the last six months we have supplied over 1,000,000 charging sessions, the equivalent of 6,000 per day. Currently there are over 25,000 commercial EVs powered by Heliox globally. Going ahead, Heliox is also strengthening its ability to monitor the infrastructure to be able to provide smart energy insights.
What type of businesses do you work with?
We work with businesses across a number of sectors. From city planners to fleet owners, we work to ensure that businesses who are looking to implement more sustainable measures are supported. Heliox has implemented some of the largest e-fleet rapid charging projects in Europe, with partnerships with First Bus Glasgow and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, which contribute towards global net-zero emissions goals.
What problem does your company solve?
As the environment and sustainability goals become paramount across the globe, cities and companies are seeking transitions towards electric and green solutions.These transitions are being led by vehicles – busses, trucks, cars – which would play an immediate and significant role in bringing down CO2 emissions, but eventually need to impact all aspects of our daily life. This is crucial to the UK’s ambition of reaching net-zero emissions by 2030, as well as complimenting the ban of diesel cars and heavy duty petrol vehicles by 2040.
We are enablers of this transition, providing turnkey solutions that begin with designing the e-mobility solution for a company, providing the hardware and a future outlook for scaling up or other infrastructural / technological upgrades.
The infrastructure to support this ‘e-transition’ is expected to double in the UK in the next few years, with an estimated 1,170 charge points per 100km of road expected to be required by 2030.
What is your USP?
Our USP is the coming together of 3 core practices to create a tailored solution for each partner:
We are the only provider of rapid charging that can be implemented at scale. This puts us in a unique position to support businesses who are looking to move to deploying hundreds of e-fleets or increase their number of electric vehicles, and empower them to contribute to sustainability efforts.
We offer end-to-end tailored solutions that include designing, building, installing, maintaining and monitoring
Given the key role played by e-mobility and its charging infrastructure, we manufacture and assemble within the European continent only.
What are your company values? Have you ever had them challenged and if so how have you dealt with it?
As a company, we strongly believe in the current outlook and action to meet stipulated environmental and sustainability goals as envisaged by partners and cities. These goals come under pressure constantly, and the challenge only helps create an environment of greater innovation and research.
How do you ensure that you recruit a team that reflects your company values?
We are constantly checking in with our values to ensure the people we work with feel that we represent them.
We also have a specific step in our recruitment process that is focused on our values. We work with a company called Seedlink to generate a score for each candidate, which is checked against our company values, so we can see which candidates are the best fit. In addition we run an annual values survey to understand whether the prioritisation of individual values has collectively changed in accordance with our company values.
Are you happy to offer a hybrid working model of home/office post-covid?
Last year, we quickly adapted to hybrid working, and have seen a significant increase in productivity. We know that our team is happiest when they have the option to work flexibility, so we’ve made sure that our company policy reflects a 50/50 split between working from home and being in the office.
We believe this balance allows our team to have the benefits of both remote working, and collaborating in person.
Do you have any tips for managing suppliers and customers effectively?
We see our suppliers as equally important as our customers. They help keep our day to day running, so working with them has to be seen as a true partnership.
We work with our suppliers to set expectations on the high quality chargers and installation we offer, as well as keeping them in the loop with our needs as our business changes.
With our customers, we always make sure we’re one step ahead when it comes to managing our communication. We put ourselves in their shoes, so we know how to bring them solutions and communicate them in a clear way, without overcomplicating the technical language.
Any finance or cash-flow tips for new businesses starting out?
The most important things to remember are that cash is king, and that even a large business can go under if cash-flow is not a priority. Be focused on bringing in revenues, and look 3-6 months ahead to ensure your pipeline is as strong as possible.
If you could ask one thing of the government to change for businesses what would it be?
This year’s COP26 in Glasgow will be pivotal in the discussions on sustainability. So far, what we’ve seen has been promising – but the proof is in the pudding, so I would ask that promises are kept, and they invest in infrastructure that demonstrates their commitment to encouraging higher adoption rates of electric vehicles.
What is your attitude towards your competitors?
We see competitors as a phenomenal driver for innovation, and we all have a mutual goal of making the world a better place.
It is crucial for us to work with our competitors to move towards a more sustainable way of working, and ensure we are collaborating to make the energy transition happen.
The ultimate goal of accelerating the industry is beyond each company’s interest, but is instead the sum of a collaborative effort.
Any thoughts on the future of your company and your dreams?
I’ve spent my whole career in the energy business, making sure the world is a better place for my daughter. The future of Heliox is ensuring we are contributing in creating a sustainable, environmentally viable world to pass down to the next generations.