The world of electric boats is attracting more and more serious money with this electric outboards investment in Flux Marine being led by Ocean Zero LLC, a fund created by TED Conferences head Chris Anderson and technology editor Stephen Petranek.
Flux Marine is based in Rhode Island and was started by Ben Sorkin, Daylin Frantin and Jon Lord coming out of an engineering project Sorkin led at Princeton University. Their electric outboard received grants from The National Science Foundation, the US Air Force and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and went on to win th Electric Boat Association of America’s Wye Island Challenge in 2019 and two awards in the Best New Product at the 2021 Newport International Boat Show: “Best Green Product ” and “Best New Boating Operation, Maintenance or Safety Product.”
This funding – a Series A round – will be used to expand the Flux team and production facilities in order to scale operations, manufacturing and distribution.
“Our ground-up design is an entirely new electric propulsion system rather than a retrofit of electric vehicle components into a typical outboard casing. ” said CEO Sorkin “The Northeast is a fantastic place for Flux Marine to grow – both Rhode Island and Connecticut have been powerful allies as we begin to scale our operations – and we are excited by the support of Ocean Zero and all of our investors.”
Ocean Zero LLC was launched in 2020 to ‘make inflection point investments in innovative technology companies that can help eliminate fossil fuels from our waters around the world.’ Managing partner Chris Anderson has been Curator of the TED Conferences since 2002 and Operating partner Stephen Petranek is an award-winning financial journalist and science and technology editor who was editor-in-chief of Discover Magazine and The Washington Post Magazine.
Flux is in good company with this electric outboards investment. Ocean Zero has also led or participated in funding for: Candela, the electric hydrofoiling speedboat; AYRO, inventor of sails shaped like airplane wings that won the 2010 America’s cup; and Batene, who have a technology that allows lithium ion batteries to store much greater energy while charging and discharging more quickly.
Other participants in the Flux Marine funding include tech investors Boost VC and Winklevoss Capital, along with a majority of the seed and angel investors who had invested in the company at its beginning.
“Electrification of recreational boating will make a remarkable reduction in the ridiculous amounts of pollution produced by internal combustion outboard motors.” said Stephen Petranek, Operating Partner for Ocean Zero LLC. “Flux Marine can make a significant impact on climate change if even a fraction of the 800,000 outboard engines sold each year can be replaced by fully electric motors.”
According to Investopedia, a Series A funding means
Once a business has developed a track record (an established user base, consistent revenue figures, or some other key performance indicator), that company may opt for Series A funding in order to further optimize its user base and product offerings. Opportunities may be taken to scale the product across different markets. In this round, it’s important to have a plan for developing a business model that will generate long-term profit.
In Series A funding, investors are not just looking for great ideas. Rather, they are looking for companies with great ideas as well as a strong strategy for turning that idea into a successful, money-making business.
Sorkin and his team have worked from the beginning to totally reimagine the performance and possibilities of the electric outboard. As far back as 2016 they built a racing boat with their prototype motor which stunned the crowd at Princeton’s Lake Carnegie by hitting a speed of 50mph. Sorkin says “From day one, Flux has been about performance. And that electric boat demonstrator was out to say, ‘hey, electric can be very fast'”.
While the Flux motors have the outward appearance of a traditional fossil fuel outboard and attach to any boat with standard hardware, everything inside uses proprietary engineering in solid-state components, thermal systems, and battery technology.
The Flux electric outboards line is made of 15HP, 40HP, 70HP models (11 kW, 52 kW). They also have a 100HP model which can be purchased as part of a package on a high performance RIB or dual console speedboat or is available separately. Contact Flux for more info or to consult with them on specific electric repowering solutions.
Written by: Jeff Butler