When Porsche teamed up with venture studio UP.Labs, the mission was to create six startups in three years, all designed to solve the German automaker’s biggest problems and be compelling enough as a standalone company that attract other customers.
On Porsche’s list: software that helps manage and automate EV performance. Pull Systems, the first startup to emerge from the collaboration, has developed a software product that the two companies say can solve the problem. Unveiled at SXSW 2023, Pull Systems also announced it has raised $5 million in a seed round led by UP.Partners.
“Cars become a combination of software and a battery — and ultimately battery performance,” said Katelyn Foley, president of UP.Labs. “And OEMs really need to get to the point where they can understand both aspects to stay competitive, because the things they’re really good at are really the more common parts of the car.”
Pull Systems is a software-as-as-service platform that provides performance management software to EV suppliers, manufacturers and operators. The product is not a battery management software (BMS), which is technically responsible for collecting battery data and communicating with the battery management system. The startup’s software is a compliment, explains Henry Furman, former venture head of product at UP.Labs, now chief product officer of Pull Systems.
And it’s already rolled out to Porsche Taycan vehicles on the road today.
The startup developed a library of machine learning models that can analyze and predict vehicle behavior, such as driving and charging, across the Porsche fleet. That kind of information, combined with external data such as weather patterns and road conditions, can be used to predict and inform the automaker or EV owners when a vehicle needs servicing, when over-the-air software updates need to be implemented, and even aftercare can be encouraged . sales turnover.
The software tracks and collects data about every vehicle in the Porsche EV fleet, which can also help identify performance issues that can be fixed with new firmware or determine the best second-life option for the battery when it reaches its end. of its lifespan, Furman added. .
Ultimately, the company wants the software to be automated using machine learning tools.
“Our real vision here, within the complexities of electrification, is that the cars themselves can take on some of the management of their own propulsion system,” said Furman. “We see a great opportunity ahead of us to automate a lot of what are essentially rule-based inferences across these various software updates.”
For example, the software can identify a weather front in a particular area and issue a software update that helps optimize batteries, he explained.
That’s an attractive prospect for Porsche, a company that plans to expand its EV lineup beyond the Taycan in the coming years, including the Macan in 2024, the 718 in 2025, a Cayenne and a yet-to-be-named full- size SUV.
Pull Systems plans to add several more automakers to its service in the coming year.
The Up.Labs connection
UP.Labs is not a company, even though it originated from and cooperates with UP.Partners. Nor is it a business accelerator or incubator, although it builds start-ups and collaborates with companies. The company, which was launched during UP.Summit 2022 in Bentonville, Arkansas, is structured as a venture lab with a new kind of financial investment vehicle.
Porsche is the first business partner. Foley told ukbusinessupdates.com that more business partnerships will be announced this year.
“The way our model works is we identify major areas of friction hitting major pools of value, and it’s the confluence of those two things that needs to be in place,” Foley said. “So it’s someone who feels the problem acutely and it hits a lot of money — and we’re not going to consider anything outside of those two areas.”
In the beginning, the company dissects the company to find all the problems. UP.Labs identified 217 at Porsche and reduced them to a series of problems and associated ideas to solve them. An investment committee that includes UP.Labs, Porsche and UP.Partners narrows them down to the last pair the team will hatch.
Under the three-year agreement with Porsche, UP.Labs will create six companies, or two per year, with new business models focused on the automaker’s core businesses, such as predictive maintenance, supply chain transparency or digital retail, said Lutz Meschke, deputy chairman and member of the Executive Board of Porsche AG for finance and IT.