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Smartphones, smartwatches, cameras, autonomous vehicles, drones, and smart home gadgets—these technologies are replete with countless advancements. But the one thing that powers all of these—namely, the humble battery—is behind the times.

There hasn’t been any significant innovation in commercial and industrial batteries, only controversies, such as Samsung Galaxy Note 7s exploding or the excessive battery drain from the iOS 11.4 update. However, the tech industry is now seeing a bold breakthrough in batteries via battery specialist—Sila Nanotechnologies. This company has just received $70 million in funding.

The Battery Specialist and High Profile Investment

Sila Nanotechnologies announced on August 16, 2018, that it had raised $70 million in Series D Funding, led by private equity company, Sutter Hill Ventures. This round of funding saw the involvement of titan tech companies. Such titans include Siemens-backed Next47 and Amperex Technology Limited, which makes batteries for Apple and Samsung smartphones. The battery specialist has raised a total of $125 million from its group of investors—Bessemer Venture Partners, Chengwei Capital, In-Q-Tel, Matrix Partners, and Samsung.

a photo quote on the battery specialist, Sila Nanotechnologies, by Mike Speiser

“Changes in battery chemistry are generational, and Sila Nanotechnologies is bringing the next one to market,” said managing director of Sutter Hill Ventures, Mike Speiser. “Sila has solved the hard scientific and engineering problems and is ready to rapidly scale up manufacturing to meet the enormous demand for better batteries.”

He added that they support companies that solve global problems—from providing strong batteries for wearables, pocket devices, vehicles, and even grid infrastructure.

Investors believe that Sila Nanotechnologies has the right technology and the right team to improve energy density and life cycle. Batteries are instrumental to all electric devices and machinery, but current technology has not kept up with the advancements of today. The battery specialist knows there has to be critical innovation in the commercialization of lithium-ion batteries.

The Battery Specialist on Innovating the Battery

Sila Nanotechnologies CEO Gene Berdichevsky was Tesla employee number seven, an instrumental figure in its early days. He helped develop some of the first batteries for the Tesla Roadster. One of Tesla’s earlier problems was that their Li-ion batteries caught fire more often than they anticipated. Berdichevsky’s solution was to combine heat transfer materials, cooling channels, and battery arrangements so fires would be efficiently contained.

Since departing from Tesla, he has started his own company, Sila Nanotechnologies. The mission is to engineer products that dramatically increase the energy density of batteries to power smaller, lighter, and more durable electronic devices and vehicles. However, Li-ion batteries can only hold so much energy. They are also highly flammable and may not always fit different devices’ form factors.

Sila Nanotechnologies developed silicon-based nanoparticles that form high-capacity anodes. Berdichevsky said that an atom of silicon stores about 20 times more lithium than carbon atoms. As it takes fewer atoms to store lithium, batteries can have a smaller volume of material that stores the same amount of energy.

Sila Nanotechnologies’ batteries are robust and porous enough to take any swelling that affects Li-ion batteries. This fact promises stronger, longer-lasting batteries.

For many entrepreneurs, launching a single successful startup is enough. But for Jim McKelvey, his success involves six different startups that he still owns. Though best known as the Square founder, along with Jack Dorsey, Jim McKelvey has created an array of innovative businesses. In addition to founding Square, he is also involved in companies related to glass-blowing, venture capital, employee training, and digital publishing. Indeed, Jim McKelvey appears to have the Midas touch when it comes to entrepreneurship and Bold Leadership.

Tremendous success does not come without a great deal of hard work and powerful leadership. Though Bold Leader Jim McKelvey admittedly appreciates the importance of luck, he thought it unlikely that Lady Luck would shower him with favor so many times. Instead, Jim McKelvey applies his unique and bold style of leadership in an array of different areas. By taking an in-depth look inside the Square founder’s leadership philosophy, entrepreneurs and leaders everywhere can benefit.

Jim McKelvey’s Bold Leadership Foundation—Perseverance and Diligence

In each of Jim McKelvey’s businesses, he identifies a specific problem that needs a solution. As the Square founder, his inability to sell his own glass-blown art pinpointed a need for an accessible payment platform for small business owners. Another of his businesses, LaunchCode, fills the lack of technologically skilled workers through employee training and apprenticeships. And, Invisibly is now striving to fix the broken digital ad ecosystem that plagues the digital publishing world—thus, allowing content creators to sustainably monetize their content. In each instance, Jim McKelvey succeeded, because he started with the problem.

While recognizing a need is great, creating a solution is not easy. As Jim McKelvey describes, great leaders need to expect failure and rejection. Perseverance is an important secret to leadership success and often is the difference between bold leadership and startup failure.

jim mckelvey quote about  perseverance and diligence

Mentor, Educator, and a True Believer in the Team

Bold leadership has been defined in part as fostering success in others while having the ability to delegate effectively. These characteristics certainly apply to Jim McKelvey. The Square founder recognized talent in Jack Dorsey during his previous interactions with him. This insight along with his keen problem-solving skillset and bold leadership allowed Square, a $30 billion-plus market cap public company, to become a reality. In nearly all of Jim McKelvey’s pursuits, he has collaborated with others to co-create a vision. His capacity to encourage others to utilize their talents and work together are among his boldest leadership traits.

A key part of fostering talent also involves serving as a mentor and educator to others. Jim McKelvey is a published author of three internationally recognized textbooks that seek to enhance others’ understanding. His first book, a computer science textbook—which he wrote when he was in college—was written in an effort to improve upon the professor’s inadequate course book. He also wrote the primary resource today for beginner glass-blowers. Similarly, at LaunchCode, he is developing programmers through training and education to enhance the local talent market. These leadership pursuits exemplify Jim McKelvey’s belief in people.

The Square co-founder has impressed those who have worked for him.
Jim McKelvey’s bold leadership has made a lasting impression on those who have worked with him.

A Bold Leader who Strives to Make a Difference in the World

As the Square founder, Jim McKelvey provides a solution to help artists and small businesses excel. At LaunchCode, he aims to reduce poverty and unemployment by developing technology skills in the community. And at Invisibly, Jim McKelvey wants to enhance the published content society enjoys by ensuring content creators are appropriately rewarded. Underlying each of Jim McKelvey’s pursuits is a social agenda.

The drive to make the world a better place has always been a core piece of Jim McKelvey’s leadership. His father, a chemical engineering pioneer, and professor instilled these motivations within Jim McKelvey. His friends at Washington University in St. Louis also helped him appreciate humility, integrity and a down-to-earth perspective. This combination of influences is what molded Jim McKelvey’s passion for helping others. And it remains a key part of his bold leadership today.

Advice for Bold Leaders and Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow

McKelvey is a great example of a modern-day bold leader who serves as a role model for countless others. With this in mind, the Square founder encourages others to be real and authentic and to follow their passions. In addition, he emphasizes that cultivating relationships and investing in self-education is critical. But above all else, he heartens people to lead with integrity and to expect failure before certain success. As I wrote in a recent article featured in ProjectBoldLife, the path to success is rarely linear and requires course correction along the way. McKelvey is a master at understanding this is and persevering against the odds.

“Failure with a startup is really a question of the entrepreneur giving up. Now you can say. ‘Well if we don’t have funding, we have to let everybody go.’ But many times, I’ve had my company reduced to me. It doesn’t die until you quit, and I just never quit,” Jim McKelvey Founder of Invisibly, LaunchCode and Square.

Being bold requires courage, and bold leadership demands this and much more. But as Jim McKelvey demonstrates, this combination of pursuits can drive tremendous success and cultivate strong leadership potential along the way.

To learn more about Jim McKelvey’s newest venture, visit our exclusive story, video, and infographic on Invisibly.


Using silicon instead of graphite for the battery’s anodes also reduces costs and drives up efficiency by 40 percent. If the batteries use 20 percent fewer cells, production costs also drop by 20 percent.

Sila Nanotechnologies, the Leading the New Era of Batteries

Sila Nanotechnologies has been working under the radar until now. However, with its recent round of funding, it’s hard not to take note of the company. Earlier this year, the battery specialist announced a partnership with BMW—for whom it will provide lithium-silicon batteries. BMW expects to incorporate the Sila Nanotechnologies batteries into their vehicles by 2030, potentially increasing their battery capacity by 10 to 15 percent.

a photo quote on the battery storage capacity, Sila Nanotechnologies, by Gene Berdichevsky

The world is anticipating the new improvements in battery technology. Additionally, when these improvements are rolled out to the public, electronics will become cheaper and will have fewer issues about battery life. Finally, through Sila Nanotechnologies, batteries are pushing boundaries in the tech world.

 

Sources:

Sila Nanotechnologies Announces $70 Million in Series D Funding Round to Scale the Next Generation of Battery Materials

35 Innovators Under 35: Gene Berdichevsky, 34

Sila Nanotechnologies raises $70 million for next-generation battery development

Batteries Still Suck, But Researchers Are Working On It

Sila Nano raises $70 million in funding for silicon-dominant battery anodes





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