Magment develops magnetic concrete for inductive applications

It has been possible to charge smartphones, headphones and other small devices with wireless charging trays for a while now. But could that also work with larger things, such as cars? The Munich startup Magment says “yes” and has developed magnetic concrete for inductive applications to do just that. We spoke with Mauricio Esguerra, co-founder and CEO of Magment.

Munich Startup: Who are you and what do you do? Please introduce yourselves!

Mauricio Esguerra, Magment: We are experienced developers and business people who founded Magment five years ago. My partner Ralph Lucke is a materials scientist, I’m a physicist and we now have a team that supports us in all aspects – be it in electrical engineering or business development and everything that goes along with it. Our team is still growing, we’re currently a group of twelve and hope to be a total of fifteen by the end of the year.

Our startup is based on a patent that we registered eighteen years ago: magnetic concrete for inductive applications. We decided, based on this invention that we adapted from our previous company, to found Magment. We are the only company in the world that has this technology. We’ve also hold or have applied for seven additional property rights.

Munich Startup: What problem does your startup solve?

Mauricio Esguerra, Magment: Our goal is to completely change the way electric vehicles are charged. At the moment you have a tangle of cables, as you can see with electric cars. To charge e-scooters, you even have to transport them somewhere else and then bring them back the next day. With our inductive charging technology, any kind of vehicle can charge while parked or in use. We’re not just talking about electric cars or e-scooters – other particularly important areas of focus for us are forklifts and industrial robots. That means they could simply charge in a store or warehouse while being driven and used.

“We provide the same efficiency as charging with a cable”

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Mauricio Esguerra, Magment: It is in this form. The biggest obstacle for this kind of technology was always the absence of a global standard for charging that applied to vehicles from all manufacturers. That standard will now be published in July. A high level of efficiency is also a prerequisite for this type of system to be successful. We provide the same efficiency as charging with a cable, between 99 and 94 percent of the energy used ends up in the vehicle. This requires the use of coils in conjunction with magnetic materials. But, conventional materials are much too expensive and aren’t available in sufficient quantities. By using concrete technology, however, we can make the whole thing quite attractive in terms of cost and absolutely scalable. You might say that instead of sand and gravel, we add magnetic particles to the concrete. That allows us to use regular concrete casting processes.

Munich Startup: What have been your three biggest challenges so far?

Mauricio Esguerra, Magment: We have three major challenges that we’ve been overcoming little by little. The first was industrializing our process. That’s something we’re working on with all major concrete manufacturers, who have given us a great deal of support, so we’ve already successfully cleared that hurdle.

The next challenge was finding the right markets for getting started. Since it’s a new application, we defined a few key target markets: E-scooters, logistics and what are known as fleet vehicles, such as taxis or shared cars. We can reach these markets better with our offer than end users, for example. So we’ve also been able to clear that hurdle.

Looking for investors

The third challenge is the most difficult at the moment, namely financing. We’re in the process of getting investors on board to help us with our marketing. What we do have is the tremendous advantage of being able to handle our working capital with our concrete partners. That means our financing is moving more in the direction of ongoing product development and of course business development.

Munich Startup: How is business going?

Mauricio Esguerra, Magment: Business is going well, we were able to sell a large number of prototypes last year. That includes projects involving e-scooters in Munich and at Purdue University in the US, in the field of micromobility and in logistics as well. We’ve made good progress with our projects. That means by the end of the year, we will be able to reach our first sales target.

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We were also able to implement a project in the e-scooter area that had to do with corona. The problem was that many users were not wanting to touch vehicles that others had used before them. We introduced a new technology with a partner in response, a UV disinfection system. We now offer that in conjunction with our inductive charging infrastructure – making it a contactless total solution for charging and disinfecting e-scooters. Of course it was born out of necessity because our e-scooter business was suffering due to corona. But we’ve also been able to position ourselves really well thanks to the new solution. We hope to be able to perform pilot projects in this area soon, too.

Magment has a bit of an issue with Munich

Munich Startup: What do you think about Munich as a startup location?

Mauricio Esguerra, Magment: Munich on the one hand is ideal as a city for startups because we have an incredible amount of resources and so many opportunities for finding all kinds of technologies and partnerships. But we think the city’s responsiveness is a bit too hesitant at the moment. For example, we made a suggestion to the MVG (Munich Transport Corporation) to pilot the disinfection system. But they aren’t really on board with it yet. We’ve found other cities that it’s worked with, though, such as Thessaloniki, Barcelona and Arego in Portugal. We hope to see a bit more enthusiasm return.

But another very positive aspect to note in Munich is that we will be able to locate our first pilot project at Schwabinger Tor. That is a wonderful area because it is private property. That means everything is a bit easier there. We hope to be able to attract lots of customers there who want to have something demonstrated. Munich is the optimal place for that.

Munich Startup: Hidden champion or shooting star?

Mauricio Esguerra, Magment: We’re still a hidden champion, but we’re becoming more and more visible in social networks worldwide. The concept of inductive charging with concrete is slowly catching on, and it is very disruptive, very new and very different. We get an unbelievable amount of mail and an unbelievable amount of inquiries from around the world, so we’ve noticed that our status is slowly shifting towards shooting star.

Maximilian Feigl

Maximilian Feigl berichtet seit 2013 über das Digital Business. Schwerpunkt des studierten Politikwissenschaftlers sind die Verknüpfung von On- und Offline-Kanälen in Marketing und Handel sowie der Wandel am Point of Sales und die Digitalisierung des Einzelhandels. Nun freut er sich auf die Münchner Startup-Szene mit ihren kreativen Köpfen.

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