This week, we’re introducing you to Alexandre Vallette, the dynamic CEO and co-founder of Gouach – the world’s first sustainable, easily repairable and connected electric batteries for soft mobility vehicles. 

A doctor in physics and ex co-founder of the AI startup Snips (acquired by Sonos in 2019), Alexandre is the kind of person who likes to know how things work and how they can be improved. Which is why, back in 2019, he bought a rusty petrol- run moped and decided to transform it into a brand new electric vehicle by adding a lithium EV battery that he dug out of a dustbin.

Whilst examining the battery Alexandre found that most of the battery’s cells were in perfect working order, only a couple were worn out and yet the entire battery had been deemed useless and thrown away. Intrigued, over the next few months he carried out an in-depth study on over 300 end-of-life electric batteries – sourced from various companies – only to discover that 80% of them could be made to work again if the defective cells could be replaced safely.

Throughout that year with the help of ex recruit, Maxime Agor, Alexandre designed and patented a solderless and connected battery specifically intended for use in e-bikes, e-scooters and small electric vehicles.

Unlike ordinary EV lithium batteries, the Gouach battery is designed to be repaired safely and quickly – in just under 10 minutes. The entire battery, including the control unit, sensors and charging connection, has no soldered joints or cables.

This means that defective individual components – flagged by a connected control panel –  can be easily removed and replaced with working ones.

After an 18 months research and development phase, with their newly acquired patents and certifications in hand, Alexandre and Maxime then joined forces with Mael Primet, ex Snips co-founder, to launch a company to manufacture and market their batteries. They called it “Gouach” a slang word for “energy”.

When first approached, potential business partners were sceptical. After all, what’s the point of recycling batteries when new ones can be bought relatively cheaply and easily?

The point is becoming clearer.  With e-bike sales forecast to reach 130 million by year end and electric cars sales having doubled the past year to reach almost 9% of the global car market, the core metals used in EV batteries are fast becoming precious commodities.  And attitudes are changing. Alexandre tells us :

“Electric batteries typically contain difficult- to-mine metals such as lithium, manganese, nickel, cobalt or copper. As we move away from fuel-driven vehicles towards electric ones, it will be these metals that drive expansion. Throwing them away is not only inacceptable from an environmental point of view but also makes little economic sense”’. 

Why Gouach ?

If other European and international startups are considering the idea, Gouach is currently the only company to have made, manufactured and marketed a sustainable, easily repairable and connected soft mobility battery.

Furthermore, Gouach’s batteries not only help to fight programmed obsolescence but are also more environmentally friendly to produce, using 2.6 x less water and CO2 than conventional batteries. Made in France, they can also be repaired locally thus providing new job opportunities and further reducing carbon emissions.

Tested by French mobility company, Pony, Gouach has elicited some very enthusiastic feedback and contracts are currently being signed with international operators Dott and Lime

Breega Founding Partner, Maximilen Bacot says:

“Gouach is the first European company to really tackle the problem of battery obsolescence in the micro-mobility sector. Its patented, smart and repairable battery is a must-have for micro-mobility manufacturers and suppliers, allowing them to reduce both their costs and carbon footprint”.

Why Breega ?

To be able to respond to growing international demands, Gouach itself needed a little juice.  So why did they choose to work with Breega ? Alexandre tells us:

“We were approached by quite a few VCs who, with the move towards EVs and a growing awareness of environmental issues, know our model to have huge market potential. But we decided to work with Breega as they’re one of the few VCs to finance and work with hardware. Plus their entrepreneurial and hands-on approach makes them feel less like investors and more like an extension of our own team”. 

With 3.3 million euros from Breega, Business angels and loans from Bpifrance and the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, Gouach are now fired up and ready to go.

So what’s next for the Bordeaux based startup ?

Alexandre says that 2022 will be all about reinforcing their 15 person team with new, mostly tech talents allowing them to concentrate on marketing their battery to international fleet operators and micro mobility manufacturers.

By investing in Gouach, Breega is looking forward to helping the startup ramp up, fight the programmed obsolescence of EV batteries and durably change the way future transport is powered.

We don’t know about you but, at Breega, we’re looking forward to the next phase 😉

If you’re interested in working with this budding startup that is helping to change the future of soft mobility, check out their jobs page here.