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From start-up to market leader in Europe in the first business year

With the mobile charging station Juice Booster 1, the company Juice Technology AG, Cham/ZG has already achieved market leadership in Europe for mobile 22 kW charge controllers in its first business year.


Read the interview with Christoph Erni, founder and managing director of Juice Technology AG.


Martina Dudle: How did the business idea for Juice Technology come about?


Christoph Erni: The idea that ultimately led to the founding of Juice Technology came out of necessity. In 2010, I ordered my first electric car, and in 2013 the Tesla Model S was finally delivered. The car came with two plugs, but neither of them fit into Swiss sockets. Unfortunately, there was a lack of practical and useful charging solutions at the time. So I started to do my own research and posted my acquired knowledge about suitable cable sets in relevant forums. After a short time I was confronted with purchase inquiries. And that's how the info platform with online store www.e-driver.net came into life. I continued to search for a safe and as easy as possible solution for charging the car. That's when the idea of a practical, user-friendly charging station was born, which you can simply take anywhere in your car. After all, electricity is available everywhere, you just have to make it accessible. That was the step that led to the founding of Juice Technology AG.


Martina Dudle: What have been the biggest challenges since the beginning?


Christoph Erni: With the idea of the portable charger, we practically took off from scratch. As with any startup, the challenges followed right on its heels. Entering a market that is just emerging is always associated with risks, but also offers many opportunities. Those who implement innovations that many consider to be technically impossible and proceed unflinchingly give themselves an innovative edge and, incidentally, silence all the prophets of doom.

Of course, the beginnings are costly and time-consuming. Building a manufacturing technology company requires investment in development, infrastructure and, not least, a highly skilled workforce. Recruiting first-class, motivated employees was and still is the biggest challenge. We have found the very best, and they attract only top people. We need them to keep up the high pace. No sooner is a product on the market than the next product generation is in development. Every franc is reinvested. The market does not wait, imitators appear on the scene with sometimes cheap products that only appear to be equivalent on paper. Our products, on the other hand, are confirmed as conforming to standards, meet all the necessary standards and are manufactured in automotive-certified production facilities.


Martina Dudle: Juice Technology AG has six ISO certifications. What were the challenges in introducing ISO and how was implementation successful?


Christoph Erni: We have ISO 14001 for environmental management, ISO 50001 for energy management, ISO 20400 for sustainable procurement, ISO 9001 for quality management, ISO 19600 for compliance management and, since last year, ISO 27001 for information security. The biggest challenge with all certifications is not only to achieve them, but also to maintain them. This requires a continuous improvement process according to the scheme "Plan - Implement - Review - Optimize". This in turn requires a corresponding sensitization of all those involved and the commitment of each individual.

The recent example of ISO 27001 in particular shows how important, but also challenging, it is to define and take measures that are implemented across departments and thus throughout the entire company.

This starts with technical data protection, i.e., ensuring that data is protected from unauthorized access, both externally and internally. This is achieved, for example, through physical and electronic access restrictions - to the building, to the server room, to file directories. Employees do not have administrator rights for their own PCs and thus cannot manipulate the system.

Each department has only limited access to server data, and each employee can only access and edit data that is relevant to his or her work. Centrally controlled updates, regularly changing password protection, multi-factor authentication and VPN for remote working are standard features. In addition, drives are encrypted so that data cannot be easily read from a laptop drive, a secured WLAN and backups are other indispensable tools.

Another component is organizational security measures. To this end, we have implemented regulated processes, such as the Clear Desk/Clear Screen policy or those relating to personnel security, so that, for example, no sensitive data can leak out after an employee leaves the company and continue to be used economically.

These measures involve a remarkable amount of work, especially when they are first implemented, and require expertise. We are in the fortunate position of having a Head of IT in Musa Sanli, who has experience in the implementation of information security management systems thanks to his previous work at a financial institution. Accordingly, he was able to professionally accompany the certification process from the drafting of the regulations to the audit by an assessor from Attesta.


Martina Dudle: Where do you see the added value of ISO certification?


Christoph Erni: Of course, quality characteristics cannot be attributed to an end product without further ado if the framework conditions of its creation process do not demonstrably comply with the applicable standards. Instead of just talking about it, we put this claim into practice, make it visible to everyone with the ISO certificates, and thus ensure transparency, also for customers and investors. At the same time, the certifications express the values for which a company stands. However, ISO certification is more of an obligation than an award.

Young industries that are just establishing themselves open up opportunities for inexperienced participants who have many new ideas and drive each other. Such start-ups develop their products at high speed in order to bring them to market quickly. There is often a lack of time and money for extensive testing. Unfortunately, this leads to immature prototypes reaching the customer, especially at the beginning.

In order to prevent products from coming onto the market that are immature or even have security gaps, it is therefore necessary to have early regulation by institutions that set standards and ensure compliance with them. That's why we not only have our operations ISO-certified, but are also represented by two participants in international standards committees of the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).


Martina Dudle: Increased market demand and associated growth.

How did the implementation succeed? (among other things, investment credit via swisspeers)


Christoph Erni: At the beginning, my wife and I invested some of our own funds in the company. At that time, the company only consisted of a few employees, but it grew quickly and new capital was required for the upcoming investments. To our great joy, at that time our employees asked if they could participate in the development of the company with their own money. Almost without exception, all of them were enthusiastic about the idea and saw the immense potential of Juice.

To take another big step in our business development, partners like Swisspeers also helped us to accelerate growth even further with an investment loan. A childhood friend introduced me to Swisspeers. What convinced me about Swisspeers right from the start was the professionalism and expertise of the consultants. When we discussed our strategy together, I had the impression that they understood it immediately. Another advantage was the simplicity of the electronic platform offered, which is very user-friendly even for someone without IT knowledge. The loan of 550,000 CHF was granted within 24 hours. We toasted to it on Friday evening, and on Monday the money was already transferred. That gave the whole venture a big boost.


Martina Dudle: What was the best decision of your professional career?


Christoph Erni: You know, I don't think you can really separate work and private life in the life of an entrepreneur. Therefore: That I found the courage to ask my great wife to marry me. She was also responsible for all my business successes, always supported me, accepted without grumbling when I was late for dinner, and, above all, managed all the finances here at Juice precisely, reliably and seriously for the first few years!


Martina Dudle: What are you particularly proud of?


Christoph Erni: As a young company, Juice has managed to work with the big players in the industry in a very short time and is now a sought-after supplier for OEMs, i.e. well-known car manufacturers such as Rimac, Daimler, BMW, Stellantis, Audi, Jaguar Land Rover and Hyundai - whether in development and production, as a Tier 1 supplier for series production or in the aftermarket. That's remarkable because, as a rule, elephants play with elephants. This shows how high-quality our products are, how quickly we were able to realize such outstanding developments even with a small team, and that our chosen path, for example with our consistent software orientation, has struck a nerve.


Martina Dudle: What would you recommend to a young entrepreneur?


Christoph Erni: Building a company requires initiative, passion and openness. As a founder, you always have to be willing to go the extra mile. A good education is important, but a diploma alone is no guarantee of success. Instead of focusing too much on theory, you need to have the skills to put your knowledge into practice. It also takes creativity, people skills, a willingness to perform, vision, and a dash of nonchalance. You should be able to think outside the box, recognize problems and learn from experience. Most important, however, is a belief in one's own vision, from the time one gets up at six until the time one goes to bed at half past one. If you're hung up on vacations, you'd better stay employed.


Martina Dudle: Do you have any final words?


Christoph Erni: Always look for partners who are goal-oriented and bring you added value. Sift them out mercilessly, mediocrity will get you nowhere. We do this with all our suppliers, otherwise we would not have been able to become the global market leader with our mobile wallboxes. One that ticks like we do and has brought us enormous added value and a lot of know-how is Attesta. We can recommend him without reservation.


Interested in ISO certification? Contact me for a no-obligation discussion. Martina Dudle Snydr, md@attesta.ch



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