Energy Monster Goes Public

BEIJING, April 6, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Mobile device charging service provider Smart Share Global Limited, widely known as Energy Monster, has successfully listed on the NASDAQ under the stock ticker “EM”, becoming the first publicly traded firm in the shared charging sector.

According to the company prospectus, Energy Monster led the sector with a 34.4% share of the market in 2020, making it the largest provider of mobile charging devices in China. Terry Zhu, Managing Partner at BlueRun Ventures China (BRV China), a Series A investor that spotted the opportunity in Energy Monster as early as in 2017, elaborated on the firm’s investment approach.

In 2016, BRV China undertook a systematic study of the mobility sector. In addition to investing in Li Auto (NASDAQ: LI), the team had also begun to focus on new business models for recharging networks. “As mobile devices became increasingly powerful, the power supply has become an ever-growing challenge, while ‘ubiquitous’ recharging networks will become a pressing need. We started to look at shared charger networks, as a result,” Zhu revealed.

But at the time, several mobile device charging service companies had already entered the field riding the “sharing economy” wave, with Energy Monster being a relative latecomer. “It was never the concept of the ‘sharing economy’ that attracted us,” said Zhu. “BRV China’s investment decisions are based on whether an entrepreneur discovers the fundamental problem and can provide a truly effective solution to the pain points.”

Six months after investing in Energy Monster’s Series A, BRV China conducted another round of investigation. “Energy Monster had demonstrated the momentum of overtaking from behind in just half a year,” said Zhu. “The team has always been clear that to surpass the already established players, they must optimize the unit economic model,” Zhu explained.

For shared charger operations, the number of POIs and available-for-use power banks are two important measures of expansion and geographic coverage. The mission is to find POIs with the highest efficiency, rather than focusing on aggressive expansion only. “Ultimately, the shared charger market players will compete on the ability to continually streamline operations and maintenance while avoiding any major mistakes,” according to Zhu.

As one of Energy Monster’s early investors, Zhu was often asked “Why did you dare bet on the latecomer?” as well as “How to choose early-stage investments in the China market today?”

In Zhu’s opinion, the role of an early-stage investor is being a resource allocator. “We are dealing with the most cutting-edge entrepreneurs, supporting their exploration of groundbreaking technologies and business models.” According to Zhu, to make an early-stage investment, the team must not only have strong self-awareness, but also communicate frequently and in utmost frankness with entrepreneurs. “Only if investors have strong self-awareness can they make accurate judgments and identify Class A entrepreneurs.”

Having its heritage in Silicon Valley since 1998 and entered China in 2005, BRV China is the country’s leading early-stage venture capital firm. Since 2005, the firm has managed over $1.5 billion through multiple USD and RMB denominated funds, with a track record of successful exits exceeding $900 million. In addition to Energy Monster, BRV China was also an early-stage investor in Ganji/, Li Auto (NASDAQ: LI), QingCloud (688316.SH), Mogujie/Meilishuo (NYSE: MOGU), Qudian (NYSE: QD), Guazi, Meishubao, WaterDrop, Pinecone, etc.

BRV China’s early-stage investment team members tend to be “T-shaped talents”, that is individuals who have cross-disciplinary experience, such as in management or business-oriented roles, coupled with a deep understanding of the pain points of a specific industry. They may have taken part in product development and witnessed the rapid buildup of a scalable business before. “This diversified and seemingly contrasting working experience is what is needed in early-stage investing, as well as a very strong cognitive ability to identify opportunities and risks,” Zhu added.

“Early-stage investing is often about working side by side with the entrepreneur in particular for the journey from zero to one,” said Zhu.

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