It’s not so common to meet CEOs who have built a bold vision for their companies and didn’t stop until they achieve it.
Most leaders don’t have either the courage or the persistence to go beyond the drift and make a significant impact. They prefer to play safe and go for more predictable outcomes.
Not Dr. Doron Myersdorf, co-founder of StoreDot. StoreDot’s Mission is to use nanoscale metalloids and proprietary compounds and develop ultra-fast-charging (XFC) battery technology that overcomes major barriers to EV adoption: range and charging concerns.
Before founding StoreDot in 2012, he served as Senior Director of SanDisk’s SSD Business Unit (NASDAQ: SNDK), where he founded and led the business unit in Israel. Dr. Myersdorf’s diverse background also includes being the founder and CEO of InnerPresence, a Silicon Valley software security company, and co-founder and VP of Business Development of Siftology, an interactive media search pioneer.
I interviewed him for episode 060 of ‘The World Class Leaders Show’ and he shared his passion, dedication, and persistence to achieve his bold vision to revolutionize the electric automotive industry.
Tracing the Culture
Being an entrepreneur had never been a straight path for Doron, as he had to face many hurdles to perfect his technology.
He particularly stresses his roots as an Israeli which has helped him in his journey:
“It starts from the mentality, the Israeli mentality is very direct, there’s less hierarchy in the organisation, people tend to express their opinion, there’s so a lot of technology, but also talent that is coming out of the army, the military. Compared to Silicon Valley, we have the same the same culture, which is basically let’s do something in a new way that others have not tried this before. And if we fail, not a big deal, you know, so there’s less fear of failure, there’s more direct approach, less formal. The hunger of Israel, for technology also comes from the place that Israel is very small, and you can’t really have production, you cannot produce anything”.
The Inception of an Idea
When Doron started researching organic peptide-based nano-elements; he came across a paper in Nature Journal which stated that such materials can be used for very fast charging batteries. He and his team developed the prototype of a phone that could charge completely in 30 seconds.
He used this idea to address the charging problem faced by electric vehicles that we’re all familiar with: the so-called range uncertainty and charging anxiety.
People are worried about getting stuck on highways or reaching charging stations in long queues. Nobody wants to wait two hours to charge. Therefore, the biggest obstacles to EV adoption were charging methods, convenience, speed, and safety. However, with the nanomaterials, he decided to start with the car, as he did with the phone.
Today the company’s charging facilities are at a record energy density of 300 Watt-hour per kilogram which is more than Tesla’s 270 Watt-hour per kilogram.
The Courage to Persevere
Dealing with new technology can become challenging, often venturing into the unknown and going against the flow. As Doron recalls:
“People used to tell me: you’re wasting time, money, you’re going against physics, this can never happen. You cannot charge fast, it’s dangerous. You have these, all these problems. Safety, issues with the materials, heat and resistance and whatever. So, for me, the goal was just being able to hold this vision in spite of all these negative answers.”
He believes in the demonstration of application to convince people. He emphasizes the initial development of a phone battery that charged completely in 30 seconds. Although it was not directly related to electric vehicles, it served as the modicum of what’s coming next.
How Was StoreDot’s Journey Different from Tesla?
According to Doron, Tesla was in a better position because they were actually building cars which significantly reduced their R&D risks. To make the sales cost-effective, they just had to make the cars more cost-effective, more feature-packed, or simply just more beautiful.
However, StoreDot was dealing with something that was already pronounced impossible by mainstream science. This increased the R&D risks as much of the initial funding went into building labs and hiring extremely technical staff. As Doron recalls about Tesla:
“They’ve done this before. And they have the, you know, the cash to kind of support it, I’m startup, I have 70 million in the bank. That’s what I need to win with.”
The challenge of being a CEO
One of the major challenges for CEOs like Doron is to build diverse teams who can support him grow the organization and executive more effectively. He recalls:
“I understand operations. And now I need more people that understand supply chain, understand cost structure, understand scalar, NPI, new product introduction. I do need to go to a more like an execution organization.”
For Doron, the personal challenge – which is very common for many CEOs – is that you’re on your own most of the time. Despite having a board and your executive team, it’s you that stays up at night and asks yourself: What am I going to do now? Who am I partnering with? Am I doing things right?
Being a CEO is all about taking pivotal decisions. You need to take all important decisions and steer the company in a particular direction. He perfectly describes the situation as:
“At the end of the day, you need to make the decision. It’s not about democracy, or vote or consensus, it’s not about that, sometimes the consensus is the opposite of what you need to do. And then you’re all alone there.”
At the end of the interview, I asked Doron my usual last questions:
Q: What is the most important thing you learned in your career?
A: You need to be truthful to yourself and recognize when you do something that you don’t feel it’s right. It bites you. You regret it because this wasn’t you.
Q: Would you have done anything differently in your career?
A: Yes, absolutely. But if you look at the big picture, there’s no other way to do it. You just need to keep making mistakes. From an organizational standpoint, not maybe the nicest thing to say, but 99% of what you do in a tech-growing company goes to the garbage. You’re doing experiments, experiments, experiments and swears, but, by definition, 99% fail. Besides, saying yes to everyone is not a good decision because you end up being swamped. Many CEOs are optimistic so they say yes because they want to see what doors they can open. But too many open doors is a confusing thing. It’s the focus. So saying more no is very important.
If you’d like to know more about Doron’s work, he can be contacted via LinkedIn, at https://www.linkedin.com/in/donush/. For more information about StoreDot, go to the website at https://www.store-dot.com/
For more information on my work and access to other valuable resources, please visit the website, at https://www.andreapetrone.com/.
Listen to the podcast related to this article: https://www.andreapetrone.com/doron-myersdorf-ceo-of-storedot-on-building-a-bold-vision-and-perseverance-podcast/