In the beginning
My father had a small company, where he made “high-frequency battery chargers”. It was founded in 1985 (the year I was born). At that time, it was a completely new technology, and its market was relatively small. The company expanded in the 2000s and became the European leader in this sector, with a production of 60,000 units per year.
As I got older, my interest gradually shifted toward electronics in the pure sense of the term.
I remember clearly that my partner Alan Pastorelli and I would modify the first version of PlayStation and build control units for controlling strobe lights in time with the music at parties.
When I was 15, I was hired by the company every summer to help out in the repair department. It was an excellent position for learning the basics.
A few years later, my job was moved to the Research and Development department.
I loved that company! Perhaps because I grew up inside it and had strong ties to its people, my dream was to help my father and, one day, to run the company together.
A cold shower
In the summer of 2006, I was visiting a customer in California. I was there to develop battery chargers that would be customised to meet his needs. I remember that Saturday morning very well. I was taking a walk along the ocean at Huntington Beach, when I got a call from my father.
Right away I heard something strange in his tone of voice. I didn't have to wait very long; my father has always been very up front, so in only a few words, he told me that he'd sold the company. At that moment, I had the feeling that all the plans I'd made in my head were coming apart, since everything revolved around the company.
I was practically born in that company, and all of a sudden, I didn't feel it was mine anymore.
When I returned from America, I decided to quit my job and get my degree as soon as possible. After completing my university studies, I worked for a couple of years as a business specialist at a training school.
However, my passion had not faded. In my free time, I would go help a friend install alarm systems.
A new opportunity
In 2009, fate would have it that I went to look up a friend who made industrial electric vehicles, and during that visit, I saw lithium batteries from China for the first time.
Their appearance didn't excite me at all. They were piled up in a corner of an industrial shed (and seemed pretty beat up, to say the least...). My friend said that their quality was low. The cells were not uniform and didn't work properly.
Because of this, an idea popped into my head; with the specifications they had, if I could solve the technical problems, I could launch a major innovation for all industrial applications.
That's when I began investigating the matter. I contacted another company that had tried these lithium cells but had stopped using them for the same reasons. I then did some research.
I took a few cells to examine them, open them and see how they were made. I also studied the electronics that controlled these lithium batteries, and that's what led me to the solution.
A bright idea and the founding of Kaitek
I understood what the problem was, theoretically. I thought everything centred on the way the electronics controlled and managed these batteries. It was obsolete and harmful to the cells.
So, I got to work right away on checking my theory. To run my tests, we bought an electric Citroën that the City of Milan was selling off for € 2,500.
I hired my friend Alan, my “partner in garage experiments” (who in the meantime had gotten a degree in electronics engineering and was working in the automotive sector), and wasted no time.
We began working on the design of our lithium battery management system every night and every weekend.
I must say that this involved a great deal of sacrifice on our part, when our friends would be going out dancing, and we were always holed up in my garage running experiments that...sometimes succeeded, and sometimes didn't.
Keep reading ↓