Auto Battery Developer Sakti3 Gets $7M in Series B Funds; Company Stays Low Key
When I last met Ann Marie Sastry, she was shivering in the cold, leaky basement of Detroit’s Cobo Hall at January’s auto show, talking about how her company, Ann Arbor, MI-based automotive lithium-ion battery developer Sakti3, was eventually going to power the cars upstairs on the main show’s “Electric Avenue.” Now her company is closer to ascending that escalator with a new $7 million Series B round of financing.
The money comes from new investor Beringea, based in Farmington Hills, MI, and previous investor Khosla Ventures. The Beringea investment was made through the $175 million InvestMichigan Growth Capital fund, which provides expansion capital to promising Michigan businesses.
Previously, the company received $3 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in 2009 following an initial $2 million in financing from Khosla Ventures in 2008.
Sastry, the company’s CEO and a University of Michigan engineering professor, told me recently that although she likes to stay low-key about her company, this investment is exciting because it allows Sakti3 to work toward its goal of hiring 112 more people in the next few years and getting prototypes to customers by the end of this year.
Sakti3 has been a kind of poster child for state incentives. In 2008, the company received tax credits from the Michigan Economic Growth Authority worth $2.3 million over 10 years, helping to convince the company to stay in Michigan rather than move to a competing site in California.
“They’ve been amazing to us,” Sastry says, referring to the state government’s efforts to support Michigan’s nascent battery industry. “The state’s made a really substantial commitment to us. We take that really seriously. We want to scale in Michigan and the state has really stepped up.”
But, Sastry says, mostly she and her colleagues at Sakti3 keep their heads down, work on their technology and learn more about the nuts and bolts of the business, like automotive supply chain issues. Lithium-ion battery cells for the automotive space is a hot, highly competitive field now and Sastry prefers to keep the press releases at a minimum, as you can see by the company’s very minimalist Web site.
Of investors Beringea and Khosla, she says that she is thrilled that they share her philosophy about the future of vehicle electrification.
“We really believe that the way to solve a lot of these sticky societal problems is with good technology,” Sastry says.