Replicating the natural movement of boat fins in a 100% electric engine is the concept of the French FinX startup. Launched in June 2019, the young rickshaw boards on an engine without a propeller and without any rotating parts. The goal here is to promote a machine that is supposed to be eco-friendly and quiet, while also reducing the risk of propeller accidents.
“Imagine the equivalent of a small torpedo-shaped boat engine,” says Harold Guillemin, founder and CEO of FinX. “ The machine is drilled forward and aft, allowing water to flow inside in order to operate. The ripple of a flexible rubber membrane resembling a small vinyl and hence be propelled to move the boat forward,” says the 28-year-old engineer. graduate of ESME Sudria.
His source of inspiration is a technology originally designed for industrial pumps. Initially developed by the startup AMS R&D, created by his father, where the aspiring young entrepreneur officiated for four years after graduating. He then decided to adapt this propulsion mechanism to the maritime domain and create his own company.
Target: unlicensed boat rental companies
The startup of 10 employees is currently developing this system for a 5-horsepower engine, which can therefore be adapted on machines weighing less than 3 tons, such as annexes, boats and sailboats. The engine, whose development has fallen a bit behind due to the containment policy associated with the coronavirus health crisis, is still in the prototype phase.
According to Harold Guillemin, the commercial launch is planned for this winter, at a pre-order price of €3,000.
The Gif-sur-Yvette (Essonne, France) startup, hopes to be able to launch its first series in the first quarter of 2021 with the production of some thirty engines. Its target: professionals, as well as unlicensed boat rental companies.
“Our engine membrane can be touched even while operating, without the risk injury. This is an important selling point for unlicensed boat lessors as it reduces the risk of injury to their customers who are generally not accustomed to handling boats,” says the founder.
However lessors and customers will have to be vigilant about the autonomy of the engines, by anticipating the time of recharging the batteries.
“The battery life is one hour at full power and six hours at normal power,” says Harold Guillemin. The battery charging time is variable, “2 to 3 hours, up to 6 hours”, depending on the charging modes. The battery, which will be designed by the start-up’s partners, should have a lifetime of 2,000 recharges, according to FinX.
A fundraiser of 3 million euros
To finance the industrialization of its product, the startup wants to raise €3 million in a series of fundraising campaigns.
Up to this day, FinX has raised €300,000 in seed financing from business angels. The company has also gained a loan of 250,000 EUR from Bpifrance and 250,000 EUR in grants from the i-Lab innovation competition, which was organized by the Ministry of Education and Research, in partnership with Bpifrance.
Ultimately, FinX wants to target new markets, such as more powerful boats, featuring water sports (water skiing, wakeboard…) “We wanted to start with a small amount of power, but we are already running simulations to adapt our technology to 150-horsepower engines,” says the aspiring entrepreneur.