Montréal-based cleantech dcbel Inc. is ready to make homes more resilient and energy self-sufficient in 2024

May 6, 2024 4 MIN READ

In the fast-paced market of electric vehicle adoption, Montréal-based dcbel Inc. is looking to provide solutions to homeowners as North Americans get ever closer to what CEO Marc André-Forget calls a “global disruption of residential energy.”

Marc-Andre Forget
Marc André-Forget, CEO, dcbel Inc.

dcbel Ara, the company’s flagship Home Energy Station, enables bidirectional electric vehicle (EV) charging, solar energy conversion and storage, and home energy management, giving customers the ability to charge their EVs using solar panels and stationary batteries and leverage EV-stored energy to power their homes and reduce their costs.

In May 2023, dcbel announced that it secured a strategic investment from Volvo Cars Tech Fund to support research and development for its smart home energy solution. And later in August 2023, the company announced it had closed more than US$50 million in Series B funding led by climate-focused Montréal growth fund Idealist Capital with Investissement Québec also participating in the round. Other backers include U.S.-based technology investment manager Coatue, as well as  Real Ventures.

The genesis of the company goes back to 2015 when dcbel’s founders, all serial entrepreneurs and engineers in the energy sector, realized there was something missing in Canadian homes: an intelligent device that would learn how people use energy in their homes and secure the power they need at the lowest possible cost and with the lowest possible CO2 footprint. 

“We are really at the beginning of a global disruption in the residential energy market,” says Marc-André. “To understand the size and magnitude of this transformation, we must remind ourselves that every day there’s $2 billion worth of fuel pumped into U.S passenger cars. Now forecast 50% EV penetration in the market. That means $1 billion dollar per day will move away from gas stations and into the home energy system, as we will ‘fuel’ our cars from our home.”

At the same time, it is estimated that 40 million additional residential solar power systems will be installed between now and 2030 in North America. Combined, they will match the capacity of the largest utilities in the world.

“Energy is now a technology market,” says Marc-André. “With solar, you can store your energy — if you have excess should you sell it? We’re really at the beginning of this disruption in the energy market and it’s going to affect all of us.”

Over the last few years dcbel has had its share of challenges in developing its product and getting the attention of investors, including the impact of the pandemic and the dip in financial market confidence over the last two years. But the company has successfully attracted investors looking for a long-term play. It has also attracted a strategic partner in Volvo and Polestar.

“We’re shipping product this year and it’s really about the transition from product conception and R&D to manufacturing. We’re scaling the manufacturing and customization of the supply chain and delivering the product and having to demonstrate, of course, a return on investment on the product both for our consumers and for our shareholders,” says Marc-Andre. “We are shipping to our partners Volvo and Polestar, among others, to get them to evaluate our products.”

Working with Osler

Osler has advised dcbel Inc. with a team consisting of partner Shahir Guindi, Daniel Stysis, associate, Corporate, and Michelle Lally, partner, Competition and Antitrust.

“The philosophy internally at dcbel and the way I build teams is that I want to work with the best of the best and Shahir is definitely the best person to help us build a company like we’re building here,” says Marc-André. “He understands small startups that want to become legendary. In two hours, Shahir is going to solve 10 weeks of pain compared to someone that does not understand the problem; he brings instant credibility. It was obvious from the start that I needed Osler. I think it’s related to the complexity of the contract and the negotiations.”

Advice for other founders

Marc-André offers this advice for other founders who are currently seeking capital investment — whether large or small.

“Make sure that your investors are aligned with your business plan. It may seem obvious but one of the biggest issues of fundraising for dcbel from day one was that we realized an investor would need to be able to do due diligence on something that is very technical,” he says.