Denis Sverdlov at Arrival on the New Era of Automotive Manufacturing – TechCrunch
“If your business has no technological element, it has no future”
Electric vehicle company Arrival wants to break the current automobile manufacturing model. Instead of a giant factory and assembly line, Arrival’s commercial electric vans, buses and cars are being robotically built in small regional micro-factories, of which the company wants to open 31 by the end. from 2025.
If you want to do something radically more efficient, you have to go deeper, into complex, high-level computational algorithms that are not normally used in consumer products.
The London-based company, founded in 2015, joined the ranks of EV companies going public through SPAC, merging with blank check company CIIG Merger Corp. in March. UPS has already ordered 10,000 robotic Arrival vans, and the company recently signed a deal with Uber to create electric vehicles specifically designed for ride-sharing drivers.
Arrival founder Denis Sverdlov has once been at the intersection of technological progress and societal change. Born in the Georgian nation, Sverdlov founded his first business at age 22 selling computer consulting software to corporate clients. Since then, he has created and left several companies, including telecommunications operator Yota Group. Founded in 2007, the same year the iPhone was released, Yota finally launched a 4G network across Russia, pairing it with an HTC smartphone that would make the network easier to use. Sverdlov sold the company in 2012 for $ 1.5 billion, made a brief stint as Russia’s deputy minister of communications and mass media, and then began to launch Arrival. Oh, and he also founded the Roborace electric self-driving car race in 2015, just because.
With the same feeling that the fast mobile internet and big screens would change the telecommunications industry in 2007, Sverdlov began to see a perfect storm brewing in the world of electric vehicles over the past decade. In 2015, he founded Arrival in anticipation of a switch to electric as well as advances in materials, research and development in the robotics industry. He predicts it will have an even bigger impact on the auto industry than 4G on telecommunications.
TechCrunch: Denis, your first company was a telecom operator and you were behind the creation of Roborace. Now you are trying to change the way the auto industry makes cars with Arrival. Are you a serial entrepreneur already thinking about the next step? Or are you quite involved in this one?
Dennis Sverdlov: Yes, I’m pretty involved with Arrival, and I expect to see a lot of new technologies and catalysts coming out of this journey. For example, if you take our robotic technologies, which we use for micro factories, you can easily see how they will be used in other industries as well, so that they will not be used just for automotive.
But as a company, we have to focus on what we’re doing today, because there is a lot we have to accomplish here, and I think it’s important to focus on that. But yes, I would also consider myself a serial entrepreneur because I have been doing this for over 20 years.
How do you think your past business decisions influenced your current strategy with Arrival?