Israeli Entrepreneur Aviv Tzidon Wants to Take Part in the Electric Revolution
An embarrassing stint on the Israeli Shark Tank TV show eventually led Tzidon to establish innovative zero-emmision battery company Phinergy
Meir Orbach | 14:45 08.10.2019
Israeli entrepreneur Aviv Tzidon is not your typical businessman. Twenty years ago, at 38, during what could have then been described as the peak of his career, he decided to take a time out. He sold the stake he held in ten companies, pocketing several millions of dollars—the sale of defense simulation system developer B.V.R. Systems Ltd., which he founded in 1987, brought in $7 million—and walked away. "I called it being self-unemployed," he told Calcalist in a recent interview. "It had to do with a mid-life crisis and going through a divorce, so I thought, let's see what life is about without work." agreed to partner with Phinergy to create battery cells for electric vehicles, with a plan to open a joint factory in India in 2020. Tzidon said he wants to see Phinergy expand beyond the electric vehicle market. "I hope that the company becomes part of a move to store electricity more efficiently. Ten years from now, electricity will be much cheaper and accessible to everyone, and it will not be generated using coal." Phinergy already has some extensive collaborations underway, Tzidon said. The first one, in China, will see the company manufacturing it generators locally with a Chinese partner. And then there's the Indian collaboration. According to Tzidon, the next step is establishing a similar partnership in Europe. The company also intends to build a manufacturing facility in Israel. Once Phinergy has all these contracts in its pocket, it will go into a "significant fundraising effort," Tzidon said. Tzidon's vision goes beyond electric vehicles and disrupting the traditional production processes. In a way, it takes him back in time to his days as a pilot. Tzidon is the chairman of Israel-based aviation company Eviation Aircraft Ltd., which is developing a fully-electric passenger plane, unveiled in June at the Paris Air Show. Named Alice, after Lewis Carroll's famous character according to Tzidon, the plane is designed to fly a distance of up to 1,000 kilometers at a speed of 440 kilometers per hour on a single charge, according to the company. Measuring 12 meters with a wingspan of 16 meters, it can house up to nine passengers and two pilots. Alice's operational costs are expected to be half those of a regular plane of this size, Tzidon said. "The plane will generate such a substantial saving that it could completely change the way we use flights," Tzidon said. According to him, Eviation's electric planes should hit the market by 2022. Last month, Singapore-based investment group The Clarmont Group announced it had acquired a 70% majority stake in Eviation. According to Tzidon, the investment totalled $76 million. According to Tzidon, Clarmont was brought in as a wealthy partner, to carry Eviation through the pricey testing and licensing process all the way to market. "With Clarmont's investment, we have the peace of mind to plan the future," he said. After decades in the business, Tzidon can appreciate the importance of peace of mind. According to him, he came close to shutting Phinergy down on at least five occasions. Eviation came close three times. "Without Clarmont's backing, it would have been very difficult to make it to this point," he said. Having gone through quite a few turbulences, Tzidon has developed strict guidelines for investing his time and money. "I won't invest in things I do not understand or am not excited about," he said. "When you talk about investments, the most precious resource is time," he said. "I believe in doing less and doing it well. I do not believe in spray and pray."