Provo company Hypercraft finds space in electric vehicle world
Every business tries to handle the present and plan for the future. Every day, Provo’s Hypercraft moves its world forward.
“I think, at a high level, Hypercraft exists to create end-to-end turnkey powertrain systems for vehicle applications,” co-founder Jake Hawksworth said. In layman’s terms, the company designs and manufactures systems to power electric vehicles, or EVs.
While the company is thriving today, building powertrain systems was never the plan. In 2019, Hawksworth, along with co-founders Jonathon Miller and Eric Ream, set out to design a power sports vehicle. They surveyed the market and figured going with an electric vehicle would be the best way forward, but there was a major hiccup — no company was selling powertrain systems they wanted.
“We thought, well, the next step is to do it ourselves,” Hawksworth said.
As it turned out, designing the system and building it became more expensive than making their power sports vehicle. That realization led to the company’s pivot and they began designing the system that could then be sold to manufacturers and individuals for powering vehicles — traditional cars primarily, though Hypercraft boasts its entry into the worlds of high-end boats and military defense contracting.
After meeting with and joining RevRoad Capital, a Provo-based venture capitalist, the operation moved to Utah.
“Hypercraft is a high-growth company that we’ve had our eye on for over a year now,” David Mann, managing director at RevRoad Capital, said in a press release. “Their leadership team combines innovative manufacturing experience and real-world business ingenuity to provide vehicle manufacturing a path to electrification. We’re thrilled to partner with Hypercraft, as it disrupts the rapidly growing EV sector in a variety of industries.”
Hypercraft’s founders were at 2021’s SEMA convention, the world’s largest for specialty automotive equipment. Their hope was to walk away from the conference with 10-12 people or companies interested in the technology. By the time it came to a close, the company had over 400 leads.
“We went to SEMA thinking that we were going to have to go convince people that EV was the future and that you could buy a powertrain system to build an EV and what we were met with is hundreds of builders and performance shops and everything that had been waiting for somebody to come up with a solution,” Hawksworth said. “I think that was the one moment that we said, ‘The timing is right, we’re doing the right thing. The market needs this.'”
The world has only grown in the year and a half since the conference. Hypercraft now boasts around 60 employees, over 50 working in Utah, and already raised $6.5 million in its first seed round with enough offers they were turning people away. The company was also named a Startup of the Year by Silicon Slopes in January.
In its space at the Provo Towne Centre mall, the company is building battery packs, designing and building junction boxes and wiring while the motor manufacturing is done at Hypercraft’s secondary location in California.
On Saturday and throughout the weekend, a handful of Hypercraft employees brought their products directly to their targeted audience. At the Championship Auto Shows Autorama in Sandy, thousands of potential customers and automotive enthusiasts saw the company’s systems up close and inside a select group of show pieces.
Attendees breezed through the company’s square of carpet, eyeing everything from an all-electric 1953 Chevy owned by Draper-based TV personality and car customizer Dave Kindig to the BC Customs hybrid electric SXV, an all-terrain light military vehicle.
To Miller, the intrigue at their company and acknowledgment within the industry shows they are at “the tip of the iceberg.” He envisions a future where electric vehicle systems are more readily accessible and more home-builders will seek out these products as opposed to traditional gas engines. Being surrounded at the Mountain America Expo Center by hundreds of classic vehicles and thousands of enthusiasts of all ages, to Miller, is a sign of what’s to come.
“You take these pieces, you bolt them in, you plug them together, you plug your computer into it, and, and you go,” he said. “We’re surrounded by nostalgia. And this is the future.”
The company has seen a far more positive reaction to its work among the general public than was expected. On a post by Sierra Cars, a race car dealer in Murray using Hypercraft’s systems, about 80% of comments were positive compared to 20% negative. Five years ago, the founders joke, it would have been the other way around.
Hypercraft has found a spot in the community by avoiding any “politically contentious narrative” about electric vehicles, Miller said, and just highlighting the performance and power the systems provide. The social benefits, though, are seen as a plus.
“We believe that better technology will lead us to a better future. Less noise pollution is a good thing, less air pollution is a good thing,” Miller said. “Allowing us to have a future to continue to explore the outdoors is a good thing. Giving all these hot rod guys and motorcycle guys a path to continue to do what they love when gas hits $20 a gallon or whatever is gonna happen in the future. That’s a good thing.”
It’s hard for the founders to gauge, at this time, what Hypercraft’s world may look like in the years to come. They’ve already broken into the international market. They’re powering yachts and race cars all the same. Hawksworth talks about a goal of selling 10,000 powertrain systems over the next five years before adding that some customers expect to buy many on their own. Every day, they work to make the products more user-friendly and safe while handling staggering growth, but Miller has one strategy for handling everything.
“Just keep driving forward.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of money raised by Hypercraft. The company raised $6.5 million and has a valuation of $51.5 million. The Daily Herald regrets the error.