Israel may not have had, thus far, as many of its citizens succumb to the Coronavirus as some other countries. But one of its many smart-mobility startups has fallen victim to the devastating effects the pandemic has had on the economy.
“We are sorry to let you know that as of April 20th 2020 Engie will stop its services,” CEO Alon Hendelman posted in a fatalistic update on the company’s website. “Unfortunately, recently the company has faced difficulties during the COVID19 pandemic which forced us to stop the services for our dear customers.”
Engie offers a device that connects to the ECU via Bluetooth to monitor the vehicle’s condition in real-time, helping owners, fleet operators, mechanics, and insurers to better and more intelligently maintain enabled automobiles. The company was founded in 2014 by Hendelman, CMO Gal Aharon, director Yarden Gross, and angel investor Uri Levin.
As of the time of the announcement, Engie had raised a reported $10 million in three rounds of funding – including $6 million in January 2019 – from an array of venture-capital funds, as well as open investment platform OurCrowd and French banking giant BNP Paribas.
“During the last two months we were in the process of bringing on investors from the Asian market, which unfortunately stalled due to fallout from the coronavirus crisis that forced the investors to make cutbacks,” Engie CEO Alon Hendelman told CTech, the tech-sector news site from local business publication Calcalist, which obtained a letter from Engie to its clients announcing that it was closing shop.
“We employ eight workers and both Gal Aharon and I will continue to try and save it,” said Hendelman. “All of our workers were with us from the beginning and we are departing on friendly terms.” Engie was forced to halve its workforce in 2019, and the crippling effects of COVID-19 appear to be too much for the company to weather.
As this article went to press, Israel had reported over 14,000 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 187 dying from its effects, 111 remaining on ventilators, and nearly 5,000 having recovered. The effects on the economy, however, are still to be ascertained as companies like Engie have had to slash their workforces, leaving an unprecedented proportion of the population out of work.
“We believe Engie has made an impact and took a part in the transformation of the automotive industry, we hope our vision will be fulfilled and that car repair and maintenance will be as simple as buying a book on Amazon,” Hendelman concluded in the update. “We wish to thank everyone who took part in this amazing journey, you made it worthwhile.”