In Silicon Valley, many startups like Google are known to have begun in the founder’s garage. In Spectronik’s case, it started from their founder’s bedroom. Founded by 32-year old Jogjaman Jap in 2011, Spectronik manufactures hydrogen fuel cells and Mr Jogjaman recalls how he started his business by handmaking prototypes in his bedroom.
By Tan Hwee Hwee
Spectronik is among the first batch of startups to move into the newly completed JTC LaunchPad @ Jurong Innovation District which will house startups specialising in urban solutions, advanced manufacturing and engineering.
Mr Jogjaman says he first came up with the idea for starting Spectronik because he saw a market gap in providing power for drones. Drones primarily use lithium batteries, which limits their flight time. With hydrogen fuel cells, their flight time could be extended by nearly 4 to 5 times.
He impressed a US-based aerospace giant with a prototype and landed his first contract to provide fuel cells for a military application drone in 2013, no mean feat for a small startup with only seven staff. In 2014, Spectronik won a $500,000 Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme (TECS) Grant from SPRING Singapore. “The TECS is a very competitive grant so winning it is a strong testament to our technical credentials,” says Mr Jogjaman.
Today, Spectronik has around 20 clients in the military, defence and aerospace industries using its fuel cells to power unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that can be used for applications like surveillance or search and rescue operations at sea.
Mr Jogjaman, who relocated his company from its old premises at Bukit Batok Industrial Park, says his overseas clients recognise the value of their new address.
“Over here at JTC LaunchPad @ JID, it’s more green, more quiet and serene, which suits the image and characteristic of cleantech companies like us,” he added.
Beyond drones, Spectronik plans to do research and development work to create bigger power fuel cells to power automotive vehicles.
And Mr Jogjaman has his sights set on creating bigger power hydrogen fuel cells to power the selfdriving vehicles at CETRAN just a few blocks away from the LaunchPad.
For companies in our field, we need more than just money and office space; we also need a relevant test-bed environment for product validation.
— Jogjaman Jap Co-founder and CEO, Spectronik
CETRAN, or Centre of Excellence for Testing and Research of Autonomous Vehicles, was jointly opened by JTC, Land Transport Authority and Nanyang Technological University to help companies test-bed and develop self-driving vehicles.
“For companies in our field, we need more than just money and office space; we also need a relevant test-bed environment for product validation,” he elaborated.
The idea of the prototyping workshop where companies can test-bed new innovations and exchange ideas appealed to Mr Jogjaman. “It’s good for all as it saves space and cost on resources that our neighbours need too, like 3D printers.”
“It is also an optimal location for us because our key suppliers are in the vicinity. For example, our hydrogen gas supplier is located at Jurong Island while our electroplating partner is in Tuas.”
Mr Jogjaman believes the clustering effect of startups is beneficial because it brings together businesses that are complementary.
“Our neighbours specialise in microgrids, robotics and advanced manufacturing, and are in the same hardware and cleantech domains like us. They face a similar set of challenges such as customer acquisition, scaling-up and fundraising. We regularly share our experiences, encourage and learn from each other.”
— Originally published in print on 31 May 2018 © JTC except where noted.