Gritty or Nice? Grit Daily Interview With Our CEO, Nick Grewal

Our founder and CEO, Nick Grewal, caught the eye of the Grit Daily podcast, which interviews “founders of some of the best-known startups, marketers, and venture capitalists.” The podcast aims to share reliable information about brands and entrepreneurial tips with its listeners, while discovering how investors and thought leaders became successful.  


The host was curious to learn about Nick’s background, but she was also curious to learn about ePropelled products and what makes them so innovative. This was especially true of our EV motors. Nick pointed out how easy it is, while discussing electric options of transportation, to forget that the energy that feeds EV batteries needs to be cleaner.  

Most countries still burn coal or gas to create electricity, the grids are dirty and, although manufacturers and end users want EV batteries to be efficient, most people don’t concentrate on how the electricity itself is used in the motors. 

That’s why ePropelled focuses on making the motors much more efficient (at least 15% more efficient, in fact). This way, they use less energy, extending the life of the batteries and needing less electricity from the grid.  


The host touched on ePropelled UAV products and encouraged Nick to talk about our recent customers, Aerotor. While considering our drone products, Nick said: “I’m not sure if anyone else is doing what we’re doing. Turning a motor into a generator and a generator into a motor on the fly.”  

He elaborated by explaining that ePropelled focuses on two main areas for drones: propulsion and motor controllers. But we also address the power needs. Normally, there are two ways to propel a drone: batteries or a gas engine. Batteries are heavy and for a large drone this means 40 minutes of flight time. A small gas engine is needed to go beyond 40 minutes.  

What ePropelled offers is a hybrid-ready mode, which means that a starer generator is used to start the engine and generate energy. When the machine needs maximum power (for takeoff or the initial climb, for example), our technology can assist the gas engine, significantly extending the drone’s flight time.  

Technology focus 

When asked about his company, Nick stressed that ePropelled is a technology company. As such, we build our technology, get patents, and make sure our inventions are protected. In the past three years, we have filed 35 patents. For such a small company, this is a huge deal. But what really differentiates us from the competition is that fact that we are not a manufacturing company.  

Contract manufacturing (CM) is our focus and find good manufacturers to build our products for the customer. But there is also no reason not to let our customers manufacture our products themselves, speeding up the process and potentially making it cheaper for them. 

Business tips 

When asked about his failures, Nick said that “every company in the world has problems. Their size doesn’t matter. What I want is mistakes.” He explained that not making mistakes is synonymous with working for a huge company that rewards stagnation and lack of imagination. We encourage mistakes and learning from them quickly. “You learn much more by losing than winning,” he said. 

When talking about success in business, Nick pointed out that you always have to be aware of your surroundings. Your success is dependent on the rest of the world, not necessarily on what you do inside the company. You have to be aware of your environment. That’s why Nick enjoys traveling and learning about his customers and their needs in person. But he also finds it important to learn about and respect our competitors because they might come up with things we wouldn’t think of.  

His other piece of advice pertained to black swan events. In technology, these used to happen every 100-200 years. Now they happen every 20. Such events can wipe out entire companies, no matter what they do or how big they are. Especially if the owners/founders make themselves indispensable. Nick believes that you have to build your company in a way that makes you irrelevant to its survival. 

The interview covered a lot more ground, despite being only half an hour long. If you want to learn more, you can listen to the whole podcast here. 

Employee Engagement Isn’t One Size Fits All. An Interview with a Leader.

Here is a little look into the mind of a manufacturing director and his take on employee engagement. We recently interviewed Wayne Bouvier to share a little more about who we are, what we do, and what our employees find important about their jobs. Enjoy. 

As the director of manufacturing, how many people do you have working with you? 

At this point, as the Lowell operation is just ramping up, I only have four direct reports with two open positions that we are currently recruiting to fill. 

What type of managerial style do you have? 

Early on in my career I began to practice leadership through coaching and mentorship. Most employees have various backgrounds and experiences and I believe that managers can help to grow an employee’s knowledge and career path through this practice. It not only benefits the employee but the employer as well. 

Do you think it’s important to tweak managerial style depending on the person? 

Absolutely. Just like everyone contributes in different ways. It is important to understand the individual, their passions, their career goals so that we can properly set performance expectations. 

What does your day-to-day work look like? 

My day starts early with some meetings beginning as early as 4:30 A.M. As we are a young company, it is a mix of supervision, hands on participation in procurement, planning, manufacturing, and quality control activities.  

Is it hard to mix management with hands-on work? 

I would not say it is easy, but most of my career has been working in start-up environments. Like anything else, it is important to set priorities, and avoid distractions as much as possible. Number one focus is always employee safety.  

What do you think employee engagement means for a company? 

Employee engagement can mean the success or failure of a company. To me, it is a barometer of the company’s culture. Organizations, at a minimum, should engage in open communications and active listening to address the needs of their staff. Failure to do so can foster low productivity and morale, which leads to high employee turnover. 

Speaking from your 35 years of experience in the electronics manufacturing sector, what’s the good way to do it and what’s the absolutely worst way to do it? 

Establish a team environment where all ideas are welcome. Recognize and reward performance that goes beyond expectations. Hold townhall meetings with senior leadership to report corporate successes and strategies, employee highlights, and customer feedback, good or bad. 

The worst way is to close off communications and discourage active participation through a dictatorship management style. 

Have you seen it done well? 

Yes, my time spent at Schneider Electric. They are the benchmark against which all companies should measure their business practices. Fortune ranked them #7 in 2020. 

How do you think it can be achieved? 

While it is a simple premise, keep an open dialog with your employees. Listen to what they are saying and address those concerns. Commit to and discuss inclusion, diversity, and teamwork. Recognize your best performers. If you have performers of the month, have other employees nominate that person or persons. 

What Is a Hybrid UAV and How Does It Work?

A variety of options among UAV power systems allows for more choices based on different mission parameters. UAVs can be either fully electric, powered by internal combustion engines (ICE), or operate in a hybrid mode, where the UAV power system works with ICE to provide electrical power to the aircraft when necessary.

The hybrid mode offers UAV designers the option of optimizing engine size while using the battery for range extension, emergency landing, or power assist on takeoff. As a result, a smaller engine will work in situations that demand high power and the range of the aircraft can be extended thanks to the option of using battery power.

This mode relies on electric support and, as a side note, it’s important to remember that batteries need to be versatile to offer reliable power in fully electric or hybrid applications. They shouldn’t simply store energy, but also release it efficiently, enable onboard charging, and be dependable in hybrid mode. Batteries need to enable all types of missions and fulfill multiple parameters.

What Can a Hybrid Offer?

A starter generator in an ICE machine can be changed from power-generation mode to power-assist mode, enabling it to draw power from the battery and use it for propulsion, thereby supplementing the engine. Starter generators can act like range extenders, powering the propulsion motors during maneuvers. They can also switch to generator mode, extracting power from the ICE to charge batteries and flight instruments. The quality of such range extension depends on the power conversion rate (the energy from fuel converted to electric power with minimum losses).

Hybrids use propulsion motors that rely on battery power during maneuvers and forward flight utilizing the pusher propeller that is fitted to the main ICE which, in turn, uses oil to power it. Using range extenders eliminates the need to carry an additional power source, since they can extract power from ICE directly.

A mode of operation that combines an internal combustion engine with electric propulsion and onboard power generation fulfills differing power requirements for takeoff and steady flight. Usually, such differing requirements cause the engine not to be very fuel efficient.

Is It Worth It?

Hybrid mode operations of a UAV power system work with internal combustion engines to provide electrical power to the aircraft. It allows for a smaller engine in situations that demand high power (such as takeoff) or to extend the range of the aircraft using battery power.

The right hybrid solutions can keep weight and cost down while extending flight time and allowing the aircraft to be self-contained when starting the engine.

For example, an ePropelled hybrid mode combines:

An existing combustion engine

Our combined stater generator and propulsion motor

Our intelligent air motor controller with a built-in electronic engine starter, and

Our intelligent power system (PMU)

These modular components can be mixed and matched to supply from 500 watts to 12 kW of power.

If you want to learn more about hybrid ready UAVs, contact us and we’ll be happy to chat.