Blue Line Battery Inc. has closed a $1.5 million fundraising round led by Grey Collar Ventures, according to Blue Line Battery CEO Dustin Herte.
The Beloit-based company also has a patent-pending modular design that makes it easier to manufacture and distribute its battery systems to customers that are accustomed to using lead-acid batteries, Herte said.
Herte said the patent-pending design is a new way to build lithium-ion batteries that mimic the size and design of lead-acid battery cells.
Originally based in Whitewater, Blue Line Battery moved its headquarters to Beloit due to terms of its investment from Grey Collar Ventures, Herte said. Blue Line Battery is now located at the Ironworks Campus in Beloit, an industrial business complex owned by Wisconsin billionaire Diane Hendricks.
Grey Collar Ventures is the investment arm of Beloit-based Hendricks Commercial Properties LLC, which Hendricks also owns. The goal of the investment fund is to support Beloit-area startups and help them grow, said Rob Gerbitz, president and CEO of Hendricks Commercial Properties. Gerbitz will join the board of Blue Line Battery, Herte said.
Gerbitz said Blue Line Battery, which designs and manufactures lithium-ion power systems for industrial equipment, solar power and other applications, has had “strong sales.” He said the company’s technology, which allows an operator to monitor the status of a forklift battery’s charge from a computer, is unique and more efficient than acid and other battery types.
While growing at a “breakneck pace,” keeping up with demand is a challenge, Herte said. Blue Line Battery’s largest customers are in the cold storage, food production, automotive and warehouse industries, Herte said.
Blue Line Battery has raised $1.5 million since its founding in 2017, including the $500,000 in funding the company announced last year, Herte said. Its other investors include Milwaukee-based Silicon Pastures, Plover-based Wisconsin River Business Angels and Madison-based Lancaster Investments.
Blue Line Battery is using the funding for hiring, as well as efforts related to commercialization and UL certification, Herte said. The company currently has around 20 employees and plans to add 20 to 30 more in 2021. Those new hires will be in the engineering, manufacturing, sales and marketing fields, Herte said. It may seek another funding round, he said.
Unlike many startup founders that struggle to raise capital, Herte said the fundraising process was “not that difficult.”
“We were able to get the funding when we needed it,” Herte said. “It was there.”
Herte was on the 2021 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the energy category and attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering.