As a New York University student enrolled in a course on entrepreneurism, Michael Marczi was studying the energy industry when he realized, quite acutely, the very big problem we are all facing.  

To provide clean power to electric vehicles, the American energy grid needs to double in size.  

“Holy crap,” he remembers thinking. “Then, it dawned on me.” 

We need to build charging stations that don’t drain the grid.  

We need to build charging stations that replenish or support the grid instead of stretching it thin.  

And the idea for MarsCharge was born.  

Earlier this year, MarsCharge was named one of five startups to participate in The Company Lab’s (CO.LAB) Sustainable Mobility Accelerator. Marczi, having long since graduated from NYU, travels to Chattanooga for the 12-week program, where he meets with area tech and mobility leaders. 

Today, MarsCharge builds large-scale EV battery chargers that function in two significant ways: 

They provide ultra-fast charging for cars and fleet vehicles. 

They increase grid resiliency. (Remember our straining grid?)  

“Battery packs double as backup power to a building or grid acting as commercial virtual power plants,” Marczi said.  

MarsCharge is perfect for shopping malls, gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, parking garages and commercial fleets. Not only does MarsCharge provide super-fast charging for individual vehicles, but it also serves to safeguard businesses when the power goes down.  

MarsCharge’s battery supply – like a storage tank – reverses power back to your home, business or shopping center. 

“You have this charger … if the power goes out, you can use it to turn the lights back on. You can use it to turn the gas pumps back on,” Marczi said.  

Its storage-tank charging model reduces strain on an ever-stretching grid. Until the larger grid infrastructure is built, MarsCharge offers a technology that reduces strain and answers, in its own small way, that fundamental problem Marczi discovered long ago researching in NYC.   

“Resiliency is our fundamental value as a company,” he said.  

Along with gener8tor, CO.LAB selected five startups from 145 global entries to receive $20,000 in initial investment for its inaugural mobility accelerator and a potential investment of $100,000 post-program. 

“This cohort is not only the first of its kind in Chattanooga, but in the country as well,” said CO.LAB CEO Tasia Malakasis. “Bringing in such a wide range of mobility startups, all that play to the strengths of Chattanooga, position this city to be a leading network for sustainable transportation, data, energy, and movement.”  

Marczi met with EPB and Tennessee Valley Authority leaders, toured the Quantum facility and even contemplated the possibility of opening a satellite office here in the Scenic City. 

“Chattanooga sits in the heart of the Battery Belt,” he said.  

Think Volkswagen and Novonix locally, but also picture the vast increase in EV production across the South. 

“America’s New ‘Battery Belt’ is Shifting the Auto Industry South,” the Wall Street Journal declared.  

MarsCharge was originally designed as a portable battery charger; Marczi soon realized the greater need was for a larger-capacity charger that could serve a dual purpose: fast charging and backup grid power.  

That’s why real estate developers are Marczi’s largest clients. 

“We’ve got orders for 24 units,” he said, adding that his clients are in Texas, California, New York and South Carolina. Raising capital and networking with Battery Belt leaders are top on Marczi’s list.  

“Chattanooga is really ideal for that,” he said. 

Before his aha-holy-crap moment at the NYU classroom, Marczi – “I’ve always had the elbows-in-the-mud approach to life,” he laughs – was tinkering with restoring an old motorbike.