Central Texas electric motor company looks to grow in Austin, Mexico after $185M funding
Kara Carlson – Austin American-Statesman
A Central Texas-based motor company is looking to expand its workforce and footprint in Austin and Mexico on the back of raising $185 million in funding.
Infinitum, which was founded in 2016 by CEO Ben Schuler, makes motors that include circuit boards that cut down on some of the costly equipment required in traditional motors. As a result, Infinitum says its motors are more efficient, smaller and quieter than traditional motors.
Infinitum’s latest funding round was led by Just Climate, a climate focused investment business. In total, Infinitum has raised $350 million in funding to date.
Infinitum said the latest funding will be used to grow the company’s production to help meet customer demand and help aid decarbonization in the industrial sector.
“Electric motors consume over half of global electricity every year. So having a lighter, quieter, more efficient electric motor can have a massive impact on energy demand and also energy consumption,” Schuler said.
Infinitum serves a number of sectors that use electric motors such as the HVAC market, logistics centers, data centers, vehicle manufacturers, material handling and the motors are also used in products such as fans and pumps. Schuler said electric motors are becoming increasingly used as facilities increasingly automate their operations.
Schuler said demand for the company’s products helped the company to raise capital in what has been a tricky market for startup funding.
“Having the cash that we need to deliver on the demand that we have from our customers is great and really enables us to amp up and meet the demand that we have,” Schuler said.
Schuler said raising funding in the current economic environment was “very challenging,” but emphasized there is still capital out there.
“If you have the kind of story and the demand that Infinitum has, ultimately that’s what enables (funding). Having demand from our customers that out paces our capacity,” Schuler said. “If we were not in that fortunate situation, it would have certainly been even harder.”
Growing locally and in Mexico
The company, which was founded in Austin in 2016, moved to Round Rock in 2019, where Infinitum has already since expanded once to its current 35,000 square-foot-space. Now, with part of its funding, Infinitum is moving its headquarters back to Austin into an even larger 90,000 square-foot building where the company plans to build out more advanced lab space.
“There is not enough room in our Round Rock facility to house all the people that we will have and all the testing or resources that we will need,” Schuler said. “The new space enables all those things.”
The new Austin facility will house a range of the company’s teams including those focused on engineering, research and development, testing, certification and operation, design for manufacturing infrastructure, and supply chain.
The company is also expanding its manufacturing footprint in Mexico, adding a facility in Saltillo, about a half hour outside of Monterrey, which will be able to make 200,000 motors a year. Infinitum also already has a Tijuana facility, which is able to make 100,000 units a year.
“By the end of 2024 we will have the ability to make 300,000 units a year, which will help us as we grow into 2025 and beyond,” Schuler said.
The expanded footprint in both locations comes as the company looks to scale up its workforce. Currently the company’s global footprint stands at about 125 people, but Schuler said the company aims to grow to 150 before the end of the year and grow to just over 200 people by the end of 2024.
Schuler said the company plans to hire across the board in positions such as engineering, research and development, operations, supply chain, manufacturing, and green testing.
The company’s growth plans also come as it teams up with Rockwell Automation, which manufacturers industrial automation products. The companies are working to jointly develop a motor system that’s compatible with Rockwell’s products and will be distributed through Rockwell to customers in sectors such as material handling.
Schuler said in the United States, electric motors consume 70% of the energy used by sectors that Rockwell customers are part of. For example, increasingly automated logistics facilities use lots of motors as packages are moved around the world, he said.
“It’s a massive opportunity for decarbonization and for us to deploy our high efficiency product and really drive down energy consumption,” Schuler said.