The traditional motor has not been innovated in ages. The one in your car is essentially the same one that your grandparents had. That is, until now! Merciless Motors is reinventing the standard motor with their electrical model. Born out of an idea inspired by the Nader’s high school physics lecture, this innovation is democratizing motor vehicles.
I interviewed the duo behind the design: CEO Anna Kotyza (Gallatin ‘19) and CTO and sole inventor Nader Ahmed (Tandon ‘19).
How did you meet?
Anna: We met at an NYU networking event where we discovered our shared love for problem solving over a discussion on how to fix the MTA.
How did the idea for Merciless Motors come about?
Anna: This idea came out of Nader’s fascination of motors. Sitting in his high school physics class during a lesson about generators, he noticed a fundamental inefficiency in their design. He began designing alternate motors, which garnered approval from both his high school teachers and his Physics and Electrical Engineering professors at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Once his idea was solidified he decided to apply for NYU Stern’s 300K Entrepreneurs Challenge and asked me to join the team.
Explain what a motor is and how it works.
Anna: A motor makes things move through electricity. It is a machine that rotates and through the rotation converts electrical energy into mechanical energy.
On your website you mention that yours is “such a novel idea that it created its own category of motors.” Talk to me about this new category of motors.
Nader: Ours is a novel configuration of magnetic fields and wire - a completely new design that puts our motor in a category of its own.
Many would say "do not try to reinvent the wheel." What makes you confident in your reinventing the motor?
Anna: We believe that the world is moving toward sustainability. It is important to make electric modes of transport easier to put out into the world. There is obviously a great need, especially considering the state of climate change as well as regulations on motor vehicles, and Merciless Motors is the solution.
Talk about your audience. Who is Merciless Motors aimed at?
Anna: Merciless motors is aimed at head engineers for startups and companies. We are trying to target people who need a cheaper motor that’ll run for a longer range.
What is the trickiest part of your industry?
Anna: The trickiest part of our industry are barriers. Finding people who are willing to work with a motor startup as opposed to a traditional manufacturer is difficult. Many large corporations don’t want to take a risk with an innovation even if it’s to their benefit.
How do you navigate these barriers?
Anna: One step at a time. We tackle the issue by finding small players and early stage startups to build personal relationships with and determine success parameters for.
What unique challenges are you working through right now?
Anna: There is such a big market, we are working on honing in on out most urgent customers.
Who have been some mentors to you in your journey? What do you look for in a mentor?
Anna: Our greatest mentors have been people in the motor industry who have faced similar challenges to our own. In a mentor we look for an individual who can help us scale hardware technology and knows how to deal with new inventions as well as complicated market ecosystems.
What are some of your Summer Launchpad highlights?
Anna: The board meetings and the mentors have been a great help. The biggest highlight is the constant learning process SLP fosters.
Nader: The guest speakers have been phenomenal, especially the ones who were honest about their struggles. In addition to that, the legal office hours have been extremely useful to us.
What would you tell NYU students who want to launch their own startup?
Anna: Focus on a problem that you see, understand that it is difficult to start, and be open minded to change - persistence and resilience are key.
Nader: A big deterrent from launching a startup is the time commitment. If you have an idea that you are passionate about, you should ignore that hesitation. Just as anything in life, you must make time for what you care about.
How do your backgrounds inform the work you do for Merciless Motors?
Anna: I worked for an augmented reality startup and as a construction worker for my parents’ house building company growing up. I’m fascinated by creation in our everyday lives and how to bring physical things to life.
Nader: My background before coming to college was entirely technical. I worked in aviation, fixing planes and have always loved taking things apart and putting them back together which translated into my fascination with motors.
You have very different backgrounds, how do you bridge the communication gap?
(Anna on the Business side and Nader on the Mechanical Engineering end)
Anna: Constant communication. We utilize pointers, or constant feedback. Nader and I highlight pros and cons for each other as well as express doubts comfortably. And, we avoid micromanaging one another.
What makes this work meaningful to you?
Anna: My parents immigrated to America from Slovakia thirty years ago and started a construction business. Like them, I am creating my own space in the entrepreneurship and business world.
Nader: I’ve always had a passion for cars. When I used to purchase cheap, broken down vehicles, I realized that a new electric motor such as our own would make cars more reliable and cost effective. Not having much money growing up, I am doing meaningful work in attempting to make cars more affordable.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Anna: We are excited to see what the future holds and we will always be thankful for everyone at the Entrepreneurial Institute for their help and guidance.
Nader is described as Logical and Anna - a Hustler.
Merciless Motors is turning the motor vehicle industry on its head. Look out for them!