The Most Promising LA Clean Tech Companies of 2021
Eve Energy Ventures Inc (Xeal)
Eve Energy Ventures is an electric vehicle charging company. Also known as “Xeal,” the Venice-based corporation provides charging stations for apartments and workplaces. In October this year, the company announced that it raised $14 million to install upwards of 10,000 new charging stations across the United States. What sets Xeal apart from other charging tech is that their chargers do not require Wi-Fi connectivity between the vehicle and the charger. Instead, the company relies on another emerging technology: blockchain. Users download the app and receive a cryptographic token that shows the location of all Xeal chargers, and then the chargers themselves can authenticate the token without the need for Wi-Fi, which can be hard to come by in concrete parking structures.
Enervee is a company that rates appliances and products based on their energy efficiency. Retailers can then sell products in Enervee’s store where scores appear next to products to try to help consumers make more efficient purchases. The Venice-based software company allows retailers to sell products at discounted rates that are made possible by applying Energy Saving Instant Rebates at the time of purchase. The ultimate idea is to help consumers find the most energy efficient products and buy them at the lowest cost possible, from washing machines to automobiles. This year, Enervee announced a financing partnership with San Francisco-based fintech company One that allows consumers expanded financing options for their energy efficient purchases, mostly focused on lowering monthly payments. The State of California and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) are also participating in the financing program.
Another EV charging company, EVgo made headlines over and over this year for building strategic partnerships with giants like General Motors, Uber, Tesla, and BMW. The company also won grants and funding from various state governments, including California, to expand their charging station offerings. The Los Angeles-based company boasts that 80% of all Californians live within 10 miles of one of their fast chargers, and the company has more than 800 stations nationally across 34 states. Last week, the company announced that their PlugShare app surpassed 1 million downloads in 2021. With electric vehicles forecasted to make up half of all vehicles by the end of the decade, EVgo’s could wind up on this list several more times in coming years.
Heliogen Inc. makes a concentrated solar energy system that uses a series of mirrors to concentrate sunlight into a small area and produce steam. In addition to heat and power, this year the Pasadena-based company announced a partnership with Bloom Energy Corporation to use their technology to produce green hydrogen energy as well. If that wasn’t enough, Heliogen also unveiled an autonomous robot that helps install and maintain concentrated solar energy plants. With backing from Bill Gates, the company is reportedly planning to go public via a 2-billion-dollar SPAC deal with Athena Technology Acquisition Corp.
Connect Homes specializes in prefabricated home building. Unlike traditional construction practices, prefabs offer easier installation and drastically reduce the carbon needed to complete a build. dotLA has previously covered Plant Prefab, but Connect Homes takes the spot on this list for its grand aspirations to actually replace traditional construction techniques. With a former Apple exec, Greg Leung CEO, the Los Angeles-based prefab company is growing at record levels and can now complete an entire house in less than a month. Combined with a focus on cutting edge insulation and energy efficiency, Connect Homes is building houses that cost less carbon up front and save energy after installation as well.
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In this episode of LA Venture, Julie Wroblewski talks about starting Magnify Ventures and helping modern families.
Wroblewski worked with Melinda French Gates to start Pivotal Ventures. For Wroblewski, it was her dream job as she got to lead venture capital investment strategy for five years. One of the focus areas at Pivotal was around caregiving innovation and American family homes.
Wroblewski cites a report from one of Magnify's partners that estimates the care economy at $648 billion in the United States, already larger than the pharmaceutical market. Wroblewski's fund is writing up to $2.5 million checks into companies that will transform life, work and care for modern families.
"I started to see what I thought was a very exciting and still overlooked category of investment in venture capital around the care economy, and family-focused technology and was also seeing a lot of flow and founders," said Wroblewski.
As an investor, she is particularly interested in tools like household optimization that help families be both more efficient and joyful. She also wants to let parents know they don't have to be experts. Technology can help give them access to what they need, when they need it.
"Technology is moving closer into our lives all the time and solving increasingly human, complex, difficult problems, including, how we care for and manage care for children and our loved ones--the things that are most personal to us," said Wroblewski.
"We've seen such a wave of technology innovation in the workplace. You know, we now use so many different tools to help increase our productivity at work, to improve our health and well being in some cases in the workplace," she added. "And I think we haven't yet seen the same sort of investment in innovation move into some areas of family life and household management. And so I think that that's going to change."
dot.LA Audience Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
Pejman Nozad, a founding managing partner at Pear VC, joins this episode of LA Venture to discuss Pear VC's current initiatives, including its accelerator and fellowships. He's seen as one of the most successful angel investors in the area, and for good reason: he has made more than 300 investments in his lifetime.
"I'm a child of revolution and war and difficult times," said Nozad of his upbringing in Iran during the revolution.
Nozad went to college before dropping out. That's when his brother told him about his dream to go to America. After his brother was denied a visa multiple times, Nozad went himself to the embassy and got lucky; the woman in charge of the process liked him enough to approve him.
"When you're in [your] early twenties, you don't analyze much of the future. And then your risk-takers. I came to America in 1992 with $700 and I didn't speak any word of English," said Nozad.
Nozad went from working at a carwash, then a yogurt shop, to a (now famous) Persian rug store in Palo Alto. Many of his clients happened to be CEOs and venture capitalists; Nozad wanted to be part of that community.
"I was very lucky because I had access to people who normally nobody can see them, but I was hanging out with them at Sunday barbecues while selling carpets," said Nozad.
In his early days as an investor, Nozad bet on companies that included Dropbox and DoorDash. He said he took inspiration as a venture capitalist in lessons he learned from his time playing professional soccer in Iran.
"In soccer, you can score minute one, or you can score at minute 90. Both of them [are] one goal and you can win the game. So, when you go to fundraise, don't get disappointed if you hear a lot of nos, because the yes could be the last meeting after the whole two months," he said.
dot.LA Engagement Intern Joshua Letona contributed to this post.
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