LA’s CleanTech Startups Tackle Climate Change

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

LA’s CleanTech Startups Tackle Climate Change

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator's (LACI's) second annual Power Day was planned long before heavy smoke blanketed the West Coast for weeks, forcing tens of millions of residents to shelter indoors. But the noxious air provided organizers of Thursday's pitch competition for startups a visceral reminder of climate change's danger and the need to act on the sort of innovations that will be on display.

"We've gone from the cleanest air L.A. has seen in decades in April to the dirtiest air in five months," said Matt Peterson, who was appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti as L.A.'s first Chief Sustainability Officer and is now CEO of the nonprofit LACI. "We know we want to have that cleaner air and safer neighborhoods that we enjoyed during the lockdown."


LACI was founded by the city and the Department of Water & Power as a public private partnership in 2011 to promote the growth of the clean energy industry and has helped 72 portfolio companies raise $159 million in funding.

This year's Power Day, which will be virtual, will showcase 14 companies, such as Sparkcharge, which makes a portable high-speed EV charger and Xeal, which uses predictive AI software to maximize the profits of electric vehicle charging stations.

"It really gives an opportunity for smaller startups like us to share with what we're doing and meet strategic partners," said Xeal co-founder Nikhil Bharadwaj. (The company closed a seed round last month led by Rocket Fund, LACI Impact Fund, Pasadena Angels, Emerging Ventures, and Ramez Naan Ventures.)

The showcase comes a week after Governor Gavin Newsom's landmark announcement that the sale of all gas and diesel power vehicles will be banned in California starting in 2035. The landmark order aimed at cutting greenhouse emissions will likely fuel demand for the very types of businesses that LACI helps build. "It's enormous," said Peterson. "It's a big deal."

He says solving climate change will require a combination of government help and commercial innovation. "It really takes a collaboration," he said. "And it's not just Elon Musk and Tesla. There are alot of amazing entrepreneurs coming forth with pieces of the puzzle."

Rose McKinney-James, managing principal at McKinney-James & Associates and Energy Works LLC, will provide the keynote address. Other panelists include MetroLink CEO Stephanie Wiggins and Metro CEO Phil Washington.

Startups participating in Power Day also include: NeoCharge, ePave, Substance Power & Mobility, TBM Designs, Alumina, SEED, Noria, JumpWatts, ChargerHelp, Maxwell Vehicles, Green Light Lab and Camus Energy

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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AmazeVR Wants You To Attend K-Pop Concerts Virtually

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

AmazeVR Wants You To Attend K-Pop Concerts Virtually
Photo courtesy of AmazeVR

Virtual reality startup AmazeVR now has $17 million to further expand its VR concert experience.

The West Hollywood-based company’s latest funding amounts to a bet that virtual shows, a staple of the pandemic, are here to stay. Mirae Asset Capital led the Series B funding round, with Mirae Asset Financial Group subsidiary (Mirae Asset Venture Investment), CJ Investment, Smilegate Investment, GS Futures and LG Technology Ventures investing again. Mobile game maker Krafton joined the group—but South Korean entertainment company CJ ENM’s stake reveals AmazeVR’s plans to expand into K-pop world.

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