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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Behind Her Empire: Lisa Sequino on the ‘Light Bulb’ Moment That Launched JLo Beauty

Yasmin Nouri

Yasmin is the host of the "Behind Her Empire" podcast, focused on highlighting self-made women leaders and entrepreneurs and how they tackle their career, money, family and life.

Each episode covers their unique hero's journey and what it really takes to build an empire with key lessons learned along the way. The goal of the series is to empower you to see what's possible & inspire you to create financial freedom in your own life.

Behind Her Empire: Lisa Sequino on the ‘Light Bulb’ Moment That Launched JLo Beauty
Lisa Sequino

On this episode of Behind Her Empire, JLo Beauty Co-founder and CEO Lisa Sequino discusses how she transitioned from her corporate career to a more entrepreneurial path.

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Henrik Fisker Says Tesla Price Cuts Haven’t Fazed Ocean Rollout

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

A Fisker electric vehicle.​
Courtesy of Fisker

Last week in the dot.LA newsletter I wrote about Tesla’s decision to slash prices by as much as 20% on their vehicles and how the decision might impact Southern California’s EV startups. I called the price cuts a “tough pill to swallow” for Fisker in particular since they would make many of Tesla’s price points more competitive with Fisker’s first production model, The Ocean.

The Ocean is currently undergoing homologation, but Henrik Fisker, the company’s CEO, confirmed to dot.LA that the company hopes the process to be completed at the end of February. From there, it could take several weeks to ship the SUVs from Austria to the United States.

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