Arcady says: “FreeWire is innovative, agile, and fast. In just over a year we went from an idea about mobile electric vehicle (EV) charging to production-ready units called Mobis. We talked to our customers, identified their pain points, and created a solution designed specifically to address them.”
Max: Pick My Solar is an online marketplace that connects homeowners to solar installers through our online bidding platform. We create competition between installers to get the best deals for our customers. As you might know, the solar industry is suffering from a lot of noise that is preventing people from getting the best information. We want to disrupt this market and help homeowners go solar with confidence. The best part is that we don’t charge our customers anything– our service is completely free.
When Kabira Stokes drove cross-country from Philadelphia at age 22, like many East Coast transplants she was fascinated by the idea of Los Angeles. In contrast to New York, LA – in Kabira’s mind – was “a story still being written.” Fast-forward to 2015 and a career in public service, a master’s degree, and a successful startup business later, Kabira and her company Isidore Electronics Recycling are contributing to the LA story – for the better.
A full service electronics recycling and repair company in addition to being a vintage electronics supplier, Isidore recycles electronics in an environmentally responsible way while providing training and jobs for Angelenos facing barriers to employment. Formerly incarcerated and homeless job seekers can find a place there. While many organizations that serve these segments of the population are non-profit, Isidore is a for-profit company, which, as Kabira explained, demonstrates a “third way” of doing business:
We’re here to make money, but equally, we’re here to make a social and environmental impact.
Kabira’s inspiration for the company came during her days working as a field deputy for then-Los Angeles City Councilmember Eric Garcetti. Dealing directly with constituents facing issues with gangs and crime in their neighborhoods, Kabira saw what she called “the demonization” of people who have been to prison and the difficulties they faced trying to build a new life after serving their time. “These people paid their debt to society and were ready to work again, but because of a lack of opportunity they’d often end up committing crimes again, perpetuating an all-too-common cycle,” explained Kabira.
Witnessing firsthand one of the root causes of the prison recidivism rate, Kabira was determined to get a Masters in Public Policy to equip herself with the knowledge to begin to provide a solution. While studying the California penal system and workforce development, her mentor Van Jones posed a pivotal question: “Do you want to create the policy to create jobs? Or just create jobs?” That was when the idea for Isidore Electronics Recycling was born.
Since Isidore’s establishment, Kabira co-founded “Impact Recyclers”, a national network of 7 socially responsible e-waste companies built on the triple bottom line model. Kabira had a larger goal in co-creating the network: to redefine the recycling of e-waste as an American industry. Hundreds of thousands of tons of e-waste are shipped overseas and often times aren’t processed in environmentally responsible ways. Impact Recyclers works to keep those jobs in the U.S., providing employment for the segments of our population that have the most difficulty finding work, and minimizing the impact of e-waste on the global environment.
Kabira applied to be a portfolio company at LACI at her company’s most difficult time. The warehouse that she was operating out of burned down, as did most of her business. Two months later, her co-founder quit. After losing almost everything, “I needed a team, and LACI became my team. We met weekly to get the business back up and running. I wouldn’t be here without them.” In addition to helping the company in the aftermath of the warehouse fire, Kabira credits LACI with providing instrumental help with Isidore’s financial modeling, projections, finding resources for the company, and providing ongoing mentorship and guidance.
Starting and running a successful company, especially as a woman in a male dominated industry, isn’t the easiest endeavor. When Kabira was asked what keeps her going during difficult times her answer was simple and immediate: her workers. “It means a lot to have created an environment where people aren’t judged by the worst thing they ever did, they’re judged by how they did at work that day. The power of giving people a second chance, the way they respond to being giving that chance is just amazing. For a lot of my workers, this is the first real job they’ve ever had.”
Kabira’s short-term goals for Isidore Electronics Recycling are focused on raising capital so she can to hire more workers and provide her current ones with better wages. Long term, she hopes that her model can be replicated and expanded beyond Los Angeles. Kabira and her company demonstrate the positive impact that entrepreneurship can have on the environment, an industry, and in the lives of the people employed through her mission. The triple bottom line of “people, profit, and planet” continues to motivate Kabira as her business grows – and inspire those who are a part of it.
App will be the first to deliver real-time solar data to consumers
LACI Portfolio Company Pick My Solar was awarded federal funding to develop PVimpact, a tool that aims to make it easy for all solar homes to connect to the information grid. The app is being designed to benefit homeowners, solar installers, manufacturers, and utilities by analyzing homeowners’ energy use in real time.
Keep an eye out for it this summer (free to all Pick My Solar customers), then available to the rest of the U.S. residential solar market in early fall.
“Like most great inventions, you fall into it. It’s an accident,” says the man behind the wheel, Zack Fleishman. It started out as a quirky rendition of a long-board wheel but has been validated as a real innovation that outperforms a normal wheel and has set the skateboarding community abuzz. The company has now sold and delivered over 10,000 wheels.
The Discovery Channel sought out the guys who reinvented the wheel to understand the dynamics of their novelty invention and to test out the Shark Wheel. Positive feedback from happy customers continues to roll in and numerous people have given Shark Wheel their seal of approval – including skateboarding godfather, Tony Hawk…
Since the company’ Kickstarter campaign received over one million views and raised nearly 800% of their goal, Shark Wheel has been engaged by over 200 international distributors and signed up 27 countries for exclusive distribution. Fleishman endeavors to keep the success rolling by seeking out strategic investors to help the company reach its potential and to raise enough funding to stock a sufficient inventory and expand into other markets; these markets may include military vehicles, strollers, roller skating, friction drive wind turbines, wheelchairs, luggage, and almost any market with a wheel.
Here’s a 1st-person perspective of bombing a hill with Shark Wheels…
Congrats to Revoterial and PickMySolar for winning a combined $125,000 from the Kauffman Foundation backed Innovation Fund SoCal. The LACI Portfolio Companies nabbed 2 of the 3 funding opportunities available in the initial award today, announced by the fund managers Long Beach City College (LBCC).
Awardees were selected through a competitive review process that included an initial application and two rounds of pitches before selection panels comprised of a cross-section of professionals with technical, industry, financial, business, commercialization and start-up experience and expertise.
Hyperlight’s innovation will help commercial, industrial and agricultural facilities throughout California to lower both emissions and energy bills. This new technology will make existing facilities more efficient by harnessing the energy from the sun, and coupled with natural gas, can help California achieve its renewable energy goals.
Congrats to Repurpose Compostables, who will roll out their products in 500 Safeway stores this summer, just in time for 4th of July BBQs and parties. We’d love to see more folks use Repurpose to avoid those petroleum-based red cups that always pile up, and never break down.
Repurpose has been a catalyst for change in the consumer products industry by educating people about the necessity to shift current consumption habits away from plastics. Now, retailers are assuaging the demand of their customers and adding plant-based disposables to their inventory.
Please welcome four exciting additions to the LACI family: Ecoponex, Isidore, Revoterial, and Sun-Engine.
Reviewing and vetting the folks that apply to LACI is a labor of love, and we see a lot of great people, ideas and companies. Only the best get in. Please join us in welcoming four of the newest companies in the LACI portfolio.
Ecoponex Systems International
World-class, closed-loop system to produce healthy food, pure water, and renewable energy at 50x the per acre output of land today.
Benjamin Brant invites us to imagine an urban farm… a “living machine” that converts solar energy and natural ingredients into food. It creates fresh, pure water (even from wastewater) as an afterthought. And its done in a system that actually produces more energy than it needs. Now, imagine it in the middle of LA, as a vertical farm that diverts waste, delivers healthy / organic food, and creates good jobs and a learning environment for the community. Oh, and it can be more profitable than most commercial buildings.
Isidore Electronics Recycling
Woman-owned, triple bottom line social enterprise that combines best practices in e-waste management with training and jobs for previously incarcerated Angelenos who face barriers to employment.
Kabira Stokes isn’t in the commodity business… she’s using it as a metaphor for social and environmental transformation. By re-imagining what “recycling” means, Isidore combines what we all know we should do (re- and up-cycle yesterday’s electronics), with what we all deep down want to do (help people that deserve a second chance). Hardworking people coming out of our prison systems get good jobs with a purpose at Isidore, taking the 75% of electronics that end up in the dump and transforming them back into useful stuff in Los Angeles. What’s not to like?
Materials that are 100% natural and renewable, incredibly durable, and designed to simplify and clean up the highly toxic fashion industry efficiently and cost effectively.
Yotam Solomon is good at breaking boundaries. As a highly-accomplished fashion designer, he quickly disarms the most skeptical technologists with his knowledge of material science and the nuts and bolts of how the fashion industry works. Good thing too, as he’s bringing to market materials that are tested and safe enough to put into our bodies through surgery, yet promise to deliver clothing and accessories that are 100% natural and recyclable, more durable, cheaper and simpler than anything available today.
Combines breakthrough heat engine with industry-leading solar thermal technology to produce clean electrical energy 24/7, generating 5 to 10 times more kWh per square foot than conventional PV systems.
Tim Biehler and Benjamin Brant (yes, of Ecoponex as well) have learned a few things over their decades of experience in renewable energy, like how to integrate best-of-breed systems. Today, everybody understands solar, as well as its limitations (like, complete reliance on that largest of bodies, the Sun). Well, cloudy days may well be behind us, as these fine folks have figured out how to combine patented systems to deliver 100% renewable energy 24 hours a day, at a greatly reduced cost to today’s solar arrays.
The Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) is a private nonprofit founded by the City of Los Angeles to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies in the Los Angeles region. Located in the center of the City’s Cleantech Corridor, LACI offers flexible office space, CEO coaching and mentoring, and access to a robust network of experts and capital. Incubated companies operate in a range of sectors including infrastructure, energy efficiency, energy storage, transportation, water, agriculture, and materials science. LACI works closely with the region’s universities, business community, government institutions, capital markets and utilities to foster innovation and to grow the region’s green economy.
Once the permanent La Kretz Innovation Campus opens in 2015, LACI is expected to sustainably accelerate the growth of dozens more promising companies and entrepreneurs in world-class facilities that include wet labs, dry labs, prototype manufacturing space, conference space, and strategically aligned partners all in one convenient location. It is anticipated that, over its first five years, LACI can help create over 1,600 direct and indirect jobs.
While many players in the solar thermal space have struggled to survive a period of prolonged low natural gas prices, Skyline Innovations … seems to be doing something closer to the opposite.
Earlier this week, Skyline got the green light from regulators in California to use its proprietary monitoring platform for calculating state incentive payments.
Ready to become an LACI Portfolio Company?
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