Welcome Briana!

Welcome Briana!

We are pleased to share that Briana Trejo has joined CleanStart as our new Marketing Associate!

Briana is a proven leader who has worked within the clean energy industry domain for 4 years. She brings to the CleanStart executive team great passion for sustainability with alternative energy resources. She is a clean tech and electric vehicle enthusiast. Briana has focused her time advocating with nonprofits dedicated to promoting and educating disadvantaged communities of alternative fuel vehicles and government incentives to improve the air quality within the San Joaquin Valley and Bay Area.

We’re excited to welcome her to CleanStart and look forward to her contributions to our efforts to guiding clean technology entrepreneurs and their endeavors.

Follow her on:
Twitter: @britre95 or on LinkedIn

 

Mark Henwood – Founding CleanStart

I founded CleanStart with Gary Simon and have been a board member for CleanStart from its beginning in 2005. Now I have enjoyed being part of the revitalized CleanStart. I have witnessed CleanStart set the example on how to help entrepreneurs and startups succeed and invigorate the community around clean tech. During this period, the Sacramento Region clean tech community has grown to over 5100 jobs and $3.2 billion revenue. Since CleanStart’s reboot in 2016, CleanStart has diligently worked to place companies in front of funding sources, resulting in successful raises of over $200 million.

CleanStart has contributed to the community through a series of meetups that have spawned new relationships, new companies and new ideas. With the elimination of in-person meetings, CleanStart has offered over three dozen video events with increased participation. While the majority of the participants are local, we are now seeing participants from the rest of the US and Europe. This is solidifying Sacramento’s image of being a leading clean tech community.

Like many companies and nonprofits, COVID has impacted CleanStart. They need to raise $10k from our community to continue their work and allow its reach and engagement to continue to grow. To make the funding go even further, a donor has committed to match each donation dollar for dollar.

So please join me in donating to CleanStart. A contribution of $500 or more will give you the privilege of having your name added near my name on the CleanStart Wall of Fame.

Thank you, Hero Sponsors, for helping Build our Wall of Fame:

Your Name Here

Patron Supporters 

Dr. Eric Cummings, Robert Gregoire, Larry Kellerman, Curtis Rocca,

Ingrid Rosten, Frederick Tornatore, Mark Humbert, Bill Westerfield,

Michael Carroll, Peter Bell, Al Rich, Kian Nobari, Bob Guimarin,

Steven Mills, John Jaggers, Farid Ismayilzada, Bing Gu

THANK-YOU: Brian Hoblit, Dan Sperling, Jack Crawford, Mike Hart, Mike Terzo, Roger Akers, Al Rich, Chris White, Noam Lotan, Bob Guimarin, Linghong Li, Sergey Vasylyev, Mark Henwood, Dan Koellen, Daniel Clark, Aaron Shaw, Laura Good, Sandra Hall, Thomas Paddon, Ezra Beeman, Peter Zullo, Diana Eastman, Alex Chompff, Brandon Rose, Lorenzo Smith, Ryan Barr, Robert Gregoire, Frederic Tornatore, Curtis Rocca, Christina Borsum, Weintraub Tobin, Kian Nobari, Lynne Goldsmith, Michelle Wong, Antonio Yung, Mark Berman, Andy Roth, Bill Westerfield, Yuliya Semak, Musole Buhendwa, Eva Shepherd, Mariah Lichtenstern, Eric Cummings, Steven Mills, Larry Kellerman, John Selep, Doug Linney, John Peters, Alain Poivet, Michael Carroll, Terry Carlone, Robert Wilson, Kyle Kaneshiro, John Jaggers, Robert Gregory, Glenn Meeks, Roger Johnson, Matt Roberts, Evolution Accelerator, Peter Bell, Ingrid Rosten, Bing Gu, Kathleen Collins, Kiara Reed, Guy Hall, Michelle Wong, Robert Willson 

Follow us on Social Media to keep upto date!

Dan Koellen – Support CleanStart

I have been a board member for CleanStart from its beginning in 2005 and have enjoyed being part of the revitalized CleanStart. I have witnessed CleanStart set the example on how to help entrepreneurs and startups succeed and invigorate the community around clean tech. During this period, the Sacramento Region clean tech community has grown to over 5100 jobs and $3.2 billion revenue. Since CleanStart’s reboot in 2016, CleanStart has diligently worked to place companies in front of funding sources, resulting in successful raises of over $200 million.

CleanStart has contributed to the community through a series of meetups that have spawned new relationships, new companies and new ideas. With the elimination of in-person meetings, CleanStart has offered over three dozen video events with increased participation. While the majority of the participants are local, we are now seeing participants from the rest of the US and Europe. This is solidifying Sacramento’s image of being a leading clean tech community.

They have also recently run two very successful clean tech startup bootcamps with 26 companies graduating. Leveraging what was learned during the bootcamp, some of these companies have already received funding.

Like many companies and nonprofits, COVID has impacted CleanStart. They need to raise $10k from our community to continue their work and allow its reach and engagement to continue to grow. To make the funding go even further, a donor has committed to match each donation dollar for dollar.

So please join me in donating to CleanStart. A contribution of $500 or more will give you the privilege of having your name added near my name on the CleanStart Wall of Fame.

Thank you, Hero Sponsors, for helping Build our Wall of Fame:

Your Name Here

Patron Supporters 

Dr. Eric Cummings, Robert Gregoire, Larry Kellerman, Curtis Rocca,

Ingrid Rosten, Frederick Tornatore, Mark Humbert, Bill Westerfield,

Michael Carroll, Peter Bell, Al Rich, Kian Nobari, Bob Guimarin,

Steven Mills, John Jaggers, Farid Ismayilzada, Bing Gu

THANK-YOU: Brian Hoblit, Dan Sperling, Jack Crawford, Mike Hart, Mike Terzo, Roger Akers, Al Rich, Chris White, Noam Lotan, Bob Guimarin, Linghong Li, Sergey Vasylyev, Mark Henwood, Dan Koellen, Daniel Clark, Aaron Shaw, Laura Good, Sandra Hall, Thomas Paddon, Ezra Beeman, Peter Zullo, Diana Eastman, Alex Chompff, Brandon Rose, Lorenzo Smith, Ryan Barr, Robert Gregoire, Frederic Tornatore, Curtis Rocca, Christina Borsum, Weintraub Tobin, Kian Nobari, Lynne Goldsmith, Michelle Wong, Antonio Yung, Mark Berman, Andy Roth, Bill Westerfield, Yuliya Semak, Musole Buhendwa, Eva Shepherd, Mariah Lichtenstern, Eric Cummings, Steven Mills, Larry Kellerman, John Selep, Doug Linney, John Peters, Alain Poivet, Michael Carroll, Terry Carlone, Robert Wilson, Kyle Kaneshiro, John Jaggers, Robert Gregory, Glenn Meeks, Roger Johnson, Matt Roberts, Evolution Accelerator, Peter Bell, Ingrid Rosten, Bing Gu, Kathleen Collins, Kiara Reed, Guy Hall, Michelle Wong, Robert Willson 

Follow us on Social Media to keep upto date!

Necessity Gives Rise to a New Company

Necessity Gives Rise to a New Company

In 2006, a solar developer had a problem.  It wanted to win the bid to cover the roof of the Staples Center in Los Angeles with PV panels.  But like many arenas, the roof wouldn’t bear much weight and more importantly, the owner wanted to be sure the installation wouldn’t cause any leaks.  Looking at all the conventional ways to secure PV panels to the roofs of commercial buildings, the developer could not find anything suitable. Conventional systems are designed for only flat roofs and the Staples Center roof was gently curved.  More importantly, typical systems used ballasting to hold down the racks of panels to avoid making holes in the roof. But then the racks can move or the ballast (usually concrete blocks) can deteriorate. With no other option, the developer turned to its own engineers to design a new lightweight installation system appropriate for the curved roof.  And it worked. They won the bid. They installed the panels. And after a decade, still no leaks.  

In fact, the system worked so well, they decided to make a business around it.  That was the origin of Sustainable Technologies in North Natomas and its flagship product, the patented Facet Roof Mount.  It looks like a small flying saucer with a threaded center section for a bolt to hold the PV racks. It’s so simple that PV installation times are slashed and costs reduced as well.  It is used in conjunction with various flashing and sealing methods to ensure that it is water-tight. 

  

It works so well, sales are zooming, with over 85,000 likely to be sold this year, up from 30,000 last year.  The units themselves are outsourced to China, with sales done directly or through US distributors. No significant sales have been made outside the US, but a move into European markets is on the horizon.  In our judgment, the big milestone for this company is probably getting unit sales over the 10 million mark. The 120,000+ mounts sold to date support about 10 MW of solar installations. When 1000 MW worth of mounts have been sold, the technology will be on lots of developers’ radar screens and sales should zoom.

According to Erica Lindstrom, Sales and Operations Manager, the key to getting sales is receiving approvals from the roofing manufacturers and most importantly from building standards agencies.  They have certifications from most manufacturers that the use of their system does not void warranties, and are working on getting it for the most popular roofing material—EPDM or polymerized Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer, commonly called a “rubber roof”.  Building department approvals are a longer game. Every locality and state has its own rules. Erica says they just got approval from the LA city building department to unlock one of the biggest markets in the country. Awesome!

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStarts Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, EY, Stoel Rives, Greenberg Traurig LLP

BlueTech Valley, Buchalter, Moss Adams, PowerSoft.biz

College of Engineering & Computer Science at Sacramento State

StartupSac Founder Spotlight: Ryan Barr of RePurpose Energy

StartupSac Founder Spotlight: Ryan Barr of RePurpose Energy

By Jeff Bennett of Startup Sac.  Blog on StartupSac.

Ryan Barr is the co-founder and COO of RePurpose Energy, a Sacramento area cleantech startup that reuses electric vehicle batteries to store solar energy.

Ryan started his career as a management consultant for electric utilities in the midwest. Feeling disillusioned by their lack of urgency with respect to climate change, he decided to make a change and transitioned to grad school to study energy systems at UC Davis, focusing on how energy storage can allow society to operate electricity grids using a lot of renewable energy.

Along the way he met Professor Jae Wan Park, Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, UC Davis and learned of the extensive research on renewable energy systems that Park had been doing over the years. Park and his team were at the stage where they were ready to launch a product based on their research. Interests and timing were aligned, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I met up with Ryan to learn more about his story and the origin of RePurpose Energy. Check it out in the video or audio podcast below.

RePurpose Energy is currently transitioning from product demonstration phase to product launch phase. As part of their product launch phase they’re looking to partner with local businesses who have solar power installed, or are interested in solar power, to help them save more money by helping them store solar energy for use at night and using energy storage to reduce their peak power demands. If you have a business and you value reliable electricity and want to save more money on your electricity, reach out to them through their contact form on their website.

 

Check Out Other Videos

Growth Factory Filling Gaps in Regional Ecosystem

Growth Factory Filling Gaps in Regional Ecosystem

Based on the idea that the Sacramento region is “primed for success” in launching new businesses, but that entrepreneurs needed help in getting started, Mark Haney and Monique Brown founded a new business accelerator based in Rocklin—the Growth Factory.  On March 10,...

Venture Catalyst Expanding at UC Davis

Venture Catalyst Expanding at UC Davis

Janine Elliott was our guest on October 12 for a Perspectives podcast, explaining her new role.  She comes to us from 6 years at VentureWell in Amherst, MA, one of the best- funded and most complete tech incubators, and from the Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator, which...

The Other Path to Decarbonizing Transportation

The Other Path to Decarbonizing Transportation

Both California and New York have declared they want people to buy only EVs starting in 2035 and more states are considering joining the push.  But that leaves the existing 276 million gasoline and diesel vehicles still on the road in the US (31 million in California)...

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Sierra Energy Moves Up to the Big Leagues

Sierra Energy Moves Up to the Big Leagues

By now the news has spread that FastOx waste gasification system innovator Sierra Energy in Davis has scored a new $33 million investment (see the press release).  That in itself is a big deal.  Sierra has made great strides in generating interest and enthusiasm in its product, a fact we discussed in our prior updates and meetups on them.   They have over 1,000 serious customers in their pipeline.

What has not gotten much attention is where the new investment is coming from and what this could mean to the region.  The biggest catch in the syndicate of investors is Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures. It is the cornerstone of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition which brings together some of the biggest names in technology—18 companies and institutions like GE, Engie from Europe, Virgin, National Grid, and Reliance Industries of India plus 30 deep-pocketed individuals from around the world representing over $170 billion in personal wealth—Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson, Tom Steyer, Jeff Bezos, Marc Benioff (Salesforce.com), Jack Ma (Alibaba), Ratan Tata (Tata Group), and Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) among others.  One of the institutions is a syndicate of ten oil and gas companies pledging $1+ billion itself to invest in companies pursuing climate change solutions. This is definitely the Big League of clean tech investment.

The Breakthrough initiative identifies five long-term grand challenge areas  in which to focus its investments (their Landscape of Innovation)—clean electricity, low-carbon transportation, sustainable agriculture, low GHG manufacturing, and high-efficiency buildings.  Sierra Energy is their 19th investment so far since their founding in 2015.  Their intent is to be a more stable and consistent investor in energy R&D and commercialization than individual governments.  

This is quite a feather in Sierra CEO Mike Hart’s cap and a testament to his persistence to bring the FastOx technology to market over the past two decades.  But is it also an event that really puts the region on the radar screen of clean technology investors. If Bill Gates and his friends can find a great investment here, there surely must be more…the story goes.  The news spread rapidly through national news organs, like Fast Company, the Green Car Congress, and a slew of trade journals. It provides one of those all-important “Proof Points” that investors seek. For that reason, we should celebrate Sierra’s success even more enthusiastically. 

Thomas Hall

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStarts Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

TripHammer: Energy Storage Power Plants

TripHammer: Energy Storage Power Plants

Although California has a grid rich with renewable power sources, it has a hard time handling the volatility inherent to renewables and the new demands coming from electricity users. Solar, for example produces all of its energy during the day at non-peak hours. With no effective way to store the energy generated, solar power plants are forced to curtail their output, send electricity to other states or sell at negative prices. 

his is where TripHammer, founded and directed by Peter, comes in.TripHammer has a solution for power storage by using Lithium-Ion batteries in large facilities near electric substations that will replace traditional gas burning power plants. Not only will TripHammer’s solution lower the carbon footprint with its zero emissions, it will also drastically lower the reaction time necessary to meet quick spikes in power demand. 

Peter has 8 years of experience in the solar industry and wants to be at the forefront of the energy storage revolution. At CleanStart we have seen several people identify the problems Peter is working to fix. The electric power grid is far more complicated than just plugging things in, and knowledge of how the grid works and where it is going in California informs Peter’s hunch. TripHammer’s idea of replacing older, slower, and dirtier electric generating infrastructure with sustainable technologies make sense. As Peter highlighted, aging parts of the grid are strategically sited for new infrastructure to harness the power and the financial economics of the wholesale energy market. With his expertise, Peter is building TripHammer to combat not only macro problems but also regional power issues.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christian is in his senior year at California State University, Sacramento where he is studying electrical and mechanical engineering. His love for technology, the great outdoors, personal growth and giving back have driven him to become involved in clean tech where he hopes to learn about and contribute to the local clean technology sector.

Profile: Vortex Green Energy

Profile: Vortex Green Energy

Did you know that 20-40% of the energy produced by utilities is wasted? A Sacramento based company called Vortex Green Energy has a solution to this problem by using TriPac Systems’ phase angle synchronization (PAS) technology using machine learning to combat energy waste.

The reason that 20-40% of energy produced is wasted is because of phase shift creating “reactive power”. This phenomenon is caused by inductive loads (think motors, HVAC, refrigeration) the unused portion of reactive power is still in the magnetic field, out-of-phase and attempting to return to the generator.

This known issue dates back to the 1920s and capacitor banks are the current fix to this problem. The industry pioneers’ Capacitor banks are rather crude in our computerized society, requiring extensive site engineering and regular maintenance. They always apply too much or too little capacitance, never saving energy but changing where the losses occur.

However, Vortex Green Energy’s goal is to cut those costs (on the utilities side) by introducing the PAS system in industrial and commercial sites

With up to 0.992 efficiency Vortex Green Energy believes they can reduce the utilities reactive power output by over half. Not only that, it also requires no cooling and requires little maintenance. This is achieved through proprietary machine learning that is able to make power corrections in fractions of a cycle.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christian is in his senior year at California State University, Sacramento where he is studying electrical and mechanical engineering. His love for technology, the great outdoors, personal growth and giving back have driven him to become involved in clean tech where he hopes to learn about and contribute to the local clean technology sector.

Orange is the New Bike: JUMP Bikes in Sacramento

Orange is the New Bike: JUMP Bikes in Sacramento

If you are familiar with transit you know one of the biggest issues is the last mile problem.  How do people go the last mile from mass transit to their destination?  Cities have spent millions trying to fix this problem, with public bike share programs. Well, now some companies are trying their hand at a solution.

In Sacramento, JUMP is leading this investment push with their shared-use bikes now and with the recent release of JUMP scooters.  Working with Sacramento Regional Transit (RT), JUMP believes they can connect more people to RT by helping passengers go from their homes to RT, from RT to their destination, and then back.  If they succeed in their goal of having bikes, cars, and public transit on their app, they can help people find the most sustainable and cost effective way to travel.

Now they are in over 17 cities across the country and internationally, with its highest utilized deployments in California.  JUMP bike has about 900 bikes and 100 scooters in the area now, with big expansion plans. JUMP’s activity in Sacramento is far more than just dropping their assets (bikes and scooters) on the sidewalk, like other companies have in other cities.  Their investments include having their deployment warehouse in West Sacramento, another warehouse in North Natomas where the assembling all their bikes deployed on the West Coast locally, collaborating with SMUD to benefit Uber drivers who have EVs, and working directly with regional cities to grow with their input.

Connecting with the region is important because access to transportation is key in equitable development. When JUMP was first released they were criticized for not reaching low-income high minority (LIHM) areas.  When they expanded their Sacramento area in November 2018 from 14 to 25 Sq. Mi, half of it was in LIHM areas and followed it with the JUMP boost plan for low income residents. There still are areas that need jump bike and the out of service fee is still there, but for private investment it has helped.

This is all part of Uber’s bigger goal of providing a central service for planning one’s daily transportation. They envision themselves as an Amazon of transit, becoming a platform for people to access transportation assets.  This means expanding their payment platform to work with public transportation, making a transportation scheduling app allowing for planning your trip across different modes, and (we hope) providing access to all modes of mobility through partnerships, not just those owned by Uber.  For it to become the Amazon of transit, regional companies and startups (like Glide Cruisers and Marrs Cycles) should look to partner with with the Uber mobility platform to make their products available.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, Moss Adams GreenbergTraurig

BlueTech Valley, PowerSoft.biz, Revrnt, Synbyo, Califronia Mobility Center

Highlands Power Making Waves in Clean Mobility

Highlands Power Making Waves in Clean Mobility

What is the most delicious electric motor in the world?  It could be the “pancake”. Also known as the Axial Flux Motor, it is considered the most efficient and powerful types of electric motor, but also one of the hardest to successfully build. Building an axial flux motor that is incredibly powerful as well as easily manufactured is a tall order, but Highlands Power is looking to develop just such a motor here in Sacramento.

The Axial Flux Motor Highlands is looking to produce is different from the traditional Radial flux motor in that the Magnetic Flux travels parallel to the axis of rotation as opposed to out from the center.  What does that mean for the the measurables of the motor? It means much less weight and a more compact motor (“flat as a pancake”) compared to the much heavier conventional motor. It also means more efficiency and in electric transportation, efficiency is king.

There is nothing particularly new about the idea of an axial flux, pancake motor.  What Highlands has done is to make one out of lightweight materials that can deliver surprisingly high torque, eliminating the need for a gearbox. Called the S-ONE, Highlands’ motor delivers a much better torque-to-weight ratio than current production motors. In addition, the motor is stackable, meaning if more power is needed units can be ganged together to generate as much power and torque as the vehicle needs. It is designed to be relatively low cost as well. This versatility is the cornerstone of Highlands’ plan and believes it is the key to developing more affordable electric vehicles.

The S-ONE uses an entirely new new motor layout, cooling system and manufacturing process to produce 3-4x the torque of current drivetrain motors without increasing size, weight or cost. All this performance is held in an all-composite, shock resistant housing that helps the S-ONE withstand the toughest environments on and off road. These advancements in motor technology can significantly reduce the cost of an electric vehicle and make EVs more accessible to mass market consumers.

Connor Whaley

CTO, Highlands Power

Conner Whaley, CTO of Highlands has been aggressively pursuing building this motor  for the past several years. Now, Highlands is refining the S-ONE to be ready for production and scale in the near future. At this point, more than ten automotive suppliers and OEMs are awaiting one of the 25 third-generation prototype motors to be built by Highlands for benchtop and in-vehicle testing. We look forward to hearing more as they grow and push the electiric transportation revolution forward. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | Tobin, Moss Adams GreenbergTraurig

BlueTech Valley, PowerSoft.biz, Revrnt, Synbyo, Califronia Mobility Center


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