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Volta is making Money and Saving the World.

If new tech­nol­o­gy excites you then you’re not alone Scott Mer­cer and Michael Menen­dez have thought about what thrills them and it turns out that EV and mar­ket­ing is what gets their blood pump­ing. These two had found­ed San Fran­cis­co-based Vol­ta Indus­tries back in 2010. Vol­ta is reimag­in­ing the way groups think about social issues. The com­pa­ny start­ed by test­ing their vision in Hon­olu­lu by offer­ing free elec­tric car charg­ing ser­vices, it just turns out that Hawaii has the high­est per capi­ta pop­u­la­tion of elec­tric car dri­vers in the Unit­ed States.

The mis­sion of Vol­ta (jobs at Vol­ta) is use the EV infra­struc­ture to get peo­ple moti­vat­ed to move in a direc­tion that will have a new social impact. The two co-founders were able to con­vince local brands to fund the project in return for adver­tis­ing. The idea is that com­pa­nies which have a vest­ed inter­est in local com­mu­ni­ties and the envi­ron­ment will sup­port them by fund­ing free elec­tric car charg­ing. Vol­ta believes every­one has an out­let for tak­ing action to make the com­mu­ni­ty bet­ter. Believe it or not, this pro­gram has had a tremen­dous impact. The first tests were in promi­nent shop­ping malls in Honolulu.

Vol­ta plans on repeat­ing this per­for­mance with the free EV charg­ing sta­tion net­works at high-vol­ume retail loca­tions in Los Ange­les, Phoenix, San Diego and across the San Fran­cis­co Bay Area. Over­all, Vol­ta expects to have 400 charg­ing sta­tions installed across its first five cities by year-end. To make this even more excit­ing Vol­ta announced that the com­pa­ny has closed a $4.5 mil­lion Series A equi­ty cap­i­tal round led by Three Bridges Ven­tures and a $3 mil­lion project financ­ing facil­i­ty pro­vid­ed by SQN Capital.

“Ear­ly Inter­net pio­neers like Google became indus­try titans by first offer­ing free con­sumer ser­vices online paid for by com­pa­nies that adver­tised on their plat­forms,” Mer­cer said. “With Vol­ta, we’re apply­ing a sim­i­lar busi­ness mod­el to infra­struc­ture to align social good and com­mu­ni­ty ser­vices with like-mind­ed brands and retail part­ners that want deep­er engage­ment with the com­mu­ni­ties that they oper­ate in.” They’ve already acquired a rela­tion­ship with 7 of the top 10 nation­al real estate invest­ment trusts to pro­vide pre­mi­um retail loca­tions for the deploy­ment of addi­tion­al infrastructure.

“We’re dri­ving the price of both the ser­vice and the infra­struc­ture to zero as we tap major brands to join our com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment mod­el. We’ve seen ear­ly suc­cess with com­pa­nies like Macy’s, Whole Foods Mar­ket, and Sungevi­ty, and we expect that list to expand as we grow.” Liz Lud­wig, senior vice-pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing at Sungevi­ty stat­ed “We believe in Volta’s mis­sion to make liv­ing sus­tain­ably eas­i­er, and are proud to be a part of the shift to increase EV adoption.”

To date, Vol­ta has secured a total of $12.5 mil­lion of equi­ty and project financ­ing. In addi­tion to Three Bridges Ven­tures, River­wood Cap­i­tal and exist­ing seed investors 500 Star­tups and Epic Ven­tures also joined in the Series A round. They’re con­vinc­ing cor­po­ra­tions behind lead­ing brand-name con­sumer prod­ucts to fund free social­ly and envi­ron­men­tal­ly ben­e­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ty ser­vices in return for high-pro­file adver­tis­ing space, social and “green” cred­i­bil­i­ty, as well as access to mar­ket data.

On a larg­er, longer term scale Vol­ta wants to bring all this free car ener­gy to the top 20 major U.S. cities in the next four years claimed Mer­cer. The now 24 per­son team is look­ing at cities based on their adop­tion of EV and the local incen­tives for buy­ing EV’s. At present Vol­ta owns, oper­ates and main­tains the 30-amp, mid-speed Lev­el 2 EV charg­ing sta­tions it is installing. Based on Volta’s designs and with its over­sight, they are being man­u­fac­tured here in the U.S. by Peer­less in Chica­go and Walk­er Corp. in Los Ange­les. Like all tech busi­ness­es, they are look­ing at the next upgrad­ed ver­sion. Maybe you should be pon­der­ing if you could be that ver­sion in their offices as an employee.


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