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.