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Electric Era wants to put an EV charger in convenience store parking lot near you

Before starting Electric Era, Quincy Lee was one of the chief mechanical engineers at Space X. He got bored of doing space stuff when the climate crisis was happening down here on Earth and decided to do something about one of the biggest challenges with the adoption of electric vehicles: Distributed high-speed charging infrastructure.

"I spent seven years at SpaceX cutting my teeth on rockets and satellites. While watching a rocket launch from SpaceX mission control in 2018, I saw the Earth recede in size as the rocket flew away into the void of space. WTF, I thought to myself," says Lee, the company's founder and CEO, in an interview with TechCrunch. "Why am I spending all my time sending tech away from Earth when humanity is about to burn to a crisp from climate change. That is dumb."

The company just raised $4 million (bringing its total raised to $8 million) to tackle this challenge, with fast-charging EV stations, especially aiming to install them at and near convenience stores. That makes them eligible for President Biden’s National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, enabling it to tap into the $5 billion program.

The business model makes sense: 7-Eleven claimed it's gearing up to install charger stations at 500 of its locations by the end of the year and last year, Shell claimed it is wants to add 500,000 charging points by the end of 2025. The market may soon be ready for some consolidation, come to think of it.

Electric Era announced that it has secured its investment from Proeza Ventures, Blackhorn Ventures, Liquid 2 Ventures and previous strategic investors including Remus Capital. The company also added another SpaceX veteran to its payroll — Sam Reineman, who served as Lead Mechanical Engineer at the Musk-powered company. He joins as Electric Era's CTO to help accelerate the production and delivery of the PowerNode Platform to customers.

"Blackhorn, Proeza and Joe Montana's Liquid 2 ventures are outstanding. They are deeply technical and top tier climate investors. They are super intense about deep decarbonization, first principles thinking and outstanding business strategy, said Lee. "The PowerNode Platform is the most affordable EV fast-charging solution. We built it to avoid costly demand charges and grid upgrades, making it the ideal choice for convenience stores — particularly those looking to qualify for NEVI grants."

The idea is that the platform reduces grid requirements and demand charges by a third, while supporting fast-charging speeds. The upshot is that this enables convenience stores to replicate the gas station experience while optimizing revenue and minimizing the costs of fast-charging, keeping them in the game in a new round of competition with gas stations and charging infrastructure.

"Our tech allows us to build Tesla SuperCharger-like stations at every gas station in America in weeks instead of years. We are laser focused on having 10,000 PowerNode charging stations installed by 2030," claims Lee, painting a picture of aggressive market expansion in the future: "Electric Era was founded to make EV fast-charging ubiquitous and affordable. In 10 years you will be able to autonomously charge your Rivian or CyberTruck on every street corner in America at our charging stations."

Not a moment too soon; EV charging is desperate for a business model, as Tim explored in a recent post, and inviting EV drivers into convenience stores and fast food establishments might be just the thing to tip the scales.

The company is facing stiff competition, as a huge number of EV charging companies have raised money in the past year, all trying to take on different slices of the same market. Loop lassoed in $60 million, Bump charged ahead with $180 million, Monta climbed a $30 million mountain of cash and Kopperfield made $5 million appear, just to list a few of the recent rounds.