We interview Tiya Gordon, co-founder and COO of itselectric charging, winner of CoMotion LA’s 2022 LA New Mobility Challenge.
What’s your background and what led you to start itselectric?
I have been working for the last 20 years here in NYC on public facing design and technology. This is effectively any hardware and software interface designed to be used (and abused) by the public. Nathan’s background (co-founder) brings in architecture, construction, and oversight of specialty engineering to the mix.
But itselectric was born from the fact that Nathan and I both live in cities, we both live in apartments, we were both very interested in EVs, and we both quickly realized that we would have nowhere to conveniently charge a vehicle should we convert from gas-powered. Back in 2021 we figured someone had to be working on a solution. We asked around, we researched and we waited. Nobody was presenting an easily scalable solution that could allow the 40 million drivers in the US who street-park like we do to go EV. So, we made a bet that if we could come up with a solution – we would hit “stop” on our professional career tracks and use our 40 combined years of experience to create a company that uses design to wage war against the Climate Crisis.
What are the main challenges itselectric is trying to solve?
At roughly 27 percent, greenhouse gas emissions from transportation are the largest contributor of U.S. Greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. needs more EV chargers. The Biden White House has set a goal of 500,000 public chargers installed by 2030 and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provides $7.5 billion to help get there.
While home chargers, public parking garages, and commercial parking lots are a part of the EV charging equation, we need to build chargers in urban neighborhoods, where these options are out of reach. Essentially, to hit emission reduction goals and get fossil fuel burning cars off of the street, we have to figure out how to provide charging infrastructure to the millions of drivers that park on the street.
How are you supporting cities to achieve their mission of rolling out easy access for EV charging and how do they benefit?
Throughout cities, millions of drivers park their cars on the street and cannot transition to electric vehicles without convenient and affordable on-street charging infrastructure. itselectric is accelerating the rate of adoption of EVs by providing communities with scalable and simple curbside EV charging that seamlessly integrates into their neighborhoods.
itselectric’s solution ensures that every community – no matter the median income or prevalence of driveways and garages – has access to clean transportation.
itselectric’s “behind the meter” approach results in zero impact on municipal budgets. We partner with cities across the U.S. to install, operate and maintain chargers at no cost to the city or to the host property owner – all while allowing property owners to earn passive income every month!
How can cities connect with you to partner up and what’s the onboarding process?
We highly encourage cities to reach out to us via email to explore itselectric as your city’s EV charging network solution. Once a city partners, we work together to define the permitting process; allowing us to work with each municipality to craft a deployment plan that addresses the needs of areas with high-adoption in handshake with areas with low or no adoption; allowing visible infrastructure that will encourage those communities to feel confident in a future choice to go EV by being able to see where they can charge an EV in their own neighborhoods.
How does itslectric compare to other EV charging providers?
The majority of EV charging networks are focused on building DC fast-charging stations along highways and in parking lots. While others focus on installations on private property such as private garages. These companies have limited interest in publicly-accessible, curbside charging in cities. Additionally the handful of truly curbside charging solutions are deploying slowly, burdened by high costs of connecting directly to a utility main, and charger equipment design that requires too much space and is easily damaged.
This leaves the companies, like ours, to tackle the challenge and we do this by differentiating ourselves through our approach to (1) our hardware and (2) the way that we power our chargers.
(1) We are the only U.S. EV charging provider that has a small scale footprint to make sure we blend into residential contexts. Other companies deploy hardware where large charging cables are attached (like a gas pump) leaving the cables dangling on the street when they are not in use. In our opinion this will never work on city blocks. In contrast, our chargers are simple, clean posts. We send each customer that signs up for itselectric a detachable charging cord that they can keep in their car, leaving a clean neighborhood post in place when the charger is not in use by a vehicle.
(2) We partner with neighborhood property owners to unlock access to untapped electricity supply from their homes, schools, and commercial buildings while they earn passive income for letting their electric panel power our chargers. They never see their bill go up, instead they just receive monthly passive income based on the number of charge events that occur!
How do you work with property owners and how do they benefit?
Property owners can request a charger directly from us, once we receive approval from the city, installation can begin at no cost or hassle to the property owner. Once our chargers are installed they provide property owners with an additional stream of monthly passive income.
The Panel of Experts at CoMotion LA ’22 unanimously voted to select you as the winner of our LA New Mobility Challenge. How was this opportunity for you and what are you looking forward to?
We are incredibly honored to be selected as the winner of CoMotion’s LA New Mobility Challenge, given how every finalist in the competition is doing incredible work in the urban mobility space.
We are looking forward to transforming the entire approach to EV charging in cities across the country; ensuring EV charging is accessible to all drivers regardless of where they live.
Where do you envision itselectric a year from now?
A year from now we envision itselectric back on the stage at CoMotion LA and saying the very same thing we heard from Dan Saunders, Founder of Zeti and 2020 LA New Mobility Challenge winner: That winning at CoMotion is what really started everything for their company. With itselectric’s first U.S. pilots rolling out for Q1 2023 we can’t wait to see what’s next in our work to help cities go electric.