We’ve been sifting through our oracle visions of the best founding teams to be sourced. We’ve got ex-NRG Energy’s team saving us all from the carbon emissions of your building. We also have former Pinterest engineers — who developed the internet’s actual bulletin board (and the best source of cat and yarn pictures) — empowering creatives on the blockchain.
It’s interesting how different formula for a successful team can be! We’ve come across the corporate tycoons who changed route, and the beginners who pivoted for a spot. The ones who already come from startups, and those only beginning to try their hand at starting up.
Station A : Automating for zero carbon emissions
If you’re at the office and you can envision the hefty power bill your workplace runs on, this startup is a guilt-tripper. Founded in San Francisco in 2018, Station A helps clean-energy developers and users get their buildings to zero carbon emissions. Through ML and AI, they find the most affordable and accessible energy options needed. They have raised $1M in seed from Powerhouse Ventures and other, mainly angel investors. Because carbon emissions are not fauna at all (terrible environmental pun)!
Station A founders have a lot of affinity already having worked together at NRG Energy as a team before spinning off their software and analytics platform.
Kevin Berkemeyer , CEO
Kevin was VP Innovation Implementation at NRG Energy, where he worked on Station A before spinning it off into a separate company. Through the platform, he was able to develop over 2,000 MW of clean energy projects. He was a Research Fellow at MIT Energy Initiative, and later became a board member at Spirae for renewable solutions.
But it’s on the other side of the planet where he claims to have grown the most . He was China Country Manager for three years at First Solar, one of the pioneers in the field. He has an MBA from MIT, and a Bachelor’s in Global Economics and Spanish Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Here’s a really interesting infographic he tweeted on energy in the US over the past six decades. It highlights the top five power generating states, consumption patterns, and the hotspot where 46% of US energy comes from!
Sam Steyer , Head of Analytics
Steyer is a Data Scientist and Software Engineer who also grew from the NRG Station A group. He was Product Manager of Energy Analytics leading the team automating energy resources. One of his most interesting endeavors was managing the 2Seeds Masoko Project, creating a cell-phone-based system for the largest crop market in Tanzania.
He was also an Analyst at the Advanced Energy Economy, California, a kind of really important clique for cool environmentalists and entrepreneurs. He holds an MS in Computational and Mathematical Engineering from Stanford, and a Bachelor’s in Applied Mathematics from Harvard.
Jeremy Lucas , Head of Engineering
Jeremy is a software engineer who worked on various projects beginning as a Senior Software Engineer at Shopzilla, which was acquired by The E. W. Scripps Company. He then became Lead Engineer at mobile commerce platform URX, a startup that was doing so well it was acquired by Pinterest.
He joined NRG’s Station A as Senior Engineer, to then become Head of Engineering in less than two years. It seems like everything Jeremy touches eventually gets acquired, so we’re looking out for Station A’s future success. He studied Computer Science at Saddleback College.
Manos Saratsis , Head of Product
“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” Manos writes on the importance of quantifying our footprint. He was Product Manager of Geospatial Analytics in NRG Inc. For the Station A platform, he managed the development of an $800,000 annual revenue generating SaaS product.
He has an MS in Architecture Studies, Architecture and Urbanism from MIT, and a Bachelor’s in Architectural Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens.
If you’re not sure what a grid solution is or thought that geospatial is your car’s GPS monitor, you can read his blog post on cities and a carbon-neutral future.
MakersPlace : Empowering creativity on blockchain
MakersPlace is a platform for digital creators (i.e., artists, designers, photographers, writers) to sell their work through blockchain. “Is this another viral CryptoKitties platform?” you ask. “No. Sadly not everything on the internet is about cats,” we answer. This San Francisco-based startup, founded in 2018, verifies two features that art cannot go without: authenticity and scarcity. The tech behind this allows creatives to account for the full value of their work.
Despite the digital world being so conveniently accessible, it is a double-edged sword. Digital creators are hindered by how easily the world can exchange copies of photos, songs, or videos. CEO Daniel Chu writes , “digital content has always been intangible due to its nature of being easily replicated and shared. But, with a blockchain, the record of ownership can’t be replicated.”
MakersPlace is made up of former Pinterest techies who engineered the product to success. They come with the expertise of building a highly visual and engaging network meant to become the internet’s pinboard. You can count on them to bring the powerful aesthetics and operations of the creative market to their new venture.
Daniel Chu , CEO
Daniel has over 10 years of experience in building and scaling products as cool as Pinterest. In fact, you know a startup is going places when its founder once created a Virality team as Head of Activation Engineering (Growth) at Pinterest. He also co-founded Foodora Inc., a Y Combinator ’09 company.
On leaving Pinterest, Daniel writes that every Christmas he would ask himself the question, “Are you globally optimizing for both your career and impact to society for the next 5+ years?” The answer, he muses, had always been a yes, until Pinterest had passed 200M active users. “I could either further reinforce its mission as a senior leader or venture out to apply my learnings toward a new underserved problem.” Daniel has kept his word!
Daniel has a BS in Mathematics, Computer Science, and Software Engineering from the University of Waterloo.
Yash Nelapati , CTO
Yash built the first prototype of Pinterest as Founding Engineer. Pinterest is ideated to be a visual pinboard, so you can imagine the immense role of web engineering here! Yash later scaled it to hundreds of millions of Pinterest users (you know yourselves). He also worked with Design Reactor and Symantec as a web developer.
Yash has an MS in Software Engineering from San Jose State University. In his spare time, he picks up on his photography skills . Here is our favorite photo of his, of Los Gatos Downtown!
Ryoma Ito , Head of Marketing
Ryoma’s experience reminds us of how versatile a marketing pro needs to be! Kicking off his career as Program Manager at Microsoft, he soon joined the ever-growing field of e-commerce. Ryoma stood ground in the field as VP of Product Management at Specialdeals.com, now acquired by PayEVER.com. He also worked at Mertado (acquired by Groupon), where he co-invented their Embedded Shopping Unit — a way to pop on your online games, web browsing, and entire online presence.
He recently built his own e-commerce business Varinode funded by Plug and Play Tech Center. “Started from scratch, and grew it to profitability. Strategy, market research, requirements gathering, ux, ui, development, testing, marketing, sales, customer service, operations. I got my hands dirty with it all,” he writes . Seeing that MakersPlace has such an active online presence, we now know we must have Ryoma to thank!
He studied Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo.
As you can tell, it’s difficult for us sleep-deprived data wizards to find one spell for a unicorn. Until we find that impossible one, VCs, feel free to Wingardium Leviosa your way into the next soaring startups.
How do we shortlist companies?
Aingel’s Sorcerer is designed to help you discover great startups early.
Here is how we do it in a nutshell. First, we use different sources and automated tools to detect new startups early. Then, we analyze and filter for startups that score high on our proprietary predictive algorithm. The algo was developed at NYU by Aingel’s co-founders.
Founding teams data include educational background, work history, startup experience and personality. We deduce character traits using AI from founders’ digital footprint. We also analyze aggregate team experience and composition.
The list above is further curated after analyzing types of startups to make sure they are VC-friendly. Startups do not pay to be listed.
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