When electric vehicle drivers park their cars, most plug into one of 30,000 ChargePoint charging stations to stay topped up. ChargePoint claims to be the world’s leading electric vehicle (EV) charging network, but the company doesn’t own the stations on its network. Instead, stations are independently owned and operated by businesses that want to attract and engage employees and customers who drive EVs. All those charging stations need to be maintained.
That’s where ChargerHelp! comes in. Evette Ellis is part of a two-woman team with Kameale C. Terry that launched clean tech company ChargerHelp! in January 2020 — the first and only app that supports electric vehicle charging repairs, according to the company.
When the charging stations malfunction, ChargePoint technicians troubleshoot issues that may be preventing drivers from successfully charging their cars. The problems are diagnosed and repaired at stations run by their partners, according to dot.L.A.
A cleantech company, ChargerHelp! aims to improve environmental sustainability.
Here are seven things to know about cleantech entrepreneur Evette Ellis.
Ellis hails from Compton, Calif., and spent the last 15 years working with young adults to create professional development opportunities, according to Code Six Media Group. During her career, Ellis worked with the U.S. Department of Labor Job Corps, where she served as a career transition and outreach specialist. There, she developed and maintained workforce development programs for the last seven years, according to her LinkedIn profile.
She is now co-founder and chief workforce officer for ChargerHelp!
Ellis is passionate about diversity and inclusion, and at ChargerHelp! makes a concerted effort to hire a diverse workforce. One of the goals of her EV tech startup is to create more full-time jobs that pay a living wage.
“It’s a living wage. Our goal was for folks not to have to work two to three jobs to make ends meet or to get the things that we like, to live comfortably and support your family,” Ellis told Spectrum News 1.
With ChargerHelp! she and her partner are taking a workforce-development approach to finding employees. In 2021, the company received more than 1,600 applications for electric vehicle service technicians in its first recruitment round. They selected 20 applicants to go through training, and 18 were ultimately hired to service contracts across six states, including California, Oregon, Washington, New York, and Texas, TechCrunch reported. Each person ChargerHelp! picked to go through training was paid a stipend and earned two safety licenses.
All workers are full-time with a guaranteed wage of $30 an hour and are also given shares in the startup.
“I’m ferocious when it comes to treating our technicians with dignity and respect and equity and paying them,” Ellis told Impact Alpha. She said she witnessed her father treated poorly at work for decades and wanted to make sure her workers were treated fairly. To that end, she said she pushed for and won an official designation from the U.S. Department of Labor for “electric vehicle supply equipment technician” to legitimize the career path and help ChargerHelp source talent from federally-funded workforce development centers.
Currently, there are fewer than 46,000 EV public charging sites in the U.S., according to Department of Energy data. But President Joe Biden has unveiled plans to create 500,000 charging stations across the country. This will mean more business for ChargerHelp!
“We’ve created the way to fix these charging machines in a timely fashion,” Ellis told Spectrum News 1.
The company’s crew of technicians can respond to broken EV chargers in 24 to 48 hours and can fix a wide range of issues. While the company is described as an on-demand repair app, it also acts as a preventative maintenance service for its clients.
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Ellis and Terry raised $2.8 million from a half-dozen venture funds, Impact Alpha reported. Among the investors are Trucks VC, Kapor Capital, JFF, Energy Impact Partners, and The Fund. Before this, the founders raised $400,000 through grants and pitch competitions.
The company currently contracts with such clients as ABB, SparkCharge, EnelX, Xeal, and EV Connect, with plans to sign with nine other firms, and operates in California, Arizona, Florida, Colorado, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.
Before launching ChargerHelp!, Terry met Ellis at Los Angeles Clean-Tech Incubator.
The idea for ChargerHelp was sparked from Terry’s experience working at EV Connect, where she held several positions, including head of the customer experience and director of programs.
Terry spotted a gap in the EV charging market.
“When the stations went down, we really couldn’t get anyone on-site because most of the issues were communication issues, vandalism, firmware updates, or swapping out a part — all things that were not electrical,” Terry told TechCrunch.
The initial goal of ChargerHelp! was to secure a significant contract or two. Instead, the company has landed seven contracts with national charging networks, including ABB, SparkCharge, and EV Connect.
Photo: Evette Ellis, Twitter, https://twitter.com/ChargerHelp