BRITE Energy Innovators

Driving the Mission Home: Aligning Goals with Action in the EV Industry with Irina Filippova

Irina Filippova

Keywords:
clean energy revolution, coalescence, evs, infrastructure, power supply, vision, culture, team values, leadership, market segment

Listen on Spotify or watch on Youtube.

Introducing the first episode of our EV Month! Listen as special guest Irina Filippova and guest host Randy Cole kick off our exploration of the electric vehicle (EV) domain by discussing success stories and customer-centered approaches in the energy industry. Electrada is a prime example of a successful company that, through unwavering commitment to its vehicle electrification goals, has emerged as an industry leader. In this episode, Irina emphasizes the value of maintaining focus and discernment, especially for early-stage companies. She graciously acknowledges the support and introductions provided by BRITE and highlights the significance of sharing a clear mission in attracting like-minded, mission-driven individuals. This conversation sets the stage for EV Month, offering unique perspectives and knowledge for aspiring entrepreneurs and industry experts alike.

⁠Connect with Irina⁠ – https://www.linkedin.com/in/irinafili…

⁠Learn more about Electrada⁠ – https://electrada.com/

Transcript:

00:00 Irina Filippova To say that, no, we’re not chasing every BRITE opportunity out there. No pun intended.

00:07 Randy Cole Yeah, you’re not allowed to say not chasing BRITE opportunities. You can’t say that on our podcast.

00:14 Irina Filippova How about that? Oh no, that’s even worse.

00:23 Rick Stockburger Hello and welcome to BRITElights, where we explore the clean energy revolution together. I’m Rick Stockberger, the president and CEO of BRITE, and since this month is EV month, it only seemed fitting for BRITE and BRITElights to have EV month as well. And so we’re so excited about the opportunities that we have and the people that we’re going to be discussing with over the month of February. And what better co host to bring in than Randy Cole, who leads BRITE’s electrification strategy. He is our EV expert in residence and is somebody that has a depth and breadth of knowledge in the space. So, Randy Cole, welcome to BRITElights.

01:01 Randy Cole thank you, Rick. I love anytime we get to appear together in person in meetings because of your support, your knowledge and understanding of this, you do a great job. I’m hoping to just keep pace with you and ride those coattails, but I’d like to start by talking about the EV marketplace itself. I think we’re moving past the hype and into the transition, and that’s a big step. It’s not the hockey stick adoption that some predicted before the pandemic, but sales have doubled each of the last three years. Over 27 manufacturers sold evs in the US last year. Currently there are almost 3 million evs on the road, and one third of those are in California. But we’re seeing an uptick across the country, including here in Ohio and the midwest. On one side, the pandemic supply chain issues, concerns about the economy.

02:00 Randy Cole Rising interest rates have impacted EV sales. But on the other side, big announcements about coalescence. Did I just say coalescence? That seems like one of those big words that you’re not supposed to use in a podcast.

02:13 Rick Stockburger I think you can use it on a podcast anytime you want. Your goal, as our expert in residence is to use those big words and my big words. My job is to relate those big words to everybody else. So coming together, I think, is what you meant.

02:28 Randy Cole Okay, coalescence around the same connector type. So I probably shouldn’t list the connector types, but it is the naCs, the SAE J 3400 connectors. If we get to one standard plug, like our outlets for our lights and our appliances at home, it makes adoption easier. It makes using evs easier. So I think that’s a big step. But batteries are getting better. There are more chargers on the road and in homes. And EV prices are dropping, which is a big deal when lots of other prices are going up, as you know, under your direction. Rick BRITE supports the EV market through battery and equipment testing, market development, making introductions between companies, fundraising and investment, helping with federal funding, opportunities for small companies and growing companies. And when we look at evs, the strategy we have with emobility is three areas of focus.

03:28 Randy Cole Infrastructure, charger, manufacturing, installation, power supply, the grid. And we have a number of companies. We’re working with that in that space. Treehouse, which works with auto dealers and homeowners. Sky charge, which does residential and commercial charging, installation edge energy, which can create DC fast power from one phase power instead of three phase power, which maybe we’ll get to in another episode. Czar power, which increases solar opportunity and resiliency. Plug op, which does services and multifamily on the vehicle side, we work with batteries and components, and then in services, ride sharing, planning, charging, software, installation, planning, load balancing, sway. Mobility is a great one. They both do ride sharing and EV introduction on college campuses, which is a great opportunity. But the exciting thing today is one of the fastest growing and most innovative companies that we work with is electrada.

04:34 Randy Cole They have 360 degree charging as a service. They’ve developed a business model that includes infrastructure, vehicles, and services, all three in one company. So we’re fortunate today to have Irina Filipova with us today. She’s the chief operating officer for Electrada, and, well, quite frankly, she’s one of the most in tune, perceptive, well informed executives that I know in the industry, and she’s going to be able to share a lot today. We’re going to have a great conversation with Irina.

05:11 Rick Stockburger Awesome. Welcome, Irina. Excited to have you on BRITElights.

05:16 Irina Filippova Thank you. Thank you, Rick. Thank you, Randy. Always delightful to speak with both of you and to virtually meet the BRITE audience.

05:27 Rick Stockburger Well, we’re so excited to have you. And I think just having, you know, one of the things that I love about Ohio and is great is just a, it’s a big state, right? And we have a lot of talented people from across the state and a lot of history in the automotive. So, you know, I’m so excited to have you on today. You’re live in Cincinnati, Ohio, right now, I believe. Is that correct?

05:51 Irina Filippova I am indeed hailing from rainy Cincinnati this morning.

05:56 Rick Stockburger Well, the Queen city is always lovely, so I always love to start these conversations with some rails. And first and foremost, I like this because it’s the easiest question to ask just about anybody when you’re talking about a topic that they’re passionate about. But what makes you so excited about the electric vehicle revolution that we’re going through today?

06:20 Irina Filippova Yeah, I love this question, Rick, because we truly sit at the intersection of multiple industries in transition. And this transition is so transformative to the transportation industry, to the energy industry, to the technology and software industry that we need to continue to coalesce and bring together all the ecosystem partners across these industries to raise the bar on how climate infrastructure in all three of these sectors will actually work and serve us for decades to come. So it’s the sheer potential of this transformative change taking place in the marketplace right now that is exciting to many of us in this particular industry. And to me personally, it is the industry, and it’s the idea whose time has certainly come.

07:18 Irina Filippova And as we’ve seen and what Randy has just described in terms of market trends, many key actors in this industry have already voted in favor of transportation, electrification. And that trend is here to stay.

07:33 Randy Cole Yeah.

07:33 Rick Stockburger Well, first off, I mean, I think we have a title for today’s podcast, which is coalesce around the EV industry. So it’s awesome to talk about what we’re excited about. Right. But secondarily, with disruption, there can come fear or there can come things that scare you. Right. And so the second part of this rail is we’re so excited about the opportunity for this industry to coalesce and all the great things that we can do in the space. What scares you about what’s happening right now in the EV industry and how it’s growing?

08:07 Irina Filippova Well, Rick, I’ve been in the sustainability space for the past 17 years, and what’s been true for this industry across the board is that it can come and fits and starts. We’ve had lots of great ideas die in a vine or get frozen in time, and then we’ve had some other fantastic opportunities that actually got wind in their sails and developed further and taken over parts of the industry. So what I think is most concerning to me, and again, to a lot of my colleagues in this industry, is the oftentimes political nature of decisions that are being made with respect to electric mobility and the transformation that we’ve just talked about across the energy spectrum and the transportation spectrum. These types of changes should not be really a function of political winds blowing in a certain direction.

09:02 Irina Filippova They should be a function of economic and scientific principles that drive transformation and drive innovation. So again, we are here, we are continuing to drive the change, and we’re going along with the market and the market trend over a long period of time. But what’s always a concern for us is that the fits and starts may derail or frustrate progress for many of us.

09:34 Randy Cole All right, it’s time to ask Irina, who is Electrada? Not what is Electrada? Who is Electrada? Because everyone loves to hear more about people and stories. How did Electrada come to who’s. Yeah, dad joke. Who’s leading the charge?

09:54 Irina Filippova I love the pun, Randy. Thank you for that. Well, we’re all charged up, and we have been charged up from day one, and that is because we have entered the market for the idea whose time has come. We founded Electrada in 2019, and at that point in time, all the major automotive oems have already voted in favor of transportation electrification. So that is that important economic trend. And the orientation point, that guidepost, that gave us the confidence and gave our investor the confidence that this business has a future. This is not kind of an idea that’s really out there waiting for its market to shape and form and start demanding its services. No, indeed. We entered the market that already was shaping along a very long term trend.

10:57 Irina Filippova So Electrada was founded with a single threaded purpose, and that purpose was to bring reliable electric vehicle charging infrastructure to the market. What we have identified early on as an inevitable problem for a new technology that was being deployed was this issue of reliability. So Electrada was founded with this dna that reliability is the key to the success of the transition and then the transformation of the transportation industry. And while the market is still learning the lessons of early attempts to bring charging infrastructure on stream, where reliability was not necessarily taken as seriously as we’ve been taking it from day one, we’re seeing the results of those early attempts. So reliability was our number one focus.

11:58 Irina Filippova Secondly, we came in knowing that unless we owned and operated the infrastructure that we brought to market, we couldn’t truly stand by the commitments that we’re making to our customers. So this idea of being an owner and operator of everything that were deploying out there in the marketplace, that idea continued to stay strong and grow over time. And as our evolution has shown, this is really the only concept, the only model that is proving true, that is enabling us to provide this 99% uptime and stand by that commitment to our customers. So Electroda was founded on these two principles. And, of course, we’re a very customer focused company. Again, we’re a service company. We provide the service of electric fuel, the same concept that is currently live for conventional transportation. Right. Conventional transportation relies on major energy providers for conventional fuel.

13:05 Irina Filippova So we took that same concept and said, well, electric fuel should be just as ubiquitous, just as reliable, just as abundant as conventional fuel. And this is how we’ve built our value proposition over.

13:23 Rick Stockburger Going to. I was going to jump in here and say, irina, I love the leadership style of Electrada that’s always talking about the team and always talking about the product. But how did you and the CEO, Kevin Cushman, come together to create this thing? What’s your superhero origin story?

13:41 Irina Filippova Great question, Rick. Kevin and I actually did not know each other, did not work together prior to joining Electrada. So we’re throwing into the midst of standing up, essentially the startup in the midst of COVID We started operations on April 1, 2020, which was an amazing time to start any company, and especially a company in a burgeoning new industry, new segment. However, we did not make any excuses around the fact that there was a global pandemic going on. We got going right away. Thankfully, a lot of our work involves working outdoors or in parking lots, deploying charging infrastructure, so we could bypass a lot of the COVID restrictions just by the sheer nature of the work that were doing.

14:34 Randy Cole We could. Social distance without disruption.

14:38 Irina Filippova We could. Social distance without disruption, indeed. I was actually in Europe when we founded the company, so I was probably the only person on those cross atlantic planes during COVID Yeah.

14:53 Randy Cole So that core team, I’m just going to say anybody who has met you and Kevin has worked with the Electrata team would not believe you two didn’t work together before. But it is February. The Super bowl is coming up. I’d like to hear more about this winning team, because if you two started with this common vision and came together, then hired a core team, everyone’s gearing up for the Super bowl. But how did you create a common vision? Same way sports teams do. Right, these successful teams, but create a culture and keep that team together, because a lot of startups, that’s a very difficult part of the transition. The development is keeping a core team together. How have you guys done that? How do you make sure people are part the right fit?

15:43 Randy Cole And how long does it take to create that culture that you can then grow into a much larger organization from that core team?

15:52 Irina Filippova Great question, Randy. Great question. We always call ourselves a young company, but we are all sort of industry seniors, if you will. We have some gray hair in this.

16:06 Randy Cole That’s okay.

16:09 Irina Filippova I hope so. I hope so. In the sense that we have been in different working environments. We’ve experienced different types of cultures before coming together and operating Electrada. So from the very start, even when we just were a two person team, Kevin and I, we had an intentional view of the company culture. We knew that were going to be small. A lot of our competition or other players in the industry are multiple times, hundreds of times larger than ourselves. And our distinguishing characteristic and our distinguishing strength would be our team. So we took the kind of the setting of the cultural principles for Electrada into place early on to heart. The first thing that we agreed upon is that creating that psychological safety culture was very important.

17:05 Irina Filippova And what that means is that independent of their years in the industry, their backgrounds, visible and invisible diversity, folks joining Electrada should feel free to challenge anyone’s thinking on any subject, challenge the way that we do things, feel free to contribute their ideas, even if they went against the grain of what were doing before. And that really stuck. Now, we are a 27 person team, and we continue to reinforce this very notion. So we keep the channels of communication open. We reinforce the idea that everybody has ownership, of how this company will evolve and develop further. And we also reinforce the fact that unless we’re all aligned around what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and why we’re doing it, we won’t get to where we need to get to.

18:03 Irina Filippova So our values that we set in place very early on are listen, learn, trust, and transform. And those four values is something that we use internally. When we put a lens to ourselves as a team, as a leadership team, and as an extended team, these are the same values that we apply to our partners in the industry, to our customers, to our vendors, to everyone we come in contact with, because we believe that if we thread everything through with integrity and consistency, we will stand apart and we will be able to deliver the value that we promise to deliver to our customers.

18:46 Rick Stockburger Yeah, well, I love that. And I think kind of building that culture of an organization allows you to do some really unique things. So, from the beginning, was Electrata always focused on the industry and market segment that you’re focused on, or did this culture help you allow for pivots and allow for better understanding of your market going forward? How did that culture build into that? And then tell us about that journey on where you focus on the market and if you’ve made pivots.

19:16 Irina Filippova That’s an excellent question, Rick, because we indeed did pivot. However, we did stay absolutely true to those two principles. The DNA that I mentioned earlier, reliability of EV charging, infrastructure being one, and ownership and operation of our assets in the field. So while we started operations in a public, multi unit, residential, mixed use, commercial segment, workplace segment. Quite quickly we realized that the true transformation of this industry will happen in the fleet segment. This is where opportunity was greatest and the opportunity for co2 reduction, the opportunity for transformation and the opportunity for us to transform at scale. So in 2021, middle of 2021, we’ve made this pivot to electrification of fleet. We continue to maintain a portfolio of our non fleet deployments. We have about 300 ports, but our core focus right now is on fleet electrification across the board.

20:25 Irina Filippova So, yes, that pivot was enabled by the fact that we recognized an obvious market trend, also by the fact that we have continued to refine our own value proposition and listen to what the market was requiring of us, even if that meant that were a little bit ahead of where the market truly was in terms of stated demand. And we had to be patient with education and training and onboarding our counterparts in the market and bringing them closer to the idea of this 360 charging as a service that were looking to provide.

21:03 Randy Cole Well, first, Irina, you guys made the right pivot, right? Everyone’s beginning to understand there are a lot of people waiting for incentives and tax subsidies and government programs on charging and everything else, but the return on investment, the ROI for business and for a lot of EV operations is when you have a high use vehicle, right, you get up to 40, 50,000 miles a year. The cost curve, the change in the value of an EV really hits home. So you guys are going to where the market should be, which are high use vehicles, and you’re helping people do it.

21:39 Randy Cole You’ve mentioned a couple of times your partners in the marketplace, we talked about your internal culture, but how do you get an understanding of that whole EV ecosystem, which is, I think one of the things you guys have really figured out, 360 degrees is real. We talked about infrastructure and vehicles and services. You guys have really gained an understanding of that. But then you’ve evaluated and brought the right partners in who share your vision. How do you go through that when it’s outside of your building and it’s know partners, companies who have their own vision of what’s going on? How do you bring them in to help you guys achieve what you’re trying to achieve?

22:24 Irina Filippova Yeah, great question, Randy. Well, I guess the first thing I would say is that we try to enter this partner development from, again, the standpoint of the customer and from the customer’s perspective, the vehicle and the charging infrastructure are two sides of the same coin. If the vehicle doesn’t work properly, no matter how great your charging infrastructure is the overall value proposition to the customer falls on its face. Similarly, if the charging infrastructure is non performing, it makes the vehicle look bad. So our number one partner, I would say, in this marketplace, is the vehicle and the vehicle provider. So early on, we struck up a partnership with a fleet management company called Holman Enterprises, and some of our early customers came from within the Holman family. Later last year, we’ve announced partnership with Daimler Trucks North America.

23:23 Irina Filippova Again, looking at the trucking industry as a very important segment for electrification. The second component for us, again as the infrastructure provider, is the technology underlying EV charging in the minds of a lot of users, especially on the fleet side, because these are large companies that are used to their procurement practices and procurement cycles. Sometimes we come across a notion that charging infrastructure is just the same as buying any appliance, right? A charger is a charger, just like a tv or fridge would be, until it doesn’t work. And again, this is why the word infrastructure is so important in the process of customer onboarding and customer education early on in that origination process, because it is not an appliance. This is not just a unit that you can buy.

24:26 Irina Filippova This is really a whole host of activities that need to happen on a customer site owned or leased in support of a particular use case. Given the specific type of vehicles that this customer is looking to deploy, we’re looking to provide them with optimal infrastructure that will service their use case. I’ll give you an example. If you’re running trucks that can be charged by a level two or a DC fast charger, however, they dwell at a site for 12 hours a day, they can very easily charge with a level two charger over that twelve hour period. Right. And avoid demand charges. So we would actually place infrastructure that’s most cost efficient and yet again, still serve the customer use case so that the customer’s price for that electric fuel is actually reduced because our capital outlay is less.

25:25 Rick Stockburger That’s awesome. And I love that approach, too, because one of the things that I think you think about when you’re talking about an internal combustion engine or otherwise is like, you don’t really think about the infrastructure for the last 50 to 70 years other than the price at the pump, right. That’s the only thing that you kind of generally consider is like, oh, gas prices are more expensive right now. But one of the things that I love that I hear you and your team talk about all the time is just how do you reduce friction? That’s really the key to all of this adoption is how do we reduce friction? Like, what are the things that people are worried about? And how can our product, or how can this system solve that friction? And I really love your approach to that.

26:07 Rick Stockburger And I think that’s something that, from a startup standpoint or a new product development point, is something we talk about with all of our companies, for everything that everybody’s doing is how do you reduce friction to adoption? And I love kind of that analogy between the infrastructure and what’s going on in the space.

26:24 Randy Cole Well, Irina, I love the fact that you guys have that 360 degree view, right? Because again, working with growing companies, Rick, it’s either this is the whole market, where’s your niche? What’s your product differentiation, what’s your value? Prop and Electrada has instead gone the other way and saying, okay, if we’re going to be a part of this, we’re not going to just try to make the most money we can by being the best at one part of the ecosystem. We’re going to figure out the right solutions, understand our customers, and bring in partners that address all of it. And that’s very exciting, but it’s thoughtful and takes a lot of time, which I think is a Midwest value. Irina, and most of your business is in California. I mentioned my early comments.

27:13 Randy Cole A third of the evs in use in the United States are in California. Right. But you’re headquartered there, in Cincinnati, here in the heart of the Midwest. Why? What makes Ohio and the Midwest a good center of operations, even if most of your in the groundwork is happening in other parts of the country?

27:35 Rick Stockburger And sorry to jump in here, but not only that, but Irene, you said you were in Europe when you decided to become a co founder of this country or company. So you came from Europe to Ohio, like that’s amazing and we’d love to hear about it.

27:50 Irina Filippova Sure. I heard at least three questions, so let me try and maybe tackle them one by one. The first question is about risk and reducing risk. For Electrada, we don’t believe that the integration of all the various evolving, not yet 100% proven technologies should be borne by the customer. We believe that fleet customers are there to run their fleets. Right, to run their logistics operations. That’s what they do. We should not be expecting them to try and figure out the energy infrastructure supporting their logistics operations. The fact that they’ve made the commitment to transition to electric transportation is fantastic. So we are there to support that commitment and to support their achievement of their co2 reduction goals, their greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, their ESG goals, as companies. The other component of this is really the actual business model that we have in place.

28:56 Irina Filippova And that business model combines components that do not naturally fit with one another. We have the installation and construction component. Right? So you’ve got construction companies out there saying, this is our job, and we’re saying, no. Well, actually, we have to do everything from site evaluation to permitting to utility interface to actually selecting the technology and bringing it to market. So that component is. We call it the dirty fingernails component. We are doing it. Then there is a software component, right, that ensures that everything fits together and works together. And we rely on the open chargepoint protocol to make sure that our infrastructure not only works, but we can look into it and listen to it and interpret the signals that it’s giving us in order to manage it better.

29:47 Irina Filippova And then, of course, there is the customer success component, which is extremely important, because, again, for the customer, there’s a process of huge organizational change just around the vehicle, let alone around the energy infrastructure. So we’re there putting our arms around the customer saying, it won’t be easy, but we’re there to fill in the blanks. And sometimes we have to step up and do things that aren’t necessarily within our strict commercial remits, but we stretch out and ensure that the customer is comfortable, because we know very well, if they’re not comfortable with the adoption of new technology, they will not continue with the EV, quote unquote pilot program. Right. They will stop and wait until the market is more mature and until more of their competitors are doing the same within their industry.

30:36 Irina Filippova So we have to stretch out, make ourselves uncomfortable so our customer is more comfortable from day one. In terms of midwestern values, I think that’s very true. We stay humble. For example, when we received our initial backing from Blackrock in middle of 2021, when we started the pivot to fleet, we did not announce that to the market. It was announced in the press, because reporters do their research and it’s crave, they receive filings. But we did not announce the fact that we got funding because we believe that is not sufficient. We have to announce success stories. We have to announce what service we’ve actually successfully provided to our customers. And this is how we roll effectively. Right.

31:22 Irina Filippova We talk about things that we’ve achieved together with our ecosystem partners, rather than talking about things that don’t actually amount to very much other than the fundraising effort. Not to minimize that.

31:35 Randy Cole No, but I absolutely love that idea, Irina, that you talk about success stories, you talk about what’s happening, and you let other people talk about you. That’s great. That is kind of midwestern, though.

31:47 Irina Filippova Well, this is why we’re here now, right? You asked me to come on this podcast, and I think this is a testament to the fact that people want to know about our company and about our industry, because not every company in our industry, as we’re seeing it now, is surviving, is doing well, it’s faring well, even though back when we started in 2020, the stock market was alive and well, there was a lot of funding, kind of expanding this bubble in this industry. But we have always told ourselves is that we’re not going to get distracted, and this is a midwestern value. We’re not going to get distracted by the noise. We’re not going to be all sizzle and nostake. We have to focus on the actual meat of the work that we have promised the customer to deliver.

32:37 Irina Filippova And that is really our value all the way throughout. So we don’t go and talk to the press about things that are inconsequential. We want our customers to step up and vote with their feet. One of our customers has renewed already for the second wave of their electrification, and that is continuing to grow. And again, our performance has to speak for itself.

32:58 Rick Stockburger Yeah, well, I have kind of a selfish question that I always feel like is important to ask, or at least people tell me is important to ask. Electrada has been part of the BRITE ecosystem almost since day one. From that perspective. I remember Kevin reaching out and having lunch with Randy right when the pandemic was starting and all of that, not.

33:21 Randy Cole Necessarily.

33:25 Rick Stockburger Lunch outside and not necessarily specific to BRITE, but how important is it for emerging technology companies that are focusing on these breakthrough energy technologies to coalesce into an ecosystem, and where is that value? And how does being part of a startup ecosystem like BRITE offers help you as an organization get to your next milestones and achieve your goals?

33:54 Irina Filippova Great question, Rick. We have always been a part of an ecosystem, even at the very early stage of our evolution. There’s an organization called Centrifuge here in Cincinnati, and were very much helped by folks who were involved with it. Even our group of early investors, our angel investors, and a series a were all local investors, effectively folks who really understood our value proposition to the market. And that meant that our first projects, the homegrown projects, came from within that ecosystem. For any young entity, having an organization like BRITE, especially focused on energy in our geography, if you will, right in our part of the country, is extremely important, because again, we have to strengthen our voice amidst other voices that may be advocating for different technologies, advocating for different approaches. Sometimes. It’s also the voice of hubris, right?

35:04 Irina Filippova The voice that doesn’t want to change and wants to stay with the status quo. And we understand that it’s an ongoing dialogue. So for us, again, as a younger company, even though our scope and reach is national, it’s very important to have very strong roots right here in Ohio. And we continue to reach out to industrial companies, commercial companies who are based right here in the midwest, to say we can be working with fleets based in California. We understand why any national fleet player would want to start with California because incentives are much more robust, both for vehicles and charging infrastructure out there. But we also don’t have to wait until all the other states follow suit. We can start where we are. Energy and electricity is quite affordable right now in Ohio.

35:57 Irina Filippova And yes, we realize that the sources of power generation are still mostly conventional, but it still means that we can start the transformation and the transition to electric right here at home. And that means building and continuing to reinforce through different technologies around energy, the case that we’re trying to make here. And connecting the dots, again between energy, technology and transportation. And those dots are not natural because those three industries did not necessarily sit together and live together and rub shoulders together for the past 100 years. Right? So we have to continue to reinforce that coalescence between those three behemoths right here at home.

36:49 Randy Cole I had no idea what I was going to do when I brought that word in. It just came to mind. But the only other thought I have, Irina, is when you talk about ecosystems, we talk about the BRITE community specifically as an Eir, as a know one thing we are asked to do as much as anything else is make introductions. And I do not believe I ever said no to you guys for an introduction because of that humility you have, because of the groundwork you do, how you do what you do. I always knew if I introduced Electrada to a new partner or to someone you were trying to understand a market better, we would be well served because they’d go, oh, BRITE really does represent good companies.

37:32 Irina Filippova Thank you, Randy. We certainly appreciate the support you guys have been willing to provide to us, always lending a sympathetic listening ear to us and to our challenges and being ready to make those introductions, create those links. I will say that for any young enterprise, staying focused is a challenge, especially in the environment where there’s so much noise and so many government incentives flying around which necessarily create a distraction in our industry. For example, the Navy program and other public programs that exist there. Yes. This is the tide that rises all boats. This is the tide that hopes this overall adoption to go quicker. However, we’ve always been very clear about what we are and what we are not, about where we play and where we do not. And that sometimes means saying no to certain opportunities.

38:32 Randy Cole Absolutely.

38:34 Irina Filippova Very hard to do.

38:35 Rick Stockburger Oh, wow.

38:36 Irina Filippova It’s very hard to do. As a young company, you’re hungry for new projects, new business, for proving yourself. And that sometimes means that you’re talking about a bit too much, that integrity and staying true to your dna, to what you said you would do in the marketplace, to the value that you would deliver. That’s very important because it sends a signal to the market. It sends a signal to your partners like BRITE. And it also reinforces those values within your own organization and staff to say that, no, we’re not chasing every BRITE opportunity out there. No pun intended.

39:13 Randy Cole Yeah, you’re not allowed to say not chasing BRITE opportunities. You can’t say that on our podcast.

39:20 Irina Filippova How about that? Oh, no, that’s even worse.

39:23 Randy Cole No, but it’s funny, because what you’re talking about is discernment, right. In understanding an opportunity or a pivot versus a distraction that keeps you. And I loved your sailing analogy you just used there where you talked about tacking and navigating the waters. Again, you guys have done a great job with that. But for any young company, that is a big, important point of not getting distracted and instead understanding where there’s an opportunity or you need to make a pivot that’s keeping you on the course you should be on.

39:51 Rick Stockburger I guess the last question that I have for you, and we’ll keep it succinct, but this might be two questions. A, with that type of ecosystem, what would you do with it? What would you focus on and utilizing all of those voices that care about this space deeply and care about progress, what would you do if you were the CEO of BRITE?

40:16 Irina Filippova That’s a very hard question, Rick. You’re asking me to put myself into your shoes, and your shoes are very.

40:25 Rick Stockburger I’m usually. Our team is the one that’s asking the CEO questions. I don’t get to ask those questions that often.

40:35 Irina Filippova Well, I think, as is the case with a lot of your member companies, choosing your north Star, choosing your direction, and where you want your commitment to show up is the most important, single most important thing you can do. If your mission is crystal clear, people will align naturally to your mission. If you’re trying to be all things to all people, that’s a little bit less attractive. Right? It’s just trickier to choose who to work with, whom to bring into your ecosystem, and who perhaps is not quite the right fit for what you do. So clearly articulating what you’re here for and who you are is going to make it very easy for members of BRITE and new members of BRITE to join and for other companies to contribute, including alums of BRITE. Right.

41:32 Irina Filippova So it’s that navigation that you’re going to continue with the sailing analogy that you’re going to provide to others in your orbit that’s going to differentiate you from others.

41:45 Rick Stockburger Well, I appreciate you greatly. Thanks so much for that. And honestly, thanks so much for spending time here with Randy and I talking about all things vehicle electrification and your focus on fleet and your journey through this. I couldn’t be happier and more proud of all of the companies that are a part of BRITE’s ecosystem. But really, I think Electrada is a shining star of what can happen when you’re focused on a goal and you put a team together that is committed to that outcome. And so thanks so much for our listeners. If you want to learn more about Electrada, check out the show notes and you’ll find that down in the description. But thank you for tuning into this episode of BRITElights. I am Rick Stockberger for Randy Cole and our guest, Irina Filipova.

42:35 Rick Stockburger Do your part to support this program and support this organization. And thank you so much for listening.

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