Home & Leisure

Broken and unreliable EV chargers become a business opportunity for LA's ChargerHelp

Russ Mitchell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

Right place, right time, with an eye for opportunity, a commitment to economic growth for all, and a will to get things done. That’s entrepreneur Kameale Terry, co-founder of ChargerHelp, a Los Angeles startup.

She’s tackling a modern problem — the sorry state of electric vehicle public charging stations— while training an often-overlooked workforce for jobs in a growing sector of the economy.

Billions of dollars are flowing into building out a national EV charging network, with billions more in California. Outside of Tesla’s supercharging network, however, the equipment deployed by several charging companies has proven unreliable, with more than 20% of chargers overall out of order at a given time.

Without reliable public chargers, persuading people to buy EVs to fight climate change and cut pollution will be tougher.

Charger companies say they’re working hard to fix the reliability problem, boosting their own repair and maintenance capabilities, doing more training, and turning to third-party companies like ChargerHelp.

The charger sector is overflowing with young companies hoping to score in a fast-growing market. ChargerHelp, with $21 million in venture capital funding, has developed software programs for charger maintenance and repair. Unlike many competitors, the company also trains workers for network operations and field repair, with a focus on people and communities long overlooked during earlier periods of economic and technological change.


ChargerHelp “is creating great jobs, with an orientation on general and racial diversity,” said David Epstein, chief executive at Unreasonable Group, which links startup companies with investors. But ChargerHelp isn’t just a do-gooder organization, he said. “They have a great business model from a cash flow perspective.”

Like many entrepreneurs in what’s come to be called “cleantech,” the opportunities came somewhat as a surprise. Terry’s story counts as an example of good luck favoring the prepared mind.

She grew up in South L.A. Her large family put strong weight on commitment and hard work. It paid off. She’s risen quickly in any organization she’s become part of. Motivated by the idea of financial success, she took a job with a bank near Philadelphia. Starting out as a part-time teller and ending up as a business-bank manager.

She loved Philly. “One of the greatest things is that there are so many black people,” she said on the Founders Unfound podcast not long after ChargerHelp was founded in 2019. She visited her cousin Ray who worked in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill. “Everybody was like a geek, and it was wild to see black wealth concentrated in such a way,” she said. It was inspiring.


swipe to next page

©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus