This week, we had the incredible opportunity to connect with Erika Guerrero, CEO of Electric Goddess, an R&D think tank that provides testing services, design consulting, and forensics to improve industry products.
Read on to learn about how Erika is disrupting our energy grid with innovative tech, a wealth of knowledge, and unmatched perseverance!
Tell us a little bit about you, your background, and your current role:
I’ve worked diligently to find out what my calling in life is. When I studied Sociology at university, I found theories of paradigm change fascinating. The society we live in has been curated by the most influential and kept by the majority following these patterns. We are stuck in a pattern of consumerism – societally programmed to need and want more – not considering the real cost it has on our shared spaceship.
My technology journey began by working on the Dragon program at SpaceX. I worked with my team to implement supplier diversity into the supply chain to be compliant with the NASA contract by purchasing from underrepresented companies – like minority or women owned business. The cost of entry as a supplier into a large company’s supply chain can overwhelm small businesses due to regulation and are often overlooked. It can be challenging for manufacturers to source and utilize companies that may not be able to beat the cost or timing of larger, more established suppliers that are typically granted jobs. However, it was very satisfying to see that the companies who were given a chance to compete often did very well, and in my biased opinion, cared more about their employees and impact they had on the world. This experience taught me that although many of us start small, we can choose to do our best, and make our own luck to be ready when opportunity calls. Contributing to human and civilian spaceflight has been one of my most satisfying accomplishments to date. Working for an Elon Musk company is hard and inspiring yet shaped me to know I am worthy and capable of doing what I put my time and energy into.
I put my energy into what was next for me, and found myself at a craps table in Las Vegas for a CES conference. I was introduced to a few executives at a battery integrator manufacturing start-up, had dinner with Panasonic, and the rest is history. I moved 2 weeks later to the company right outside of downtown Los Angeles and worked with inspired minds to invent and build a manufacturing line. I was hired below market value for the job I was doing, yet there were many nights were I was one of the last ones in the office, building my skills, organizing and planning what was coming next for the cross-functional groups I led to make our shared dream become a reality. Becoming a critical part of company operations and being great at it led to more responsibility, pay raises, and promotions. I made many mistakes as we were doing something new, something novel, and I learned quickly how to pivot, grow, change, and work with people from different backgrounds. This was my sociological background giving me a competitive edge to curate and build a new paradigm. The technical knowledge of what is in a battery and the nuances that come with making a safe product was learned through investigating experienced minds around me, and running tests to validate our assumptions.
The company I worked for eventually secured much more funding, and I was assigned to run a joint-venture between our startup and a large corporation with an electrified automotive powertrain mission by sharing my knowledge of battery system manufacturing considerations. The skills I had worked long nights, weeks, and months for built a highly coveted skill-set as the general societal rhetoric was shifting that we all need to drive electric. I was honest that I wanted to extract business knowledge from the new executives I was working with, and in exchange would tell them what I knew about what we had created as I knew they would build on it and spread it globally. Once this was complete, I again put my energy into what was next for me.
It was July 2019 when I put my notice in without any real plan for what was next. I had established my consulting business, Electric Goddess, earlier that year but had no concrete plans. It was a feeling that led me to know that I was ready to make a change to help smaller businesses gain the opportunity to succeed. I knew that the battery supply chain would become scarce and favor those with more, even though it meant there may be little consideration for environmental impact. Sharing knowledge and doing more research & development in cell science and battery integration technology was a critical part of bringing safe, reliable, and long lasting products to the consumer market. Many companies are 15 years behind but secure funding, and electronic waste is piling up as many have to learn the same lessons time and time again.
Through my years of one good job done after the next, and combining forces with legendary battery guru and my soulmate, Luke Workman, we began consulting together full time. Our extra bedroom in our industrial style apartment was 180 square feet, and we slowly began collecting lab equipment and building what we wanted to do. By 2021, we’ve now moved into a 4000 square feet lab in El Segundo, and have 9 full-time employees working with us on our mission to share information and perform research & development at the limits to physics to enable an electrified future.
Electric Goddess is a R&D think tank that provides testing services, design consulting, and forensics to improve industry products. Our greatest achievements include enabling pouch cell format batteries with a major cell manufacturer that are used industry-wide and considered top of it’s class in safety and performance. We have helped battery integrators and manufacturers test their products for a return on investment and long product life. Our findings are slowly being implemented into test standards globally, and we continue to be on the competitive edge of the industry. We’re deeply interested in how things break and simplifying and improving how we bring electric vehicles, aviation, and communication satellite constellations into the modern age. We’re so blessed to have the opportunities we do, and are incredibly grateful to have bootstrapped our business to be so successful. We are inspired to remain humble with the gift of the desire and quest for knowledge, and plan to bring our learnings public as available to contribute to our sustainability mission.
What is a fun fact about you?
I’m currently CEO at two companies. I have played a fair role in creating electronic and battery waste. Many of our clients ask us what to do with their test scrap or returned product before we helped improve their design. We searched the industry, and while there are quite a few battery recyclers, we were not satisfied with the processes. An industry friend approached us one day and asked us to make a detailed process on how we would recycle, if given the chance. This is how our recycling company, Redivivus, was formed!
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
When the world slowed way down during the initial shut-downs from the 2019 virus, it was incredibly inspiring to see how much Los Angeles air quality improved. Little to no gas cars on the road had a significant impact and it gave me hope that we still have a chance. While it’s easy to think that it’s the rich or the government’s responsibility to make change – it is actually the duty of all of us. A real pandemic right now is that 4-7 million people die each year from preventable air pollution, and we are all responsible for it. No matter what anyone’s ego might say, we all want clean air and water. We all want to enjoy our shared spaceship without being covered in soot. It might not be until the last fresh water source is poisoned that many will recognize their responsibility to vote with their dollar on what companies to support. When we buy a gas vehicle, we are feeding into the societal machine that has placed us where we are today. We will never miss going to a gas station, performing oil changes, and polluting our planet. I have been given the skills to help where I can, and we can all do the same. Whether that is making art that promotes the well-being of our planet and people, making conscious consumer choices, or finding a career that supports a brighter future. I’ve met many people that have left their well-paying oil industry jobs and taken a chance on doing something better. It is especially the responsibility of those who have been given more resources in life, including more intelligence, to lead and curate a future that makes greener choice more available and easy to make.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
The battery industry is beginning to highlight the need for material resources and processes to expand the availability of electric vehicles and aircraft. There are promising findings from fusion related energy providers. Many smart people are putting their time and efforts into building a clean energy future. While this is great, we still have active lobbyists and companies that buy or steal promising technology and destroy it to protect their empire. Humans naturally resist change. We also have egos that actively sabotage collaboration. Competition is healthy to innovation, however we must learn from the mistakes of others to advance in a timely fashion. I believe the battery industry will advance in ways I cannot even begin to imagine in the next 10 years as I also believe we are in an exponential age of technology. Those securing the resources to build better, well thought through energy will succeed. I am not sure if we will see big oil disappear completely in the next 10 years, however I think it would be wise to consider how to use these giant processing facilities for good – such as biological reactors for processing electronic waste. They have had their time, and contributed greatly to the advancement of society, but must now begin their transition to promoting better ways of the future so that we can all breathe.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Eat a vegan meal. Even just one. Meat requires ~10x the calories and water to feed livestock to then eat their flesh, which contributes to our planet being stressed unnecessarily. Our seas are emptying, our atmosphere thinning, and our soil depleted, all while the typical meat and oil used to produce it are subsidizes. We are not shown the true cost on our wallets and planet. While I am naturally optimistic, famine has started and will worsen the more we choose unsustainable food choices. It’s not your neighbors job, it’s not your bosses job, it’s your responsibility to change the market demand – one meal at a time.
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