Green.Org sits down with Neal Rickner, the Managing Partner of Elevation Ventures to learn about how he transitioned from being an US Marine pilot to technology executive.
Neal, thank you for being here today. Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I am a technology executive who specializes in advancing new ventures through their early-stages and into growth phase. Partnered with Octane and Sustain SoCal, I am the Managing Partner of Elevation Ventures. Prior to this role, I served as the CEO of Seafire Capital, leading a team investing in aerospace, mobility and electrification companies. Prior to Seafire, I spent nearly a decade at Google and Google[x] leading teams, most notably serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Makani, a next-generation wind-turbine company owned by Alphabet and Shell. As COO, I led Makani’s successful $50M series A.
Prior to working in tech, I served 12 years on active duty in the US Marine Corps as an F/A-18 pilot and forward air controller. I completed three tours in Iraq between 2003 and 2007, earning the Bronze Star with “Valor” device, and (13) Air Medals. I transitioned from active duty in 2009, earning dual masters degrees (business and international affairs) from Columbia University. I am the recipient of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business 2019 Distinguished Entrepreneurial Leadership Award.
I am a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Tillman Scholar, and a Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. I serve on the Advisory boards of the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Vets in Tech. I am also a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council.
What is a fun fact about you?
I live on the street I grew up on.
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
It is not only critical that we take action now to preserve our natural resources, but also an immense opportunity.
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
We are focused on building a thriving Southern California ecosystem of Climate Tech entrepreneurs, thought leaders, academics and capital sources. The region has many of the necessary ingredients, and tremendous potential.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
Switch to an Electric vehicle, install solar on your house, and transition your appliances from gas to electric.