Today the Seattle Office of Economic Development (OED) celebrates Earth Week and the diverse voices in our region’s clean technology industry.
Hanna McGraw is a Business Development Manager focused on sales and marketing at Joule Case, a clean technology start up that launched in 2015, providing a clean and quiet alternative to gas generators with electric batteries. In any instance someone may use a gas generator, such as camping, powering up a food truck, or emergency generators – Joule Case provides a green alternative for all energy needs. Joule Cases are portable and stackable allowing users the ability to attach additional battery units to a model. Joule Cases products create an 80% reduction in carbon emissions and are safe to use indoors.
Prior to working at Joule Case, McGraw studied at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising. McGraw worked in corporate retail for 15 years at companies such as Gap, REI, and Nordstrom as a product developer where she launched brands from concept to floor. McGraw’s transition from retail fashion to the electric battery start up was influenced by seeing the environmental impact of the fashion industry.
“It was really difficult for me to work for a company that was not sustainable. The amount of waste – so much water and product waste – it was not environmentally friendly in the clothing business,” said McGraw. “So when I met James Wagoner, the CEO and co-founder of Joule Case, at a networking event for startups he really liked my retail and business background. From there we built a business relationship and I joined the Joule Case team.”
Grounded in environmental stewardship McGraw brought her experience in collaboration and relationship building from her career in corporate retail to her new opportunity.
“In this industry, even though you may be working with competitors or companies unfamiliar in your work – the bottom line is that you’re all striving towards the same goal. And I would say that, continuing to network and to lean on each other, and to learn from each other is really important. Collaboration is so important because we’re on the brink of something really big when it come to batteries and battery technology, and battery being the solution.”
In 2019, McGraw became the third employee–and only woman–to join the startup based in the University District. Currently, the team has grown to a seven staff team, the majority of which are engineers. Data from 2019 shows that in Washington State, the clean energy workforce was 65.8% Whites, 15.3 % Latinx, 9.3% Asian, 7.1 % Black/African American, 1.4% American Indian and 1.1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.
“I think that for females, it’s just not really an avenue or career path that I ever really knew that much about. It’s becoming much more popular. I wish I knew more about it when I was younger. I think that trying to have more awareness about the clean tech industry, I didn’t really have that at all. I think having that awareness is really big.”
In joining Joule Case, McGraw educated herself on batteries and battery technology. For people who are interested in the clean tech industry, she advises,
“It’s really important to stay on top of current events and it’s important to stay on top of current technology. So what you’re doing and what you’re interested in going into you really need to network, make sure you’re completely up-to-date, make sure that your information is up-to-date, and stay present, stay current. Because things are changing so quickly that it really is a full time job to be abreast of what’s going on out there.”
One of Joule Case’s largest customer base is food trucks and coffee trucks. Food trucks are using Joule Cases to supply power and improve the customer experience by eliminating noise and fumes produced by gas generators. Additionally, food truck small businesses are seeing a return on their investment without having to continually purchase gas for their power needs.
Another demand for Joule Case is residential and emergency power. Florida hurricanes and California wildfires have driven demand for some homeowners to seek emergency power sources. Joule Case has begun to partner with solar companies for homeowners who wish to take advantage of the Solar Investment Tax Credit – a 26% tax credit for solar systems on residential and commercial properties.
McGraw and the Joule Case team are looking forward to the return of live events post-pandemic, as performers, like Coldplay, and concert goers are beginning to demand live events become carbon neutral. As a result, promoters are looking for an alternative to gas generators for these major events
“Before COVID happened, we were slatted to do nine events in 2021 – and as you know everything got shut down. So we have small battery solutions, but we also have really large battery trailers. So we built a battery trailer on the Las Vegas Speedway, and we powered an entire music festival stage,” said McGraw. “We did all of the AV, speakers, sound, everything. So based on that, we have a partnership with very large companies in the event space, where we would be the environmental solution to the gas generator alternative. A lot of people don’t know this, but the biggest expense to run an events is power. So for us, we’re most excited about events coming back so we can make a change in that space.”
When live events like Bumbershoot, Upstream Music Festival, or your neighborhood block parties are up and running and you see the disappearance of heavy cables with the plastic covers or the rumblings of a gas generators – there may be a Joule Case behind the curtain bringing you a Earth friendly alternative.
OED’s Key Industry and Workforce Development Team focuses on economic development and growth in key industry sectors including maritime, manufacturing, technology, clean technology, healthcare, and creative sectors.
If you are interested in a career in clean technology or looking to grow your clean technology business, contact OED’s Green Business Advocate Stephanie Gowing at Stephanie.Gowing@seattle.gov or 206-473-9122.