Watt It Takes: BlocPower CEO Donnel Baird

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BlocPower CEO Donnel Baird is on a mission to clean up old, inefficient buildings in America’s cities -- and help people who are exposed to the worst pollution.

BlocPower was founded in 2012. It’s raised venture capital from Kapor Capital and Andreesen Horowitz. But that process was not easy for a company with a mostly non-white leadership team. As a black founder, Donnel was turned down 200 times before any venture firms were willing to back his vision.

“It was really difficult for us raising capital. One of our investors when I talked to him two or three years ago and said I was struggling to raise capital, he was like ‘yeah man, just hire some white people and send them into the fundraising meetings and it’ll clear things up,’” explains Donnel.

BlocPower is a Brooklyn, New York startup electrifying and weatherizing buildings in underserved communities -- slashing pollution and saving money. This includes housing units, churches, community centers.

And the mission for Donnel isn’t about just about hitting milestones for investors. It’s about changing the fabric of underserved communities that are plagued by pollution and energy poverty. That’s because Donnel has lived it himself.

In this episode, Powerhouse CEO Emily Kirsch talks with Donnel about how he channeled his frustration and anger around racial unfairness into a business model for the energy transition.

Listen to all our past episodes of Watt It Takes here. This series is normally recorded in front of a live audience, but we’re now recording the interviews remotely. See future events from Powerhouse here.

The Energy Gang is brought to you by Sungrow, a leading provider of PV inverter solutions across the world. Sungrow has delivered more than 10 gigawatts of inverters to the Americas alone -- and 120 gigawatts in total across the globe. Learn more about Sungrow’s cutting-edge solar projects.

The Energy Gang is also brought to you by CPower. CPower and its team of energy experts are back with a webinar series aimed to help organizations make sense of the chaos and optimize their energy use and spend in 2021. This hour-long webinar series features market-by-market breakdowns to help energy planners make the right decisions. Register today.

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