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Johanne Medina: “We know how to make that industry clean”

Ecolution KWH is a minority-owned technology startup that has engineered a solution that could accelerate a move to net-zero carbon emissions in the distribution of food and medicine globally within 10 years. The world of refrigerated trailers is one of our dirtiest industries. There is a gas tank in the truck and another in the […]

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Ecolution KWH is a minority-owned technology startup that has engineered a solution that could accelerate a move to net-zero carbon emissions in the distribution of food and medicine globally within 10 years. The world of refrigerated trailers is one of our dirtiest industries. There is a gas tank in the truck and another in the trailer. Two massive diesel fuel tanks burning gas 24/7 all over the world each day. We know how to make that industry clean.


As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Johanne Medina Then.

Johanne is the CEO and co-founder of Ecolution KWH. He has 20 years of management experience, leading companies that range from scaled cocoa plantation management and food distribution, to greenfield metals manufacturing and ultra-high strength powder metallurgy. He has a blend of operational and financial expertise, most recently serving as VP of Strategic Finance, Unity Aluminum Inc. His leadership and financial skills helped successfully raise 170 million dollars of private equity during the past three years. Johanne is self-motivated, a leader, highly focused, and driven by challenges. In recent years he gained experience in Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) playing an important role in the acquisition of two scientific powder metallurgy companies incubated at MIT and Northwestern University. From 2005–2017 he served as CFO/COO and successfully launched a new European sports franchise in the US. Johanne played a key role in founding his first company and creating the vision and path forward for Ecolution KWH LLC. Johanne is happily married and a very proud father. He is fluent in English and Spanish.


Thank you for joining us in this interview series. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Over the course of my career, I’ve been embedded in a number of different industries that include food distribution and metals manufacturing. I observed that these industries rely on supply chains that waste energy and pollute the environment. After collaborating with senior technicians involved in transportation and technology on their most difficult problems, we made a discovery that will change commercial transportation and logistics, while alleviating one of the world’s greatest environmental hazards. Our discovery will allow the industrial world to move energy to where it’s most needed.

Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When I founded Ecolution our idea was to manufacture components. These components would allow for the extension of the range of an electric truck; this was the basic starting point of the idea. As I delved into the project, built models, and performed research, I stumbled into something one could only dream of in one’s lifetime. The Holy Grail of clean power generation. I realized the energy that was being generated with our components was a generational invention. And, the owner of this energy can change the way power is generated, stored and distributed. I switched our business model to selling kilowatt hours (kWh). Hence, “Ecolution kWh.”

We were so excited and immediately began looking for the first game changing application. This is how our first product came to life: to replace the Transport Refrigeration Unit Generator Set (TRU GENSET) in refrigerated trailers (“reefers”.) Our product will eliminate the large diesel fuel tank in the reefer, while cooling the trailer more efficiently and reducing the weight of the trailer by 1,200 pounds. Once connected to an electric truck, we transition one of dirtiest industries to net-zero-carbon almost overnight.

That led to imagining our second product which is a high energy platform in a train car, turning the car into a mobile power plant. This will allow large amounts of electricity to be generated and stored. The train station can be utilized as the e-mobility HQ of its town, a microgrid where the energy generated in the train is downloaded and the station can serve as an EV charge station or provide electricity to the surrounding community.

It was humbling to be in the front seat of the building blocks of our technology.

Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?

“There is always someone watching you. Do your best, especially when no one is looking” — My Dad

My Dad told me that we do not come from rich families. We come from hardworking families that have succeeded because of how hard they worked.

“Do not do to others what you do not want others to do to you.” — Confucius

I live by this every minute. It’s challenging because some in the world do not play by this rule. It keeps me humble.

“Integrity, energy, and intelligence.” -Warren Buffet

When I came across this, I related it directly to my career. Without integrity, you can forget about the other two. With integrity you do the right thing, and for the right reason. This can often be challenging but is never impossible. I never ignore my heart.

Energy is about how the world sees you and how you affect those that surround you. I thrive on being on a team, and show support and respect to others even if it might cost me. When I look at what is needed to do the job, I have no doubt I can deliver 10x that amount. Challenge motivates.

Intelligence is making the right decision. I feel like it is the secret sauce of all knowledge. It is the ability to absorb knowledge and learn from others. Most of what I have learned comes from observing. I observe others and I constantly learn. At all levels in a company, there are talented people who can teach me. Everyone does something amazing every day.

Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?

Ecolution KWH is a minority-owned technology startup that has engineered a solution that could accelerate a move to net-zero carbon emissions in the distribution of food and medicine globally within 10 years. The world of refrigerated trailers is one of our dirtiest industries. There is a gas tank in the truck and another in the trailer. Two massive diesel fuel tanks burning gas 24/7 all over the world each day. We know how to make that industry clean.

Roughly 20% of our total man-made carbon emissions come from the transportation sector. By harnessing the kinetic energy of refrigerated trailers (reefers), trains, and subway cars, Ecolution’s patented technology, if implemented, will reduce carbon emissions by as much as the CO2 footprint created by the transportation sectors in Rome (2,500,000 tons), San Francisco (1,345,421 tons), and Paris (1,298,915 tons) combined. Ecolution projects that after its innovation is applied in the U.S alone, 5,907,409 tons of carbon emissions would be eliminated across the country.

How do you think this will change the world?

Ecolution’s technology empowers transportation and logistics companies to generate, store and deliver sustainable energy in ways that the world has never seen before. Once our technology is applied to reefer trailers that are being pulled by electric trucks, such as those being developed by Tesla, the entire vehicle immediately reaches net-zero carbon emissions. In turn, we’re tackling one of the largest sources of air pollution not only in the US, but across the entire planet, and helping to increase transportation efficiency and reduce costs.

Keeping “Black Mirror” and the “Law of Unintended Consequences” in mind, can you see any potential drawbacks about this idea that people should think more deeply about?

Quite the opposite. In addition to minimizing carbon emissions, we will eliminate other environmental hazards by creating a longer lifespan for second-life Tesla and electric vehicle batteries due to the reusable energy created by the Ecolution technology. If our train and subway car kinetic energy production system is adopted broadly, the nation will never again need to build a coal, natural gas or nuclear power plant.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?

There was nothing being done to combat the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide being emitted from large commercial vehicles. The tipping point for us was primarily the feedback we were receiving from others about this growing concern and the drastic impacts it could have if not addressed. Someone had to think it though and think creatively. Our team did that. We tackled the problem.

What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?

We need talented mechanical and electrical engineers to join us. We need strategic partners to help us scale as quickly as possible. We need political leaders to understand that “green” businesses can be profitable. We don’t need or want taxpayer subsidies. We need real change and commitment to allow our nation to reach net-zero carbon by 2030. Forget 2050. That’s too slow. We are better than that.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Talk to as many people as you can. You never know where you may pick up an important piece of advice or intel that could help you on your way to success
  2. Listen more than you speak. It’s best to have as much information as possible before responding or formulating a plan.
  3. Read as much as I could so I can learn from others mistakes and successes and more efficiently guide my own business ventures
  4. Meditate daily. This is now a regular part of my routine that keeps me focused and level-headed but only something that I’ve picked up in recent years.
  5. Enjoy the journey. It’s easy to get caught up in the hard work and stress of being an entrepreneur but it’s important to take a step back, enjoy the great life I’ve created for myself and my family and think about the great work we’re doing.

*Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?

Knowing and respecting your values unconditionally and consistently. Learn from success; and even more importantly, learn from mistakes. This cycle of awareness drives good managers to overcome challenges and reinvent themselves. Everyone needs to grow each day and make a positive impact on others, and, on the world.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Most of you have invested in some form of alternative energy, or at least believe in it. Wind, solar, geothermal, etc. They all have constraints, whether the constraints be geographical, economical, technical, or require large amounts of capital to build charging infrastructure. All of these technologies have trouble reaching the grid. Where it’s not windy, windmills don’t work. Where it’s cold and cloudy, solar doesn’t work very well. And, so on.

Transforming the wasted kinetic energy in vehicles on the road, trains and subways can scale to more usable energy than all the other alternative energies combined, and in just a few years. We have the patented sustainable advantage to make this happen. Please join us and change the world. Your funding is not a speck of sand on the world’s financial beach. You can make a difference.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Personal LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jmedinaleadershipfinance/

Ecolution KWH Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecolutionkwh

www.ecokwh.com

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