Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hi folks! I’m Spiffy, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth, with a new guest. Luke Mairo, the co-founder and COO of Voltpost, is an entrepreneur, committed to making a difference in the world. Let’s see how he’s doing it!
Spiffy: Hey there, Luke, welcome to the blog! Let’s jump right in. What challenge are you addressing through your work?
Luke: Great to be here, Spiffy! Voltpost’s mission is to allow everyone to own electric vehicles by providing electric vehicle charging in every community. Transportation makes up a dominant portion of greenhouse gas emissions. To save the planet, we need to make sure that all vehicles are electric. The biggest reason people don’t is that they don’t know where to charge it. Voltpost turns lamp posts into electric vehicle chargers, empowering people to charge anywhere and tackle climate change in the process.
Spiffy: That’s so cool! What motivated you to do it?
Luke: I wanted to be a marine biologist when I grew up. I was in awe of ocean life from a childhood coral reef adventure. In 2013, Hurricane Sandy tore up my home state of New Jersey, the beach town I visited for vacation, and my hometown (which went partially underwater). I quickly faced the reality that climate change would damage not just the coral reefs, but much of the things I loved doing as a child. I’m building Voltpost so that my future children can hopefully experience the same natural joy.
Spiffy: How is Voltpost’s mission helping you all to work towards a more equitable world?
Luke: Electric vehicles will bring cheaper transportation options and cleaner air to all. However, many people do not have access to private garages to install charging stations and will be left behind in this transition. By providing these underserved people public charging stations, we can share the benefits of electrification and invest in an equitable world.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational milestone or initiative. What impact does that make on your community?
Luke: We set up our first charging stations in the Brooklyn Navy Yard and Staten Island in September. We’ve now been able to show the world our unique approach to giving existing infrastructure new life as a charger. As with many new technologies, we’ve seen our station excite people with its modern design and new features like a light-reactive handle. I believe that this excitement will inspire people to get electric vehicles, and become technologists and environmentalists too.
Spiffy: One day, maybe you can make one for my spaceship! That would definitely come in handy. Alright, next up - please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Luke: You never know, we just might! To answer your question - I worked at a bank before Voltpost. During my time I built a proposal for a new product that would help bring corporate dollars into the hands of minority business owners. Ultimately, after a lot of positive feedback the idea did not get funded by the company. But I knew there were many problems that I could lend my time to, so I kept working, and now have helped bring a new technology to the world that may impact the same people but in a different way. It’s even more rewarding now.
Spiffy: I bet! Thanks for speaking with me today, Luke—it’s been an honor!
Luke Mairo is an environmentalist and social entrepreneur. He received a Masters in Sustainability Management from Columbia University’s Climate School where he was President of the Environmental Entrepreneurs student organization. Prior to Voltpost, he was a banker at Barclays Bank and co-chaired the Barclays Environment Network. (First published on the Ladderworks website on December 9, 2022.)© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.