management team

Boris von Bormann

Founder & Managing Partner

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Former CEO of Mercedes-Benz Energy, accomplished business leader and automotive management professional with a 15+ year career in the automotive and clean tech industries, and vast experience on cross-cultural business aspects.

Pioneer in the  energy storage sector with proven management, sales, marketing, and business development expertise, and a history of consistent growth, business turnaround and customer satisfaction.


Broad based experience in automotive and cleantech environments, adept at providing infrastructural needs around charging in conjunction with the launch of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids and the concepts and processes around 2nd use of batteries after their first use in electric vehicles. Expert in the installation of renewable energy and the development and manufacturing of stationary storage systems for the utility, commercial and residential sectors. Raised over $350 million USD during his tenure with various startup firms. 

  • CEO – Mercedes-Benz Energy | CEO – sonnen, Inc. | ​Director North America Soltecture, Inc.

  • Advisor to the National EV Innovation Center, Beijing, China

  • White House Delegation Member Obama Administration

Dirk Michels

Founder & Managing Partner

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Over the past decade, Dirk has been a leader in the U.S. solar and energy storage industries.  He has been recognized as one of the “Top 25 Clean Technology Lawyers in California." Dirk served as "Global Co-Chair Cleantech and Renewable Energy" of an AmLawtop 20 law firm with 48 offices globally.


  • Former General Counsel of the Solar Energy Finance Association. 

  • Chair of the Solar Energy Industry Association Contract Standardization Committee.  

  • Partner of AmLaw100 law firms for 15+ years. 


Dirk has particularly become known in the industry for his work on the standardization of distributed energy offtake and services agreements. Practicing law in the U.S. and Europe, Dirk has advised his clients on venture funding, private equity, M&A and project financing transactions, serving renewable energy clients for more than 20 years.


Frequent speaker on topics relating to private equity and VC financing, M&A, corporate and project finance transactions, international business and renewable energy.  


Past lecturer at the International School of Management, San Diego/ Berkeley, California, The Wharton Business School, San Francisco, California and the University of San Francisco, California.

advisory team

John Rossant


New Cities Foundation

John Rossant is the Founder and Chairman of the NewCities Foundation, a major global non-profit institution dedicated to improving the quality of life and work in cities. He is currently leading LA CoMotion, the global annual event on the future of mobility, which takes place each November in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles.

John previously led the team producing the famous World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland every January and has been the producer of major World Economic Forum conferences in China, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa. He has also played key roles in Monaco, with the Monaco Media Forum and the ongoing Prince’s Roundtable on Philanthropy. In 2010, French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked John to organize the first global summit on the future of the Internet, the e-G8. John has worked with heads of state and government and leading CEOs from around the world.

Roger Atkins


Electric Vehicles Outlook, Ltd.

Roger he's been advising and shaping electric vehicle development around the world for some time. His impressive work on Linkedin for many years has been rewarded with an audience approaching a quarter of a million followers. Roger has a strong appetite for innovation and the ability and confidence to identify and engage with early stage entrepreneurs. In addition to his own business activity, he's an occasional executive advisor to Gao Feng in China, partner at Pariss Electric, and brand ambassador for Rimac Automobili.

Emily Kirsch

Founder and CEO of Powerhouse and the Founder and Managing Partner of Powerhouse Ventures

Emily Kirsch is the Founder and CEO of Powerhouse and the Founder and Managing Partner of Powerhouse Ventures which backs entrepreneurs building the future of energy. At Powerhouse, Emily builds strategic connections between entrepreneurs, corporations, and venture capital to enable an energy system that is decarbonized, decentralized, democratized and digitized. Startups at Powerhouse have collectively raised hundreds of millions in capital, generated hundreds of millions in revenue, and have created over a thousand jobs in the US and around the world.


Emily serves on the Board of Station A, is on the Advisory Board of University of San Francisco’s Master’s of Science in Energy Systems Management and serves on the Advanced Energy Technologies Council for the World Economic Forum.


Emily is the winner of 2017 Entrepreneurship Award from C3E, a partnership between the US Department of Energy, Stanford, and MIT to highlight women’s leadership in clean energy. Her work has been cited in Bloomberg, The Guardian, TechCrunch, The Huffington Post, and The New York Times. Emily was selected as a 2019 Young Global Leader Fellow with the World Economic Forum. Emily has guest lectured at UC Berkeley and Stanford.

Bill Russo

Founder & CEO

Automobility Limited

Bill Russo is the Shanghai-based Founder and CEO of Automobility Limited, a strategy and investment advisory firm helping its clients to create the future of mobility.  His over 35 years of experience includes 15 years as an automotive executive, including 14 years of experience in China and Asia. 


Bill was previously the regional head of Chrysler in North East Asia, where he successfully negotiated agreements with partners and obtained required approvals from the China government to bring six new vehicle programs to the market in a three-year period, while concurrently establishing an infrastructure for local sourcing and sales distribution. 

Mr. Russo is a highly sought-after opinion leader on the development of the China market and the automotive industry. Bill is also currently serving as the Chair of the Automotive Committee at the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.

Arwed Niestroj

VP Global Innovation Hubs and Innovation & Digital Transformation
ZF Friedrichshafen AG

Arwed Niestroj is responsible for the global innovation hubs and digital transformation of ZF Friedrichshafen AG. He started with ZF in January 2018 to drive the company’s innovation and transformation efforts.


From December 2014 to 2017 Arwed was CEO of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America (MBRDNA) in California, comprising all R&D activities of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in North America, ranging from technology research, digital technologies, self-driving cars, powertrain engineering, testing, software design to vehicle design.

Arwed Niestroj was founding managing director of the Daimler-Bosch joint venture EM-motive GmbH in Germany- developing and manufacturing electric motors for vehicle powertrains - that he ramped up until end of 2014 and from 2008 to 2011 he was responsible for Fuel Cell Vehicle Fleet Operations at Daimler AG. Arwed holds a master degree in physics from the Technical University of Munich, Germany.


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