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SparkCharge CEO Josh Aviv ’15, G’17 Introduces President Biden L’68 Before CHIPS, Science Act Signing
The White House’s famous Rose Garden turned Orange on Tuesday afternoon as Josh Aviv ’15, G’17, the founder and CEO of SparkCharge, introduced President Joseph R. Biden Jr. L’68 before a packed crowd outside the White House.
Aviv, who launched SparkCharge in 2017 to provide portable electric vehicle (EV) chargers, is a respected entrepreneur, innovator and inventor who has played a critical role in developing easy-to-find and easy-to-use charging stations for electric vehicles.
Aviv was invited to introduce President Biden before the president signed off on the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act, which promises to “boost American semiconductor research, development, and production, ensuring U.S. leadership in the technology that forms the foundation of everything from automobiles to household appliances to defense systems,” according to a statement released by the White House.
“I was extremely nervous and yet extremely happy to have the honor of introducing President Biden. It was such a surreal moment, two Syracuse University alumni at the White House. It was a huge honor, not only for me but for my family. Knowing that the story of my company and the work we’re doing would be heard was absolutely amazing,” Aviv says of his second trip to the White House during the Biden presidency.
It was during that first trip to the White House, at an event last year, when Aviv discussed with President Biden and his staff the need to address the troubling shortage in semiconductor chips and the supply chain issues that were both driving up the cost and the wait times to receive the chips.
Last Thursday, two weeks after the bill was passed, a White House staffer called Aviv to deliver the news that he would be delivering remarks and introducing President Biden.
The CHIPS and Science Act will increase the country’s production of semiconductors while fueling efforts to reduce dependence on foreign suppliers. While America created the semiconductor, today the country relies on East Asia for 75 percent of its advanced semiconductor chips.
Aviv was an ideal choice to introduce his fellow Orange alumnus. Thanks in part to the passage of the bill, Aviv says SparkCharge will double the productivity at its Buffalo, New York, factory over the coming months, part of its commitment to create jobs and opportunities that will “lead our economy’s transition to clean, electric transportation.”
“I believed in the power of my product, and I believed in the American dream. For years, my industry has been at the mercy of supply chains, making semiconductors that are critical to our chargers, and I wanted to change that,” Aviv told the audience. “This is a country where innovation thrives, with the most capable and creative workforce on Earth.”
President Biden said the bill will unlock hundreds of billions of dollars in private sector semiconductor investment across the country, including production essential to national defense and critical sectors.
The ceremony was a homecoming of sorts for Aviv, who was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up admiring the entrepreneurial spirit of his grandfather, Hubert Dade, who for more than 20 years ran a freight logistics company that shuttled airplane parts between Dulles International Airport and the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Those days spent watching his grandfather instilled in Aviv the drive and work ethic required to be an entrepreneur, and inspired Aviv to launch SparkCharge, the world’s first mobile, ultra-fast EV charger, in 2017, when he was still a Syracuse University student.
“This new law gives people like me a chance and the opportunity to grow our businesses, to be proud of what we do, to be proud of our country. I’m honored to introduce a president who understands that. Mr. President, from one proud Syracuse University alumnus to another, thank you for your leadership,” Aviv said while welcoming President Biden to the podium.
Before turning the press conference over to his Orange counterpart, Aviv made a special ask of the president.
“If you ever need a charge for your electric corvette one day, I’ve got your back,” said Aviv, drawing laughs from the crowd.
“Josh, thank you for the introduction,” said President Biden. “Josh loves electric cars, he graduated from Syracuse, he’s my kinda guy, what more do you need? Syracuse and electric cars.”
At the press conference, which featured Aviv, President Biden, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Aviv was hailed as the next generation of American entrepreneurs by Raimondo.
While Aviv says he was nervous to introduce the president, his nerves were calmed when the two Orange alums reminisced about their alma mater before the press conference. President Biden asked Aviv which residence halls he had stayed in during his time on campus—Booth Hall and Haven Hall—and President Biden commented on how much he enjoyed his time on campus as a College of Law student.
“We just had a great conversation, and he was a great, down-to-Earth guy who was extremely warm and welcoming to me and my family. President Biden bleeds Orange as much as any other alumnus, and it was just such a cool moment to have two Syracuse University alumni on the stage talking about electric vehicles,” Aviv says.
Aviv launched SparkCharge as a Syracuse University student, working closely with the Blackstone LaunchPad to develop his business roadmap. He incubated after graduation at the Syracuse Center of Excellence (SyracuseCoE) , where he built his prototype, and his company is valued at more than $100 million, with operations across the country.
SparkCharge’s application, Currently, brings EV charging directly to drivers whenever they need a charge, regardless of location. The app is part of the company’s pledge to enable EV drivers, companies and entire cities to become greener places by delivering convenient, easy access to EV charging.
Aviv earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and a master’s degree in information management from the the School of Information Studies. He is a member of the LaunchPad’s Founders Circle and serves as a LaunchPad Entrepreneur in Residence. During Orange Central 2019, Aviv was honored as a recipient of the Generation Orange Award, which recognizes graduates of the last 10 years for their continued commitment to Syracuse University.