EARLIEST ENTREPRENEURIAL MEMORY: Paper route in Anchorage Alaska! SOMETHING I CANNOT DO WITHOUT: Today? Lip pencil! SOMEONE I ADMIRE: Marie Skłodowska Curie for winning a Nobel Prize twice in two different sciences!
Building a better, cheaper battery
EXPECTED TO EMBODY GREATNESS. Charlotte Hamilton, a Co-Founder and CEO, has almost two decades of experience creating new materials and products for multiple new companies—however Charlotte only has a few months of experience living openly as a trans woman.
“I work in a traditionally and statistically male dominated field. In fact, it’s very rare that I’ve ever met with another woman who’s making decisions throughout my entire career—fewer than five in the executive suite or board room, that’s for sure. Before my open transition, I didn’t think that made any sense. There are strengths to having a feminine and masculine perspective in every setting and I think that’s always been lacking—until now,” Charlotte laughs.
Growing up in Anchorage Alaska, Charlotte had always felt like an entrepreneur. “I grew up on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’, and my parents separated while I was still very young. I spent a ton of time in my pre- and early teen years supporting my dad, who had many challenges in his adult life with things like mental health and homelessness. I grew up quickly, learning how to move and work in the world as fast as I could,” she explains.
This led Charlotte to become a problem-solver. “At the heart of it all, that’s what entrepreneurialism ultimately is: solving problems, fixing things, making things happen,” she says. “Along the way, I had a certain amount of grandiosity pushed at me by my family. I was a smart, inventive kid and my parents pushed me to go to a good school, do great things, be a great person. I had no shortage of overdeveloped expectations pushed on me. So what did I want to be when I grew up? A captain of industry. Someone who took on and accomplished complex issues, problems.”
Charlotte got a job offer to join a new company that made plastic out of carbon dioxide. “They wanted me to run this cool company. And I hit the ground running, solving problems, building relationships, and finding resources.” After raising millions for that company, Charlotte was quickly hooked on the entrepreneurial experience. “I got paid to do this. I got paid to create amazing things and forge essential relationships. It was my little dent in the universe and it helped change lives. The greatest feeling, I tell you. Truly!”
INSPIRED BY THE FUTURE, TODAY. By 2014, the early concepts for Conamix had been formed with Co-Founder Bart Riley, but because the unique and proprietary nature of the product—converting lithium ion cathodes to sulfur—they felt it necessary to stay in stealth mode for about six years. “It wasn’t until this year when we could start telling the world what we were doing. We were now able to showcase that we could lower the costs of lithium batteries for cars, for everything.”
The following year, 2021, would prove to be more than just a coming out party for Conamix, but for Charlotte too. “The company came out of stealth and then I came out of stealth. I’m a trans woman, but I’m also a trans woman of mixed Asian backgrounds, so I guess I instantly have become a trans woman of color. There are a lot of “firsts” happening right now, frankly.”
Luckily these transitions have come with a tremendous amount of confidence, goodwill, and support. “I’ve had an unbelievable experience with coming out. My co-founder, my board, various investors and partners, all in such a short span of time not only accepted me but allowed me to transition into a proud, woman CEO seamlessly—but I got lucky... I’ve finally realized who I am, fully. I’m excited about who I am. I’m excited to be moving in the world. I’m excited about the future of Conamix. There are days when I’m almost overwhelmed by how amazing the world is and feels right now. Right here, right now, I’m in the best place—the right place. We all are.”
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