We are built to support the founders out there doing the real work.


Octane and Sustain SoCal have tremendous resources – we are leveraging these resources to accelerate founder progress and have maximal impact.

Neal Rickner

Managing Partner, Elevation Ventures


Neal Rickner is an experienced technology executive who specializes in advancing new ventures through their early-stages and into growth phase. Neal is the Managing Partner of Elevation Ventures. Prior to joining Octane, Neal served as the CEO of Seafire Capital, leading a team investing in aerospace, mobility and electrification companies. Prior to Seafire, Neal spent nearly a decade at Google and Google[x] leading multiple teams, most notably serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Makani, a next-generation wind-turbine company owned by Alphabet and Shell. As COO, Neal led Makani’s successful $50M series A.

Prior to working in tech, Neal served 12 years on active duty in the US Marine Corps as an F/A-18 pilot and forward air controller. He completed three tours in Iraq between 2003 and 2007, earning the Bronze Star with “Valor” device, and (13) Air Medals. He transitioned from active duty in 2009, earning dual masters degrees (business and international affairs) from Columbia University. 

Neal is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a recipient of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business 2019 Distinguished Entrepreneurial Leadership Award. Neal is a Tillman Scholar, a Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and is on the Advisory boards of the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship at Indiana University’s Kelley Business School of Business, the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and Vets in Tech. Neal is also a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council.  

Bill Carpou

General Partner, Elevation Ventures


Bill Carpou is CEO of Octane, a business accelerator for early stage companies. Bill is also the founder and member of the Investment Committee of Visionary Ventures which operates two investment funds. Octane has created one of the nation’s most dynamic ecosystems to enable technology industry growth in Southern California by connecting people, resources and capital. Portfolio companies have received more than $3.3 Billion of capital since 2009. Prior to Octane, Bill was an Operating Partner with The Blackstone Group, working with portfolio companies to grow revenue and improve enterprise value. Bill relocated to Orange County in 1998 as the President of IKON Office Solutions and held several positions prior to leaving after the strategic exit of the company and acquisition by Ricoh Corporation. 

Scott Kitcher

General Partner, Elevation Ventures


Scott has over 30 years of financial services experience in investment banking, investment management, and consulting. Just over 16 years ago, he began focusing on clean technologies. Today, he is President & CEO at Sustain SoCal, Principal at EcoFin Consulting, LLC, and serves on various corporate, non-profit and academic boards and committees in various roles almost all related to cleantech and sustainability. 
After graduating from Stanford University, Scott joined Yamaichi International (America), Inc. where he soon led the firm’s Western US investment banking effort. Scott was a frequent conference panelist on US banking in Asia. In 1995, he transitioned into investment management with Eaton Vance Management where he soon became the Investment Counsel VP in charge of the Western US and national representative for Eaton Vance’s Hong Kong-based partner, Lloyd George Management. 
In 2007, Scott joined a strategic consulting group where he led the vertical build-out of the company’s cleantech consulting practice. In 2008, he founded EcoFin Consulting LLC, a boutique financial and strategic consulting practice geared to assisting early stage and transitioning cleantech companies move to the next level. Hired as President & CEO of CleanTech OC (now Sustain SoCal) in April 2013, Scott leads the trade association’s strategic initiatives and operations.
Scott’s concentrated efforts in cleantech and sustainability over the last sixteen years have earned him the respect of his industry throughout Southern California. He is often called upon to speak at conferences and is regularly asked to join public and private Boards. 

Courtney Johnson

Principal, Elevation Ventures


Courtney is a cross-functional leader with expertise in building teams and solving complex and ambiguous problems from overseas conflict zones to Wall Street.  She has +10 years of experience investing across the spectrum of capital (VC, public equity, and catalytic capital) and is currently the Principal at Elevation Ventures.  She has chaired investment committees and managed investment portfolios for a wide range of impact industries— environmental sustainability, workforce development, education, affordable housing, financial inclusion, and healthcare.  

Prior to Octane/Elevation Ventures, she worked with Wireframe Ventures,  an early-stage VC firm investing in technology to improve the health of people and the planet, where she focused on decarbonization of commercial transportation.  She also worked with BlackRock’s Public Equities Global Impact Fund, the world’s first impact fund in public equities.  Courtney started her impact investment career as a U.S. diplomat where she sourced, conducted due diligence, chaired investment committees, and performed impact measurement and evaluation for $MM portfolios of humanitarian assistance for conflict victims and refugees in the Middle East and Asia.

Courtney has a MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA from University of Maryland, College Park where she majored in Political Science  and minored in International Development & Conflict Management. 


Elevation Ventures Advisors represent a wide range of expertise and knowledge.

John Arena

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Yasmin Datta


Mauricio Esteves Marcal


Angelina Galiteva

CA Independent System Operator

Suzanne Gentilini


Steve Gross

IHI Power

Jack Guevara

McKinsey & Co.

Vikas Gupta

Shell Ventures

Kelly Jennings

City Council Member, City of Laguna Niguel

Jordan Kanis

Silicon Valley Bank

Randal Kaufman

Black & Veatch

Kate Klimow

UCI Beall Applied Innovation

Tom Koutroulis

OC Waste & Recycling

Vijay Nagappan

MHS Capital

Brendan O'Donnell


Riyad Said

Bank of the West BNP Paribas