This story originally appeared in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Harker Magazine.
Chadwick Manning ’04 is an entrepreneur working to solve big problems, from tackling global energy challenges to helping people quit vaping. He’s making an impact on the planet and on people – and he’s just getting started.
Manning’s Harker journey began in elementary school, where he remembers learning about the stock market in Bill Boss’ fourth grade math class. Boss would give students paper money and teach them how to invest and then throw parties when the stock market hit 10,000. These joyful celebrations are one of Manning’s favorite Harker memories. He also fondly remembers his grade 5 teacher, Pat Walsh.
“Chad was high energy, very positive and had what I love in a student: drive, enthusiasm and appreciation,” said Walsh, who is now retired. “He was respectful and often very humorous; he was hard not to like – a lot.”
Manning attended Harker from grades 3-8 before heading to Bellarmine College Preparatory.
“One of things I appreciated most about Harker is that [teachers] really empowered us to be independent and curious,” said Manning. “They Alumnus making an impact on the planet and on people through two different startups impact encouraged us to ask questions, seek answers and take education into our own hands.”
It’s an approach that Manning, a serial entrepreneur, has taken throughout his life.
While attending the University of San Diego, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting, Manning founded his first startup – Torero Laundry Services, an on-campus pickup/drop-off laundry service. Although he got a taste of entrepreneurship, he decided to take a job at PricewaterhouseCoopers after college.
“[Working at PwC] was an invaluable experience, because I learned about how companies were formed, how to read a term sheet and how to structure deals,” remembered Manning. “But to be honest, I hated it and after three years of too many 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. days, I realized I needed to make a change.”
Manning left PwC to work for a couple of startups before starting ElectrIQ. As he saw the world become ever more reliant on technology, he realized that home batteries would become more essential and didn’t see anyone integrating batteries and a power source with intelligent software. He saw a business opportunity to create a smart home battery backup system to help consumers save on electricity costs and protect against blackouts. That’s when he created a two-page business plan and asked a friend to introduce him to Jim Lovewell, an electrical engineer and mad scientist. The two raised $10 million in seed financing and ElectricIQ was launched.
“I was always interested in renewable energy,” said Manning. “So I decided to follow my dreams because I figured that you might as well fail at something you love than hate.”
Manning was recognized for his work by Forbes “30 Under 30” list and also was named a Grist 50 honoree. Grist, which describes itself as an independent, irreverent news outlet, “scour[s] the sustainability space to find up-and-coming people doing potentially game-changing work,” according to its website.
And life-changing work is happening all over the globe. In Haiti, ElectrIQ donated two systems to a school in Cité Solée in Port-au-Prince that allows more than 400 students to receive an education; in Puerto Rico, right after the hurricanes, the company donated another two systems that helped many families keep their power on.
ElectrIQ is still going strong, but Manning left to pursue a new cause.
He had started vaping and wanted to quit, so this past March he launched Fluux, a digital health company, to help people moderate their usage and ultimately quit.
“I love what I’m doing now because I always felt like a cog in a machine at larger companies,” said Manning. “It takes a lot of persistence and many failures before you find success, but when I realized that I’m really good at taking risks and getting people to believe in crazy ideas, I never looked back.”
Vikki Bowes-Mok is also the executive director of the community nonprofit Compass Collective.