Inogen co-founder lands CEO job at Next Energy
Brenton Taylor, a co-founder and former executive at Goleta-based Inogen, will be taking over as the new CEO of Next Energy Technologies effective immediately, the company announced on June 28.
Taylor will be succeeding Daniel Emmett, who is staying with the company, moving into a newly-created position as Executive Chairman, supporting Taylor’s transition and the expansion of NEXT’s product into new markets, focusing on the high-value European and Asian markets.
Taylor first joined Next about 18 months ago, starting as the executive vice president of engineering, a position he held at Inogen for many years, before transitioning to chief operating officer in March of this year.
He told the Business Times that his transitioning into the CEO role was not in the cards when he first joined the company in 2022.
“It just happened organically,” Taylor said.
“But I think this was a good fit for me with my experience and, for me, professionally, a good opportunity to keep broadening my experience and taking all the lessons learned at Inogen and then trying to help Next navigate through this growth period as well.”
Next is a Goleta-based solar panel window manufacturer whose goal is to help energy-inefficient buildings by providing them with the material to reduce their own energy consumption.
Next does this by coating windows with transparent photovoltaic cells, which are solar cells that take light and convert it into electricity, but still allow the light that our eyes can see to come through.
Next is currently on the cusp of commercialization, currently manufacturing its pilot line in its Goleta facility through the end of the year.
That pilot line was made possible by yet another $3 million grant from the state as part of the California Energy Commission’s RAMP program.
Since 2013, two years after it was founded, Next has been awarded $11.7 million in grants from the commission, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy, Taylor said.
“That pilot line started back in May and it’s really an exciting time. We have a lot of activity around getting those larger window sizes and then some demo projects to use those next year and that’s our focus right now,” Taylor said.
Earlier this year, Next also successfully installed its solar panel windows at Patagonia’s corporate headquarters in Ventura, marking the first time Next’s window technology is being demonstrated on a building while also furthering Patagonia’s commitment to using business to implement solutions to the environmental crisis.
It was a huge validation of the company’s technology and Taylor said he hopes he can see more of those partnerships come to life soon.
During his time at Inogen, Taylor saw the company make multiple product innovations and he himself is also a named inventor on over 20 patents and brings critical industry experience in licensing and patent litigation.
Taylor, who brings more than 20 years of proven experience in leadership, scaling manufacturing, and commercialization of advanced technology innovations from his time at Inogen, said the company reminds him of when Inogen was also in the growth phase.
“This time, a lot of it is about commercialization, growing the team, and trying to bring this disruptive technology to market. It is pretty parallel to what we did in the portable oxygen concentrator space at Inogen,” Taylor said.
“It’s really exciting and it’s a lot of familiar feelings.”
Next currently employs about 30 people with Taylor adding that the company will be hiring more this year.
The company is also raising money, but no word was given on when the round would close.
Taylor helped found Inogen in 2001, seeing the company through a successful initial public offering and beyond.
While an IPO is not in the cards for Next at this time — or maybe even ever — that experience goes a long way.
“All these experiences come together like a guide almost. How to handle a given situation that comes up at Next and future challenges, whether it’s fundraising or technology deployment, market adoption we’ll face a lot of the same challenges here that we did at Inogen and we will be ready,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the most impactful moment during his time at Inogen was giving the first unit the company ever produced to fellow co-founder Ali Bauerlein’s grandmother, who was the inspiration behind the product.
“It was amazing validation especially after people said wouldn’t ever work and that these young students probably couldn’t pull it off,” he said.
Now, Taylor envisions a future where buildings are brimming with Next windows.
“That would be amazing but also I will get as much satisfaction from seeing the team grow and mature as well. That’s kind of an equally rewarding part for me this second go-round,” he said.