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How One Entrepreneur’s Persistence is Driving a Lithium Transformation – Teague Egan

Meet Teague

Podcast Summary

Teague Egan, Founder and CEO of EnergyX, is looking to revolutionize how we power the planet – with lithium. His company strives to be a leader in the green energy transition, providing disruptive lithium extraction and processing technologies, as well as more effective energy storage solutions. EnergyX’s approach recovers 90% of available lithium as compared to only 30% from traditional extraction methods. The tech also significantly reduces the industry’s footprint, solving issues of high carbon emissions and excess water usage in the extraction process.

In this episode of Energy Superheroes, Teague describes the wild journey that led him to create EnergyX:

  • Teague was travelling in South America when he began to form his vision for EnergyX. After visiting Salar de Uyuni in Bolvia, the world’s largest salt flat, he discovered that the desert-like region was also home to the world’s largest lithium reserve. Teague describes this as his “aha!” moment, realizing what a massive opportunity he had stumbled upon.
  • Upon returning home from Bolivia, Teague dove head first into research on lithium. He uncovered scientific papers on a novel lithium extraction process in the Science Advances academic journal, authored by researchers from the University of Texas. After cold-emailing the authors and flying to Texas to meet up, Teague soon entered into a worldwide license with the scientists to bring their technology to market.
  • EnergyX provides solutions for various industries in their transition to green energy. This includes large automotive companies looking to secure their lithium supply over the next decade, oil and gas industry wishing to diversify their energy portfolio, and battery cell manufacturers in need of lithium sourcing.
  • Teague insists on the power of not taking no for an answer when starting a business. When it comes to being an entrepreneur, Teague thanks his father for instilling him with a relentless drive to change the world.

Peter Perri 0:02

From Energy.Media this is Energy Superheroes with Peter Perri. And we’re live this is Peter Perri with the Energy Superheroes podcast. And I’m excited to have Teague Egan, who happens to live in my hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. So I’m going to be able to ask some more personal questions than I’m normally able to. I’m excited about it. Teague is definitely what we would call an energy superhero. He’s an entrepreneur and has an awesome company called EnergyX. Welcome to the podcast Teague.


Unknown Speaker 0:37

Thanks for having me. Peter tried to chat about energy and Fort Lauderdale.


Peter Perri 0:42

Yeah, there you go. That’s, that’s what it’s all about. Fort Lauderdale is always full of energy. Which is, which is a good thing, the good kind of energy. So it’s a great place, I see palm trees in the background. And that’s, that’s an awesome thing. So cool, man. Well, I’ll start off with, you know, listen to your power talk. It’s an amazing story about EnergyX. Could you tell me how you sort of came about the technology and got yourself involved in the energy industry?


Unknown Speaker 1:11

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s actually the coolest part. You know, I didn’t talk about that in my power talk, I was just kind of giving the overview of the company. But the way that the company started, sometimes I even have a hard time believing so I was traveling in South America and I’m a big traveler have been to over 70 countries. And I just, I just really enjoy exploring the world. And I was down in South America. And I’d never been to South America before. So I decided to Google some of the kind of highlights of the continent. And the typical things popped up, you’re talking about Machu Picchu, and the goo falls. And then there was this one that was the world’s largest salt flat in the middle of Bolivia called Salar de Uyuni. And when you’re on Google, and looking at this, there’s all these incredible pictures, because it’s a it’s a play on depth perception, because it’s just flat white for as far as you can see. So I end up going to Salar de Uyuni, and I’m on our tour with this tour guy, this is in the middle of nowhere, you have to take three flights to get here. It’s in the high Bolivian desert mountains, 15,000 feet high. And the population of this town is like maybe a few 100. And I’m on the tour and my tour guide is taking all the pictures for us. And he goes, by the way, this is also the world’s largest lithium reserve. And I go, What do you mean? And he goes, I was like, I don’t see any lithium, like, I don’t even know what lithium really looks like. And he goes well, the lithium is a salt that is found in all the salt brine below. And a lot of people think that this could be the next Saudi Arabia. And at that moment, I was just like, holy shit. I feel like I was sitting in the middle of Saudi Arabia in the 1960s, before the big oil and gas boom. And it was it was my aha moment. And I knew that that was, it was the biggest opportunity I’d ever seen. And I went home that night and didn’t, there’s a salt hotel, the hotel is made out of salt. And I didn’t sleep a single moment, I was researching lithium on my phone. And I came to find how lithium is actually produced that I just talked about my power talk. And so I went back and started talking to some of my buddies and trying to reach out to anybody that I knew about mining. And it led me to the University of Texas that had just invented or published the first papers in the science advances academic journal, which is one of the top academic journals on this new material that was extremely effective in separating lithium from other salts. And I said, This is it. And I flew to Texas the next week. I cold emailed all the authors on this paper. One of them responded, I flew to Texas next week, met with who ended up being the inventor of the technology and executed a worldwide license with Texas and the rest is history.


Peter Perri 4:34

That is a great story. So now that that obviously makes me curious, what did you say to that guy at to convince him that he should do the worldwide license with you?


Unknown Speaker 4:46

Yeah, that’s another great question. I mean, you so what I honestly what I told him is that, you know, I run a fund and we’re looking at renewable energies, which I did. And I said, you know, this is something that’s super interesting to me. And he actually said, Well, I have colleagues over in Australia, so you need to go there. And I said, Okay, I got my next flights. And now I’m flying to Australia to Melbourne. And he could just see that I was somebody that, you know, got it done. And that’s the most important thing. And starting a business, I didn’t go into this with any scientific background, no engineering, I’m just an executer. And I knocked down doors. And what I told this group, both the folks in Texas and their partners in Australia, is that I have connections to all the biggest lithium producers in the world, which I didn’t at the time, but it’s the same type of situation, you know, I went and I went back to South America, four months later, in April. And I, there’s this really cool book called The Third Door, and it talks about all the most successful people how they got their start. And the first when you think about a club, right, and you’re trying to get into a club, it’s a super exclusive club. The first door is the general admittance, right. And you have to wait a long time and maybe you know, it fills up the second door is the VIP. So if you’re somebody and you know, people, you can kind of get a table and go in the VIP, the third door is going around the back hopping over the fence and sneaking in the kitchen door. And I shit you not, that is literally what I did down in South America at SQL. SQL is the second largest lithium producer in the world. And I just went down to their facility and there’s a gate and everything. And I said I have a meeting with so and so somebody that I looked up online, and they let me through. And then I was knocking on these. These like mobile office trailers, and I got it. And I met with somebody and he connected me to somebody else. And the next thing I know, you know, now I’m talking to all the CEOs of all the biggest lithium producers in the world.


Peter Perri 7:07

It’s a great story, I’d say I’ve people asked me, What does it take to start a company? And I’ll say, if you can boil it down to one thing, just don’t take no for an answer. Because the reality is, it’s like, if it was easy, everybody would do it. It’s just a matter of you have to be a little bit crazy and not willing to take no for an answer. So Emily, that’s your personality. That’s awesome.


Unknown Speaker 7:28

And the other thing is, yeah, it’s never take no for an answer, which leads to never giving up. I mean, it would be a lie to say that every day is amazing. I mean, there’s date, like, really, every day you have wins and losses. And it’s kind of dependent on what you want to focus on and just keep pushing forward. And there’ll be weeks or months that. So it once I met with Texas, they actually didn’t even have an agreement with their partners in Australia so that they could legally license the technology out. So they had to create an inter institutional agreement between them. So they’re able to license it out. So I was in a position that I had to help them negotiate that while simultaneously negotiating my agreement. And it took me a year to do this. And I was leveraging myself, I was investing, I was flying all these places. And I had I had nothing, I had no, no assurance that they were going to do this. And it was a hard it was a really hard year and there’s ups and downs. And if you take no for an answer, if you give up then being an entrepreneur isn’t for you.


Peter Perri 8:42

Yeah, there’s, there’s no doubt about that. So those guys, they’re like two educational institutions that you had to actually convince to move quickly. So that that’s, that’s never easy to do, right? Because sometimes they’re motivated differently from from entrepreneurs,


Unknown Speaker 8:59

different motivations. And then And then even even a larger looming thing is like, who am I you know, I told them that I have these relationships, but like, what if one of the big lithium producers came in and saw this and swooped in and offered them a million bucks? Like, you know that?


Peter Perri 9:16

Exactly. So, well, cool. Let’s touch on EnergyX a little bit, and then we can go back to some more personal stuff, but with EnergyX, who are you trying to reach today? Who’s who, when you’re out there trying to sell and not take no for an answer. Who are you talking to?


Unknown Speaker 9:31

I mean, look, you know, we’re in an industry or a movement that is just booming. And it’s, it’s been remarkable having the type of inbounds that we now have you know, like I slaved to get to this position and now we have large auto manufacturers that are getting in touch with us. It’s very important for them to secure their lithium supply over the next 10 years. So big auto VMs are people that are of interest to us. And we’re actually looking at doing deals with them for offtake agreements, big oil and gas companies that are looking to diversify their energy portfolio and move away from fossil fuels into lithium technologies. I mean, basically, what we have here is the equivalent of fracking, but for lithium, and just imagine if an oil company owned the technology around fracking, which nobody does, every single oil company uses that right. So not only is it strategic for oil, Big Oil and Gas, Chevron, Exxon, Saudi Aramco to diversify their investments and portfolio, but they actually do have some lithium in the produced water that comes up with fracking, which turns out to be their biggest expense. So we’re helping some of these big oil and gas companies derive value out of what was otherwise just an expense. So it’s a strategic kind of partnership or collaboration from my standpoint, and then, you know, obviously, the big lithium producers are, the other one is big battery cell manufacturers, we’re also working on batteries. So anybody that is in the renewable energy movement are people that, you know, I take every call, I work 18 hours a day, so I have time for you.


Peter Perri 11:23

Very cool. And so are most of the is most of the interest coming inbound, are you having to do any sort of outbound to try and reach certain types of people?


Unknown Speaker 11:33

No, I mean, I, at this point, a lot has come, you know, it goes both ways. Right? Like, if there’s somebody specific that I want to talk to, I’ll do my best to seek them out. And, you know, that has to do with like, we’re looking at particular patents that we want to like, either require a license. So that’s like, something very specific with, you know, a university in Norway or let you know, but either way, I mean, we have a lot of inbounds Our website is generally always a good sign, right?


Peter Perri 12:07

When people are calling you and you don’t, you know, you get to the point where you’re beating down doors for a while, and now you’re having people come to you as always, it’s always a beautiful thing. So since we don’t have that much time today, I got to get into some of the Fort Lauderdale stuff. So first of all, tell me what it’s like, you know, let’s say growing up with a dad who’s been very successful and well known in a business community. Yeah.


Unknown Speaker 12:33

Um, so I think they can go one, you know, I have, I have friends that have this similar situation. And it can go one of two ways, it can either motivate you to try to fill his shoes, which are large shoes and kind of go down the path that I’m on. And, you know, I knew from six years old that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. But for some reason, I never wanted to take over his business, which I couldn’t have done anyway, because he sold it when I was, like, eight years old, or something like that. But But I am so motivated, it’s not that I want to, like be better than him or like, achieve greater heights. But he’s just instilled this, this drive and motivation in me to change the world. And that’s one side, right. The other side is, you know, I don’t have to work a day in my life, like I have, you know, and I’ll be fine. And I see that come from other people that are in my situation. But, you know, I want to be president of the United States and I want to go to Mars. And I think Elon Musk has instilled a lot of that in this generation of entrepreneurs. And, you know, I, you know, I, I take that very seriously. And I think that we can we can make the world a much better place than it is today.


Peter Perri 13:58

Yeah, no, that’s, that’s super cool. So when you brought this idea to your dad the first time did he get it immediately? Or did you have to kind of convince him that it was a good idea?


Unknown Speaker 14:08

So it’s funny, because I can’t remember what his initial reaction was, you know, my dad gives me business ideas, five business ideas a day and almost like, distracts me like, You should do this. You should do that. And, and now he knows I’m like super folk, he preaches focus. And then he gives me a bunch of ideas, right. But the reason that I that I actually started this is I was running a small investment company, and I was kind of passively investing into other people’s ideas. And I was a successful entrepreneur before that. But I kind of lost my way. And I had moved away from entrepreneurship into just investing. And I was trying to justify it by saying I’m starting an investing company. But I really it really wasn’t the case in my dad, right? recognize that and he said, You should write down your five passions and a full page or two on why they are your passions. And the five industries that you’re you think are going to be the biggest industries of the future. And it took me like a month to do this exercise because I was just like, I’m not going to do that. I ended up doing it and I five passions were sports, I love sports. I watched ESPN all day. Health and Fitness, I love exercising and working out design, like architecture and drawing and like creativity I look at like Steve Jobs and calligraphy and like BRK angles and the architecture that he does Space X like space, that was my best grade in college, I got an A plus in space. And, you know, just looking over the stars. And then renewable energy because I became an investor in Tesla in 2013. And the stock did very well for me the next month that went up, and I bought a Tesla with some of my profits. And I’ve been a huge Elon Musk fan ever since. And I think that it’s just so interesting, kind of like the the chemistry and engineering behind energy and, and the way that like, you look around and everything is powered these days. So those are my five passions, and then the five biggest industries of the future, I thought, space exploration, I mean, the way that we’re communicating right now is because of satellites. And really, our whole society is based on what is in space. Artificial Intelligence, I think it’s going to be absolutely massive decentralized blockchain. And, you know, God is really showing through with cryptocurrency, which is aspect of blockchain right now. And then renewable energy, I think that that’s a given. And then synthetic biology, like personalized medicine that can be tailored to, you know, genomic and biology, I think. So the two things that crossed over there were space and energy. And, you know, he kind of gave me a guiding light in what my next pursuit should be. And I told you the story of how I kind of fell into this I, when I had those two things, I’m either going to do a space business or an energy business, I didn’t really know what it was going to be in that, you know, that story happened. But, you know, that was a really, really important turning point in my life. That’s, you know, I can fully credit my dad.


Peter Perri 17:45

That’s awesome. That’s it. That’s a great story. I have an 18 year old and I’m always distracting him a little bit. He likes digital interactive technologies. And I’m always throwing him curveballs and say, check out this over here and different. So I, I totally sympathize. And my dad was the same way an entrepreneur who always was hitting me up with different ideas about what I should do. So it’s, it’s great to have that.


Unknown Speaker 18:10

Nice. Yeah, um, I have a recommendation for your son. Last night, I watched the Pixar movie. Have you seen that? No, I haven’t seen it. So it’s the story about Pixar. And a little known fact is that Steve Jobs was also the owner of Pixar. While he was building Apple, he bought Pixar for $10 million dollars in 1986. Built digital animation of what it is today, and sold it to Disney in 2006, or 7.4 billion,


Peter Perri 18:45

Which is just an insane thing to build two companies like that at once the guy’s believable. So and I’m with you. I’m a huge Elon Musk fan, as well. So we’re getting close to time here. I would love I think we could talk for probably another hour or so I’m definitely gonna have you back on the show. This is great. I say last thing I’ll leave the audience with is you talked about your series B funding, is that already subscribed? Are you guys looking for potentially other investors to get involved? Because so some are going to be excited to to learn about this?


Unknown Speaker 19:19

Yeah, absolutely. So we, we did our Series A we were 6x oversubscribed. So we took we took a small portion in our series A and the rest spilled over into a convertible note, which is a financial instrument that converts into the next series B but we are opening a public offer. It’s a crowd investing public offering on net capital. And it’s really cool because, you know, as I was talking about I think that blockchain and like decentralized currency is a wave of the future. Crowd investing is a decentralized form of investing. So now, you know, the good old boys club don’t hold all the power. And this enables companies like ours that are not publicly listed on exchanges, to allow the general public to get a piece of a high growth company at a lower valuation. And we did one successfully already, we raised a million and a half. That was the limit that we were allowed to do per the SEC, at that time, in a matter of weeks, and we’re opening up another one our allowed to do 5 million. So we’ll be accepting 5 million from the general public. That goes live on April 15. I expected to go pretty quickly. But uh, yeah, that’s, that’s kind of one of the next things that we’re doing. And then now it’s exciting. Yeah, and then the series, that’ll be part of the series B. That will be a small part of a much larger series B. We’re still talking to big institutions and VCs private equity strategies. So it’s very exciting time.


Peter Perri 21:03

Very cool. Well, Teague. Thanks for taking the time today. This has been awesome to have you on the Energy Superheroes podcast. As I said, you’re definitely an energy superhero. The story’s been great. You guys check out EnergyX. Make sure you follow Teague and the company. It’s going to be exciting to see him continue to grow and it’s great to have an entrepreneur we’ll definitely have you back Teague. Thanks for the time today.


Unknown Speaker 21:26

Thanks, Peter. Thanks for having me.


Peter Perri 21:31

For more Energy Superheroes with Peter Perri, visit Energy.Media

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