Max Bregman's interest in the ability of startups to drive change in the world led him to start a business of his own.
Now a senior studying business data analytics and minoring in real estate, Bregman is the CEO and co-founder of BreatheEV, a company that builds software for electric vehicle charging with a focus on serving multifamily properties.
"We allow property owners to drive up their market value by hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we make it easy for residents to get a charge when they want and need it," Bregman said.
EV investments have skyrocketed in Arizona since the Inflation Reduction Act put money into electric vehicle manufacturing and supply chains. The Environmental Defense Fund recently reported that EV investments in Arizona tripled in the span of six months between March and August of 2023.
BreatheEV — whose name is a play on words for "breathe easy" — is capitalizing on this boom while also carving out a market niche.
"The software that we're building is the first of its kind, and (we’re) also focusing on the multifamily space, which a lot of the funding right now, especially from the federal government, is going into public charging," Bregman said. "Our solution is paired well for solving that problem."
Croghan owns an investment company that focuses on helping early-stage tech companies. Tyre is an angel investor who sold his first startup for $1.5 billion, his fourth to Microsoft and helped grow his fifth to being listed on the New York Stock Exchange, according to Tyre.
Croghan's rationale for investing in BreatheEV centers on five key components he uses to evaluate startups: their market, team, plan, product and resources. But his decision to invest in the company was "heavily swayed" by meeting Bregman.
"I think he's a natural-born entrepreneur. He's gonna start companies, build cool stuff and do it intelligently," Croghan said. "So I told (him), I don't know if this one's gonna work, but I want to be in your next company, so I'm going to start with this one."
Croghan then convinced Tyre to also invest in BreatheEV, with his role more focused on coaching Bregman and helping with sales and marketing. Tyre said that although he initially invested because of his high regard for Croghan’s angel investing experience and "wealth of knowledge" about evaluating startups, he now continues supporting BreatheEV because of Bregman’s character.
"Max is a stand-up guy, high integrity. He's been over to my house a handful of times, and he does a lot of just about everything we asked him to do," Tyre said. "He's got a great business model … He understands that it takes a few years to build a great company. Max is really good at going out and explaining what we think is going to happen, and he's got more experience with EV chargers than anybody else in Arizona."
Bregman made it onto AZ Inno Under 25 in 2023, an honor that recognized his achievements as a young entrepreneur.
Despite the surging Arizona market for EVs, a challenge to BreatheEV’s success is convincing property owners that having EV charging installations in their multifamily dwellings is valuable, given that it’s a new market category.
"(Bregman is) trying to create a category and capture his share of it at the same time. We haven't called on any multifamily owner or operator yet that has a line item in their budget for this kind of product, because they didn't know it existed," Croghan said. "So that's the biggest hurdle — to get them to understand the value proposition, and they should have that in their budget, and we're the right answer for filling that gap."
Bregman envisions BreatheEV's eventually expanding into a nationwide network, but said that Arizona is a "great start" because of its EV market growth. Being a student in ASU's ecosystem also played into his entrepreneurial success.
"I'm really glad that I've been able to find professors and deans to work with to help support this startup journey, but also give me (academic) credit for my startup as a founder," Bregman said.
Bregman has also won ASU-affiliated pitch competitions such as Open Pitch Week and Tech Devils, and obtained funding from Changemaker Central. For Bregman, a way of giving back to the ASU community is through advocating for student founders to receive academic credit and hiring BreatheEV interns who attend the University.
"I've gotten a lot of support. It took some time to create that, but now that it’s there, I'm grateful for all of ASU's support," Bregman said.
Edited by Alysa Horton, Sadie Buggle and Caera Learmonth.