From an elevator to an elevator: The rising market for futuristic high-tech companies in Washington

Tech startups are selling “elevators” and robots. Now, they’re trying to sell skyscrapers.

That’s the effort of eVolo, a company that’s selling its automated system of elevators that runs at high speeds from several floors up in skyscrapers. “I’ve been chasing these concepts for over a decade,” eVolo chief technology officer Tom Putnam says.

Elevators are short-lived property: The better they are, the more expensive they will be, so eVolo is trying to sell its technology to anyone who’s ready to spend tens of millions on it.

The company is currently working on building a building in Denver, it says, that will have some of the most high-end elevator technology ever put into building, including a second elevator to air a car between the floors above and below.

“It’s a whole new experience of moving through the building,” Putnam says.

Putting software on high-speed elevators may be daunting for us. But Putnam emphasizes that the company’s technology is a big engineering accomplishment. “It’s the next generation of elevator technology in the world of airplanes,” he says.

Putnam, a former director of architecture at the FAA, left Tesla last fall after his wife passed away. EVolo now employs about 30 people and has raised nearly $5 million in capital from investors including Kyle Vogt, founder of Palo Alto Real Estate Partners, Digital Sky Technologies and Advancit Capital.

“It will be a mixed-use building — a lot of office space, residential [space], fitness,” Putnam says. But he also has high hopes for the tech future: “We’re working on very detailed architectural plans and designing the building to interact with the energy source of the building and integrate those systems into the building.”

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