Innovator Highlight: Landon Acriche, VFA Alum

Name: Landon Acriche

Venture for America Class: 2015

Company: Alabama Power

Position: Market Specialist

Graduated: Yale University

Major: Environmental Engineering

Hometown: Woodmere, NY

About Alabama Power

Alabama Power is an electric utility, serving 1.4 million customers in the southern two-thirds of the state.  Headquartered in Birmingham, it is one of four electric utilities under its parent company, Southern CompanyAlabama Power has been providing electricity to the state since 1906

Q & A

As a VFA fellow, why did you choose Birmingham?

I chose to consider Birmingham because I was interested in the energy industry, so the role at Alabama Power was a great fit.  Once I arrived for my site visit, I saw that not only would the role fit what I was looking for, but so too would the city.  Birmingham seemed to have a lot of energy, and I was very excited about the idea of exploring a different area of the country.  Both the job and Birmingham have certainly been better than I anticipated.

As a VFA Alumni, your 2-year fellowship is over, what makes you continue to stay in Birmingham?

I have stayed in Birmingham beyond my graduation date both because I am very invested in my work at Alabama Power and because I have really enjoyed my time in Birmingham.  I have made many great friends over the last two years, both within VFA and outside of it, and I’ve gotten to know a lot of the city.  I look forward to seeing Birmingham continue to grow!

Describe your perfect day in the Birmingham

My perfect day in Birmingham would involve a lot of time outside.  I’d probably spend a few hours playing sports, be it volleyball at the beach court, Spikeball or soccer at Railroad Park, or kickball at George Ward.  Some hiking time at Ruffner, Red Mountain or Oak Mountain would also be a must.  And I love to eat, so getting food at Saw’s or Hot Box would be a great bonus.  Alternatively, if I have an entire Saturday free, I’d hit the road to explore Alabama and check out the small towns within a few hours’ drive of Birmingham. 

What do you think makes the Magic City “magic?”

To me, the pride that Birmingham residents have in the city makes the Magic City “magic.”  People are very passionate about the potential of the city, and everyone seems to be working hard to contribute to its growth in whichever way fits them best.  As a result, there are exciting projects across the spectrum, from music and the arts to tech and entrepreneurship to food and entertainment.

What projects are you currently working on at Alabama Power?

My team’s focus has been on developing new products and services that provide additional value for our customers.  This often includes new initiatives with partners throughout the state.  As an example, we are working with the City of Birmingham, UAB, the BJCTA and others to find ways Alabama Power’s infrastructure might be further utilized to make Birmingham more efficient in areas such as energy, transportation, connectivity, and health.  An example of this is our LED lighting project, through which we are installing new LED street lights to improve safety and increase energy efficiency.

What personal side-projects are you currently working on?

My most personally exciting side project has been my road trips throughout Alabama.  Every Saturday that I am free I have gone on a new road trip to explore a different part of the state, from Fort Payne and Florence in the north to Monroeville and Demopolis further south.  Being from suburban New York, exploring rural Alabama has given me a very different perspective, and I have loved the great food, interesting sites, and wonderful conversations along the way.

What advice would you give prospective young people looking to move to Birmingham?

My advice to prospective young people considering a move to Birmingham would be to not let the city’s or state’s stereotypes influence your decision to make the move.  Doing so would be a disservice to both you and the city.  Rather, go visit and talk to current residents, and more likely than not you will learn that the city has a lot to offer!

About Venture for America

Venture for America is a two-year fellowship program for recent college graduates who want to work at a startup and create jobs in American cities. Fellows learn important startup skills at VFA’s five-week Training Camp at Brown University, apply for jobs within their vetted company network, and work for two years as full-time, salaried employees in one of 18 cities. When Fellows are ready to start a company—be it two years after college or ten—VFA has the resources to help make that dream a reality. In the last six years, VFA has produced 33 Fellow-Founded companies who have raised $29M and have created over 145 new jobs.

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