Our Founders' Story

Three years into Arc’s journey to electrify the marine industry, our crew is now 100 people strong and growing. We’re proud to have assembled an all-star team of experts from the worlds of aerospace engineering, EV, marine manufacturing, software, and other dynamic fields. Our crew includes veterans from SpaceX, Tesla, Rivian, Lyft, and marine staples like Brunswick and MarineMax.

And, our new factory floor is buzzing with R&D on our first mass-market model.

As we cruise into our next chapter at Arc, we wanted to take you behind the scenes into the story of our founders, from childhood obsessions to helming a world-class company working to electrify the marine industry.

Charting the course

Mitch Lee was born into a Bay Area family of boating fanatics — his mom waterskied on the morning of her wedding day, curlers and all — and spent countless hours on the water growing up. On land, he focused on entrepreneurship, juggling multiple jobs and trading stocks from a young age.

Meanwhile in rural Pennsylvania, Ryan Cook was busy building complex Lego sets, robots, and toy rockets. He earned the nickname “Rocket Man” among friends and family after his first launch — in his family living room. The lasting burn mark on the ceiling was a spot of inspiration for bigger experiments outdoors.

Mitch and Ryan’s paths converged while studying mechanical engineering at Northwestern University. Mitch was gaining notoriety on campus for his then-novel digital note taking, and Ryan was honing his skills to become a talented hardware engineer. Following graduation the duo went to work at Boeing, brainstorming and prototyping business ideas in their downtime. They made a good team, with Mitch’s entrepreneurial mindset harnessing Ryan’s creativity and engineering talent.

Despite pursuing different career paths beyond Boeing — Mitch founded a software startup, and Ryan became a lead engineer at SpaceX — their connection persisted.

Sparking an electric future

A few years after Mitch's company was acquired, he was ready for a new challenge. Mitch wanted to work on something physical with a positive impact on the world. He was eager to blend his experience with hardware and software, leveraging Ryan’s expertise in building advanced hardware products.

They bounced ideas around, looking for something with not only a logical business model, but a fun mission. Inspired by Mitch’s lifelong love of the water, the idea of an electric boat surfaced to the top. The more they dove into the concept — Ryan looking into the (relatively) clear solution of applying EV tech and supply chains to the water, and Mitch investigating the compelling business prospects — the more optimistic the pair became.

The idea for electric boating seemed obvious; the hard part was execution. And given their prior experience and networks, they were confident in their ability to execute.

It was settled. Arc was founded in 2021 as a manifestation of a decade-old friendship, and a perfect blend of Mitch and Ryan’s expertise in hardware, software, and business. We’ve already made a lot of progress toward electrifying everything that floats, and in 2024, we’re ready to take our mission even further.

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