Cleantech Energy 2014

Program Overview

Village Capital launched its 3rd energy-focused program in 2014. Fourteen innovative clean technology ventures took part in this 4-month, 4-session program from June to September of 2014.

The participating ventures were invited to participate in the Rice University Energy Venture Forum, presenting in front of a group of over 200 energy-focused investors and entrepreneurs. In a sweeping success, 3 of the top 10 presenting ventures were from the Village Capital Energy Program.

Workshops took place on:

Workshop 1: June 19-22 (Colorado)
Workshop 2: August 3-6 (Houston, TX)
Workshop 3: September 10 (Houston, TX)
Workshop 4: September 24-27 (Colorado)

Selected Ventures

  • Bractlet accurately measures and verifies energy savings for energy efficiency retrofits.
  • *e-Chromic Technologies uses a reflective electrochromic thin film to retrofit existing windows, transforming ordinary energy wasting windows into highly energy efficient “smart windows.”
  • EEme converts big data into actionable insight to mine for residential energy efficiency sweet spots, empowering electric utilities and third party energy efficiency program implementers.
  • Effortless Energy offers an individually tailored package of free, easy home upgrades that make homes more valuable, easier to control from a mobile device, more comfortable, healthier and greener while saving money.
  • OptiEnz Sensors offers an innovative, breakthrough technology for continuously and quantitatively measuring organic chemical concentrations in water and aqueous solutions.
  • *PAX Pure is a cutting-edge desalination solution developed by pairing fundamental thermodynamic principles with scientific insight from Biomimicry.
  • Rebound Technology is a unique refrigeration cycle with embedded thermal energy storage that saves supermarkets up to 60% on their low temperature cooling costs.
  • Secure Waters develops, manufactures and markets the AquaSentinel, a Water Secure Sensor that detects toxins and pollutants in surface waters. It connects directly to the cloud and uses the power of IoT/IoE and Big Data to improve water quality.
  • Sustainable Power Systems is developing the first Universal Microgrid Controller (TM) that combines and controls wind, solar and fossil fuel energy as well as energy storage. 

*Peer-selected for investment

Program Mentors

Our mentors bring years of experience as investors, entrepreneurs, and experts. Mentors from this program included:


Upload 1 Christina Karapataki
Christina Karapataki is a Venture Principal in the Early Stage Technology Investments group at Schlumberger Technology Corporation. She specializes in early stage investments in energy, advanced materials and sustainability technologies. Prior to her current role, Christina worked for ExxonMobil Gas & Power Marketing in both the European and North America offices, and gained venture experience evaluating oil and gas technology investments with Venrock Management LLC in 2011. Christina’s background is in Chemical Engineering with B.A. and M.Eng. degrees from the University of Cambridge. She is a graduate from MIT, with an S.M. degree in Energy Technology and Policy, where her research at the MIT Energy Initiative focused on evaluating water management technologies for shale gas production operations.


Hal Kruth Hal Kruth is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Factor(E) Ventures, a pioneering accelerator that propels access-to-energy solutions into the developing world. Factor(E) provides a unique blend of risk capital and world-class technical resources to support early stage ideas and entrepreneurs.  Hal has been a founder, promoter, mentor, investor, fund-raiser, executive manager and active board member in over 50 early stage technology ventures. From 2001 through 2008 Hal was one of the top three executives responsible for a spin-out ($2+billion dollar IPO) of the UK’s defence science and engineering labs.  Prior to that, Hal was the Senior VP of Ventures and Licensing for Stanford Research Institute (SRI) where he managed the internal SRI process to develop new business opportunities (spin-outs and license deals).  He is currently an active board member and investor in several early-stage ventures, including high-social impact companies Driptech, Inc., Aperia Technologies and Waste Enterprisers, LLC.
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Upload 3 Jigar Shah
Jigar Shah is an entrepreneur and visionary committed to leveraging the next economy by solving the challenging issues of our time. Shah has recognized this as “The Impact Economy,” also the title of his upcoming book. Shah has noted that a global “Impact Economy” is one in which mainstream investors team up with corporations, entrepreneurs, and governments at scale to solve the big environmental and social problems of our time while generating compelling financial returns – not just average returns. Today, he is CEO of Jigar Shah Consulting and a board member of the Carbon War Room. He works closely with some of the world’s leading influencers and guides policy makers around the globe on key issues to implement solutions for global warming and sustainability that will unlock that next trillion dollar impact economy.


Josh Gould
Mr. Looney has over 20 years of experience with technology projects including scope definition, design, development, schedule management, risk management, requirements gathering, and resource planning. Over his career, he has fulfilled a wide range of duties within engineering, product development, international operations, executive management, marketing, finance, and quality management systems. Before founding Northeast Biomedical, Mr. Looney held executive leadership roles at Creganna-Tactx Medical, CorNova, and Atrox Technologies, as well as design engineering roles at several other well-known companies. In addition to industrial experience, Mr. Looney has written several textbooks and teaches courses in computer-aided design and new product development at the University of Massachusetts – Lowell Francis College of Engineering and Manning School of Business.Mr. Looney received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts – Lowell, his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University, and his M.B.A. from Suffolk University.
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upload 11 Naveen Sikka
Naveen is the Founder & CEO of TerViva BioEnergy. Since 2009, Naveen has been recognized as a thought leader at the intersection of agriculture and renewable energy. Prior to starting TerViva, Naveen completed his MBA from UC Berkeley, where he focused on energy and resource economics. At that time, Naveen co-chaired the Berkeley Energy and Resources Collaborative (BERC), which under his leadership formed the “Cleantech to Market Program” to spin off promising technologies at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. Prior to getting his MBA, Naveen worked as a management consultant at Gemini Consulting and TPI (formerly a part of the Monitor Group), in the realms of biotech, finance, and human capital. In 2000, Naveen graduated as a Class Senior Marshal with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University, during which time he studied and worked in France and West Africa.


Nety Krishna
Nety Krishna is a Partner at Bright Capital since 2012. At Bright, Nety focuses on developing a robust pipeline of investment opportunities in the Energy and IT sectors, building strong relationships with key partners and helping to promote the opportunities available to companies in Russia and neighboring regions. Prior to joining Bright, Nety was a Partner at Redpoint Ventures where he was a lead member of the Energy, Materials & Environment investment team. The investments covered many sectors including CO2-to-Chemicals, Energy Storage, Efficient Materials Discovery, Solid State Lighting, Smart Grid, Nuclear Fusion and PV. Nety has a strong science and technology background having spent more than 13 years as an executive at Applied Materials – a leader in the semiconductor equipment and materials industries. His contributions led to the commercialization of many cutting edge technologies that are industry standards today. Nety received his MS and PhD degrees in Particle Physics from Rice University.
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upload 9 Shane Gring
Shane Gring, LEED AP Homes, is a mission-based entrepreneur seeking to even the odds for future generations by building movements, bringing people together, and speaking up. Prior to joining USGBC, he served as the Managing Partner and CEO for an organization which he co-founded –BOULD—that sought to address the “experience gap” in the green building industry. Over three years, the BOULD team has been recognized by the Unreasonable Institute, the Hitachi Foundation, and identified by the Economist as one of “9 Breakthroughs That Made the World Better.” During Shane’s tenure, BOULD provided green building opportunities for over 400 developing professionals, while also supporting over 40 LEED-certified affordable homes to low-income families across 10 states. Shane has spoken at 30+ conferences and pitch events, including Greenbuld 2012 and TEDx. His organization’s efforts have been featured in GOOD Magazine, AIA’s Residential Architect, and Forbes. Besides work, Shane enjoys swinging a hammer with Habitat for Humanity, obsessing over graphic design, and constantly embarrassing himself on first dates. He is a proud graduate of Miami University and native Detroiter, by way of Denver, Colorado.


Stephanie Nieman
Stephanie Nieman is an Associate in SJF Ventures’ North Carolina office. Stephanie is responsible for assisting in all aspects of the investment process, including identifying potential investment opportunities, conducting due diligence, structuring terms of investment and providing ongoing support to active portfolio companies, as well as supporting SJF’s fund administration. She also oversees fund impact measurement and reporting. Stephanie was previously at B Lab, a US-based nonprofit whose mission is to harness the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. Stephanie oversaw B Lab’s impact assessment strategy in U.S., Canadian and European markets; led development of B Analytics, a data platform for impact investing; and helped drive capital to high-impact investments. Prior to B Lab, Stephanie worked in Institutional Equity Sales at Lehman Brothers, where she also served on the firm’s pro bono microfinance team and in sales and business development for Pearson Education. She has an MBA from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, a Graduate Certificate in International Development Policy from Duke University and a BS in Business from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. – See more at:

Our Partners

Related Events

Workshop 1 – Ft. Collins, Colorado (June 19-22)

The Rocky Mountain Innosphere hosted the first program workshop.  The session focused on each company communicating their main value proposition to mentors and their fellow cohort companies. Governor Bill Ritter spoke at the outset of our four-day session about “The New Energy Economy” and the political nature of the energy business.  In particular, he talked about the challenges our country faces in instituting a cap and trade program.  The cohort was fortunate enough to be able to hear Kim Jordan, the CEO and co-founder of New Belgium Brewing Company, speak about corporate responsibility and Employee Shared Ownership Plans (ESOPs).  When referring to Kim’s talk one entrepreneur remarked, “The focus on values while speaking with Kim at New Belgium really brought back the internal discussion about the type of company we want to lead…We'd LOVE to adopt similar values should the capital opportunities be available.”

During one of our workshop sessions the entrepreneurs received specific feedback about their target markets and hypotheses from Bryan Wilson, named by the Department of Energy (DoE) as one of the top five energy experts in the United States.  Paul Nelson, The President of Ward Alternative Energy and a leader in spearheading the clean technology sector’s pre-eminence in Northern Colorado, told inspirational start-up stories and gave the companies insight into what it takes to succeed in an entrepreneurial venture.  Lastly, the clean technology cohort heard a presentation by entrepreneur and Colorado State Professor Paul Hudnut about navigating entrepreneurial pitfalls and creating a road map to success.

Village Capital helped the companies develop impact metrics, their financial models, and refine their pitch and in the month between Workshop 1 and Workshop 2, received updates from the entrepreneurs about their progress to date.  During these conversations, Village Capital found that over 50% of the companies had significant positive developments with potential customers or were in the process of closing companies in their target market.  In addition, more than 25% were in discussion with investors and were working through the process of getting term sheets signed to meet their goals for raising capital. 

Workshop 2 – Houston, Texas (August 3-6)

The second workshop was hosted by The Houston Technology Center. This session focused on building financial models based on comparable companies, how to finance an entrepreneurial clean technology venture, and further refining the go-to-market strategy of each company.  The entrepreneurs were questioned about their companies’ financial assumptions, such as revenue, growth rate, and costs. A major challenge that many entrepreneurs in the energy space face is the capital-intensive nature of producing a product that solves an industry problem. As a result, the workshop focused extensively on what kind of capital they should be seeking and how they would pay it back.   

Workshop 3 - Houston, Texas (September 9-11) 

The third session was a special addition to our normal programming thanks to our partnership with Chilton Capital and Rice University’s Energy and Clean Technology Venture Forum

This unique workshop put the cohort companies in front of hundreds of investors and entrepreneurs who were potential partners.  The companies also had the opportunity to participate in speed dating sessions on the 10th where they connected 1:1 with investors and mentors. On September 11th, the companies pitched a ballroom with 400 potential investors at the Rice Energy and Clean Technology Venture’s marquee event.

Workshop 4 - Fort Collins, Colorado (September 23-26)

The fourth workshop was hosted by The Rocky Mountain Innosphere. Entrepreneurs worked in teams to practice their pitches with highly experienced mentors. Companies received feedback on their delivery and presentation content from mentors before spending the next day pitching in front of potential customers, investors, and industry experts. The finale session four was the Venture Forum on September 26th in Fort Collins, where each entrepreneur gave a two-and-a-half minute pitch to a group of over 80 investors