Cleantech Energy 2014
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)
- 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.
- Integrated Microfluidic Devices is a portable device that detects bacteria from fluids in minutes instead of days.
- 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
Our mentors bring years of experience as investors, entrepreneurs, and experts. Mentors from this program included:
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.