Adventures in Entrepreneurship

Changing economic conditions and widespread recognition of risks associated with business as usual practices related to energy generation and efficiency create a perfect storm or opportunity for new ventures. New companies developed today will power the energy industry of tomorrow. Yet starting a new venture requires not only development and deployment of new technology, but also an ability to develop strategy that can accommodate a rapidly changing marketplace. Innovations in financing, relationships with government agencies, and out-of-the-box marketing are gaining increasing attention. But what are the determinants of success?

New venture built today will power the future of the energy industry. As new players emerge, the competition remains fierce and business strategies rapidly innovate to gain market leadership. Companies rush to advance technologies and to build solid relationships with financial resources and government agencies.

  • How do you spot the opportunity?
  • What are the biggest challenges as a start-up company and what are the solutions?
  • What are the keys to success for companies past start-up, entering growth?
  • What challenges do entrepreneurs face that are unique to the energy sector?
  • What causes energy start-ups to fail?



Energy Project Development

Energy projects face a myriad of obstacles during development.  Issues such as permitting, environmental coordination and innovative financing are often the key to the success of both commercial and utility scale developments.   This panel will consider this intersection between real estate, resource, environment, and project finance during energy project development.

  • What projects will reach financial close this year and why?
  • Where is financing going to come from?
  • Which companies are getting the best land deals?
  • How will transmission drive real estate decisions/ project development?
  • How long does it take to permit sites? What are the bottlenecks?
  • How much land is left (with high resource) for large-scale installations?
  • Is there competition with land speculators?
  • What kills projects?
  • What are the roles of federal, state and local governments?
  • What innovations do you see in the marketplace?



The Great Leap Forward: The Future of the Electricity Grid

2009 appears to be the year of the electricity grid.  From the recent stimulus bill to the wide array of new technologies being offered by Fortune 500 companies and start-ups alike, there are great tailwinds moving the country towards a smarter electricity grid future.  This is a future from which consumers, utilities, and the environment all stand to benefit.

But at the same time, there are enormous obstacles standing in the way of progress, including regulatory issues and challenges from industry cooperation. This panel of entrepreneurs, utility companies and policy experts will explore critical questions facing the smart grid community, including:

  • What ‘stimulus’ is needed from the government to make the smart grid a reality, in terms of public finance, regulation, as well as underlying infrastructure?
  • How does the weak economic climate affect the pace of smart grid development?
  • Who will drive adoption of the smart grid, consumers, utilities or the government?
  • What criteria will separate the winning technologies?
  • Where do growth opportunities exist in the near to medium term?



Investing in Energy: Perspectives from the Trenches

The process of growing an early stage energy company to a mature operating entity presents unique challenges for the investment community. Not only do energy companies have to contend with commodity cycles and public policy, they also tend to require more time and capital to grow. With no spectacular exits in the industry thus far, how can investors adjust their risk/return model to operate under this new environment? In particular:

  • Do energy investments make economic sense for the traditional moderate input/high return model of VCs?
  • What needs to change in order for VCs to successfully participate in more time and capital intensive investments?
  • Do growth equity and private equity funds need to step into the funding gap to scale energy companies?
  • What factors can facilitate this process?