Today it has never been easier or cheaper to launch an energy startup since many need little in terms of money or supplies as their ideas have gone no further than their laptops. The leap from concept to prototype and on to the market is when startups need to raise serious money for buy-in ability, equipment and premises.
“Bridging the gap between the idea and the prototype, that’s the hard part,” said Nicholas Flanders, CEO of Opus 12, which developed a technology for turning CO2 into useful chemicals for industry.
In recent years a specialized energy-investment community of so-called “dragons” has formed. But they, like innovators, face the challenge of detecting profitable opportunities in a market in transition. The only certainty is that demand for energy will increase, but determining how is the challenge.
“Success stems from being able to envision an energy innovation’s benefits or contribution to accomplish higher productivity or provide other products and comforts that can be monetized,” said W. Ross Williams, CEO of Alfresco Group in Denver. Basically, the marketing fundamentals apply: we don’t pay for energy; we pay for the benefits that energy provides. Energy is only one ingredient in the value chain.”