July 28th, 2010

Hot Tips for Raising Money from the Green Entrepreneur Summit

Entrepreneurship -

Yesterday, Chris and I attended the Green Entrepreneur Summit in New York.  It was a completely sold out event, and rightfully so.  The panelists and audience were high-quality business leaders who are the lifeblood of the cleantech scene in New York.

I went back through my notes and there was some great insight shared by the Funding Strategies Panel on how to raise capital for a cleantech or sustainability venture.  The panelists were heavy-hitters with long track records of successfully raising substantial amounts of capital (in the 10’s and 100’s of millions) and commercializing technologies in the ‘green’ space.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • “The financing environment has completely changed.  A few years ago, finding a senior lender was easy and the hard part was equity or VC.  These days, the VC money exists but lenders don’t want in.  If you’re dealing with a syndicate, you have to sell to each participant to get them involved”.
  • “Make sure you can communicate your plan.  How will you commercialize, and how will the investor get their money back. You have to prove you know what to do with the money when you get it.”
  • “Know where you fit in the funding value chain.”
  • “Find an ally.  Use your networks.  Tap into networking events like Green Drinks and the Social Venture Network, there are a lot of great people there than can help”.
  • “Tell your story well.  You need a lot of financial data.  Have a good PowerPoint.  Don’t read it.  Tell your story with passion.”
  • “If your house isn’t in order, the investors will eek out more and more equity.  The more they do upfront, the more equity they will take.”
  • “I want to see a technology that has become a business.  I like to see customers and I like to see revenue.  If you’ve got a list of 1,000 customers waiting to buy your product, who wouldn’t want to invest into that.”
  • [Is there a difference between ‘good’ money and ‘bad money’?]  “Hell yeah!  You need to bring in money with contacts that can help you accelerate.  Anyone can get cash, but does it come with the contacts that can lead into new customers and partnerships.  It helps a lot if you and your investor have similar value systems.”
  • “As an angel investor, the approach I’m always going to take is ‘find a good idea, then buy the jockey’. I’m looking to invest in a team that can execute. I will take an A team with a B idea every time”.

These are simple yet profoundly important bits of advice for anyone trying to raise money to grow a leading company for tomorrow.

What do you think?

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Chris Williams

About Chris Williams

Chris Williams is the editor of Green Light Distrikt and Chief Marketing Officer at HeatSpring . He has experience in business development, prototyping and new venture research with a focus on geothermal heat pumps, solar thermal and solar photovoltaic technologies. Chris is an IGSHPA accredited geothermal installer and NABCEP certified solar installer. Chris is focused on solving customer facing issues in the creation and adoption of clean energy technologies and products. Chris has installed over 300kW of solar and tens of geothermal systems. He's invented the PV Pal , developed many trainings at HeatSpring, publishes the NABCEP Study Guide , the Hitchhikers Guide to Cleantech and has done due diligence research for Urgent VC . Feel free to connect with him @topherwiliams , on Linkedin , or through email about new ventures, collaborating, writing, research or whatever is on your mind.