Built in Seattle: 3 Seattle energy tech companies on how they’re greening the grid
October 23, 2018
Tell us how you got started in the power business.
I started a craft beer and wine importing and wholesaling company shortly after college. That wasn’t a great business in the mid-1990s, but I got the startup bug. I knew I wanted to launch another company someday, so I searched long and hard for the right industry. I figured that renewable power was destined to become a major industry at some point, so I worked hard to come up the learning curve. I cut my teeth at the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, where the first Renewable Energy Certificate transactions were completed. I then went on to co-found OneEnergy Renewables, a national developer of utility-scale solar projects. Finally, in 2016, I founded LevelTen Energy to make the renewable procurement process simpler and less risky for corporate and other non-utility power buyers.
As an entrepreneur, if most people don’t think you’re idea is impractical or absurd, you’re probably not being ambitious enough.”
Which particular element of the power grid are you trying to modernize, and how?
Our aim is to decarbonize the electrical grid. The most effective way to do that is to pay carbon-free sources of electricity to dump their power into the grid. That means mobilizing as much demand as possible for wind and solar power. The LevelTen Marketplace allows corporations to procure renewable energy more easily — and in significant volumes — so we’re letting customers put their money where their values are. They’re literally changing the composition of the grid in the process.
Until recently, only the world’s largest tech companies could successfully complete these renewable energy transactions. We’re proud that our technologies enable more buyers to participate in the market, greening the grid more rapidly.
What challenges have you faced along the way?
I’ve faced most of the typical startup challenges over the years: running frighteningly low on cash, struggling to manage personalities within the team, trying to juggle priorities with too few hours in the day, and so on. However, since this is my third company at least I knew what was coming my way. One challenge that sticks out is the necessity of maintaining focus on the company’s vision in the face of a chorus of skeptics. Inevitably, many people will view you and your company as crazy. I’ve finally learned to wear that like a badge of honor. As an entrepreneur, if most people don’t think you’re idea is impractical or absurd, you’re probably not being ambitious enough.
To read the full article, visit BuiltInSeattle.com.