Category Archives: Cleantech

NORTH STAR

by John Jonelis

We catch 647 fish here in 4 days.  On average, that’s a pike every 2.8 minutes.  This place is wild, unspoiled, perhaps like this continent a thousand years ago and summer feels like spring.

Huge northern pike.  Gorgeous scenery.  What man can resist a fishing expedition?

I am visiting my favorite startup company—North Star Executive Outpost on Knee Lake, Manitoba.  It’s a paradise—a northern pike factory in the breathtaking Canadian wilderness.  No roads.  Accessible only by air.  Just one lodge on a 50-mile-long stretch of pure water where God and God alone stocks these hearty fish that grow to such prodigious proportions and feed so ferociously.

Six hundred forty seven fish.  Don’t believe me?  I assure you, we keep an accurate count.  Got to.  Boat bets.  Loop Lonagan and Jim Kren will skin me alive for lying about a thing like that.

On day #2, a pike manages to hit my lure before swallowing its previous meal and yes, I count two fish caught on one cast.  The bite is on!

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Shore Lunch

Every day we pause to catch a few fat walleye and then land our boats at a likely island to participate in a great Canadian custom—shore lunch.  The guide cuts wood, builds a fire, cleans, cooks, and serves the fish.  My favorite restaurant of all time.

So many wonderful ways to cook fresh fish.  Beer batter walleye, honey-garlic walleye, traditional walleye with all the trimmings.  A different dish every day, followed by desert.  If you have not yet experienced this wilderness feast, you are in for a treat!

Nothing tastes better than fresh walleye.  It’s a delicacy elsewhere in the world, but nowhere near as good as walleye up here.  These are fresh from of a cold clean body of water—live until cooked and eaten.  Up here, they grow big and thick, with luscious and flaky meat.  I have room for just one.

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Hunting Pike

We spend our days on these pristine waters in open boats, making long casts with stout rods, our heavy lures retrieved at speed.  Attacks by northern pike are sudden, savage, and frequent, with water churning at line’s end.  To our surprise, walleye also strike our lures with tenacity and vigor.

But on day #3, the air grows unusually warm for this far north, and the bite slows.  I put away my heavy tackle and slip out a fly rod.  We glide into a calm bay, looking for big ones sunning and digesting an afternoon’s feed.  We are hunting them.

My guide spots a monster pike 50 feet away and I cast a 10-inch fly at it.  It refuses my offering and paddles away ever so slowly.  “We’ll find it again!” says my companion.

And we do.  I tie on a bigger fly (it looks more like a mop), cast it past this fish, and draw it into the kill zone, then twitch it to entice the lounging lunker.  As I watch, the big fish gradually turns toward my bait and lazily moves on it.  With great care, enormous jaws close over my lure.  I set the hook hard, feel weight and life at the end of my line, and see the huge pike pull against me.  Fish on!

A shiver runs down my shoulder.  Then the big pike charges our boat and I strip line fast, spilling coils around my feet, trying to keep a load on my rod because any slack and that barbless hook can easily fall from a bony jaw.  The pike continues to charge and swims directly under the boat.  Plunging fly rod into water, I work around the bow.  The pike continues to run in the same direction, taking line at will—line that burns through my grip until it spools off the floor, pulls taught, and tugs at the drag on my primitive reel.  The reel gives me an advantage.

Powerful shakes and malicious tugs, then the pike’s 25 pounds rolls in my leader, but hook holds fast and this northern pike finally goes to bottom, still as rock.  The water is clear in this shallow bay and I see my fish and keep pressure on.

Eventually the big pike concedes, and perhaps more out of curiosity than fatigue comes to our gunnels.  My guide and I both gasp. There’s always something awesome about a thick, powerful fish measuring in the mid 40’s.

We net the pike, snap a quick photo, and the trophy goes right back in the lake to swim away and fight again. I can barely express the draining satisfaction of hunting, battling, and landing a pike this big.  Maybe I’ll catch him again next year.  Then primal shouts, a congratulatory handshake, and I relive the fight in my mind all the many miles back to our lodge.

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Revival

After a hard day fishing, this old man needs food and rest.  Management proves courteous and professional and refuses to let me suffer.  We sit around our beautiful log cabin in blissful comfort, sipping beer and telling stories with suitable embellishments while eating steak, ribs, and other satisfying fare.

Up here, summer nights don’t get entirely dark.  By eight o’clock in the afternoon, we’re playing at the pool table, shuffleboard table, and poker table.  Then we shower under deliciously hot water and sleep soundly under warm quilts, on firm and expansive beds.

On the appointed day, we board our bush plane at the lodge’s private landing strip and fly home for dinner.  If you live in Chicago, a true wilderness isn’t really that far away..

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THE PLACE:

North Star Executive Outpost

http://northstarresort.ca/

Check for a cancellation if you want to book this year.

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VERIFY MY NUMBERS:

Fish frequency calculation:

3 fishermen, 4 days on the water

less 1.5 hours/day for shore lunch

= 30 hours fishing and running around in the boat.

30 hrs / 647 fish = avg 2.8 min per fish caught

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Photography by John Jonelis

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Next installment coming soon

Go back to – ROUGHING IT

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money..Copyright © 2018 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, Canada, Cleantech, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Fishing, fly fishing, Jim Kren, loop lonagan, new companies, pike fishing, Startup, startup company, vc, Venture

MAY THE FOREST BE WITH YOU

Neil Kane TUsing Whole Trees in Building Construction

Neil Kane

If there was ever a way to combine high tech and high touch as John Naisbitt stated in High Tech, High Touch, his 1999 follow-up to his 1982 bestseller Megatrends, “embracing technology that preserves our humanness”, WholeTrees Architecture & Structures of Madison, Wisconsin epitomizes it. WholeTrees is an innovative company that has hit it out of the park in terms of innovating on technology while providing a substantial impact return, all while having one of the most gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing product lines you’ll ever see.

WholeTrees uses trees as turn-key structural systems in commercial and residential building construction. Until you see the photos, however, the description doesn’t do justice to the warmth of their offering.

Building-Interior 1000

Myrick Hixon EcoPark, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

The co-founding team of Roald Gundersen AIA, an architect, and Amelia Baxter, in partnership with the Forest Products Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, have developed a process that allows them to cost-effectively grade, engineer and manufacture the small trees removed from routine forest thinning (called small diameter round-timber), and use the timber as patented trusses, beams and joists in building construction. In doing so they turn forest waste into a sustainable and high value building material.

Round timber is an abundant and renewable resource. The timber is sustainably harvested then dried and treated to protect against shrinkage and pests. Pound for pound as strong as steel in tension, unmilled timber requires less than two percent of the energy of concrete and steel materials for processing and transportation.

IMG_1094-1000

YMCA lobby, Dallas, Texas, 2015

“We are positioned to occupy a large niche in the approximately $13 billion U.S. sustainable structural systems market,” says Amelia Baxter, president. WholeTrees is a woman-owned business with pending Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) certification.

Last week they announced a $1.8 million debt and equity financing from investors who characterize themselves as “impact investors”. Impact investors seek environmental and social returns in addition to financial returns. WholeTrees also receives on-going grant support through the USDA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

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Neil Kane Portrait

Neil Kane writes about leadership and turning innovations into businesses.

This article first appeared in Forbes.com

and News from Heartland

Copyright © 2016 Neil Kane

Photographs: WholeTrees Architecture & Structures & Neil Kane

 

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under big money, Cleantech, Economics, Education, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Impact Investing, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, new companies, Social Entrepreneur

THE VENTURE CANOE

_JAJ2989TJohn Jonelis

Citizens often refer to their country as the ship of state. In like manner, investors picture big corporations as sleek cruise liners or enormous freighters. The thinking goes like this: The bigger the hull, the more seaworthy the ship and the more stable the ride. And that’s true—most of the time.

While embarking on a pleasure cruise, my guests feel cozy and safe until I sing something that feels appropriate to the occasion, like The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – yes, the classic by Gordon Lightfoot. I often belt that out when afloat with friends. It never fails to elicit loud whining, often accompanied by hands clasped to ears.

I like that song. For reasons I fail to understand, this particular ballad gets under people’s skin.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down

Of the big lake they called Gitche Gumee

The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead

When the skies of November turn gloomy

Seems a good mariner’s tune to me, but every time I sing it, I’m assailed by impassioned shouts of, “Stop it—stop it!” What’s wrong with these people? Can it be that folks don’t want to face the inherent risks of investment?

Maybe that question deserves an explanation:

Big Cruise Ship

The Luxury Liner

Those that can afford it, invest in a voyage on a luxury liner. These vessels usually give a pretty smooth ride—in protected waters. The destination is fixed and there’s a very good likelihood that you’ll get there. The cruise director plies everybody with food, booze, and showgirls to break the monotony. Passage on such a ship is like buying a TRIPLE A BOND. You pay a premium. You receive a teensy-weensy coupon. It’s nice and safe. And a lousy investment.

Cargo Ship

The Freighter

You may choose to invest fewer resources and board a freighter. Such ships usually accept 6 to 12 passengers in relative comfort.

With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more

Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty

That good ship and crew was a bone to be chewed

When the gales of November came early

Some of these hulks venture out to the deep with deplorable maintenance records. Picture an overloaded tub, rusting around the hatches and wallowing in high waves. In various waters, piracy enters the picture—something worthy of consideration. A trip on a freighter is like buying a JUNK BOND. Low price, outsized coupon, plenty of risk.

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The Canoe

A small startup venture feels more like my 15 ft. canoe. It can bring you to incredibly beautiful wilderness locations inaccessible to the big tubs. A canoe is simple and elegant. No promenade deck. No staterooms. No galley. Limited cargo hold. An excursion in a canoe is like making a small PRIVATE EQUITY DEAL. You set out and there’s no telling where you’ll end up. I like the canoe.

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High Tech

Big Ships these days are equipped with high-tech wizardry for navigation, communication, even water purification.

My canoe carries its share of technology, too. I’m talking a hull made from modern composite materials, a powerful little electric trolling motor, a depth finder, an ice chest. And my smartphone, which provides GPS navigation, weather reports, and emergency communication!

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Efficient

It seems to me that those big ships use an awful lot of fuel. Such monstrosities require large, well-trained crews to operate safely too. That’s overhead. That costs money. I don’t like that kind of risk.

I can handle my canoe all by myself, or with a couple friends who bring no prior experience aboard. I’ll motor around all day without depleting my battery. I re-charge it for pennies. That’s efficiency! Like lean manufacturing or just in time delivery! And it’s green!

The dawn came late and the breakfast had to wait

When the gales of November came slashin’

When afternoon came it was freezin’ rain

In the face of a hurricane west wind

I go out in November, too. Along with my fishing gear, I carry a cozy Gore Tex parka, and an insulated hoodie. No problem. I laugh at the weather! Laugh I say!

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Nimble

Another thing—these big ships are very, very hard to stop or turn. They sometimes run aground with disastrous results.

I prefer my canoe. Like a startup venture, it pivots quickly. I can run it up on shore—no harm done—and explore an island, then launch it back in the water.

The captain wired in he had water comin’ in

And the good ship and crew was in peril

And later that night when his lights went outta sight

Came the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

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Risk

Small stocks always fluctuate, but bonds can sometimes default. DEFAULT IS DEATH. I’ve had only one near-death experience in my canoe. It happened this November and yes, the water was plenty cold.

Did I mention that I fish out of my canoe? With a 10-weight fly rod, I cast 12 inch weighted streamers for Northern Pike and Musky. And I bait-cast huge bucktails and other hardware in the teeth of the November chill.

People make slurs about the faithful canoe. They claim that it’s too tippy. Rot, I say! Phooey! One day last week at about 4 pm, with my knees cramping from a day of hard fishing, I stand up to cast. No problem. I routinely stand in my canoe to cast for pike. It’s just a matter of balance.

Without warning, I’m two fathoms underwater. I remain strangely calm. Stunned may be a more accurate word because this has never happened to me before. Naturally I take the opportunity to scan around. I note a peculiar absence of fish. Then I become aware that my high tech automated inflatable life preserver has not self-deployed as advertized. In my perplexed state of mind, it doesn’t occur to me to pull the ripcord.

In due time the CO2 cartridge releases and I bob to the surface. In retrospect, the process actually takes only a few seconds. I know because I never gasp for air. Time always seems to stand still during such incidents.

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Recovery

I see my canoe, floating high, upright, and noble. I attempt to swim toward her. It is amazing how difficult it is to make headway in the water fully clothed and shod while tightly grasping an expensive 7-1/2 ft. musky rod between greedy fingers. But no matter. I finally reach the boat.

The searches all say they’d have made Whitefish Bay

If they’d put fifteen more miles behind her

With a canoe, it’s easy to grasp the gunwale, reach for the trolling motor, point the bow at an island and with my body making wake, head for shore. Once in the shallows, it isn’t difficult to re-board the craft. I slip my smartphone out of its high tech ziplock bag and find it operating perfectly. I do not make an emergency call. No sir! This is no emergency! It’s an inconvenience! A big ship would make the news. A canoe is more manageable. I simply retrieve my beloved fishing hat and motor back to the launch site, hoping nobody saw what just happened.

I feel that a dunking is a small price to pay for such a fine day on the water, and I’m soon warm by the fire, reading a good book, with the mariner’s song playing in the back of my head.

Superior, they said, never gives up her dead

When the gales of November come early

The sinking of a ship is a huge tragedy. But why do people fear canoe-sized business ventures? My canoe has yet to default!

Graphics by John Jonelis, MS Office

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2015 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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OIL FROM WATER

oil well T2by John Jonelis

What if you can make oil out of water?  What if, you also end up with more water?  A discovery like that will benefit our country and the world.

The technology now exists.  Commercialization is beginning.

The story starts here in Chicago.  Len Bland, mild-mannered local businessman, creates Business Network Chicago — a forum for presenting early stage ventures to the entrepreneurial community.  Over the years, he sees hundreds of startup companies and occasionally grapples with some very good ideas.

Once in a while, a surprise technology comes along that’s practical, profitable, and good for society. When that happens, it’s time to get involved personally and help them along.  That’s just what Len does.  This is a story about that company.

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Social Entrepreneurship

Nano Gas Technologies is a company that grows out of the discovery that very small gas bubbles remain in liquid a very long time—much longer than had previously been thought in scientific circles.  If you saturate a substance with oxygen or some other gas and it remains in situ for a very long time, a whole range of possibilities opens up.  One ramification of this discovery is to solve the fresh water dilemma.  That’s huge.

Next to the air we breathe, there is nothing more important to life than water.  And our fresh water is drying up.  There are two ways to provide more water to the world:

  • Find more
  • Waste less

Nano Gas starts along the first path and ends up solving the second.

oil well

Find More

Clean drinking water is the first market the company tests—until the real blockbuster application turns up.  Let’s briefly explore this first path because it’s an important one that will benefit humanity.  The company can return to it at any time, and given its importance to society, they probably will.

Fresh water is processed in municipal wastewater treatment facilities.  These facilities are incredibly inefficient.  Turns out, by injecting nano-bubbles into the sludge, a whole lot more pure water can be reclaimed.  Simple.  The best discoveries are simple.

This is hugely exciting news because the benefits extend far beyond relieving the stench in and around the neighborhood of these plants.  We are looking at the potential solution to water shortage in the industrialized world.  Beyond that, the process can provide drinking water to third world nations by extracting purified water from swamps and polluted rivers.  This is social entrepreneurship at its best!

clarification steps

Politics has a funny way of throwing roadblocks in front of good causes.  It turns out that cracking the municipal market is a slow and painstaking undertaking because there are so many cities and towns and each of them takes a long time to make a decision. Wastewater treatment is a good and important application for the technology, but it’s not a market suited for a new company raising significant capital for rapid growth.  In other words, the time horizon for the served market and the time horizon for the capital market don’t match.

Again, I believe the company will return to this market once it achieves maturity.  Meanwhile a much more profitable opportunity has come to light—one that can propel the company to significant growth on a timetable attractive to venture capital.

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Waste Less

Let me tell you about the change that captured my interest in the company:

Domestic oil wells use a lot of water.  Not just fracking operations, but ordinary wells too.  Many of these run out of water before the lunch whistle blows and operations cease for the day.  That means more tankers of oil get shipped from unfriendly places in the world.

At these domestic wells, once the water is used, it comes back as a contaminated slurry.  The standard method to gain value from the slurry is gravity–settling ponds.  Given time, valuable minerals sink to the bottom or rise to the top.  This is slow, messy, and doesn’t do a complete job of cleaning the water.  The reclaimed water is not fit to drink.  It’s not even fit for recovering oil because it clogs up the machinery.  The industry doesn’t know how to deal with the water that remains.

oil well in Rockies

Believe it or not, this water gets entirely wasted.  Drillers truck it to special facilities called disposal wells that pump it back into the ground just to get rid of it.  This reduces the amount of water available for drinking and for industry.

So we’re wasting too much water and pumping too little oil.  Enter Nano Gas Technologies.  They use their profoundly simple nano-bubble discovery to clean wastewater for oil wells.  This is huge because, once purified, oil wells can re-use their water.  That’s right, instead of wasting more and more water and pumping the contaminated residue into the ground, the same water can now be cleaned and used over and over.

That means oil wells no longer cease operations early in the day.  America gets a whole lot more domestic oil and wastes a whole lot less water.  And the company is dealing with the free market rather than multiple bureaucracies.  Everybody wins.

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Big Money

This is a social benefit with $35B market in a very short span of time.  It’s profitable for oil wells, disposal wells, and of course, for the company.  An additional 18 barrels of oil can be reclaimed from 3000 barrels of wastewater.  Dirty water is no longer a nuisance—it’s so valuable that Nano Gas Technologies proposes to pay the well owners for the water and sell the oil they reclaim from it!  Now, there’s a revolutionary idea!  Rapid industry-wide adoption is anticipated once the technology is demonstrated.

Here’s a diagram of the process logistics:

Nano Gas Process

Residual oil reclamation plan – Nano Gas Technologies

Fair Disclosure:  I’m impressed and invested.  Who wouldn’t invest in more oil and more water?

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Contacts

Nano Gas Technologies, Inc. –

BNC – Business Network Chicago

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This article appeared in News From Heartland 

Photo Credits – Nano Gas Technologies

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GAS FOR THE MASSES

Antique Gas PumpBy Bill Blaire – Private Equity Investor

As told to John Jonelis

I’m sittin’ way in the back o’ this crowd so’s I can duck outa here fast. That’s just in case this meetin’ gets outa hand like the last time. It ain’t like I don’t enjoy mixin’ it up—you know I do. Thirty years in the Local #1 boilermakers don’t make a guy soft. But if they haul me off to the lockup again, maybe they throw away the key this time.

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Da Stage

This is BNC Venture Capital where it’s all business, all the time. Every company’s gotta answer the Five Big Questions:

  1. What is it?
  2. Why the hell will anybody buy it?
  3. Who’s runnin’ da show?
  4. How does da company make money?
  5. How does da investor make money?

Answer all five o’ them and ya got yerself a business.

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Solid Stuff

So lemme tell you ‘bout somethin’s been botherin’ me a long time. resized_hedex7jpg1366040091Mosta what we see at these events around town is high tech or mobile apps. It’s like all the mechanical engineers curled up ‘n’ died. But c’mon—doncha think there’s more to life than apps? I wanna hear about some solid stuff fer a change. Stuff made outa steel ‘n’ big bolts.

People don’t realize it, but there’s alotta technology in mechanical contraptions. Well, tonight we finally get to see summa that.

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Da Problemo

All sorts o’ companies is payin’ a fortune t’ gas up their fleets o’ trucks. It don’t take much fer some sweaty Arabs to ram the price o’ gasoline up the whazoo. We’re talkin’ small companies here—plumbers, heatin’ ‘n’ air conditioning guys, landscapers, industrial contractors—lotsa little outfits runnin’ on real thin margins. Fuel prices go up, they start bleedin’ money and that’s a major pain fer the whole country.

So companies is convertin’ to natural gas bigtime. It’s cheap and made in the good old USA. Waste Mangement is a hunnert percent natgas already. AT&T is convertin’ to it. Busses run on it. Even natural gas companies is makin’ the switch! All three major automakers sell natgas worktrucks these days, too.

But small outfits is all up against the wall tryin’ to afford natgas refueling stations. These units is real expensive. And the equipment out there ain’t so pretty neither. These things leak somethin’ awful. Hoses strewn all over the place. And they’re forever freezing up. They’re whuch-yuh-call maintenance hogs. What’s more, there ain’t no natgas refueling infrastructure yet, which makes this a real important problemo.

resized_cngJPG1364916893

Da Fix

So along comes HE System Technologies. These guys make a compressor. Now wait a sec! Before ya flip the page, this’s part o’ their HEDEX natural gas system refueling station. It fills a huge hole in the market.

The HEDEX is different: Ten pistons. Liquid cooled. Efficient. Modular. resized_crop2ventsideJPG1366049015If a compressor goes bad, just unbolt it and send it back. The whole works is completely enclosed in one neat package that looks somethin’ like that Mr. Fusion from Back to the Future or maybe C3PO from Star Wars.

The company makes these three claims about their fueling station:

  1. It’s safe—Hey we’re talkin’ high explosive gas here.
  2. It’s reliable and durable—Seen anything that fits that description lately?
  3. It’s affordable—The thing pays fer itself in a year and a half.

All o’ that makes the HEDEX perfect fer small fleets. There ain’t nothin’ else out there fer them kinda outfits and hey, there’s huge numbers o’ small companies smeared all across the map. Translation—this thing’s scalable. That oughta get the juices flowin’ among you deep-pocket investors out there. Yeah you know who you are.

resized_HEDEXlitupJPG1366049072All these little companies know a good thing when they find it. This HE Systems bunch is got paying customers beggin’ fer product AND THE THEY’RE ALREADY PROFITABLE. Dealers in 10 states wanna sign up as local reps. So all they gotta do is train the dealers ‘n’ they got a ready-made national sales force. Simple. And did I mention scalable? Well maybe I did, but ya can’t never say that word enough times.

Then there’s overseas. That’s an even bigger market than here at home. There’s other types o’ markets to consider too. Oil wells for example. They need a cheap way to capture all that natgas they’s burnin’ off as waste.

resized_hecnghomeJPG1366037919

Da Team

Jim McSweeney is the business guy. His partner’s the inventor and worked for NASA. These two is on the committee to write the standards fer gas compressors in Canada. The Gas Technology Institute picked their system. How ‘bout them fer credentials?

Sure it’s capital intensive. So is building trucks. Did I mention scalable?

Here’s their website.

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Back to – DA LEG BREAKER ‘N’ DA SNAKE OIL

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Photo credits – Wikipedia, HE System Technologies.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, App, big money, Bill Blaire., BNC Venture Capital, Characters, chicago, Chicago Ventures, Cleantech, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Innovation, Invention, investor, Mobile App, pitch, vc

CLEANTECH COMPETITION

Impact Engine—Part 7

VERBATIM by Loop Lonagan – Investor and man about town,

as told to John Jonelis

Claire Tramm - Effortless Energy TLoop Lonagan here with a real simple story. I’m at the CHICAGO CLEANTECH COMPETITION watchin’ ten green companies go head-to-head for the chance to move on to the international GCCA contest.

Hey, dis old world needs a good scrubbin’, doncha think? I’m here, trying to use my natural greed on somethin’ constructive fer a change. I glance around and see a company I know has da potential. We’re gonna hear some good stuff.

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Effortless Energy Logo

Claire Tramm CEO

Lemme ask you a question:

Elec MeterIf you could make your house energy efficient with no effort and get paid to do it, would you?

Effortless Energy is planning to make that happen. Here’s their offer:

  • Their experts figure out what your house needs. Then they find the contractors and do the work. You just sit back ‘n’ sip yer beer.
  • They pay for everything. They add insulation, plug air leaks—all the stuff that makes yer house comfortable and cheaper to live in. Effortless Energy 35 percent
  • Then they split the energy savings with you.
  • You get a nicer house, more money in your pocket every month, and you don’t plunk down any up-front money at all—nada.

With an offer like that, who wants to rob their bank account or take out a loan? Who Claire Tramm - Effortless Energy 2wants to wait years fer da payback? Who wants to go through the hassle o’ hiring alotta contractors? This makes me smile, ‘cause now I ain’t gotta do them things no more.

And yer helpin’ the environment by doin’ it! Inefficient houses is a big part o’ da carbon footprint and there’s 120 million in the USA. Hey, that’s a $230 Billion opportunity fer Effortless Energy! This one looks like a winner to me!

Effortless Energy Home GraphicI hear talk and read stuff—all kindsa complicated explanations about what they do, but it’s really a no-brainer. I got an old house. I want to work with these people. Don’t you?

Have a look-see at their video:

So’s I listen to nine other presentations. Some sound pretty terrific. Others don’t look like real companies. Now the distinguished judges is leavin’ to select the winners. Will they pick the best ones? Don’t make me laugh.

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Strange Goings On

The judges is leavin’ to vote on the winners and the audience just moved to the feeding trough. So I’m just sittin’ there when one judge—this delicate oriental lady—hangs back and asks Rong Mayhem to give back her business card. To me that shows good judgement.

But Rong holds it outa reach and asks, “Why do you put PhD at the end of your name?” Sheesh! I mean, why do you suppose? After summore o’ that kinda behavior, she stamps her foot and insists.

His response? “I’m gonna have to put you in my doghouse. That’s for people who give me trouble.” Actually, he used a different word than doghouse, but I can’t say that here.

So I finally speak up: “Rong, she hasta go do the judging. You wanna keep us here all night?” So he hands it over and things get back to normal for a while. Sometimes strange things happen at these events. It don’t bother me none and it’s kinda fun to watch.

When da judges finally file back in, they pick some pretty good companies, but my favorite ain’t one of ‘em. But who can tell what’ll happen when these ventures hit the real world? Here’s all of ‘em and da skinny on what they do:

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Da Competitors

Software to drive energy efficiency in industrial buildings with alerts.

Wind generator using a venturi to increase safety and efficiency.

Synthetic diesel and jet fuel from garbage.

More efficient hot water solar panel using a mirror.

  • Greenlight5th Place

Smart Meter for consumer electricity savings.

Make your house energy-efficient for free and get paid for it.

Pelletized torrefied wood to replace coal in power plants.

  • Kriisa Research

Reliable and stable portable energy fer developing countries.

  • Chicago Nat Gas Tanks

Custom low-pressure tanks to carry nat-gas using NuMat MOF technology.

  • Community Retrofits (participated via Skype)

Just like Effortless Energy, but for entire community associations.

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Da Judges

From readin’ the stuff on these judges, I get the impression they ain’t the kinda tree-huggin’ folk I expected:

  • Ben BrownClean Energy TrustExpert on energy systems. Commercializes renewable energy with alotta hands-on experience.
  • K. Quentin Burchill Jr.—Angott Search GroupTrack record fer matching energy companies with the right investment firms. Another hands-on guy.
  • Barbara A Fatina, CPA, MBA—Argonne National LaboratoryDeputy CFO at Argonne and big business. Energy operations experience. She builds businesses and teams.
  • Jared Gonsky—LanzaTechGroups businesses on a global scale. Experience in ethanol, VC work, marketing and supply chain in big business.
  • Diana Y Hu, PhDMolecular physicist and Biophysicist. University of Chicago MBA. Education of foreign-born professionals and clean energy.
  • Philip M Martin—United AirlinesFinance, development, operations, process—especially in transportation. University of Chicago MBA, which counts fer a lot with me.
  • Mark Menarik—UltraCarbonSerial entrepreneur in tech, alternative energy and nano materials. Focuses on cleantech scale-ups.
  • Travis Narum—Acciona EnergyWind and solar energy expert. West Point grad, and that ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at.
  • Anthony F Toussaint PhD, MBA—DSM Functional MaterialsChemical industries expert. R&D in fiber optics. PhD Chemical Engineering, University of London. Kellogg MBA, which gets top marks from me.
  • Klaus Voss—BW IndiaLong-time entrepreneur in environmental energy and biotechnology. Commercialized bio-wastewater tech for Mexico, India, and the ASEAN community. Another hands-on guy.

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Da Organizations

Dis thing is put on by some good folks:

One of over 50 global clusters responsible for nominating companies eachChicago Clean Energy Alliance logo year for the Global Cleantech Cluster Association’s Later Stage Awards competition.

They connect cleantech companies globally to create value chains. They seek GCCAcompanies that are scalable, equity investible, and willing to take risks. Their ten 2011 winners raised $462 Million.

Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management accelerator located Impact Enginewithin the 1871 incubator. Linda Darragh’s baby.  Focus on social entrepreneurship.

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Photos and Video courtesy of Impact Engine, Effortless Energy, Chicago Clean Energy Alliance, and GCCA.

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GO BACK TO PART 1

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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Filed under 1871, angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, Chicago Clean Energy Alliance, Chicago Ventures, Cleantech, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Events, GCCA, Global Cleantech Cluster Association, Impact Engine, Impact Investing, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, Kellogg, loop lonagan, new companies, Northwestern, Social Entrepreneur, University of Chicago

WHAT’S CLEAN

Impact Engine – Part 6

VERBATIM by Loop Lonagan – Investor and man about town,

as told to John Jonelis

PortaPure WaterChildLoop Lonagan here. I’m at a place where my natural greed ‘n’ avarice can do some good fer dis poor worn-out world. This is the Chicago CleanTech Competition—what you might call a race between high-tech global janitorial services. Ten distinguished judges will pick the best o’ da best—companies that’re really doin’ somethin’ to deal with the mess we’re makin’ outa our little corner o’ God’s creation. What we got here is da last ten finalists in our great city and tonight that gets cut down to five.

Every one o’ these companies is a specialist with a different slant on how to get the job Chicago Clean Energy Alliance logodone. You know as well as I do—the only company that succeeds in this world is the one that makes good business sense. But are those the ones that’ll win? Probably not. But we’ll see.

The MC makes sure we know today is Earth Day, which gets a shrug all around. Then he explains how the winners move on to the big international GCCA event and compete with companies from Europe ‘n’ Asia. You heard all about that organization, right? If you didn’t, see the link and the video at da bottom. I got no time to explain.

.GCCA

A Strange Encounter

Lemme give you summa da local color. Things is movin’ along real nice when I hear this harsh voice all the way from the other side o’ the room. He’s yellin’ at an elderly gentleman for nodding off during the meeting. Then he turns his foghorn on me: “Hey Lonagan, are you going to be writing this up? Because I’m going to call you every hour on the hour till you do!”

Sheesh, I ain’t kiddin’. The guy blares that out right in the middle o’ da meeting in fronta all these gentle souls. I’m wonderin’ if any of them clean tech folks ever ran into anybody like Rong Mayhem before.

I know that Rong singled me out ‘cause of a simple misunderstanding. He thinks I’m some kinda reporter. Well, this ain’t no newspaper and nobody sticks me with no deadline. I’m lookin’ for companies to invest in. So’s I keep takin’ notes.

Then he howls. “Lonagan, what the hell are you doing?”

This time I answer. “Just writin’ down what you say, Rong.”

But he’s got a come-back to that: “You know what you are? You’re a legend in your own mind!” Then he repeats it a couple times.

Impact EngineAfter that, things quiet down for a while. And I’m smiling to myself, thinking about the poor MC tryin’ to control the meeting. So I glance over the program and get a jolt. Outa these ten companies, I see two graduates from Northwestern University’s Impact Engine. Lemme tell you about one o’ them:

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Portapure

Portapure George PageGeorge Page is the founder of Portapure and he’s da keynote speaker tonight. He’s also one o’ da judges, so maybe things’ll work out all right after all. He’s a chemical engineer that worked in Chicago water projects so he’s a practical guy. And he’s on a mission. He wants to make clean water available to anybody, anywhere, anytime. To do that, he makes water filtration affordable for the developing world.

Portapure won this event last year and ended up among the top 30 in the world. I first seen him at BNC Venture Capital when he invented a pocket size water purifier. I’ll tell you about that one first:

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Pocket Pure

Picture this: Say yer goin’ into the jungles of Haiti to do disaster relief. Yer gonna be

Dirty water

Dirty water

there for weeks and the water is mostly muddy streams and swamps. This is da 3rd World. There ain’t no EPA out there to slap people with fines fer makin’ a mess. Still, you gotta get yer butt out there no matter what the conditions. So whaddaya do? Pack in lotsa fresh water, right? Think again. Got any idea how many pounds a few gallons o’ water weighs? It’s impossible to lug all that with you. Airdrop it, maybe? Not a practical solution.

As it turns out, you don’t even need to carry a canteen. Instead, you take along a little pocket-size device called PocketPure. It weighs next to nothin’. Any time you get thirsty, you stop at a convenient swamp and make yerself some clean drinking water—one cup at a time. You can stay in the field as long as you want ‘n’ you never run outa water.

Gathering water in a swamp

Up till now, all anybody had was water purification tablets. Those take half an hour to work and you still gotta filter out the dirt somehow. But technology moves forward and you might as well take advantage of it. As you might’ve guessed, Portapure is sellin’ these things to NGOs by the boxful.

Drinking water is in short supply across the world. Lotsa people in all kindsa places die of E. coli and such. Kids even. That brings me to Portapure’s next product:

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Pure Lives

Purtapure Purelives

Purtapure Purelives

This one’s on a bigger scale. It’s a three-phase filter with a 5-gallon capacity—just right for yer typical grass hut. Hey—people in the developing world want clean water for their families, too.

This thing filters both bacteria and viruses outa real filthy water. I’m talking real nasty critters like cholera, typhoid, amoebic dysentery, E. coli, coliform bacteria, cryptosporidium, streptococcus, salmonella, giardia, and of course, yer ordinary dirt ‘n’ sediment—it’s enough t’ make yer flesh crawl. This device filters out 99.99% o’ that muck—the definition of clean water according to the World Health Organization. And the filter lasts for maybe 10,000 gallons! This thing was tested in an NSF certified lab and reduced the E. coli count from 5490 to less than 1.

Muddy waters

Muddy waters

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Da Business

This keeps getting better. He sells these things to NGOs, but there’s another angle. Clean water’s at a real premium. It’s like liquid gold in some places. And folks livin’ there wanna make a living just like anybody else. That gives Portapure a natural distribution network and a sustainable solution that pays for itself. At the same time, they’re putting people to work and boosting the economy in these far-flung places.

.PortaPure WaterChild

Da Awards

This company’s got its share of ‘em:

  • Impact Engine graduate
  • GCCA Global Top 30 company
  • Chicago Innovation Awards 2011 Up & Comer
  • Office of the Treasurer Small 2012 Business Plan finalist
  • Tech Cocktail 2011 Finalist

Here’s a good video on Portapure:


I wanna tell you ‘bout the other companies and who won. But I ain’t got room to do it justice here, so I’ll be back with more.

GO TO PART 7

GO TO PART 1

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Meanwhile, here’s a video that explains the whole international competition:

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Da Contacts

Portapurewww.portapure.com

Contact – Info@PortAPure.com – 773 251 5779

1507 E 53rd. St, Suite 218PortaPure logo

Chicago, IL. 60615

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Portapure on 5 NBC Chicago

PortAPure’s George Page is Saving the World

http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/inc-well/Portapures-George-Page-is-Saving-the-World-132243943.html

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Portapure on Crain’s Chicago Business

http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20120823/BLOGS06/120829905/seeing-promise-in-water-purification

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Impact EngineImpact Engine

www.theimpactengine.com

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Chicago Clean Energy Alliance

www.theccea.org

.Chicago Clean Energy Alliance logo

GCCA—Global Cleantech Cluster Association

Their ten 2011 winners raised $462 Million.GCCA

www.globalcleantech.org/

Images and video courtesy Portapure, CCEA, GCCA, Impact Engine, and AP.

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

.
.

3 Comments

Filed under angel, angel capital, angel investor, big money, BNC Venture Capital, chicago, Chicago Clean Energy Alliance, Chicago Venture Magazine, Chicago Ventures, Cleantech, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship and Politics, Events, GCCA, Global Cleantech Cluster Association, Impact Engine, Impact Investing, Innovation, Innovation and Culture, Invention, investor, jobs, Kellogg, loop lonagan, new companies, Northwestern, philanthropist, philanthropy, pitch, Social Entrepreneur, vc, venture capital