“Israel has some of the largest and most innovative water projects in the world,” said Peter Tunnicliffe, Executive VP Global Market Development at CDM Smith. Tunnicliffe spoke as part of a delegation of over 40 heads of water solution companies, investors and government representatives who are in Israel this week, meeting with Israeli start-up companies and
How to Build a Cleantech Company Without Huge Investment Capital
While many cleantech companies require very large amounts of capital in order to get to market, there is a quiet group of cleantech companies bucking that trend.
Companies like Heartland Biocomposites (green building materials), RealTech (water testing) and TerraLUX (LED lighting) all built significant and growing businesses with compelling intellectual property and did so initially without multimillions in capital from venture funds (let alone tens or hundreds of millions). Because TerraLUX is one of our portfolio companies and I therefore know them best, their story is one I am able to share.
TerraLUX boasts customers like Cooper Lighting, Phillips, GE Healthcare, Snap-On Tools and many others. It has six awarded patents and eight more filed. Dr. Anthony Catalano founded the company in 2003 and, with exceptional technology smarts, creative boot-strapping and some of his own capital, he built a business with significant revenues, exciting gross margins and deep intellectual property — all without a penny of outside investment capital. And now, only after all those accomplishments, has TerraLUX closed a $5.6M financing from Emerald Technology Ventures and Access Venture Partners.
How did TerraLUX pull this off?
As someone that is passionately involved in getting clean tech businesses off the ground I can’t help thinking that some of the businesses in this space are missing a trick or five?
For the last few months I have been working with a renewable energy business that is crammed full of engineering and proven IP excellence, they have a strong business model, off-take agreements and contracts in place – an investors dream. But it is lacking one key ingredient – and that is business soul. The emphasis on the business is – due to the background of its people – driven on a project management and large corporate structures, they are keen to debate sign-on fees, investor restrictions, pension funds, multi-layered structures and confining operating procedures based on what they know.