Big companies are increasingly seeking out renewable energy to cope with carbon emissions caps and keep their budgets more stable, but those big transactions can be complicated and lengthy.
So says LevelTen Energy, a Seattle startup that’s created a two-sided marketplace to help clean power providers sell their products to corporate clients.
“We make it easy for producers and buyers of wholesale green power to research, execute, and manage these complex transactions, and our transparent, streamlined transaction process allows less experienced buyers to participate for the first time,” said LevelTen CEO Bryce Smith.
The five-person company launched last year and is currently incubating in the Techstars Seattle 2017 accelerator.
Smith brings nearly 15 years of experience in the energy industry to his latest venture.
“We devised a platform that offers clean power in a way that’s far superior, in terms of risk, value, and transaction costs,” he said. “Imagine if Match.com and Vanguard had a baby that really cared about clean energy.”
GeekWire caught up with Smith for our regular Startup Spotlight feature. Continue reading for his answers to our questionnaire.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “LevelTen Energy operates a technology-enabled, two-sided marketplace that connects large-scale wind and solar projects with corporate energy buyers.”
Inspiration hit us when: “At my previous company, it took two years to execute a power sale to a willing and eager corporate customer. At that point, I knew that there had to be a better way to bring together two parties that really wanted to transact.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “All of the above. We’re grateful to our angel friends at Element 8 for getting us off the ground, but we also need our venture backers to capture this huge opportunity.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Wholesale electricity markets are complicated, esoteric, and littered with pitfalls, so it’s imperative to assess renewable energy projects with a sophisticated lens. Executing these transactions requires getting hundreds of details right, across multiple disciplines (e.g. project evaluation, wholesale price risk, project finance, deal structuring). We’re really proud of the skills that our team brings, in this regard, though that’s not much of a secret!”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Forming a strategic partnership with EnergyGPS, a Portland-based firm that brings unparalleled wholesale energy market expertise and analytics.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Often, a bad choice is better than no choice at all. We regret not moving more quickly on a few important issues.”
Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “As a Seattle entrepreneur, is there any upside in siding with Gates or Bezos? Pass, please! I will say that the Gates Foundation work is inspirational, and we try to emulate Amazon’s unrelenting customer focus.”
Our favorite team-building activity is: “Cocktails, when we’re lucky enough to be in the same city.”
The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “Integrity, expertise, and a bias for action. Sorry, that was three things.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “If people don’t think your concept is outlandish or unattainable, you’re probably not being sufficiently ambitious. Also, getting out of bed every day is half the battle!”
Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the companies in the Techstars Seattle 2017 accelerator as they prepare for their Demo Day April 19.