Energy Start-Up 101: Beyond Innovations
Every good company begins with a great idea. But how do you turn your great idea into a successful company? This process is difficult for any entrepreneur, but those in the energy industry take on the additional difficulty of addressing complex and long-term problems. Join EPIC and the Polsky Center for a conversation on what it takes to build an energy start-up and survive—from what makes a good pitch and how to get funding to the unique challenges energy entrepreneurs face today and the opportunities presented by falling energy costs.
The panel discussion will include Amy Francetic the managing director at the Invenergy Future Fund, Manoj Kumar, the CEO and co-founder of Social Alpha and head of innovation at Tata Trusts, and Charles Murray, the president and co-founder of the energy start-up Switched Source. Steve LeVine, Future Editor at Axios, will moderate the panel. Bala Srinivasan, interim head of the Polsky Center and vice president of global initiatives and strategy for the University of Chicago, will give opening remarks.
Special thanks to our co-sponsors: The Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, Clean Energy Trust, and Energy Foundry
This event is part of the UChicago Innovation Fest (May 1-June 3, 2018), which celebrates pioneering discovery and entrepreneurial endeavors at the University of Chicago. Led by the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the month of events, workshops and accelerator programs, including the globally recognized Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge, highlights the breadth and impact of innovation at UChicago in the areas of entrepreneurship and research commercialization, scientific advancements, and social impact. Learn more here.
Saieh Hall, Room 146
Steve LeVine (Moderator) is the Future Editor at Axios. He is also a senior fellow at The Atlantic Council, and teaches energy security at Georgetown University. Before this, he was a foreign correspondent in the former Soviet Union, Pakistan and the Philippines. Sign up for his Future of Work newsletter here.
Amy Francetic oversees the Fund’s investment activities and operations. Her career spans over 20 years of high technology entrepreneurship, private equity, and research. Prior to the Fund, Francetic served as co-founder and CEO of technology accelerator Clean Energy Trust which has invested in dozens of early-stage clean energy companies across the Midwestern US. She also held roles at private equity firm MVC Capital and Stanford Research Institute. Earlier in her career, she was co-founder and CEO of a tech company that she sold to Lego Systems.
Manoj Kumar is a senior advisor to Tata Trusts, where, in addition to his advisory role, he also owns the executive responsibility for all university/institutional partnerships and manages the Innovations/R&D portfolio. Kumar conceived and co-founded the Foundation for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (FISE) to nurture social innovators through their lab to market journey. He also is the architect and chief evangelist of Social Alpha, an ecosystem stack that aims to provide full lifecycle, Idea-to-Impact support to social innovators and entrepreneurs. He is currently raising a social enterprise fund to provide early stage risk capital to high impact technology start-ups in the social sector. Prior to Tata Trusts, Kumar co-founded Malgharia, a boutique consulting firm that helps companies identify and address their most critical challenges and turn around business performance. He has been an entrepreneur as well as an angel/seed investor with about 15 startups in his current portfolio. He has also worked for over two decades in application software and financial services firms, playing global leadership roles, mostly in the areas of corporate strategy, M&A, business development, R&D, innovation, and product management. Kumar serves on the advisory and governing boards of several companies, including non-profits and research institutions.
Charles Murray is President and Co-Founder of Switched Source, a company focused on providing the next generation of hardware solutions for electric distribution utilities. Murray comes from an independent power producer background at Invenergy, where he developed utility-scale solar, wind and natural gas electricity generation projects in the U.S, as well as Central and South America. He also has experience developing the largest fleet of energy storage projects in North America. Murray earned his bachelor’s and master’s in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is a professional engineer in California.
Bala Srinivasan, Ph.D. ’95, serves as the interem head of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Chicago which brings together the University’s nationally recognized programs in venture creation and education, technology commercialization, and business incubation, streamlining access to venture support resources for University and community entrepreneurs and corporate partners. Bala has deep roots in the sciences at the University of Chicago, having completed his PhD in mathematics at the University in 1995. He also brings more than 20 years of experience in international private equity investing from his prior work in financial services, most recently at Goldman Sachs and Och Ziff Capital Management. In his role as University Vice President, Bala oversees the central University’s global engagement activities and management of the University’s international Centers in Hong Kong, Delhi, and Beijing, working to build academic partnerships and research collaborations with international partners, create global education opportunities, and to strengthen the University’s connections to global institutional partners, policymakers, and civic leaders.