NW Energy Angels Winter Showcase Highlights 7 Up-and-Coming Local Cleantech Companies

12/13/10

Twice a year the Northwest Energy Angels put on a showcase where the organization’s investors can talk shop, and local cleantech companies have the opportunity to update the group of angels—many of whom have backed them in the past—on their recent accomplishments. It’s a chance for the growing organization to benchmark its success in facilitating relations between cleantech entrepreneurs and potential investors looking to provide early-stage capital to up-and-coming cleantech companies here in the Northwest.

“It’s been a year already— an excellent time to bore you with lots and lots of statistics about what’s happened over this last year,” angel Lars Johansson joked in his address at the group’s holiday party/winter showcase on Friday at the Talaris Conference Center.

Over the last year the NW Energy Angels, founded in 2006 by local entrepreneur Martin Tobias and state lawmaker Jeff Morris, have made some substantial strides. In March the group hired on new executive director Margo Shiroyama, who has spent her first nine months on the job growing the group’s scope—growing the organization’s resources and events for cleantech companies and investors, including research field trips, new member programs, and investor discussion groups, a project spearheaded by one of the group’s members, Kiki Tidwell.

The group itself has grown from 45 active members at the time of its summer showcase in July, to more than 53, and has invested more than $3 million in 20 cleantech companies in the region to date.

The rest of the night was turned over to company presentations and mingling. Though all of these companies had presented at previous NW Energy Angels events, they were all in varying stages of development—some approaching third and fourth investment rounds, while others were just completing due diligence. Some we’ve reported on before, others are brand new. Take a look at these highlights from the presenting cleantech companies:

MicroGREEN Polymers (Arlington, WA)

This company, which develops technology to recycle plastics into cheaper, environmentally friendly items, such as coffee cups, has been on our radar for some time. MicroGREEN Polymers raised $6.9 million in a Series B round back in May, funding that allowed it to build a new facility in Arlington, which is “now filled with $6 million worth of equipment” leading to toward commercialization, according to CEO Tom Malone. “We’re cranking out products,” he says. That financing was followed up by an additional $2.7 million last month, in a round that is still open and could be worth as much as $3.75 million. While Malone says the company is six months behind schedule, he’s excited to announce that MicroGREEN currently has samples in the hands of 2,000 customers. “I’ve never been higher about the company,” he says. “No doubt you’re going to see us announcing great things in the next quarter.”

G2B Ventures (Seattle, WA)

G2B Ventures, also known as G2B Holdings, is a Seattle-based real estate consulting and redevelopment company that buys homes, retrofits them for green, energy efficient technologies, and resells them for a profit. Chairman and CEO Aaron Fairchild says G2B is “racing to revenues,” having just closed a round on Friday. “The money just came into our account today, so we’re really fired up about that,” he says, adding that NW Energy Angels investments accounted for one third of the round. The new funding, according to Fairchild, will back the company’s new home renovation venture, getting started under the name “Green Canopy Homes.”

Farm Power Northwest (Skagit County, WA)

This company, which also presented at the summer showcase, is in a different kind of clean tech business—manure. The company, which develops, owns and operates energy harnessing manure digester facilities out of backcountry dairy farms in Washington and Canada, just closed its third round, according to co-founder Kevin Maas. The financing allowed Farm Power to open its second operation, and move forward on its third and fourth projects in South Seattle and Oregon. “Producing power on three and four operations is a lot more fun than producing power on one,” Maas says. “As long as the cows continue to eat, we continue to produce power.”

Mercurius Biofuels (Bellingham, WA)

This advanced biofuels company, founded in 2009 with support from the Whole Energy Fuels Corporation, converts biomass into compounds that can create green chemicals including cellulosic diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel. It was one of 15 regional semifinalists in the 2010 Cleantech Open. According to president and CEO Karl Seck, the startup is currently negotiating a term sheet with two interested angel investors. “We’re really excited to get this kicked off, developed, and commercialized,” Seck says.

FluxDrive Inc. (Sumner, WA)

This company, though founded in 2003, has slipped under our radar until now. FluxDrive develops mechanical Adjustable Speed Drives (ASDs) that are cost-effective, and more energy efficient than variable frequency drives (VFDs). “We’re literally an energy-saving device,” says founder and CEO Chip Corbin. Corbin was enthusiastic as he announced that the company had just installed a 1.2 MW device at the Vancouver aquarium on Friday. FluxDrive is currently raising its second round, which Corbin says will be in the range of $1.2 to $1.5 million, should be completed by the end of the year, and which he says will hopefully bring the company to profitability.

EnergySavvy (Seattle, WA)

This young startup, founded in 2009, has had a whirlwind year. The company, which rolled out its online energy audit tool in February, has since seen its business completely restructure in both an unexpected, and successful way, according to CEO Aaron Goldfeder. “We thought we were going to sell our referrals to contractors, and that’s not our business at all,” he says. “Things have just gone pretty much bananas.” EnergySavvy is well on its way to profitability, according to Goldfeder. “We’re on track for $850,000 in 2011, and the year hasn’t even started yet,” he says. “We have more deals than we know what to do with—it’s pandemonium actually.” And as if that weren’t enough, the company is also in the midst of another financing round, which Goldfeder says is currently $75,000 away from its target.

Hydrovolts (Seattle, WA)

Although founder and CEO Burt Hamner was unable to present at the showcase at the last minute, this cleantech startup has also had quite a successful year. The company, which develops drop-in hydropower turbines for canals and small waterways, was the winner of Pacific Northwest Cleantech Open National Sustainability Award in 2009 and 2010, and took third place in the Bend Venture Conference. Earlier this year the company also snagged a $250,000 deal with civil engineering firm DLZ Corp. to develop a prototype turbine, which if successful, could result in a $20 million contract.

Thea Chard is a correspondent for Xconomy Seattle. You can e-mail her at theachard@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/theachard. Follow @

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