At any given moment in time, I support a dozen or so business concepts in renewable energy, electric transportation, and sustainability more generally. I arrived at this list by poring through on the order of 1100 business plans that have been submitted over the past couple of years. Each needs funding from one of a set of different types of capital sources: angels, VCs, private equity, institutional investors, etc.
Through a phone call with an old friend not too long ago, I realized that I’ve probably not been as active and aggressive in courting investors as perhaps I should have been. Though we are connected with a great number of investors, we’ve come across them with an approach I’d call “passive,” waiting for investors to find us online and calling or writing in, rather than our actively reaching out in a disciplined, methodical way.
My friend runs a thriving hedge fund built around high-yield, short-term bonds, whose stats over the years have been quite impressive. Its success has been based on his and his partner’s understanding of market subtleties, and diligence in research. But even my friend, living high on the hog as he is, takes an hour out of every day and makes what are essentially cold calls, introducing himself and his unique concept to family offices and others potential investors.
To that end, I’ve begun my own project, in which I’ve identified the 287 private equity firms in the US for which energy – especially clean energy – is an acknowledged part of their strategy. By the end of the summer, I will have had conversations with as many of these 287 as possible, in which I explain what we’ve done here and the value that I believe we add, i.e., an intense vetting process that has resulted in a fairly small number of investment opportunities that really make sense. Obviously, they’ll have to do their own due diligence, but they won’t have to review 1100 entries in order to find the 18 or so that make sense.
“Dialing for dollars,” I suppose.