After Hydrovolts

There comes a time when a man has to step aside from his company and hand it over to someone who can take it to the next level.  I founded Hydrovolts in 2007 to follow my vision to create a new global renewable energy resource by tapping the hydrokinetic energy in water canals.  By September of 2012 the company has grown to 11 people, raised over $3 million from investors and prizes, and has become a real manufacturing company.  I hired Mike Layton in 2010 to be the Chief Operating Officer and run the shop while I ran around raising money to pay everyone.  Mike has been managing the daily details of the company since then, and he has lots more experience in manufacturing and sales than I do.     Our product development success to date is in large part due to his great performance.  My biggest contribution is marketing the vision of the company to raise money, and Hydrovolts is a smashing success getting global visibility and recognition, winning many contests and award nominations.

Hydrovolts C2 Canal Turbine makes renewable energy from the water currents in canals

In discussion with the Hydrovolts Board of Directors (of which I am one), we decided that the company is best served for Mike to become the President and for me to step out.  I have very wide bandwidth, but that’s not what the company needs now as it brings two products to market.  To give Mike room to establish himself as the new leader, I have to step right out, and not be a regular presence at the company for some time.  So I am going to pursue other ventures, while giving Hydrovolts any help I can when they need it.  It’s been a stressful transition, much like sending my only child off to college – necessary and bittersweet.   However now I feel a great weight lifted off me – I have been working 80-hour weeks for 5 years to get the company this far, in the middle of the great Recession.  Now the company’s success will depend on its product performance, and I cannot make that better as I am not an engineer or even on the the engineering team.  Good thing we hired a great team in whom I have all confidence.

The Good News is that I have made fantastic contacts around the world who are excited about the great potential for small distributed hydropower, especially in canals and big water treatment plants.  Now I continue developing the global market for Hydrovolts, so the new products find fertile soil to be seeded and grow into regional markets.   As this is a nebulous process it gives me time to bring up the cleantech and sustainable business skills I have developed, now I can help others.

November 1, 2012 is the launch date of Cleantech Mentor, this new site of mine.  This is my new portal for collaborating with the world at large.  Look for regular updates and news on cleantech developments, some challenging perspectives based on my 20 years of experience, and shout-outs to my friends around the world promoting sustainable business.  Who knows, I might even get good at this social media stuff!


About bhamner

I have worked in "clean tech" since 1991, and traveled around the world promoting clean manufacturing through industry assessments, management training, speaking and publishing, policy analysis and lots of factory visits. My main clients were the US Agency for International Development and the Asian Development Bank. I taught in the MBA programs for the Asian Institute of Management in Manila, and the Universidad del Pacifico in Lima. In 2005 I got interested in tidal power and won a consulting project to evaluate its potential in Puget Sound. That led me to found Hydrovolts Inc. in Seattle. I invented a radical new hydrokinetic turbine to make renewable energy from water currents. As CEO I led the company, raised money from investors and grew the staff to 11 people. We have won lots of recognition and awards. In October 2012 I stepped aside in favor of our COO who has much more manufacturing experience, which is what the company needs now. I'll continue to help the company as needed. My professional goal now is to find interesting opportunities and people to work with, where I can add a lot of value quickly. I am an expert in the markets, technologies and new potential for distributed micro- and small-hydropower generation. I have won numerous business pitch and plan contests and could help an early stage company with promotion, or an agency with outreach and training of entrepreneurs. I can provide sophisticated life cycle analysis to determine "how clean really is that clean tech?" Specialties Clean technologies assessment, business promotion, project design and management, corporate strategy, sustainability strategy, Total Quality Environmental Management, marine technologies, international development, management training
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One Response to After Hydrovolts

  1. Markus Walbaum says:

    Burt – Had mentioned your name to a soon-to-be MIT grad (Masters) with regards to a water-related venture (not hydrokinetic though). I looked you up and see that you’ve moved on. He might be in touch once he moves back to Seattle in May. Btw I took your excellent green biz bootcamp a few years ago.

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