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.
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!