PSW Helps Validate Bonded Energy's “Beautiful Baby”
Frustrated about New York City building energy waste, Jerritt Gluck wanted to help the energy sector by reducing energy usage. Unsure if his solutions were valid for developing a business, Gluck (pictured right) applied to the Clean Energy Business Incubator Program to answer some of his questions about starting his company, Bonded Energy. Once in the incubator, Gluck met David Hamilton, Director of Business Development, and was urged to attend Pre-Seed Workshop Long Island. It was at PSW Gluck received the validation he needed and the toolbox full of connections and plans for the future that helped him dive into Bonded Energy.
When at PSW, Gluck dug deeply into the purpose of Bonded Energy: why was he making the product, who was he addressing, and how was he addressing energy waste? He met and interviewed three patent attorneys, finally deciding to work with one who was familiar with the energy sector and the platform Gluck was using. “We realized a patent was an excellent idea,” said Gluck. The patent attorney on Gluck’s PSW team provided further confirmation.
Returning to product design and development after PSW, Gluck designed a minimal viable product (MVP) and began to reach out to the market. He visited buildings in NYC, spoke with the owners, and found two who were so enthusiastic that Gluck made a total of 125 building pre-sales even before the manufacture of the MVP.
Next came interviews with product suppliers and manufactures to translate design into product. Working with suppliers, Gluck calculated expenditures to be approximately what was determined at PSW and manufactured his first MVP. Taking this MVP to Dan Smith at the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute at Rochester Institute of Technology, Gluck signed a contract for Bonded Energy to be evaluated in 2015. His MVP will be used in one of two identical buildings, with the other building unchanged, and both buildings will be monitored to identify significant energy savings from the MVP.
Along the way, Gluck learned how to face challenging situations during product development. When deciding where to manufacture the circuit boards for his product, Gluck chose a manufacturer in Colorado out of a selection of businesses in New York State and the Pacific Basin. Believing everything was clear in the product order, Gluck was surprised when he received the shipment. “They were fantastically unpopulated,” recalled Gluck. “It turns out their manufacturing equipment cannot populate the boards directly. They needed to remake a 16x16 array of boards, populate the boards, and separate them.” Gluck suddenly had an unpredicted additional expense and figured out a way that the two companies could share the cost of the mistake.
To pay for predicted and unpredicted expenses, Gluck is adhering to HVAC industry-proven methods of funding. He is making contracts, taking deposits, developing products, and rolling revenues back into the company. Although he made a successful pitch to an angel investor who offered $750,000, Gluck declined. “Accepting investments early in the process does not equal a more successful company,” said Gluck. “Someone else takes control and steers, and it may not be in the best interest of the company.” When deciding to take additional funding, Gluck looks for strong partners as opposed to investors with only money to offer.
Looking back at PSW, Gluck’s greatest advice for entrepreneurs is to not be afraid of making mistakes when going through the PSW exercises. “That’s the point, to free-flow ideas for peer review,” said Gluck. “It’s like the Seinfeld episode with the ugly baby. Parents think their baby is beautiful, but you may say ‘That’s an ugly baby.’ Entrepreneurs often think their idea is fabulous, but they need to take criticism and listen as opposed to believing their idea is done.”
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