Ahead of the CED Tech Venture Conference 2012, we sat down with a few of the executives that will be presenting as Demo Companies to find out what makes them tick…
Today's interview is with Quentin Ankri, CEO of GreenSky Wind Systems. Quentin discussed the future of clean wind energy with Ann Revell-Pechar, who serves on the CED PR/Marketing Committee. GreenSky is a Demo Company at the CED Tech Venture Conference 2012.
Ann: GreenSky – that name evokes quite the visual. Tell me about your company and how it got started.
Quentin: GreenSky manufactures and distributes small wind turbines. We have a unique product, in that it is both silent and more efficient. We give homeowners an energy-generating option that saves money, farmers an inexpensive energy source to pump irrigation water, and commercial buildings a big, spinning billboard that advertises their commitment to a green economy.
We were formed in October, 2010 around Greg Farley’s breakthrough technology. At the time he had already invested four years and $1.5M in R&D and prototype production. William Hyerle, who holds amazing understanding of the market, and I decided this needed to be brought to production, and therefore formed GreenSky.
Ann: What makes CED Tech Venture Conference of interest to you?
Quentin: Greensky has been a member of CED for 2 years. The first year, we were really only an idea germinating. The next year we went to the CED Tech Venture Conference where we met interesting people and saw products that had a real chance to succeed – in part, I’m sure, because of the opportunities brought their way at the CED Tech Venture Conference. The companies that were more established than GreenSky, so while we were excited by what we saw, we knew we weren’t ready in 2011.
Now we have proof-points --we raised seed capital, and have installations and paying customers -- so now we’re proud to bring GreenSky into the spotlight.
Ann: You obviously were looking for a company to which you could apply your leadership skills. What intrigues you about GreenSky?
Quentin: This is the technology that can move the small wind industry into the mainstream like never before. It’s based on a superior direct drive generator that puts less load on the bearing – and therefore more power and less maintenance.
GreenSky’s system is designed specifically for the small commercial or home application. Homeowners, farmers, and small businessmen simply cannot support major maintenance issues. This has been one of the biggest problems in our industry. Greg Farley’s solution, with two patents pending, makes GreenSky’s generator virtually maintenance free – and silent. Seriously – silent.
Ann: Why is now the right time for GreenSky?
Quentin: We’ve hit a point where the economy propelling greater interest in renewables. People are looking for some financial relief as the cost of electricity has gone up three to five percent each year. Marry that with greater interest in taking care of our planet and government incentives to go green, and you’ve got a very inquisitive, progressive and open market. There’s a sustainability train to catch – and we’re on board.
Ann: What kind of milestones have you hit so far?
Quentin: First, we have three systems installed so far, in Wilmington and Morehead city, and three being installed now in Ocean Isle and Asheville. In fact, the Asheville installation is the first and only rooftop installation in North Carolina. Putting it on a roof really poses significant challenges, to the point where we worked with structural engineers to determine the best location and address the critical and complicated mounting requirements.
Also, we closed our first investment round in April of this year. With paying customers, a proven technology, and a fully trained team with over forty years of combined experience, we’re ready to go into full production. We’re looking for a Series A round, and a long term manufacturing partner as we plan to outsource all manufacturing.
Ann: Where is the company located?
Quentin: Our headquarters are in Raleigh, which as part of the Triangle sports qualified labor, clean tech smarts, and a strong history in manufacturing. And North Carolina’s coast and mountains both offer great wind resources… plus there’s a growing core commitment to renewable energy here that we want to be a part of. It’s a perfect confluence to support our success.