Renewable Energy · Wind power

How can I find investors who are interested in a good cause and not just interested in making money?

Wallace Kempkey President of Pterofin, Inc.

April 23rd, 2015

I've been in front of a few investment groups and I really don't think any of them have taken me very seriously because I don't have any numbers or figures for them to crunch. I know my startup is still young, but I think it has a great mission statement and the technology has amazing potential. Are there any groups out there that could invest in an early stage company like mine, to help produce the numbers and figures to validate my technology and get me out of pre-series A. 

Bridger Jensen Owner & Founder at Venture Imagery

May 2nd, 2015

The trouble is your beautiful mission statement won't keep you in business. It's like having a beautiful car with no engine.

People DO want to invest in meaningful, beautiful ideas. However, if you are presenting without the figures, your asking them to invest in a car without looking under the hood.

Honestly the reason you are having trouble finding such an investor is because people who don't ask for the bottom line, don't have money to give. Meaning there is no one out there that would, and could wisely invest (unless they wanted to license or own your patent).

Why is it you can't get the figures investers ask for? Sounds like you want to, but feel you need to get an invester to help you get the numbers? IIf this is the case you're putting the car before the horse. You'll need to throw some resources & time into learning about finances, or hiring someone to help you crunch the numbers.

I really like your product, it should be selling itself. You've obviously come a long way. Owning the finance peice seems like a small step compared to what you've already gone through. :)

Robert Clegg

May 6th, 2015

Wallace, thanks for getting back to us:

Sounds like good initial progress. So investors will now look at what you've done with your initial investment. They will look at the Team you have assembled - that sounds like it might not be the "team" investors are looking for from your response. These are dedicated quality co-founders committing serious and extensive time to getting your company off the ground. 

Again, use the accelerator applications to answer the critical business questions ahead of you. Look at it this way, even if you are asking some philanthropist to invest in a non-profitable venture to do some good for the world, they are going to have to know how much money they are donating to create the good you are trying to create. Without knowing that number they don't know how many other philanthropists will need to be brought in to also contribute money.

They also may know other philanthropists with connections in certain business sectors that could work with you. But without seeing the business plan and details, they won't know whom to contact and how much money will be needed. 

You might not have a big enough idea! 

Sean Hurley Optimize Your Dream.

April 23rd, 2015

Wallace -  You need to get initial funding from a HNWI or an Angel Group, before you talk to VCs.  You will need to present a financial model of some sort to get any investor's attention.  There are lots of good ideas out there, but the ones that can demonstrate profitability are the ones that get investor attention.  Feel free to contact me if you want to chat...

Jeff Dennis Entrepreneur in Residence at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin

April 23rd, 2015

You may want to work on developing your own numbers. By demonstrating your ability to do so will give investors confidence that you know what you're doing and that you have the management skills to achieve the projected goals

Onikepe Adegbola, MD PhD me

May 1st, 2015

You should attend the SOCAP conference and try investor's circle

Karl Schulmeisters Founder ExStreamVR

May 2nd, 2015

>> I know my startup is still young, but I think it has a great mission statement and the technology has amazing potential.<<

Sorry - without numbers.. how exactly do you know this?   BELIEVING is not knowing.  As Bridger mentioned investors with money need something more than your belief.

I know a bunch of Alt Energy angels in the Seattle area  but when I see you site with a comment like:

>>"Unlike a turbine, Pterofin technology is: efficient in low currents, inexpensive to manufacture, reliable in heavy currents, has a low cost of maintenance, <<

while saying that you don't have any numbers to crunch - I won't even bother telling them to look at your stuff.  Because they will laugh at me for referring them to someone who has no idea how to execute.

For example:

If it is "efficient" in "low currents" (ie low wind speeds) - then you can show that.  You can find industry numbers on power output of traditional wind systems - and compare the output of your system in those circumstances.

You can also get windroses for pretty much anywhere in the world and based on the energy output of your device across various wind speeds, you can build a pretty simple Excel spreadsheet that calculates the TYPICAL energy output for anywhere and compare the cost of buying that power vs. the cost you are going to sell at

You can get the cost estimates of manufacturing this by simply putting together production drawings and going to any of the hundreds of machine shops in the Seattle area and find out how much it would cost to build.

You can look at the sales and marketing costs associated with traditional wind turbines and add that to your COGS.

you can get the uptake rate of traditional wind turbines and use that to project the uptake rate of your product.

You also need to be more robust in your claims.  Putting it on the roof of a car and driving at 30mph is fine - but that's not the "high wind speed" you need to be robust in.  Seattle area typically gets 1-2 windstorms every winter where windspeeds hit 50+mph and its not rare that you get windspeeds in excess of 70mph, particularly in the foothills of the Cascades. 

So that means you need to take that contraption out to Moses lake and drive it at 100mph in a straight line to show that you really CAN handle high winds.

You also need to take out a Provisional Patent because this IS a mechanical device and unlike software mechanical devices do need to have IP protections. 

Do these things and then email me and if you have a compelling enough presentation, I'll point some of the Seattle area Angels your way. 

But you are nowhere near ready for any sort of investment.   Remember the rule of thumb...

DELAY GETTING INVESTMENT FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.   Because the sooner in the process you get outside investment, the less of the end company you will own


May 3rd, 2015

Keep networking. You need to find an ally who has a numbers/business-model view- perhaps as a board member, perhaps as an advisor. I have a friend who might be able to do this. I'll connect with you- but each person is a long shot.

Lots of angel and VC groups want you to prove yourself first, as if every team has to have all the skills to put a polished presentation together. I read (I think on FD) that half of successful companies never had investments- it's often easier to find a customer than a bright VC because the VC's have a narrow agenda. But customers share your view.

That said, perhaps you sell a project to a power company or a city trying to have a higher percent of renewables. Or approach someone like Elon Musk who seems to see possibility where others don't, or the boards of other innovative power companies or green companies - ask these people for leads to people who could help hone your business plan. Ask renewable energy enthusiasts for leads, too. 

I'm in a similar boat, but with less technology and more idea, looking for partners. People who understand what I'm up to are all for it, but these are few, so it takes time. Recently I found a large group willing to partner with me, so I have a chance at creating something huge without even a team!  It only takes one breakthrough...  

Robert Clegg

May 4th, 2015

Hi Wallace,

First, raise $25-$50k of friends and family money. It's a check box. If you can't raise money from people who know you best, why would a stranger put money behind you (at this stage). Note, this is on every accelerator application. This also applies to putting a team together. If you can't convince others to put in free time, energy, and real work towards your idea, you lack a lot of other skills needed at the next level that requires real cash. 

Second, look at accelerator applications and you'll have a road map for the questions you need to have answered to raise money.

Victor Aladekomo Partner at Pidux Limited

May 5th, 2015

Hi Wallace, Try ycombinator, apply here

Wallace Kempkey President of Pterofin, Inc.

May 5th, 2015

Hi everyone and thanks for the responses!

I didn't expect you all to read every page of my website, but I'm a bit further along than some of you may have guessed. 

Mr. Aladekomo, ycombinator looks cool, but we're up in Seattle.  Honestly, if I was given 5 cents for every time I was asked to apply to an incubator, I'd be rich.  I've already wasted too much time and money doing anything involving one or more judges.  I've worked with students in the past and we won a few competitions, but unless they involve students trying to start a real company, the judges only care about profitability and could care less about the overall impact of the business. 

Mr. Clegg, I've raised almost 40k through friends and family by selling shares to people I trust and know all of the in's and out's of my company.  I've also had many 'team' members and I've never asked anyone to put in their time for free.  Everyone who's added any kind of value to my company has or is being compensated through an equity incentive program of shares vesting over time.  Unfortunately, it's sweat equity and I'm getting what I'm paying for.

Mr Strauss, I'm happy to connect with anyone you know who might be interested in working with me on this project.  Please have them contact me via email at  Thank you very much for the message and I think it's great advice!  Also, congrats on your partnership and I bet you feel like all that hard work has finally paid off!  I'm mostly focused on selling my products through my website and hope to install a few of them as public art in or around the Seattle area.  I've also been talking to some neighborhood gardening spaces we call P-Patches and they love the idea of having a source of power or water pressure.  I think if people saw my products in action and what they can do for a community, then I'd have better luck finding an investor.  I'm definitely open to partnering with another company, so I'll keep networking and looking for connections in the renewable energy industry.

Mr. Schulmeister, I've heard that between 1850 and 1970, over six million mostly small(1HP or less) mechanical output wind machines were installed in the US.  I can only imagine how much Pterofin technology could help the rest of the world that lacks a source of power that can provide clean drinking water.  I believe my technology has amazing potential, but you're right and apparently it's not enough to attract investors.  I filed a patent a while ago and so far all it's done is drain my bank account.  I even applied for and was accepted in the Green Energy Fast Track, but working with the USPTO has been extremely slow and frustrating.  I've approached design companies and they won't accept equity, and manufacturers won't even consider giving me a quote unless I have some CAD drawings.  The engineers I've spoke to love my project, but they all seem to want cash money up front, or if and when they accept equity, they either only produce something that's half finished or they end up wanting to own any intellectual property they might generate, which would go against their independent contractor agreement.  I've worked with PNNL and NREL, and with a crazy significant source of government funding, I was really hoping for something more than, "Yes, your technology looks like it will work".  NREL at least reviewed my calculations and confirmed that everything looked accurate and in order, but working with PNNL was just a joke.  As far as testing the prototype with 100 mph wind, I know it would be just fine because it's profile is so small and none of the parts are experiencing overuse.  If you compare my design in high winds to any other kind of wind turbine(vertical or horizontal), you'll see that nothing even comes close to having such a slender and aerodynamic profile.  This should be a huge savings in maintenance costs for the end user and that seems to be the biggest problem with wind energy.  I'll be happy to keep you in mind and utilize any connections you might have when we finish our latest business plan, which will hopefully be better than the last four versions.  Also, if you haven't seen it already, check out this section of my website.