November 7, 2022

Startup Founding 101 – Part I

Episode 50, part one. Neal Dikeman speaks with Fred Davis on The Power Connect podcast.

Fred Davis: The Power Connect podcast is brought to you by Inowatts. Discover the Inowatts difference today.

Intro: This is 50.

Neal Dikeman:You can’t really get much done in 90 to 120 days. Everything’s kind of a sprint, but by 270 days, you’ve either built something, sold something, something better be different. And if it’s not in your startup, in your career, in your portfolio, life’s getting stale. You’re getting beat because nobody else is standing still.

Fred Davis: Welcome into the Power Connect podcast. I’m your host, Fred Davis episode number 50. Yes, that’s right. The big five-o, of the program rolls along on election day eve, glad to have you guys on board as we are each and every episode and what a show we have planned for episode 50. Neal Dikeman joins the program today.

And of course, Neal was so good. Not only do we have to have one conversation, one episode with him, we had to make it two episodes. That’s how good it got to Neal and I. And of course we’ll tell you a little bit more about Neal here in just a second. But again, I can’t thank everybody enough for making episode 50 possible.

Again, Neal and everybody that’s been on the program thus far, we’ve had just a tremendous run of guests so far through these first 50 episodes. I can’t thank you guys all enough, the guests, the audience, podcast partners, everybody that’s been a part of this journey so far. We started this thing in June and we have not stopped since.

And we’ve done a, we can’t, I just, again, I can’t thank you guys enough for listening, for downloading, for interacting with the program in whatever form or fashion, all the LinkedIn followers out there, the Power Connect folks, the Jamie Levin’s of the world. You guys have just been absolutely phenomenal.

So I can’t thank you guys enough for helping where this show has been. And again, we’re only at episode 50 and it feels like we’re only getting started. So again, thank you to everybody for helping make that possible. So before we get to Neal Dikeman, let me tell you about my podcast partner Innowatts and the webinar that we’ve got going on this Thursday, making my moderating debut, look, I’ve done almost. I’ve done, I don’t know what, 180 episodes so far of energy podcasts, but making my debut on the moderation front, and I’m telling you right now, I couldn’t be more excited about breaking through with finding a rhythm, forecasting and innovating in a renewable age. What does that mean? Glad you guys asked.

Look as infrastructure improvements and technology advancements dominate the way energy is generated and consumed. The question remains: has forecasting kept up with the changes? Find out this Thursday, November 10th at 1:00 PM EST (Noon CST) and join Innowatts very own Chief Innovation Officer, Krishan Kasiviswanathan, as he sits down with Roozbeh Amirazodi, Head of Supply and Portfolio Management at Rhythm Energy on how forecasting is as complex as ever with an energy landscape that grows more diverse by the day, Krishnan and Roozbeh also tackle how to innovate and service customers with new offerings while trying to increase revenue, they’ll also touch on what forecasting this winter may look like and the need for AI technology and other resources to balance the growing impact of distributed energy resources on the grid. There’s also going to be a Q&A session following the conversation. And of course, the audience can submit those questions throughout the course of the webinar. It’s going to be on zoom register today over at in a watch. com. Wait for the pop up and, connect with Innowatts on LinkedIn. Several links that are available, several post highlighting the event, click on the link, register — it’s filling up fast. I get it, it’s virtual. It doesn’t matter, the more the merrier, it’s gonna be the best 45 minutes you spend on a webinar all week.

All right, let’s get down to today’s episode. Neal Dikeman, serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist. He’s been in this space for 20+ years. He’s one of the original minds really when it comes to the clean tech revolution. Of course we’re going to talk about that. And really the thing about Neal that you’re going to find out today; you want to be in a startup, if you’re looking to become a founder, this is a masterclass of sorts. Yes, we get into a little bit of the venture capital side of things, but Neal really breaks down the nuts and bolts of what. Venture capitalists, certainly what Neal and his partner Craig are looking for over Energy Transition Ventures.

And of course, like I said, for a guy that’s been doing this for 20+ years, really gets into kind of the minutia of what they’re looking for and really asked the hard questions that, you know, maybe sometimes venture capitalists and, or founders, entrepreneurs really aren’t willing to ask themselves, or be honest with themselves about, well… if you’re not willing to be honest with Neal Dikeman—trust me, he’s going to be honest with you.

So, we talked a little bit about his start in venture capitalism, how he got his start in oil and gas, also how he really got his roots in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom and how that juxtaposes and how that compares to what’s going on right now in the cleantech boom and really the same set of principles, his 270 day thesis/process still factors into what he’s doing today. And again, if you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re a founder, if you’re somewhere in that process, telling you right now, you’re going to take a lot away from today’s episode. And of course even more to gain in episode two. So make sure you stick around for that.

And of course we talked just a smidge about a little Texas A& M football and kind of his three tenants: team, tech, and traction. It’s an absolutely incredible interview. It’s fast moving. It’s again, we go a little bit longer than what we normally do on the Power Connect, but I promise you it’s definitely well worth it and you won’t even notice it.

So without further ado, episode 50, please welcome to the program from Energy Transition Ventures, Mr. Neal Dikeman. Did you know you were going to get into oil and gas though, when you went to A& M? What was your…

Neal Dikeman: I was a history major. And then I did e-con cause history is I finished that in the first two semesters.

And so I was going to go to law school or teach history, which would have been a really bad decision. Yeah. So I was going to go to law school. I can see you being a teacher, but the goal was two years at A& M and then University of Chicago Law School. And I was bored so I added a 30 hour minor in accounting and finance, which is good, cause that’s what got me a job. And I didn’t go to law school cause then I was burned out. And so then I was desperate. I was taking an astronomy class in the summer and with my last scholarship stipend and I had no job. So this is not good. My dad is not particularly happy.

So I had a couple offers that were coming in. I interviewed very badly. I was blowing, I must have been the worst interviewer on the planet. Hopefully I’m better these days.

Fred Davis: It’s hard to believe.

Neal Dikeman: No, I was bad. Yeah. I was getting turned down for second interviews for jobs that were just like, seriously? Right? A sales tax consultant company turns me down for a second interview. I don’t think you’re good enough, Neal. You can’t come help these companies figure out how much to pay on their sales tax. You’re not good enough. Yeah.

Fred Davis: So what do you think it was?

Neal Dikeman: It was a bad, I did not know how to interview.

Fred Davis: But what didn’t you know how to do? You’re obviously a smart guy. What didn’t you know how to do?

Neal Dikeman: I don’t, I had no work experience. I had, I was taking, I had 188 credit hours in school in three years. I was just, I was having fun. I took classes, right? Then I was doing TA-ing for some really cool economists, and so I was having a blast. But, and then I’d work, I went, I’d go home in winters and summers, and when I was working, I’d go work at a wood floor company. The people that hired me in high school, I’d just go, doing warehouse work. I had no job experience. I must have been just awful. Anyway, I’m in trouble and Bankers Trust, which is one of the more coolest companies of all time, just a really awesome, innovative company, they had an energy group, and they’d screwed up their hiring.

And the story was that the head of the group in New York had basically nixed all the analysts and associates they were trying to hire. And so they’ve got a few associates, a bunch of MDs and VPs, and no analysts. Which is pretty insane, because those MDs get very mad if they have to do their own modeling.

They needed some bodies. So they were desperate and I was desperate. So we were a match made in heaven and they had, they just finally took their headhunter, and they’re like the guy who would get their, all their senior people and dude, just get us some bodies. So he puts an ad on the A& M job line. I didn’t know what investment banking was. He interviews me at the Houston Racquet Club. I go and just sit there and watch him, and then we chat for a few minutes. He says, Oh, all right, show up Monday. And I show up Monday. I interviewed with every single person at the end of every single interview. They asked me, don’t you think you’d rather be an equity analyst? So I still obviously wasn’t interviewing well, but they were Power Connect, right?

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: And so I’m sure their conclusion was. Well, shit, at least he’ll show up, right? He’s smart and he’ll be there. But, I was smart enough to ask a couple of questions.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: I was told you’re supposed to ask questions in interviews. Because somebody, at the A&M Job Career Center told me that. And so I had my little questions ready and I managed to ask one of the VPs… he made some comment and I said: it does seem like you do need a lot more math and stats to be good at this job. And he was an engineer, so he thought the other people didn’t have quite the math that they should. And so he liked that. One of the MDs happened to be running the St. Francis Day for the school I went to, that my grandmother founded, a little private school in West Houston called St. Francis. And so we had a nice little connection and then the group head, who apparently been nixing everybody, I asked him the only important smart question I could think of, that Banker’s Trust is listed as being a great place to work for women— I haven’t actually been interviewed by a woman, what’s the deal there? And I find out later he’s a bleeding heart liberal, and so that was probably the right question to ask him. Had I asked anybody else, they probably would have just said get this kid out of here. Whatever it was, I survived. And I did manage to get through the interview with the M&A head for BT’s Energy Group without knowing that the word M&A stood for Mergers and Acquisitions.

And I don’t think he understood, thank God. That guy’s a genius. He trained me a lot. So these are some amazing guys. The people who I worked for, they went to run companies, CFOs, like they just rock. I had no idea how good those guys were.

Fred Davis: So it couldn’t have been a more perfect landing spot for you right out of college.

Neal Dikeman: It was great!

So I show up and I just work. I lived at home. I’d go up to play ultimate frisbee at A&M on the weekends. I had a girlfriend in San Antonio and then I’d work. That’s all I did for three years without vacation.

Fred Davis: And so what did those three years teach you? And I guess, just from talking to Andreika yesterday, she talked about working in an M&A group her first two years and how it gave her lessons that she’s still carried today.

Was there anything like that in that experience?

Neal Dikeman: We didn’t do just M&A, when I got there, it was a lucky time. So BT was a, leverage lending, high yield, structured credit type business. We did derivatives before people did derivatives. We were doing high yield. We were doing structured products, credit, bonds, bank, all sorts of neat, interesting stuff.

Yeah, reservoir power, EMPs. I doing reservoir modeling, working for a couple of, X oil company and Ryder Scott engineers that, really knew their stuff, service supply, power companies, worked on the Enron water deal, all bunch of those Enron partnerships, really cool stuff.

And then we did every product out there, because then they bought Alex Brown. And Alex Brown was the, one of the top small cap equities, shops around there. So they were the IPO shop for tech firms. So we did some IPOs and some equity follow ons. They bought BT, the Wolfensohn and company to get in the M&A.

And so they had one of the best M&A groups in the world. I worked on the Conoco Inc. IPO, which was the the biggest IPO of all time at the time, which all of 4 billion in 1998, which they took out when oil was at $10. Insane, I really must need to move that thing, but yeah, so just a really cool experience within M&A.

I think the last deal I did was, was actually a distressed debt, because, the market was in the tank, and so we went from M&A to distressed debt, buying a company for Anschutz Corp., through the bonds. So we did everything. So I, again, had no idea how good this was. And then I went around and talked to all my friends there, and I’m like hey, you’re supposed to go to business school.

And where’d you go? Did you like it? Did you learn anything? And most of them are like, Nah, but you gotta do it. It’s a tick box. It’s just a vacation. You’ve already learned everything you need to know. And then one of them made the comment, he said, the issue is, here in banking, we learn the balance sheet side of a business, but we don’t know anything about the P&L side.

Which is a really interesting theory. That guy has gone on to be managing director. He’s a very smart guy as well. And it’s really cool. I’m like, I need to learn how to run a company, right? So I went to a shop with an ex Alex Brown partner in it that in California, a PE shop doing manufacturing turnarounds, I was the corporate secretary and board observer for Ocean Pacific.

Do you remember that brand?

Fred Davis: I do remember Ocean, OP, absolutely. But here’s my question though, real quick. So how did you know it was time to make a move?

Neal Dikeman: Oh, Deutsche bought Bankers Trust and we’re destroying it and all my bosses were going to quit and I’m like, hell, I gotta get out of here.

Fred Davis: Okay. Okay.

Neal Dikeman: And, I’m in my third year… by that time they liked me enough to make me a third year analyst, which is code for, we’re going to keep you. And, it’s a real promotion. And so they would probably have just let me run through and be an associate without going to business school if I wanted.

But I wasn’t certain I wanted to be in oil and gas and energy. Yeah, right? I had just come through 1998. WTI went from the 20s to 10.

Fred Davis: You sure?

Neal Dikeman: Yeah. And you know what? I need to go do something exotic. California seemed really exotic to a Texas boy.

Fred Davis: Okay.

Neal Dikeman: I was gonna go out for two years.

Fred Davis: Were you still living at home, by the way?

Neal Dikeman: I was still living at home.

Fred Davis: Okay.

Neal Dikeman: I drove out my little Honda Accord and I didn’t have any furniture. I lived without furniture for a year. I wasn’t sure I was going to be there for a long and and I wanted to be mobile. I didn’t know if it’s going to Dallas, New York, overseas, back to Texas, who knows?

So I go work for this PE fund. We were doing some really cool manufacturing turnarounds, but the fund was basically end of life. I didn’t know what I was doing. They were, we were basically end of life and it didn’t look like we’re going to be putting together another one anytime soon. It was CalPERS money. And it was dot-com boom, right? 1999.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: So I’m sitting in the Silicon Valley. I’m working in downtown Burlingame, living in San Mateo. I can, you can drive down the freeway, you can see Oracle and all the big tech companies are right there, the Northern end of the valley. And I’m working at a tube bending factory with welders sitting there matching payables because the CFO doesn’t know what they’re doing and helping keep their cashflow straight.

This is not the right spot. I need to either go home. And so I was going to go home and buy a valve company. Or I need to get into tech. So I’ve landed, bounced at a company that was behind and a few others.


Fred Davis: tipped the scale? What tip the scale? Cause you knew you had to do one or the other. How did that decision come? How did you make that decision? What was the driving factor?

Neal Dikeman: Dude, I was there less than a year. It was the valley. Everybody’s — it’s like in Houston. Everybody you know, everybody’s in energy. Right? at least at the time. Now it’s a bit more, it’s quite a bit more diverse, but still, you go through my neighbors, I know where they work, right? There’s a lot of people in energy.

Fred Davis: Right.

Neal Dikeman: I was sitting in an apartment complex in San Mateo and every single one of my neighbors was in tech or investments. I go play ultimate Frisbee with people and they were all in tech or venture or startups or something or other.

I am in, I’m not doing what everybody else is doing.

Fred Davis: You’re bending tubes!

Neal Dikeman: I don’t mind being a contrarian, but this is a lot of contrarian and they’re making a lot of money. And so I think I need to go where

Fred Davis: I go where the money’s at.

Neal Dikeman: Or I need to leave and go somewhere else.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: But doing manufacturing in Silicon Valley in 1999 for old school stuff was just not a very smart career move. So I was smart enough to realize that again, didn’t really know what I was doing. Couldn’t even spell venture capital. The firm I went to was a company called Global Gate, which is a fund that’s gone now, but we were the funders behind and things that powered portals like Yellow Pages, a bunch of really cool companies and some of the guys there have gone on do interesting things.

And I joined the day NASDAQ fell the first time. My timing is just. I’m good at this. Whatever, not a problem. We didn’t do just investments. We did some workouts, but hey— workouts, restructuring, that the BT guys had taught me. So now I’m sitting here in the Valley and I know debt, and trust me, venture capitalists cannot spell debt.

It’s only four letters and they literally can’t spell it. It’s still catching venture capitalists 20 years later, they still don’t know what the product is or what it does to companies. You still use it wrong, structure it wrong. So I …

Fred Davis: But you’ve got that skill set.

Neal Dikeman: Oh yeah! It’s just debt. Yeah, I got trained. The credit people at BT were just lights out. I was trained in credit by the best in the business.

Fred Davis: Okay.

Neal Dikeman: Yeah, and am I as good as the best credit guy? No, right? There’s some amazing credit people, but I haven’t been in that world for 20 years. But so we kept doing that. So we, I was a multi product kind of generalist. And it left energy, so the manufacturing I was sitting, as I said, Ocean Pacific, our tube bending company, food manufacturing, did a lot of things in a very short period of time. So now I’m in tech, and the last thing I knew how to model was a reservoir model. So I’m doing depletion models in my head, and I’m looking at these internet dot-com boom models.

Of course, first deal when I get there, I get to the Global Gate. Guy sitting next to me, and he’s Hey, we one of our portfolio companies, yeah, they’re gonna buy somebody. We need to go do the diligence. And the reason I took that job, my future partner, long time, is a lady by the name of Jane Linder.

She’d been a venture cap, one of the first female venture capitalists, basically, ever. Yeah, and she’d been doing U. S. to China deals for years. Yeah, most interesting person you’ll ever meet. And so she was, the COO running this place. And then running the San Francisco office and in charge of all the investments and all that.

And she needed an associate, and I looked like a halfway decent associate. And again, you couldn’t get bodies. In the dot-com boom. So they were probably pretty desperate. Yeah. So she hired me

Fred Davis: Your timing really is impeccable.

Neal Dikeman: She told me later. So she’s my partner of Jane Capital, the Jane of Jane Capital, right?

So she told me later that basically everybody else there wanted a very attractive female who was also very smart and come from a big bank. And she wanted me and she won because Jane gets her way. And so I joined this place when they had Adlai Stevenson on the board. And I thought I’ve heard of him, maybe it’s not too schlocky. And Adlai actually is one of the most interesting people on the planet as well. This is the guy, long story, you can go see on the Energy Transition Ventures blog, I did an article after Adlai died, this is the son, not the guy who ran for president. This is his son, who was a senator, two time senator in the 70s and 80s. He invented the CRADA. He wrote the DOE Act, yeah? And he wrote the Stevenson–Wydler Act, which does tech transfer from every university and national lab. The reason tech transfer and TLOs exist is because of Adlai, right? And they’ve all forgotten him, yeah? So people talk about him and his family and the legacy. Adlai invented the stuff that has saved the butt of every clean tech company in this sector, and they’ve forgotten him. So we wrote that article and put it up there as the, let’s walk you through the actual invention of the CRADA, yeah? All this stuff you think you know. And if you go look at a CRADA of Argonne or, or NREL or any of the others, most of them are still titled the top. Stevenson Liger.

Fred Davis: Oh, wow.

Neal Dikeman: It’s him.

Fred Davis: Okay.

Neal Dikeman: He wrote that thing.

Fred Davis: Godfather of clean tech in a way.

Neal Dikeman: I didn’t know this at the time. I just knew that he drank whiskey and was interesting. And we talked about Asia, but Adlai was awesome. So this is still Global Gate. So first deal, I get there internet dot-com. My first, first, first deal. My portfolio company is going to go buy this little company. And it’s a spin out of a bigger company. And so we go over and we’re like, Okay, so we gotta do the diligence. I’m like, great. Do they have the stuff? Where’s the data? There were no data rooms, right? There were binders. This is old school. There, this whole data room, DocSyn. That thing is less than 10 years old. Yeah, the, hey, startups should have a data room. Great idea. Very new concept. Usually, you send them a due diligence list. In the dot-com boom, you didn’t even do due diligence lists because the deals were closing in days or weeks.

They had just put together a binder of stuff and left it on the desk for us. We go over and open the three ring binder. There are not very many pieces of paper in this thing. But there is one that is the million dollar seller’s note or note from the parent company and we’re buying the stock of this company.

And I’m like, huh, and it’s supposed to be paid off in a year. And I’m like, huh, I’m not sure we budgeted a million dollars to pay that off. So I trip back and I’m like, hey, did you guys know that these guys have a million dollars of debt back to the parent? And they’re like, no, nobody told us that. It’s not in the term sheet. We’re buying the stock of the company, right? Yeah, we’re buying the stock. We just, you just give them some of our shares for their shares. Give them some cash. Okay. So you understand you’re going to owe these people a million dollars the day you sign, as soon as you sign that, they’re like, Oh, we can’t do that.

So the deal blows up.

Fred Davis: [laughing] Nobody looked at it!

Neal Dikeman: It was dot-com. You think these are bubbles now? The dot-com boom was awesome. Creation on steroids. We’re gonna fast forward, eventually we’re gonna get to interesting modern stuff. But, developed a thesis there. 270 days. If you were doing the same thing in startup world that you were doing 270 days ago, you’re dead. You are gone. Just fold up shop, stick a fork in it, go home.

Fred Davis: That’s how extreme it was.

Neal Dikeman: Startup world, it still is. Startup world moves fast. People talk in terms of quarters or years. But I think the best way for us to think about a startup life is 270 days, 9 months. It’s not a year. You can’t really get much done in 90 to 120 days.

Everything’s kind of a sprint. But by 270 days, you’ve either built something, sold something. Something better be different. And if it’s not in your startup, in your career, in your portfolio, life’s getting stale. You’re getting beat because nobody else is standing still. And that’s what I really took out of the dot-com boom was speed kills and speed is defined in a max of 270 days. So when you talk to startups here today, and you look at their, I’m a history major. Remember?

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: I run the history of the company. I get their origin story first. And then I get the whole sordid history. Every deal, every investment, the partners, and you do the diligent style, P.E. style read, but you don’t have to do the level of that anymore because you can proxy it. I know what I’m doing. But you can get just pictures of what’s happening when you look at the time series. It doesn’t tell you anything about the technology or where they’re going to go. It’s history, right? It’s not the future.

But it gives you a perspective of how they got there, which tells you where the bodies are buried. And then, you look at these spreads. Are they actually delivering performance in a tight time cycle? And yeah, we go through these histories, these young companies man, this is a five year old company.

Do you know how many five or seven year old companies go from zero inflection to big inflection with just cash or a venture capitalist? It’s a very low percentage, right? Yeah. There are a company, a couple of our startups are really young. Now sometimes it happens. We just funded one that university spin out.

They’ve been sitting in the lab basically for several years. But the inflection point, it’s not very far ago. So you got to go back and find those wins, the innovation, the aha moment. What changed to make this interesting? How did it come together? Is it the same people that are doing it?

Is the inventor there, right? And you’re looking for things like, just like we’re in the dot-com boom. People start in these companies, they come out of nowhere. Everybody was doing it. So the real question is, are they performing? Is it an interesting idea? Have I seen it before? And are they actually performing?

And so we’ll fund deals where I’m like, you know what? I don’t think these people look very good. But man, they’re out executing what I think they should be doing. And man, they got people on board that team that they shouldn’t have been able to hire. Why are those people working for them? Why are those customers talking to them?

That’s interesting that, dichotomy, this dot-com boom era stuff. But I still haven’t forgotten that 270 days, that I’d come back to Houston and visit my friends. And I wouldn’t come back every quarter, but you’d come back here for holidays, et cetera, family and all that. And I’d notice my friends in Houston were talking about the same stuff and doing the same thing that they were doing the last time I talked to them.

I go back to the valley after the holiday, and the friend I had talked to just before the holiday was now doing something different. Or on to a new chapter.

Fred Davis: So the speed was just breakneck.

Neal Dikeman: Speed is breakneck. So it’s taken the rest of the world decades to learn what the valley means when it says speed.

Fred Davis: Is that good or bad for business?

Neal Dikeman: It’s great.

Fred Davis: Okay.

Neal Dikeman: It’s fantastic.

Fred Davis: Why?

Neal Dikeman: We only have one life to live. What are you gonna do with it? You have two choices. You can work for somebody or start something. When it comes to your career. You’re gonna wake up… You’ll that little comment that nobody ever … regrets working too many hours when they’re on their deathbed, they’d rather spend time with their family.

I agree, my little girls are awesome, I spend, there’s nothing better than, little bubbly voices going and screeching and screaming and running.

Fred Davis: How old are your kids?

Neal Dikeman: Yeah they’re seven and nine.

Fred Davis: Oh, great age.

Neal Dikeman: So a very screechy, runny, bubbly stage. And but when it comes to your career, yeah, if you’re doing the same thing for 10 years, it better be a project that wins because you only got three of those in you.

Yeah. Think about it as the… are you a football fan?

Fred Davis: Absolutely.

Neal Dikeman: Okay. So half of our investment committee chat at Energy Transition Ventures is college football. A little bit of, yeah,

Fred Davis: If only you guys had a quarterback.

Neal Dikeman: He’s coming, man., He’s coming.

Fred Davis: You’ve paid everybody else. The least you could do is pay for a quarterback.

Neal Dikeman: Alright. It’s another podcast. I’m a big believer, if you gotta let someone go, you know quickly whether they’re a fit.

Fred Davis: What’s your timetable?

Neal Dikeman: Oh, you’ll know in a few months, at most. Weeks. You do! And somebody told me a long time ago, half of all employees don’t work out. Even in big companies with amazing awesome HR departments that really know their stuff.

They just, they don’t. And, but companies keep them on, but once you’ve got somebody that does, you don’t want to ever let them go.

Fred Davis: Okay, go ahead. And I got a question.

Neal Dikeman: Go ahead with your question.

Fred Davis: What’s the one characteristic that you’ve gone back to time and time again, that if you’ve gotta plop a hundred grand on the table and say, this is … if this guy or gal has "it", let’s ride with it.

Above everything else, what’s that one thing that Neal Dikeman is looking at?

Neal Dikeman: I think it would be the speed, right?

Fred Davis: Just as far as?

Neal Dikeman: If I had to pick one, and I won’t pick one, but if I did, it would be speed. I want to see them, when you show, when you meet a startup, and the next time you meet a startup, things have happened.

Huh, that’s interesting. Because they have no money. They have very little resources. That’s the definition of startup is: I’m a company with limited resources. So if things are happening, they’re either really good, really on to something, or have something cool and sexy and awesome. And so then you want to understand why.

What is it that is allowing them to do stuff that they can’t? So our view on investing in startups is quite simple. Team, tech, traction. In that order. That’s it.

Fred Davis: Okay.

Neal Dikeman: Yeah, write that down. You need to remember that.

Fred Davis: Absolutely.

Neal Dikeman: There’s a whole bunch of stuff after that, but that’s the big three.

Fred Davis: Okay.

Neal Dikeman: Yeah, and we’ll go back.

Fred Davis: Walk me through those three.

Neal Dikeman: Now remember, I’m in cleantech. I’m in energy. Yeah. This ain’t no SaaS company. So just because you got an awesome team doesn’t mean you’re not going to lose every single cent.

Fred Davis: Yes.

Neal Dikeman: So Donald, so tech matters. Now in energy, there’s a couple other things got to remember.

Technology is cheap. There’s a lot of it out there. A lot of science. Always a better way to skin the cat. Always a better mousetrap. Always. If the industry wanted a better mousetrap in anything —take an engine. If we wanted a more efficient engine, we’d have a more efficient engine. There’s always been one.

There’s a trade off. It’s probably more expensive or there’s, or the friction of changing it out is hard or any number of things. But you got to be careful because everything’s a little bit better. Technology tends to be cheap. It’s like pennies lying all over the, you just pick them up, right? But you’re not looking for the pennies, you’re looking for the gold one.

You’re looking for that old gold dollar that just got dropped, not the pennies. Because there’s a lot of pennies. In fact, there’s a lot of dimes. There’s always a way to do it better. Yeah, so we’re looking, we’re always really interested in that question. So the second kind of thing about, about energy is technology may be cheap, but scale up, that’s super hard and risky.

And go to market is super, super hard and risky. But if your technology doesn’t work, or is natively disadvantaged, it doesn’t matter how good your go to market is, or how good your team, or what traction you have, you’re done. You’re in a cul de sac.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: So we look for things that are not in cul de sacs that have, back to our football examples, is there a hole you got daylight to run to?

If so, run downhill.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: But you got to know when that’s not a hole the linebacker’s scraping, and you’re going to step up and he’s going to pound you.

Fred Davis: [laughing] right.

Neal Dikeman: You got to know what to play. You got to know who’s supposed to block him. You got to trust your guy is going to block him. But you got to know the block is going to be there, not over to the right.

Same deal. This is the inventor, this is Kolsak. Investors today, and frankly back in the day, they do silly things. Risk gets mispriced in our world on a grand scale. Because they don’t have the history. They haven’t seen people been doing the same technologies over and over and over again.

Half the stuff that gets funded today is in a cul de sac and they don’t know. They have no idea they’re sitting in a big giant cul de sac. It’s like they’ve gone into a box canyon and they think it cuts all the way through, but it doesn’t.

Fred Davis: And that’s just because they, what, didn’t do the due diligence, didn’t look at the history of the company or just don’t know enough about the entire space.

Neal Dikeman: So when I was at Shell and I helped launch the Venture Fund there, which is an awesome, fun experience, very smart people very smart people very nice people. Big company. Can’t manage his way out of a paper bag. Yeah. But a blast, and billion dollars of some of the R&D with some of the best scientists in the world. I was a kid in a candy store. Yeah. There was always this tension cause you’re in a corporate, you want to put people from the inside into the venture role. And when I got there, there was like one of me, one other guy that knew venture, but didn’t know energy. And everybody else was from the inside. And I’m like, how’s this going to work out right?

Now, understand these are really smart people.

Fred Davis: Right.

Neal Dikeman: Otherwise they would not be in that job.

Fred Davis: Sure.

Neal Dikeman: And I remember having some conversations and the example I try and give was, all right, let’s assume you’re going to let me go run exploration. Do you think that’s a good idea? No, Neal. Well, hang on.

I will bet you, you give me five years and enough budget to screw up and learn. I will run a great exploration department in five years, but plan on losing a lot of money in five of those first five years because I have no idea where the bodies are buried. So I can depend on my people and I can, I can be a good manager, but still, I don’t know the content.

Why would you expect I’m going to be good at that? And they wouldn’t, even though they think a manager can run a group if you put them in there. Great. But you won’t hand me exploration? No, you won’t. You don’t know enough. All right, then why are you handing a geophysicist a venture capital job and asking and expecting them to be any good within five years?

It’s a discipline, it’s a domain. I got trained by people. Those people back at Bankers Trust, those people at Global Gate, my partners at Jane, yeah. We started Jane Capital with Macquarie Bank. That was our, we were the fund advisor to Macquarie’s tech fund. I got trained by some guys that have done, they’re still in the business, they’ve done amazing business over two or three decades.

Yeah, I got trained by some of the smartest guys out there. Yeah. So you got to learn and I can promise you I thought I was good then. I’m a lot better now. And it took a few years before I started making stupid rookie mistakes. And when you get to energy, the VCs and this we’re on third wave of clean tech type thing, which is importing a whole new wave of, very good venture capitalists and very, very good startup executives to a domain that they can’t spell. It’s the equivalent of we’re handing all these cleantech investors, yeah, an oil field and telling them y’all need to go run exploration.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: Okay, you know what? These people are going to top schools, they got great degrees, they got a lot of horsepower between their ears. They could do it. But the people they’re competing with have been doing it for 20 years, so they’re making the rookie mistakes.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: Yeah, and that’s happening again.

And it happened way, so back in the day, thin film solar, reel to reel thin film solar. Bio everything. There was a point in 2010 where I blogged that basically all the biofuels companies have now become bio anything but fuels. Yeah. Because they figured out, oh, that’s not good. Because they can’t get the feedstock to work.

And biological processes don’t like to scale up. Thermo mechanical process, thermo catalytic processes don’t like to scale down. Feedstock and bio cannot scale up. And it, the Venn diagram is just ugly, right? So today, so far, everything that has won in cleantech, and don’t kid yourself we’ve built some massive sectors.

Has all been electrochemical, or electrical, widget manufacturing driven stuff in mass manufacturing. There is not a single thing that has won with big field scale up process plant stuff. None.

Fred Davis: That’s not an accident.

Neal Dikeman: I don’t know if it’s an accident or not, but that’s the heuristic.

Fred Davis: Okay.

Neal Dikeman: We have a couple of rules.

One is don’t bet against lithium. The other is don’t bet against crystalline.

Fred Davis: Okay. Okay.

Neal Dikeman: Rules are made to be broken, but still, you better be awfully sure. And then I wrote this really fun little heuristic thingamagig, basically to train gel people on how to do startups and venture capital some number of years ago.

I called it "Neal in a box". It was about a hundred questions of all the stuff you got to ask around this kind of a modified TCOP analysis, but basically the team tech traction and then deal and all the rest of this stuff.

Fred Davis: So you’ve had the team tech team traction methodology for a while.

Neal Dikeman: Yeah. But we only pretend to call it that now.

We, we could write a book, but who needs another book? What you need is more startup founders. Yeah. Even venture capitalists are useless.

Fred Davis: You could do an audio book.

Neal Dikeman: I could do an audio book. And yeah, and so then I did another one on how to do R&D, which seems funny, I’m in one of the best R&D places in the world, why am I talking to them about how to do an R&D?

But we’d do it wrong, because we’d compare our guys inside, they’d compare cost to price, and they’d shift in time, right? And they would compare, so for example, you’d say, oh, my thing costs a million dollars per unit, or, you $2 a kilogram or $3 for that component. And I’m gonna do this because I’m facing the price in the market is three times that.

Dude, are you sure? That’s because they’re not just making a whole bunch of margin. What’s their actual cost? Apples to apples. And now the R&D you’re doing it’s here and you’re comparing it to a current price. So you’re compelling. So most what most people do, they’ll compare current cost to current price and they need to be comparing future cost at scale to future price at scale assuming both the alternates and your stuff both reach scale, right?

And then you need to be doing that component by component. And you got to do it, and you got to time shift it. And then you have to run risk analysis on the component. And then you got to look at, in software, in Valley, usually what you do is at some point, you go massively parallel. You don’t stage gate.

Energy in industry, we do stage gate. That’s how we were all trained. Stage gate is one step at a time. Don’t do X until you’ve done Y. In the Valley, the way that speed happens, at some point, you look at it, and you say, you know what? There is nothing left to stop us. We see daylight. Stop stage gating.

Break each component up and go massively parallel. Push all of them at once. Now the bet there when you do that is that they’re all going to get there. Or that the partners that are working with you on that component are going to get there.

Fred Davis: So you’ve drawn the play out, now it’s time to go run it.

Neal Dikeman: Yes, right?

And then the bet is that when you integrate at the end, it’s actually going to, the putting them together part doesn’t fail and a lot of these energy questions are systems or project problems, where that’s actually a big deal. Yeah. The balance of systems or the balance of plant, right? Oh, that’s just the balance of plant.

Dude. The whole freaking thing is balance of plant. Just ’cause you can get a fuel cell module to work. Back in the day, what killed fuel cells and pims was number one, the spike of gas because they were all going to be micro reformer driven. But it was balance of plant. We’ve been able to get a stack there for a pen fuel cell and electrolyzer for 20 years.

If you wanted to do several gigs per year of hydrogen electrolysis in 2005, I had a stack that could do that. We were working on that business getting the balance of system there. I don’t think so. You’re nowhere close. The tech didn’t exist. The cul de sacs were there. Yeah, and then half those companies were building in the cul de sacs as it were.

They just were building in the things that couldn’t get there. And then you realize what won? What won was lithium ion batteries and crystalline solar. Why? Because they got the manufacturing so big, they could spread costs and do R&D and do incremental development, sustaining R&D, so to speak, differently.

And and then you have guys I’m building this new battery chemistry. Fantastic dude. Do you have $150 billion? No, I don’t need that to get mine to market. Dude, you are competing with $150 billion in the lithium ion business. Yeah. Yeah. So you gotta beat all of them. And you look back in the day and we’ll just take a battery, a lithium ion battery cell.

So you got a anode and a cathode and a separator on electrolyte. Those are the four main little components and stuff. Yeah. And they all push each one of ’em. You get a champion on ’em. And back in the day I was involved with the ConocoPhillips Anode and Materials business. We spent a lot of time on these problems.

And you look at the roadmaps for each component. And number one, the performance was amazing. The cost was amazing. Yeah, and you , you can headroom, run room for days if you could get all the champion components and put them together. Problem is when you put them together, that anode does not like that electrolyte or it doesn’t work quite as well.

Fred Davis: Sure.

Neal Dikeman: Or it, the cathode dies faster when you use the electrolyte that likes that anoder. Some issue, that is a, you can call it a systems issue, but it’s an integration or balance of systems. But, so that should tell you two things. Number one, there is literally no functional limit to how good and cheap something like a lithium ion battery can get.

And there are now hundreds of companies, if not thousands, working on each and every component with every conceivable material and component type and design and manufacturing process by component that you can imagine. Because if you can imagine it, somebody’s working on the R&D on it. Because if you can imagine it, somebody’s written a paper about it, and somebody else is working on it, right?

So they’re pushing them all. So the fact that they don’t all work together well now is why lithium ion batteries, pick your favorite time point, cost X and only last for Y. But you can bet they’re going to cost an order of magnitude less than X and last an order of magnitude longer, and they’re going to be an order of magnitude better, or at least factors better.

And so you’ve seen, this has been the performance march, but none of that can be done if you’re at small scale. And the scale is in the factory, not the field.

Fred Davis: What you’re talking about right now is that we get this kind of short sighted, Oh my God, we’re not going to be able to make it if we don’t do this now.

Whereas to your point, these things are being done, but maybe they’re not being publicized. Maybe they’re not being talked about enough, but eventually, like you said, to this, to your point, using the salt and sea example, It’s happening.

Neal Dikeman: The worlds don’t talk. People do desktop research. They don’t know. Which is insane, right? No, it’s not insane. This is energy. It’s global. If you want to do energy, you come to Houston. Everybody you know is in energy. You can put together teams with disciplines that you can only imagine in other places. You want to do tech and software, you don’t do it in Houston, you do it in the Valley.

Why? Because everybody you know is in it. Because you can get the critical mass of the talent, and they all know where all the bodies are buried in every sector, because they’ve lived it. Clean tech’s a new sector, and we’re now combining. It’s combinatorial of stuff that is global. Literally, how many venture capitalists have been to the Salton Sea?

Fred Davis: I’d probably say a dozen, maybe. Less than.

Neal Dikeman: They might have driven through it on the way to Disneyland on the backside when they got, or when they went down to some conference and, in but So they haven’t even seen it. How many venture capitalists have been inside a refinery?

How many oil and gas people have been inside a solar or battery gigafactory?

Fred Davis: Yeah

Neal Dikeman: At all? So how would they know? So they’re doing desktop. Are they wrong? No, they’re not wrong. They just, this is a lot of problems. These are all multi-disciplinary problems. These are products that are materials and manufacturing problems where the manufacturing is a function of the materials as well as the product.

That manufacturing has to be delivered through a product, into a project that has to be financed to compete with a commodity. Energy is not tech. So tech in energy does not behave differently. And we’re on the third generation of importing awesome VCs, awesome startup people, into worlds they don’t understand.

And they’re just like me in exploration or those geophysicists in venture. There’s a learning curve. And the learning curve is about the life of a fund. As one of my scientists used to say, Yeah. Neal, anyone can be an expert on anything, given five years. And his logic boiled down to, it takes five years to get a PhD. By the time you get a PhD, you’re a world class expert in that narrow subject.You should think this is a very optimistic and uplifting statement. Yeah, you can literally change everything. You can rewrite your old stripes. You can be the world expert in five years. Probably a lot faster in many cases.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: Yeah, but you can. Yeah.The corollary to that is, but it takes five years, right? And some of these worlds, they have a whole bunch of different things you need to be an expert in. So the venture model has been we’ll just go get the best people and they’ll tell us. But if they’re all experts in their little field, now you better be real good at the combinatorial, and you better not miss one.

And so we’ll look at deals and be like, huh, do you understand that was tried 22 years ago? Would you like to go to the UFTO notes on mycleantech. org website where Ed Beardsworth was writing about the three startups doing exactly this in 1998? And then do you know why they failed? Because if you don’t, you have no idea if you’re in a cul de sac.

So one of the things we look for in our in our startups and our last two young tech startups, one is a company we’re turning CO2 into mono ethylene glycol. There’s this company we spun outta Rutgers. Yeah. They, the inventors are the founders, which is a really big deal for us in technical businesses.

Fred Davis: Okay.

Neal Dikeman: Yeah. And

Fred Davis: Why?

Neal Dikeman: Because somebody’s gotta make it work. You gotta get the tech to work.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: And I can bring, I can get the tech transfer done. But it’s expensive and risky.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: So if I can’t get some of the techies, the key original people there, it’s probably not as good idea as you thought.

Fred Davis: Okay.

Neal Dikeman: And sometimes they just don’t want to join. It’s not their thing. But still, you usually need to get a couple of, there’s usually a team that kind of put it all together, you usually need to get a couple of them. So inventors are the founders. Our other company, is a little seed company we funded, a little, it’s growing like a weed now. We moved them to Austin, we’re building a plant to make solid state transformers. They basically can build a single little box, a pad mounted transformer type box that will replace the step down transformer and multi megawatt medium voltage. Replace the switchgear in front of it, replace the inverters and all the converters and the battery charger, put two dozen ports on the right side, on the low voltage side, and software defined AC/DC power and voltage out that right side by port. At a fraction of the cost of the current technology.

They’re using chips. The chips have finally gotten there.

Fred Davis: How’d you find these guys?

Neal Dikeman: My partner, Craig, who’s the best originator on the planet. He was at Excel partners back in the day. That’s who trained him to do cleantech. Craig did exactly two deals at Excel. That’s all they could get through the partnership.

Sunrun and Opower. Two of the category killers. And my favorite story is they turned him down for the one, the third one, Enphase. At a price of orders of magnitude, many orders of magnitude less than, you then it’s value today. Craig’s got a great nose, and he’s a great originator. He, even out originates me.

Fred Davis: Yeah.

Neal Dikeman: Which back in the day was saying something, now I’m not I’m not in his class anymore. But he found him, and he’s I’m not sure about these guys. It’s a father son team. Venture capitalists don’t like back and father son teams.

Fred Davis: Why?

Neal Dikeman: Yeah. That’s family, the politics, if one leaves the other will leave, just, just the heuristics, fine. And I look at it, and I’ve been in the drives business, I’ve been on the board of one here in, in Houston, doing switchgear and drives. This is a drive that replaces transformers and switchgear. And we’re doing conventional gear. Our guys were really good. Yeah, I founded a company called SmartWires, doing very similar solid state transformer type stuff to do power flow control for the transmission grid. This was a distribution version of that. Craig had been in the inverter business, so we were uniquely suited to understand what they were doing. And frankly, these guys weren’t showing everybody what they were doing. But you go look at it, I’m like, where did you get your money from? The history lesson, remember?

And they’re like, Oh, we haven’t raised any money. Alright. How’d you, have you done any work? Oh yeah, we got a full scale box sitting over there. Where is it? At Savannah River National Lab. Oh, okay. Who funded this? Savannah River National Lab and DOE and a few other people. Oh, okay. More than once.

Yeah, over the last several years. Where’d y’all come from? Oh, we came from TECO-Westinghouse. That’s a, we’re the R&D guys. We built a power quality business there. Why didn’t you do this there? Oh, they didn’t want to. So we left to do it on our own. Oh, you want to see our report? Sure. They send me over the DOE roadmap for SSTs written by them and the guy at Savannah River National Lab.

So we start talking about the other programs in SSTs and I come from that world, so we know not a lot of them. I don’t know them all. These guys know everybody. They’ve been involved. It’s a very small world. So I’m looking, and then I’m looking at their backgrounds. So the next thing I do is one of the things my scientists used to tell me. I just go pull their patents. Not the company’s patents, their patents. And I start reading them, and I’m a history major, right? So venture capitalists don’t go read people’s patents. So that’s minion work. And I’m looking at it. I’m like, damn, that’s a long patent list. This founding team that they’d gotten together there. Yeah. They got 80, a hundred patents between them. These people smart. They know their stuff. They’re in this industry. And so then I go get the CTO from, the company I used to be on the board of and bring him in and say, Hey, can you help me figure this out? Is this stuff, does it actually work?

So we have the network back to our, we have our network, which really is just a big, massive list of people. Yeah. And a few events and stuff we run these days, but we can get anybody we need to help. And we usually know them on a first name basis. It’s the, oh, I’ve got a guy. But I don’t have just a guy for, I’ve got a guy, we’ve got one of the best guys for low voltage, yeah, inverters on the planet.

We had some of the best guys for EV fast charges, which is what they decided to go after. We got some of the best guys for drive, some of the best guys for switch gear. We got some of the best guys, just period. I guarantee you there’s not a single venture capitalists in this country that had on their first order Rolodex people they trusted that knew that technology and that application as well as our team did. So in a deal like that, I told them after the first call, we want to do this deal. I need to know it works. I need to check it. I need, I need to get info from you. I need to kick my tires, but yeah, there is something here.

And I told Craig actually says, this, this deck’s kind of ugly. They just, they don’t seem to have the polish. And I’m like, I don’t care.

Fred Davis: [laughing] Because you knew.

Neal Dikeman: One of my, one of those VPs that trained me back at Bankers Trust, he used to say, Neal, in those big old oil fields, there’s always more. So if you’re gonna bet, bet on the well in the big old oil fields, it says there’s a big play they found. Don’t bet on the well on the new oil field that nobody’s ever drilled. It may be true, but in those big old oil fields, the big massive ones, there’s always some improvements and more. It’s similar to, in a factory, don’t bet that the factory can’t wring a little bit out if it’s sitting at gigawatts per year.

In a little one, that’s brand new, okay, be careful with all their assumptions, yeah and make sure they’ve got a hard P.O. on that component at that scale. So the same thing is true here. You see a stack load of patents, yum, you see a team that’s every technical person on this group. They’re sharp.

Fred Davis: Yeah

Neal Dikeman: They’re good, right? You see a …

Fred Davis: The credibility from the BOE?

Neal Dikeman: Of who’s funded them,

Fred Davis: Right?

Neal Dikeman: What they’ve done with their money. They built hardware. Is everything finished? No It’s still taking us a year to get the right product out and get up and running get a factory built and all that sort Of things work is hard.

Fred Davis: Yeah,

Neal Dikeman: But it’s yep and they have the pieces. So do these guys know how to go run a startup? Every single company we’ve funded in this fund and the next one we are, we have a term sheet out to right now and knock on wood they’ll accept it because we’re in love with them, they’re all first time CEOs. And they are all very different backgrounds and they’re ranging from their 30s to their 60s. And we don’t care.

It doesn’t matter. Yeah team, tech, traction. Some of these are teams that other Valley VCs beat all over. And some of them are teams that other Valley VCs say, it doesn’t look like my model. It’s like, dude, yeah, did you look at the product? You judge a cow by its calf, venture capitalists by their CEOs and their portfolio, and a CEO by their team.

And so when you look at people and they’ve been able to attract people that are just, Oh my God, why are those people working for them at this stage? There’s something there. And so you give them a leash. You can, and if they’re coachable, you can train them. And if they’re not coachable, you bring in another CEO.

So you just ask the question up front. Yeah, you push them. Guys, it’s, can we go build this business? But in, in SaaS, this model would die because SaaS is all, there’s this whole like, neat repeatable model about how you do pre seed and seed and the minimum viable product and the test and the ARR. They got whole metrics and stuff.

It’s very fun. Yeah but that presupposes that if you can think it, you can build it. This is energy, right? Just because you can think you want an SST doesn’t mean you can build it, let alone that your design will last, let alone that your design can get the costs out, let alone that you’ve productized your design right, let alone that you’ve found product market fit.

So every other venture capitalist in this world is worried about product market fit. I don’t give a crap about product market fit. It is fourth on my list. It may even be after a well-formed deal. Because if the tech is awesome, and the team can ball, and it’s really advantaged, product market fit may be findable.

And if the tech is in a cul de sac, it doesn’t matter how good the team is. What are they going to do? Spend all my money and then they’re going to reinvent a new piece of tech? They’re going to pivot by starting the R&D over. Great. That’s not a pivot. That’s a restart. Those ain’t the same thing. A pivot is different.

Fred Davis: Thank you so much for that, Mr. Neal Dikeman. Don’t forget, part two of the Neal Dikeman interview is going to go down on Friday, so be sure, or it’s going to be episode 52, so if you listen to it in any form or fashion, or if you listen to this all over the place, just be ready, episode 52 is going to be part two.

We’ve got a lot of great episodes coming up again. You can catch all the episodes over at the power, connect. net, Apple podcasts, as well as Spotify. And of course, Google, if you listen to us and we know a lot of you do on Apple, give us a five star rating, listen to the program in its entirety. It helps with the algorithm and we just think we do a good job.

So make sure you do that as well. Coming up very soon on the program this week, we’ve got Harald Överholm, CEO of Alight, one of the leading PPA producers in the entire European region. We got Syd Kitson from a founder of Babcock ranch. When half of Florida was without power after Hurricane Ian, guess who wasn’t?

Babcock Ranch, Syd Kitson, also a former NFL lineman and former Green Bay Packers. We got to ask him what the hell’s going on in Green Bay. Kat Dey from Ettitude. All I’m going to say is this, bamboo’s better in bed. At least that’s what Kat has to say. We’ll talk to her about that. Buck Martinez from the ACES program, an absolutely incredible conversation with him.

We talked a little baseball, but more importantly, we talk about what’s going on in South Florida. A lot of Florida vibes here lately folks, nothing wrong with that, but he’s a former Florida Power and Light executive back when renewable energy really wasn’t that cool to do. Buck has been a proponent of that for quite some time now.

And last, but certainly not least Brad Wills from Schneider Electric, an absolute powerhouse episode about what Schneider Electric, the biggest company you’ve ever heard of, you’ve never heard of, what they’ve done in the commercial space and what they’re about to do in the residential space, you definitely do not want to miss that.

And again, one more time, don’t forget this Thursday. Finding a rhythm forecasting and innovating in a renewable age, making my moderating debut. I’m excited about it. You should be too. This Thursday, November 10th, 1:00 pm eastern, noon central. Go to register, wait for the pop up and or find them on LinkedIn.

Follow subscribe, register. I’ll see you on Thursday. Can’t wait for that. This has been the Power Connect podcast, connecting the energy transition, one conversation at a time.

Intro song: Wake up builders time to build a new land. I know we could do it. If we all lend a hand, only thing we have to do is put it.

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About the Author
neal dikeman

Neal Dikeman


Author Neal M. Dikeman is the Chairman of online network and cleantech think tank, and a partner at early stage venture capital fund, Energy Transition Ventures. He has cofounded half a dozen cleantech and energy startups, previously worked in venture capital at Jane Capital Partners and Royal Dutch Shell. He has been one of the most prolific writers on the subject of cleantech, as chief blogger for, named a 50 Best Business Blog by the London Times. He authored What is Cleantech?, the first brief history of the term cleantech,, 2008, What is the Energy Transition?, 2020, author of a book chapter on cap and trade in The Green Movement, Greenhaven Press, alongside George Will and John Kerry, and a former cleantech columnist for CNET/, Christian Science Monitor, and Sustainable Industries Magazine.