Profession after graduation: Venture Capitalist, Startup Operator, Entrepreneur
Having grown up in a highly entrepreneurial family, I desired nothing more than to have my own company one day. That feeling only magnified when I graduated from McCombs and started my career in Silicon Valley working for a major clean energy VC firm. Having the opportunity to finance and work alongside many entrepreneurs at our fund only motivated me to eventually transition into a startup and get real operational experience.
I got my chance in 2010 when I took a job with a VC backed company focused on smart grid solutions in Washington DC. The company, which had gone through a major restructuring, was now ready to focus on new products and a new market. It was perfect, or so I thought. Within ten months, the company had run out of money and the investors were bailing out, resulting in bankruptcy. Rather than being fearful of losing my job, I saw this situation as an opportunity and quickly partnered with someone in the company to see if we could propose a management buyout of the company. Within two months, I raised $19M from my Silicon Valley network to buy out the company, which convinced the original investors to put money back in. The results ended with the company being saved and successfully acquired three years later.
After the acquisition, I felt ready to start my own company. I left the newly acquired company in late 2013 to proceed with my own venture. Having gathered the best engineers, I knew in DC, we began development of a smart grid sensor for monitoring the underground distribution grid. As we finished the product, we immediately got interest from the largest utilities in the US. The product we invented helps with improving reliability, integrating renewable energy, and improving energy efficiency. Today, Athena Power is working with the largest utilities in the US to help modernize America’s electric grid. We have already passed on several buy-out offers and remain invigorated to keep building our company out.