Tech meet up: Where entrepreneur and investors convergeAlbert J. Marro / Staff Photo
A large gathering of business owners, entrepreneurs and investors are shown at the Green Mountain Power offices on Merchants Row in Rutland for an event called “Tech @ Rutland Meet-Up.”
For Daniel Riley and David Newlands of Blu-Bin, it was a perfect opportunity to mingle and meet potential sources of new capital for their growing 3D print shop.
Riley and Newlands were among more than 70 people who turned out last week at a tech meet-up at the Green Mountain Power Corp. offices on Merchants Row.
It was the latest in a series of mixers around the state with the idea of connecting high-tech entrepreneurs with sources of capital.
That’s important for budding entrepreneurs like Riley and Newlands and their six-month-old Poultney business.
“We don’t have a lot of cash so we’ve grown ... as far as we can and now we’re trying to finance that next step,” said Riley, Blu-Bin founder, CEO, and recent graduate of Green Mountain College.
Blu-Bin uses three-dimensional technology to “print” or manufacture a solid object from a digital model that’s converted into layers of material in various shapes.
Riley said 3D technology can speed up the manufacturing process, “going straight from idea to product.”
But Riley also said it’s the kind of start-up business “banks aren’t thrilled” to finance.
That’s precisely the reason Thursday’s mixer was sponsored by several organizations committed to helping fledgling high-tech business in the state.
“Our main goal is to help entrepreneurs, who are at a number of stages of business, to connect with the resources they need around the state,” said Andrew Stickney, vice president, Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies.
Stickney said encouraging “entrepreneurial activity is a huge benefit for any community and I think in particular Rutland has a lot of terrific resources that we can leverage and that Green Mountain Power has already done a huge amount to bring together.”
GMP’s Energy Innovation Center is working on making Rutland the solar capital of Vermont, bringing with it the potential of attracting high-tech jobs.
Adam Dantzscher of Renewable Energy Resources made the trip from Bennington to attend the mixer, not to line up investors, but to spread the word about his company and with luck meet a customer or two.
“I’m looking for the next project... like a college or a high school, an industrial park,” he said.
Dantzscher’s four-year-old biomass supply company designs, builds and installs commercial renewable energy systems.
Its European-made Lin-Ka biomass boiler can burn a variety of fuels.
“Most boilers today are single source, wood chips only,” Dantzscher said. “Vermont is a wood state but what we’re trying to do is bring it to ... (burn) agricultural biomass and to complement the wood industry.”
The Danish-made boiler can burn switch grass, agricultural waste, wood chips and pellets. If the energy market dictates, he said the boilers can be converted to burn fossil fuels like natural gas or heating oil.
The tech meet up also attracted Rev. John Longworth of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church on Hillside Road. Longworth said he came to pitch an idea of a solar farm to GMP. The church is considering purchasing a parcel of property across the street to expand its child care center. He said a solar farm, with the power sold on the grid, would help defray the cost of the purchase.
The mixer kicked off with some brief comments from organizers, including David Bradbury, president of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies; Jamie Stewart of the Rutland Economic Development Corp.; and Cairn Cross, co-founder of Fresh Tracks Capital in Shelburne.
Cross said Fresh Tracks has $25 million under management in 25 companies, “many of them here in Vermont, typically in high technology.”
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