Graduate Student in the School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering
I wanted to participate in the WSU-E8 Fellowship in order to immerse myself in the world of angel investing and learn the deal flow process that any startup must go through in order to obtain seed capital. I strongly believe the fellowship has delivered exactly what it promised, and I am completely satisfied with how much of the deal flow I have been exposed to and directly contributed to. I learned what facets of a startup investors scrutinize when trying to determine the potential of the business, namely the following: recognized problem(s), solution(s) that the company proposes will address the problem(s), business model, leadership/management team, target market, go-to-market sales and marketing, competitive advantage, and exit strategy.
Through pitch presentations, application documents, and other sources of information prepared by the startup companies, I was also able to familiarize myself with what startups are cognizant of, in terms of making themselves stand out from the crowd. During some of the member meetings, there were questions brought up by investors that blindsided the presenters; these questions were insightful in that they revealed to me how best to approach answering investor questions that don’t have responses that are immediately clear to be the best answers. By tuning in on member-only discussions after pitch and follow-up presentations, I became familiar with common criticisms that turn off investors and praises that rally investors around a company. I became wary of startups that claim to have developed innovative technology but have poorly developed business models and business strategy.
With all that I have learned, I am now more able to differentiate companies based on easily understood metrics regarding their viability as a seed capital candidate.James Song, Fall 2019
Gurdeep Singh Raina
Research Associate in Management, Information Systems, and Entrepreneurship
First, I would like to thank the E8 team and all the members associated for the opportunity to be a part of the awesome work that they do and simultaneously learn from them and their network. I think, personally for me, I was interested in engaging with some sort of real life and real-time consulting work similar to what I used to do before I started my Ph.D. at WSU. The experience that E8 Fellows program offered me was a logical extension that complimented my skill set. Thus, it was logical to pursue it and stay in touch with the real world consulting while pursuing the degree program.
I must say that I got to work on the real deals that gave me an immense inside experience on the innovation that is happening in the Cleantech sector. It also gave me an insight and learning in the angel investment space. The E8 team is just fabulous. Overall it was a great learning experience.
The E8 experience kept me busy in an area I am passionate about, so it was not equivalent to working for me, instead it was a much wanted de-stressor that kept my passion alive.Gurdeep Singh Raina, Fall 2019
Femi Peter Alege
Graduate Student in Land, Air, Water Resources & Environmental Engineering
My main attractions to the E8 fellowship program were E8’s commitment to advancing clean technology, its support for environmental health, and its objective of addressing climate change. These are in line with my career and research interests in supporting and developing agricultural methods, products, and technologies to mitigate the adverse effects of anthropogenic activities on the environment. With my diverse work experience, I believed (and still strongly believe) that the investment, entrepreneurial, and technological exposures offered in the E8 fellowship program will afford me the requisite experience to consolidate my transition to my future professional career.
By reviewing and pre-screening company applications, and attending the member, pitching, and follow-up meetings, I was able to learn and explore several innovative technologies. More specifically, I gained insight into how investors and entrepreneurs review, discuss, and make decisions on potential investments. This was further bolstered by my involvement in the due diligence team— I had the opportunity to experience, first-hand, how investors investigate companies’ information to ensure well-informed and accurate investment decisions.
Overall, from the research, academic and investment perspectives, the fellowship helped me to integrate my experiences and further understand the link between research, innovation, and commercialization.Femi Alege, Fall 2019
One of my goals was to bring all the concepts of my diverse experiences together, in order to strengthen the transition to my post-doctoral career and improve my entrepreneurial skills. By examining competing companies and their technologies, I gained a deeper knowledge of the principles and technologies behind several solutions in combating climate change and advancing clean technology. This did not only help me in my current Ph.D. research; it also broadened my knowledge base for future research opportunities. I’m very grateful to E8 Angels for these opportunities, and I look forward to future opportunities to learn more about investing and bridging the gap between research, innovations, and commercialization.
Graduate Student in Electrical Engineering
“I believe E8’s mission plays a transformative role in breaking down barriers within the cleantech industry. I wanted to support E8’s mission by sharing my technical knowledge and experience to help angel investors evaluate start-up companies.”Kefei Mo, Fall 2019
Graduate Student in Economic Sciences
Being an E8 fellow and a part of the Due Diligence Team has been a very enlightening experience for me. I had originally wanted to be a part of this fellowship because I wanted to firsthand experience how new companies with innovative products entered into the energy market, the struggles they had to go through and the challenges they encountered. While this fellowship did shed light on these procedures, it in fact provided invaluable exposure to other aspects of the business world which I had very little experience in.
Reviewing new products based on predefined rubrics gave me an opportunity to understand how important competition, market strategy, customer segments, and leadership teams were in order for any product to be successful. Also, as part of the due diligence team, I was able to experience first-hand how companies pitched their ideas and answered questions to prove their profitability to prospective investors. As an economics student with an engineering background, it was at times even exhilarating to observe the tussle between having a decent product but not having the economics behind it.
Altogether, this was a tremendous learning opportunity for me. It has given me valuable lessons on how academic and professional research differ at times. It has also provided me with some insight into the business side of technology. It was very motivating to see so many companies trying to find solutions to the ongoing climate and energy crises and has made my aspirations to follow this path as a career choice even stronger. I would love to be part of this opportunity in the future as well.
As I pursue my career goal to work in the energy sector for similar companies trying to combat climate and energy issues, I believe this fellowship opportunity has given me a very unique understanding of how such companies function.Grishma Manandhar, Fall 2019
Graduate Student in Electrical Engineering
The experience has given me further impetus to work in the area of clean tech and has motivated me to entrepreneur my research contributions towards more outreaching community benefits.Monish Mukherjee, Fall 2019
The fellowship gave me an opportunity to review cleantech startup deals starting from community solar, wind-based clean energy ships and novel hybrid flywheel technologies, to AI based water pipe failure software and vacuum insulated efficient glass for buildings. The investigations during deal reviews provided me the insights of evaluating the ideas not only from a purely technological feasibility standpoint but also from market sustainability and potential customer aspects. Also, the opportunity exposed me to the culture in emerging startups and investing firms (and the jargons too). The fellowship made me more aware of dynamics of start-ups and how the simplicity and outreach of innovation is essential for sustainability. The screening calls, especially the caucus sessions helped me in discerning the balance between being visionary and critical of the innovation. The due diligence, that I am currently involved with, has also taught me on being efficient in state-of-art research for an innovation and in judging the depth of investigation required.
Overall, it has been a great learning experience for me working as a fellow for E8. The fellowship has given me the opportunity to utilize my knowledge and skill sets and somehow contribute towards a cleaner future via E8. I greatly value the fellowship experience and the insights that I have gained will be extremely useful for my long-term professional goal of being an entrepreneur and increase the outreach of my research towards communities. Given an opportunity, I would really like to continue being an E8 fellow and try to grow more through the fellowship experience.