Reenst Lesemann, Columbia Power Technologies

Reenst Lesemann is CEO of Columbia Power Technologies, a company dedicated to harnessing the power of the ocean’s waves for electricity. Columbia Power started 8 years ago with an early stage technology, but have developed it to a point where they are pursuing real world application. We talk about his functionality-driven approach to product development, as well as how you financially sustain an early stage business. 

My favorite quote, that I think captures his approach to product development? “If you can start to hit some of these cost thresholds, you’ll find business somewhere.” Two core concepts of entrepreneurship, to me, are 1) that you need to create value for your customers, and 2) that it’s best to figure things out as you move forward. You have to embrace the mindsets of creation, and motion.

Topics Discussed:

  1. What is wave energy, how does it compare to other forms of energy when it comes to things like cost, source of energy…?
  2. How to go about developing an early stage technology
  3. How does he manage political risk as a clean energy company?
  4. What are the environmental drawbacks of wave energy?
  5. Importance of a social license to move forward
  6. How he got involved in the company, and eventually became CEO. And what he’s excited about with the company.
  7. How does fundraising works for moving an early-stage technology towards commercialization
  8. The interplay between public and private money in funding technologies like those at Columbia Power Technologies
  9. How his diversity of early experiences helped prepare him for founding his Angel Investing Fund, Tall Oaks Capital Partners
  10. What he’d do with an extra hour a day

Book Recommendations:

The Wise Men by Sir Walter Isaacson

Thanks again, Reenst! My conversation with Reenst got me really excited about the future of our society as well as the future of clean energy. It’s a recurring theme, but I’ll say it again, I love talking with these people because they remind me of all the awesome stuff that’s going on in our world. Judging by the news, you might be inclined to think about all the stuff that’s going wrong with the world, but you also have to consider everything that’s going right! Entrepreneurs and business owners to me, represent a powerful force for improvement and the betterment of the world, and I feel lucky to get to talk with so many of them. I hope you are enjoying it too.

Music for this podcast is by Cambrian Explosion, who once spent 3 years exploring the ocean’s depths in a magical submarine. You can find their music on Apple iTunes and Spotify.

If you want to hear from more people like Reenst, check and make sure you are subscribed to Why Try in your podcast app. You can find more episodes of Why Try, as well as a few of the things I’ve learned by doing this podcast at, where you’ll also find book recommendations, and cooking recipes. Check it out. Again, that’s Links to everything in the show notes.

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