The most common client questions are answered right here.
Reach out through our Contact Us page or send an e-mail to luke at pustejovsky dot ventures.
Q: How do you price your venture assistance and business development services?
A: It’s a custom service and it depends on client goals. We have done many formats: fixed fee upon deliverable, monthly retainers, ‘frame agreements’, etc. The time, expertise, and attention required will dictate the engagement scope. We usually require a retainer upon service contract signature and then monthly payments.
Q: I want to share our awesome ideas with you, but I’d like you to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
A: We honor and respect our clients’ proprietary information. Send the agreement over and we’ll sign it and honor it. But be mindful of NDA enthusiasm: (1) we’ve never seen an NDA violation prosecuted, (2) investors typically do not sign NDAs, (3) the best policy is usually to share what you’re comfortable sharing.
Q: What is your real expertise?
A: We have the most market credibility–with customers, partners, and investors–in commercializing green building products, sustainable construction technologies, and software and systems related to the built environment. But we’ve also performed work across ‘cleantech’ categories like biofuels, fuel cells, energy storage, carbon capture, etc. We’ve also done a lot of work helping other consulting services companies grow their businesses.
Q: Where do you like to focus?
A: The Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, ARPA-E, has a mantra: “If it works, will it matter?” We like to focus on companies and products that could materially affect global climate change.
Q: I’d like somebody to introduce me to investors and am prepared to pay a finder’s fee. Is that something you do?
A: Not really. After working in 3 senior business development roles in lavishly-funded cleantech companies, a decade of participation in Cleantech Forum events, and 20+ consulting assignments, pustejovsky.ventures maintains current relationships with corporate, venture capital, private equity, hedge fund, family office, and angel investors. But we don’t sell access. We think Silicon Valley is becoming more and more open, and that selling access is antiquated.
Q: If you don’t sell access, what do you sell?
A: Expertise. For entrepreneurs that take the initiative to get involved in the Silicon Valley community, access is free or very low cost. But access without expertise isn’t valuable.
Q: If you believe so much in your clients, why don’t you invest in them with actual capital?
A: We don’t have it. Yet. But it’s the right question–and the one Warren Buffett is mostly likely to ask with any new partner. We do like incentive alignment. In addition to cash fees, we have in the past and will always consider partial compensation in options, warrants and other incentives that promote long-term enterprise value creation.
Q: What are examples of very relevant assignments for your services?
A: When Founders and CEO’s contact us, they typically want new customer and channel growth, strategic partnerships, and the best capital partners to help achieve their visions. We’ve worked with leading green building and real estate services companies to develop 3-year growth plans. We’ve worked with online cleantech platform companies connecting corporations with innovation, to develop post-merger sales and marketing plans.
Perhaps a renewable fuels company wants a growth plan for its next 5 plants, complete with recommended sites, partners, stakeholder engagement sessions, state and county and municipal incentive packages, economics models, grants, and debt funding. We would put together a rational process, a Gantt Chart, write a Request for Proposal and lead project management. It’s something we’ve done successfully before.
Or a European company is seeking a U.S. business development plan, a plan that includes identifying financing partners and doing initial installations for its renewable energy tech venture. We’ve got experience.
Clients usually want a combination of industry expertise, growth capital (Seed, Series A, Series B, etc.), customer access and strategic partnerships. Our listening skills, curiosity, and (supportive) realism are valued by client partners. Our location in the San Francisco Bay Area, and frequent work with partners in Austin, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., creates a strong geographic coverage model for the major U.S. innovation centers. Let us know what you’re thinking.
Q: You write a lot about “hard tech” entrepreneurship and specific innovation sub-fields like EC 2.0 and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning. Does Pustejovsky.ventures also craft public relations strategies for clients?
A: We agree that a good PR firm can create a lot of enterprise value for founders–and that it can be a very worthwhile investment. Good PR firms craft a strategy, build a contact list, distribute messages to their targets, and track/analyze their efforts. We are not a PR firm. But we will take limited “positioning assignments” for clients, especially when they need sophisticated, science-based storytelling to communicate effectively with clients and investors. The fee and scope usually resembles a “farm team” or incubation project, before clients are ready to retain a “real PR team” and commit to a much larger investment. Journalists and bloggers usually like our stuff because it’s not canned and we’re not afraid of hard subjects.