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Three GEM Program alumni selected as finalists in Business Plan Competition

June 6, 2014

The Global Energy Management (GEM) Program is thrilled to have its alumni selected as finalists in the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition.

GEM alumni Ian Jaeger and Sean Wisner, who were both members of the GEM Program’s Cohort IIX, submitted a business plan for their company SuperCryt Technologies, a Colorado based clean-tech business focused on water decontamination using a process known as Supercritical Water Oxidation (SCWO). GEM alumnus Joel Poppert also entered a business plan for GeoCity, a vertically integrated development company established for the purpose of financing, developing, and managing geothermal infrastructure assets.

Jaeger, Wisner, and Poppert will compete against four other teams in front of a live panel of judges on Thursday, June 19 at the Four Seasons Downtown.

Joel Poppert

Joel Poppert

Poppert, CEO of GeoCity, has nearly a decade of successful entrepreneurial experience in the geothermal industry. He was awarded the Who’s Who in Energy from the National Business Journals in both 2013 and 2014. Poppert’s partner James Adams, COO of GEOCity, currently works for PricewaterhouseCoopers in their Capital Projects and Infrastructure advisory practice.

“I have always had a serious passion for clean energy, and I discovered the power of geothermal over 10 years ago,” Poppert said. “Geothermal has nowhere to go but up in the market. Over 40 percent of our energy consumption goes to heat and cool buildings. Geothermal is a very proven technology that can reduce building heating and cooling loads by up to 80 percent.”

Poppert, 33, said the idea for GeoCity was born about three years ago after following the success of SolarCity.

“When I started running the numbers, I was amazed at potential to generate high returns with utility like securities while also providing significant benefits to the consumer,” said Poppert, who was a member of GEM’s Cohort VII. “I found that this business model was inherently more stable than its respective renewable, solar PV.”

For the past three years, Poppert has been in exploratory discussions with many groups of stakeholders that have a shared vision for the technology, including policy makers, manufacturers, rural electric utilities, municipalities, contractors, and investors. It was through these discussions that the framework for GeoCity was developed so that it could maximize both returns and the integrity of the systems.

“The Business School competition is a great way for GeoCity to get further validation from stakeholders that review new start-ups every day,” Poppert said. “We will leverage our success thus far with the BPC, and hopefully it will lead to interest from the local investment community … GeoCity has pretty solid interest from many stakeholders, and at this point, I believe there is nothing stopping us from launching in the near future.”

Ian Jaeger

Ian Jaeger

Jaeger, 34, started his career as a materials and processes engineer with a degree in Ceramic and Materials Engineering from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. His partner, Wisner, has four years of experience working in both upstream oil & gas and midstream gas marketing. He received his undergraduate degree in Finance and Economics from the University of Montana.

“The inspiration behind the idea (for SuperCryt Technologies) is that we should be able to easily capture the waste water from sources like oil & gas production and end up with something that will eventually be a very valuable resource – fresh water,” Jaeger said.

He did some of the initial proof of concept testing at a lab on the East Coast that really proved that SuperCryt Technologies was viable. “It wasn’t until after (GEM Program Lecturer) Mike Orlando’s finance class that I could finally put numbers to the ideas, and they were further developed in the final two classes in the GEM program.”


Sean Wisner

The business plan competition encouraged Jaeger to go through the business plan writing process and gather the required data to show whether this is really something worth pursuing.

“Now that the plan has made it to the finals, it shows that there could be some real merit behind what we’re trying to do,” he said. “If things work out and I can sell the idea to the judges, it means there’s a high potential for outside investment in the business – something that’s absolutely critical now that I’m pushing to the pilot phase that I can’t afford on my own.”

The other teams who entered the competition include: Superior Ecotech (a company that converts waste CO2 from fermentation at breweries and ethanol plants into high-value, algae-derived omega-3 oils at half the cost of competitors), Red’s Shed (a new peer-to-peer rental community based out of Denver, CO), Knob Where You Need It (a business that plans to bring a new propane grill accessory to market), and YOUglycemia (a non-profit, social entrepreneurship venture founded by health professionals with type 1 diabetes (T1D) in order to address a critical gap in clinical care of individuals with T1D).

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