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GEM students & alumni are finalists in the business plan competition

June 5, 2015

Three members of the Global Energy Management Community created a startup, PetraFluids Energy, that recently took first place at The Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship Pitch Night at the University of Colorado Denver Business School.

GEM alumnus Matthew Jorden

Matthew Jorden

“The competition brought in a number of local business leaders and CU Professors to serve as ‘mock investors,’ and we gave them all brief elevator pitches in order to secure mock investment funds,” said GEM alumnus Matthew Jorden. “We were practiced and confident in our pitches, and I think the judges could really see our knowledge and drive to make this idea work.”

PetraFluids Energy is now one of the six finalists in the business plan competition. The team will present a final pitch to the competition judges on Wednesday, June 10. Prizes will be given out, including in-kind services as well as cash.

“PetraFluids Energy is fundamentally designed to generate renewable electricity,” Jorden said. “The team has several pathways to provide clean electricity to local utilities, all of which utilize enhanced geothermal systems in the Front Range area. Unlike traditional renewable efforts, we want to rely heavily on the local oil and gas industry, with partnerships with local producers and service suppliers.”

Some of the main factors Jorden contributes to the team’s initial success at Pitch Night are the potential market size, knowledge of the industry, and unique position to bring industries together (when they’ve traditionally not worked well together).

“By leveraging the expertise of the petroleum industry with the growth opportunities of the renewable industry, we truly believe we have immense potential for success,” Jorden said. “I believe the primary benefits to local communities will be carbon free energy, jobs and long term economic exploitation of geologic resources to benefit the local governments. One of the primary strengths of the business model is bridging the gap between the petroleum and renewable industries, and being able to leverage the strengths and talent of both.”

Once the team finishes the Jake Jabs Competition, the teammates will begin investigating both the NREL Industry Growth Forum and an upcoming City of Denver Business Plan competition.

The making of PetraFluids

Adam DeRito

Adam DeRito

This entire business enterprise is really a GEM business from start to finish, according to Jorden.

“The initial idea was developed over coffee in the hallways of the CU Denver business school, multiple versions of the business plans have been vetted by GEM professors, our initial advisory council is made up of GEM professors, and the three co-founders are all GEM alumni (or very close to being alumni),” Jorden said. “We couldn’t have done any of this without the skills and opportunities provided by the CU Denver Global Energy Management Program.”

The PetraFluids teammates have a diverse skillsets. GEM alumnus Matthew Jorden will bring his insight into the geosciences, utilizing over a decade of geologic analysis in oil and gas basins across the world. GEM student Adam DeRito has skills in operations and equipment. GEM alumnus David Beeson will help the team navigate the land leases and business development.

“All of us bring a drive to accomplish and strong work ethic, as well as the view on the energy industry provided by the GEM Program at CU Denver,” Jorden said.

Jorden and Beeson began working on an Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) business plan during their GEM studies, while taking an Advanced Finance course with GEM Professor Jack Mason, who is also the Director of Entrepreneurial Studies at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

“Their team of two truly set the standard for plan quality and completeness,” Mason said. “Because I have a lot of experience and have started several businesses in the power generation side of the energy industry, I thought their idea had real potential and encouraged them to pursue the idea after graduation. I suggested a few ideas, some leads for potential support or partners, including NREL and Xcel, and the business plan competition I have stayed in touch and met with them a few times subsequent to their graduation. It has been exciting to see them continue to pursue an idea with significant potential for success and scale.”

David Beeson

David Beeson

Jorden and Beeson continued working on the project in Professor Herb Rubenstein’s Strategic Management class, eventually using the project as part of their capstone project. “While working in Prof. Rubenstein’s class, several students encouraged us to contact GEM Student Adam DeRito, who had similar ideas,” Beeson added.

Jorden and Beeson reached out to Adam and were impressed with his knowledge, drive, and skills.

“We quickly invited Adam on board,” Jorden said. “Adam has brought a lot of industry specific knowledge and guidance as we develop this idea, he has been a great addition to the team.”

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