Company 360:
Q&A with Rick Luebbe
EnerG2 CEO

4Portfolio-enerG24

Eric “Rick” Luebbe 

Chief Executive Officer, EnerG2
RickLuebbe
Can you tell us a little about the recent announcement from EnerG2?

This relationship with BASF can best be described as strategic funding to cement a broad long term partnership. BASF has a corporate initiative for eMobility, which is an effort to explore new opportunities in the energy storage and lightweight materials space. BASF has been exploring new markets and looking for opportunities that are interesting and allow them to get a foot in the door. The relationships with EnerG2 provide them access to unique technologies and provides unique synergies between the two companies. BASF’s investment helps the company test the waters for a larger entry to the lead-acid and ultracapacitor markets.

What does BASF bring to the partnership and how does it benefit EnerG2?

This opportunity provides EnerG2 benefits in three main areas. First, the brand recognition and reputation of BASF, provides a small company like EnerG2 validation of technology and commercial viability to help support the generation of new customers. Secondly, BASF is a global company and provides us access to global markets not currently available to us, more quickly and efficiently. Finally, BASF excels at building out and scaling large operations. Their experience developing large chemical and process manufacturing facilities will be a vital asset to our company as we grow.

In what ways will you and the EnerG2 team be able to provide value to BASF?

EnerG2 is working in a market that BASF doesn’t currently operate in, but would like to. Partnering with us provides a low risk opportunity for BASF to explore the market and determine how they can best leverage their expertise for success in the ultracapacitor and lead-acid battery markets. Of course with any venture like this, we hope and expect that the opportunity will present itself to grow the partnership in the future. But more than anything, it gives BASF as seat at the table to learn more about the market and ensure that it has strategic options available in the future.

Any time a company enters a new market they have two choices to win business – provide a cost advantage or a technology advantage. While BASF has the ability to scale for this market, working with EnerG2 provides them a relatively low risk opportunity to leverage the EnerG2 patent portfolio for a strong technology advantage.

Element 8 members have participated in multiple rounds of funding to EnerG2. How has that consistent support allowed you to be successful?

By striving for investor returns and social returns, a company like EnerG2 is very reflective of Element 8’s core principles. Similar to investments in biotech, investments in clean tech take longer than your average investment to see significant returns. It takes time for success to happen. Throughout our company lifecycle, Element 8 has shown patience, confidence and support in our strategy. As the CEO of a startup, the vote of confidence Element 8 has provided throughout the years has been a source of strength for our co-founders and the entire team. Element 8 believes in our business and supported us in the good times and the tough times.

Like most startups, EnerG2 has faced ups and downs since its foundation. What is the biggest lesson that has allowed the company prosper and grow?

Obviously there have been a lot of lessons learned over the years, but the two that have been the most valuable are patience and managing expectations. In a sense they tie together nicely because as an entrepreneur you begin with the most optimistic scenario possible for your business – assuming the best case is the most likely case. However this is rarely the case and the best case tends to be an elusive accomplishment. Things won’t go the way you plan so you have to be realistic when setting expectations for stakeholders, investors and employees. As a leader you must realize that the business strategy is a process and exercise patience – you execute to the best of your ability and let it work itself out.

Where do you see EnerG2 three years from today, in terms of manufacturing, distribution, and scale of impact?

At the risk of sounding hypocritical to my previous comments about managing expectations, I think our company is sitting at the edge of a tipping point. We’ve invested significant resources into our state-of the-art manufacturing facility to ensure we have capacity to meet growing customer demand. Currently we have several customer prospects that would easily exceed our current capacity – but that isn’t a bad thing. While the customer acquisition process has been longer than we would have liked, we must continue to build a foundation for success – with both technology and new relationships. In the next 18 to 24 months we will reach that tipping point and be forced to scramble to manage the rapid growth. Predicting that exact point is difficult, but once we begin to see momentum it’s going to be a very exciting time for Energ2.

What does your long-term vision of success look like?

There are two facets of success that I consider that when gauging the progress of our company. First, just as any other company we must provide a return to our investors. But the second, and more interesting goal, is to have an impact in the energy storage industry that can then ripple into the larger renewable energy industry. While enabling technological advancement through strong execution is important, the real indicator of success boils down to improving energy efficiency to mitigate the effects of energy production and consumption on our climate.

Are you reading any good books right now?

These days I feel like I have between four and five different books bookmarked on my bedside table at any given time. Right now the two books that I keep jumping between are David Baldacci’s, The Target and Masters of Command: Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar and the Genius of Leadership by Barry Strauss.

Read our discussion with John Merrill, Element 8 Board Member and EnerG2 Co-Deal Lead, HERE.