Where Are They Now? Follow Up with Obvia Co-Founder Mark Keeley
In November 2016, Innovation Destination Hartford spoke with Obvia, LLC Co-Founder Mark Keeley about the innovative and award-winning wind turbine blade he and his brother Scott developed.
IDH checked in with Mark to find out what’s been going on with the startup.
INNOVATION DESTINATION HARTFORD: What’s new?
MARK KEELEY: We now have three corporate partners:
1. Sunforce International, which is based in Canada and is part of Coleman Products, a subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid. Sunforce is a leading provider of micro-wind technology (100 watts to 1 kW). It is providing us with an investment of micro-wind turbines we are using to test our duel-winglet turbine blades and semi-shroud.
2. GM Industries, which is based in Tolland, CT. GM Industries is the Northeast Bergey dealer, which is the largest U.S. supplier of small wind (1kW to 10kw). As soon as we expand our blade manufacturing from 2-foot blades to 10-foot blades, GM Industries will supply us with small wind turbines at cost.
3. Macris Industries, which is based in Mystic, CT. Macris Industries has launched two successful carbon fiber products (bike wheels and marine lighting casings). It is supplying us with an investment of carbon fiber blades, testing equipment, and a five-acre site at the highest point in Mystic to launch our first commercial 150-kW wind turbine that will heat 68 homes.
IDH: Have you experienced any major pivots since we featured your story?
MARK: Yes, we have moved into production with our first wind farm located off the Long Island Sound. The farm is currently supplying all the energy necessary to power the water pumps for an aquaculture upweller that helps oysters to grow six times faster than nature. Our wind-powered oyster farm is raising 225,000 oysters that are capable of cleaning 11 million gallons per day of nitrite-polluted water.
IDH: Have you been involved with any Connecticut startup resources?
MARK: Yes, in June 2017 we won our second CTNext Entrepreneur Innovation Award and became a two-time judge’s favorite, which lead to our selection as one of six CTNext Entrepreneur Innovation Award All Stars.
IDH: How are you building a customer base?
MARK: We are building our customer base by actively sourcing locations in Connecticut that have the most viable wind speeds. Ocean-side towns have the best wind, so our first site is comprised of five acres of land located at the highest point in Mystic, CT.
We are sharing the same wind as the famous Block Island wind farm, which has the most viable wind in the country and is the only off-shore wind farm in the entire United States.
Macris Industries has already purchased the land for us. The test data we obtain from the new testing equipment supplied by Macris Industries will enable us to secure the $500,000 investment necessary for us to build our first 150-kW mid-wind turbine.
IDH: Where do you see the entrepreneurial landscape?
MARK: We have noticed over the past two years that the entrepreneurial landscape is on an upward trajectory. Connecticut’s focus on businesses that are commercializing new technologies is well placed.
IDH: Tell us about the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship in Connecticut.
MARK: When we speak with potential site owners about our technology, they are encouraged by the support we have received from the state. Connecticut’s numerous award programs, such as the CTNext Entrepreneur Innovation Awards, give us valuable credibility.
IDH: Aside from funding, what do you need most to move your company forward?
MARK: Apart from funding, we could use the state’s help in two ways:
- To encourage the use of green energy throughout Connecticut’s cities and towns, particularly by maintaining the sanctity of the fund used for renewable energy credits.
- To continue encouraging state-corporate partnerships, particularly by helping us obtain the use of the wind tunnel at United Technology Corporation (UTC).
IDH: What’s next?
MARK: Our next step is to build a set of 10-foot long dual-winglet rotor blades capable of powering a 10-kW wind turbine, which we plan to test in an available wind tunnel, either here in Connecticut at UTC or in Massachusetts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Learn more about Obvia, LLC