Two Connecticut brothers are looking to revolutionize the wind turbine industry with a new invention and a couple of EIA Awards in their back pockets. The Keeleys tell us more about Obvia and how CTNext is helping them commercialize their innovative new turbine.
Let’s start with a quick summary of your company and what you guys are doing:
We are a wind turbine company. For the past year and a half, we have been putting into action a design for a new type of wind turbine focused on shrouded technology, which basically looks like a jet engine on a pole instead of a propeller. Our blade improves the coefficient of power by 46 percent. We have eight pending patents, and we’ve tested it in the field using the same wind that is used currently by the largest and only offshore wind farm in the entire United States.
The shrouded turbine, which produces more power per rotor diameter, has some drawbacks. You have to produce the shroud, and it’s high up in the air. The higher up you go, the greater the costs. And the side loads are very heavy on the tower. So we’ve developed a new type of wind turbine using a dual winglet, semi-shroud blade that accomplishes the same aerodynamics more efficiently and without the mass of the shroud. With our semi-shroud blade, we use the parts of the wing at the bottom of the rotor plane that are the most efficient and effective. Also, with the shroud closer to the ground, we no longer have to worry about things like height restrictions, trees that are too close to the bottom of the rotor plane, etc.
You are two-time CTNext EIA Award winners. What compelled you to pursue the awards not just once, but twice?
When we set out to commercialize this invention, we looked around the Hartford area in the hopes of getting involved with the ecosystem of entrepreneurship. We started at reSET. From there, one thing led to another, and we started going to CTNext events. The first EIA we attended was great. So we applied for the next one. We got a lot of coaching and feedback from the judges, who helped us refine our presentation. The first time we won, we believe it was because we presented the technology in a way that appeared to be proven and viable. And the second time we won, we presented it with a financial status that looked viable.
What were your thoughts on the process and experience of EIA?
The CTNext team was fantastic in terms of working with us, making sure we had a complete package. They helped us make sure we were ready, and we won mainly because of the readiness, as we were told afterwards.
Aside from the money, what benefits would you say being an EIA winner has brought?
Winning EIA has definitely helped propel awareness of our company throughout the Commonwealth. The first time we won, almost immediately afterwards we got a call from the Hartford Courant, which did a beautiful front-page story with a photo that ran in the Business section. [Connecticut entrepreneur] Harrison Macris, who’s had great success with his first company and is already finishing up his second company, said one of the things we really need to keep doing is maintain our presence. That Hartford Current article and other opportunities resulting from the EIA wins have really helped us get broader exposure.
How are you working with CTNext today?
Until you have revenue and a saleable product, it’s tough to court investors, which is what we are working to do. We have gotten a lot of leads for potential investors from CTNext. We’re also really looking for partners, people who are either in the environmental or wind/solar-related industries. We actually met our first partner through CTNext. We’ve been a little stretched thin lately, but we still like to go to all of the events that are connected with CTNext.