50 fastest-growing start-ups
StartupSmart Awards 2011
48. AquaGen Technologies
Founders: Nick Boyd, Martin Buden
AquaGen is an eco-conscious company specialising in solutions to deliver renewable ocean energy using key technology known as SurgeDrive.
SurgeDrive is a wave energy system which can harness the energy of ocean waves to produce electricity or desalinated water, and is already generating electricity at AquaGen’s first demonstration site in Australia.
The company was founded by Nick Boyd and Martin Buden in 2009 and, with an additional staff member on board, took in revenue of $330,000 in the previous financial year.
Boyd says he started the business because he had always wanted to develop one of his inventions, and this one “really made sense in terms of market need and green credentials”.
“We aim to speed the transition from fossil fuel-based energy to emissions free, renewable energy by using our SurgeDrive technology to harness the massive global ocean energy resources available,” Boyd says.
“To date, wave power technologies have struggled to become viable because most of their equipment is in the ocean.”
“Hence these technologies are susceptible to storm damage and are expensive to maintain, which makes it very difficult to maintain a viable business.”
“We have focused our solution on overcoming these problems and hence have developed a technology which looks set to reduce the cost of converting the oceans waves into electricity to compete for the first time with wind and solar power – the energy of the ocean is vast and hence so is our market potential.”
Boyd says the most challenging aspect of starting the business was raising capital, particularly as it is an industry that is heavily reliant on product development.
“It is difficult to find smart money investors who understand our business and are prepared to wait for a return,” he says.
“We have learnt many lessons along the way but the critical lessons were: find the right person or company with the right networks to help you to get out there and raise capital, and don’t rely too much on getting in the media to raise capital.”
“Developing a good story, image, website, video, etc are just as – if not more – important than the actual product or service you are selling.”
According to Boyd, the best part of starting a business is being able to control your own life and the never-ending learning process.
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