Inventev is an incubating company with TechTown.
What is your business?
Inventev converts commercial fleet trucks into plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) and enables specific work functions, such as power hydraulic systems and generation of utility-grade electrical power for neighborhoods and small businesses. We call this configuration an “Energy SWAT Truck,” which enhances maintenance or storm response tasks by bringing power to the scene, either from battery storage or on-site generation. The unique transmission architecture avoids extensive engine idling. It also allows all-electric driving with range extension, even including highway speeds, which are often lacking in these systems on commercial trucks.
Why are you proud of it?
We feel that our product and business concept has successfully addressed a number of negative trade-offs common in the hybrid truck industry today. By offering three value propositions – drive electric, work electric, generate electric – we feel payback for targeted vocations becomes favorable. Beyond pure economics, social policy causes are advanced – including reduction in pollutants (such as greenhouse gases), reduced dependence on foreign petroleum and resiliency through mobile power availability after devastating natural events such as Hurricane Sandy.
What is your best advice for a fellow entrepreneur?
Stay focused but pay attention to the potential pivots into paths of lower resistance to market or funding. A decision to change your plans should not come from a single customer conversation or even a panel of VCs in a pitch contest. Recognize that your original direction may just be too much of a “moon shot” all at once. Look for incremental first steps to achieve some milestones, perhaps with strategic partners looking to supplement their market offerings.
What local entrepreneur do you look up to and why?
I look up to Roger Penske as an example of someone consistently aggressive with new ideas in our automotive/transportation space and motorsports over decades. He has also been highly supportive of Detroit and Michigan in general. When you can balance product passion and sound business acumen, you can really build something, and he certainly has.
What do you do when you need a mental break?
This usually comes after too much time on the laptop! So, besides engaging with my kids, I sometimes just like to doodle product or business ideas on a good, old-fashioned notepad with a pencil. A little mindless television or trip to the coffee shop sometimes helps reset as well.