The Frontier community is extensive and offers insights from thought leaders and innovators across all industry sectors. With the launch of our new, The Frontier Hub Interview Series, I talk with the experts and disruptors to highlight the latest innovations in the industrial sectors and promote opportunities available to emerging companies within these sectors.
For our first interview, I sat down with DC Palter, an angel investor and lead mentor at Chemical Angel Network (CAN), to discuss his role at CAN and the programs offered to entrepreneurs, including Ask an Expert, led by Palter.
In this interview, Palter shares why he joined CAN, his personal entrepreneurial experiences, his passion for supporting emerging companies, advances in industrial innovation, the benefits of the Ask an Expert program, and upcoming projects.
Tell us a little about Chemical Angel Network (CAN). What is the group?
CAN is a nationwide network of over 100 angel investors focused on investing in startups in chemistry and associated fields. Most of the members are either chemists or work in the chemistry industry. CAN members meet monthly to hear pitches and collaborate on diligence.
You’re not a chemist yourself. Why did you join CAN?
Although my career has been in IT, my background and passion are in energy sustainability. Most solutions needed to propel energy sustainability rely on innovations in chemistry and materials such as advanced batteries, better membranes, and more efficient solar panels.
How did you get involved in angel investing?
After building two successful startups on my own without a support network, I wanted to help other founders get off the ground.
What type of startups do you personally invest in?
I invest in hard tech startups as a member of CAN and local startups in the Los Angeles area as a member of Tech Coast Angels. I also invest in startups that are too early for those groups if they’re focused on energy sustainability.
In what industries do you see the most significant advances?
I see huge advances in chemistry and materials for sustainability and new medical devices to improve our health.
I’ve been an advisor to startups making:
- Sustainable fabrics from agricultural waste.
- HVAC control systems that turn off air conditioners in unoccupied offices the same way lights are automatically shut off.
- A telecoms system that can restore power and be back online quickly following a natural disaster to provide phone and internet access.
I’ve invested in startups making improvements to:
- Battery technology.
- Solar trackers that work on hilly terrain.
- Thermal storage systems that eliminate the need for gas water heaters in the home.
None of these are revolutionary, but they all make an important difference.
How have cross-industry cross-pollination partnerships changed the future of industrial innovation?
Everything is cross-industry cross-pollination these days. I’m a mechanical engineer who joined Chemical Angels because chemistry and materials drive better batteries which is the future of transportation. AI and machine learning (ML) are revolutionizing drug discovery. New materials mean advanced filtration membranes, which bring us cleaner water. Even making a better office HVAC system requires expertise in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, software, machine learning, sensors, and manufacturing.
What is the Ask an Expert Program?
The Chemical Angel members comprise mostly experienced chemists or business managers at some of the largest industrial companies. We offer a free one-hour consultation to startups to answer their most pressing questions in areas like market evaluation, go-to-market strategy, process design, supply chain, scaling, and exit strategy. This program is designed to augment the type of advice that accelerators and incubators can offer, which focuses more on the general business strategy. Young founders can gain access to the type of industry and technical expertise that they are often missing. If you tell us your specific problem, we try to match you with the member who has the most experience in that area. Startups interested in a free one-hour consultation can sign up here: https://chemicalangels.com/expert.
Where do you see the future of industrial innovation and how does the Ask an Expert program support that?
We need to promote sustainability in all forms, and I see that as the focus now in the industry. At CAN, we support sustainability through investment in startups and individual mentorship through Ask an Expert.
What advice do you have for startups looking for funding?
I have a lot of advice. Far too much to list here. I write a weekly article with advice for startup pitching and fundraising, which can be read for free at: https://dcpalter.medium.com/. The older articles are available on my blog at https://pitchingangels.com.
What other projects are you working on?
My mystery novel about Silicon Valley titled, To Kill a Unicorn, is coming out in a few months from Pandamoon Publishing: https://pandamoonpub.com/collections/dc-palter.
It was indeed a pleasure to speak with DC Palter and learn more about his role at CAN and their collective commitment to promoting sustainability through investment in and mentorship to entrepreneurs of growth-stage companies using programs like Ask an Expert.
CAN’s website dedicates an entire section specifically for entrepreneurs. I strongly urge those looking for advice to take full advantage of the free mentorship program, Ask an Expert, as well as the many other programs offered at CAN.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, stay innovative.
If you are interested in being interviewed for The Frontier Hub Interview Series, please contact Editor-in-Chief, Kalisa Moore at [email protected].
About DC Palter:
DC Palter is a startup founder with two successful exits, as well as an angel investor and startup mentor. As a member of the Chemical Angel Network and Tech Coast Angels, he has invested in over thirty startups. His weekly series, Pitching Angels, is among the most widely read guides on startup funding.
Mr. Palter started his career in engineering and marketing at Hughes Electronics, Honeywell, and Kobe Steel before transitioning to the world of startups. He holds an MBA in technology marketing from UCLA and a BS in Mechanical & Energy Engineering from Northwestern University, along with a masters degree in Energy Law and an MFA in creative writing. He is a connoisseur of Japanese sake and the author of a textbook on the Kansai dialect of Japanese. His Silicon Valley mystery novel, To Kill a Unicorn, will be published later this year by Pandamoon Publishing.