by Jonathan Sherwood, VP, Finance at Sweetwater Power

After I first interviewed Sweetwater for the place of VP of finance, I wasn’t requested, “How good are you at composting?” However, simply six months after that interview, the place I sat in a crisp go well with and new tie, I used to be knee-deep in a few of the tastiest glop I may have ever imagined.

And it is the right metaphor for working at Sweetwater.

Wait, let me make clear—not that working right here stinks, however that everybody at this powerful little startup is keen to get into the grime if this firm has to take action with the intention to fly—title dangerous. develop into.

Anybody who has made the error of asking me why I like working at a startup is struggling by means of this speech advert: The startup mentality is that you’re beneficial, not your place. Sweetwater wanted a finance VP, sure, however it additionally wanted somebody who may write grants and press releases and tackle our IT wants. Certainly one of our engineers handles our social media, and one other contributes to the gross sales calls. The one who handles HR additionally books our flights. Nobody at Sweetwater does only one factor, and that is as a result of nobody right here is punching only one clock.

We’re not doing our job – we’re doing what is required.

So six months after I got here on board, Sweetwater received a contract by means of a Division of Power grant to provide cellulosic sugars to an organization for biochemical manufacturing from our sugar. However the deadline was extraordinarily tight. We had a small pilot system operating on the time, and that system took all the eye of our two operators to get it operating.

As we speak, Freshwater stoves corn and processes wooden, and a commercial-scale system operates in Estonia (and is so properly automated {that a} single individual can run it), however Freshwater’s unique plan The silage was to be transformed into cellulosic sugar.

I shared an workplace with my head of gross sales on the time, and once we obtained the contract, we knew what we needed to do, so the following day we confirmed up on the plant in soiled denims and began shoveling the silage. For these of you who aren’t fortunate, silage is fermenting corn and stalks which can be tied up in farmers’ fields within the fall and fed to cattle all winter. It is the consistency of mud and smells like all of the sewers on this planet obtained caught in a single dump truck and caught fireplace in anger.

For 2 weeks, the gross sales and finance departments (all of us) inserted a pitchfork and shovel to feed the pilot system. We discovered that the scent was so lethal that we used to place our garments in our trunks in rubbish luggage, in any other case the whole lot we got here in touch with would decide up the stench. It was two weeks of insanity, however we fulfilled the contract.

And we nonetheless do loopy issues like that right this moment. On a latest firm name when our chemists mentioned they had been scrambling, our CFO requested if he may come to the lab to scrub the beakers. Being in a startup means utilizing no matter abilities it’s a must to contribute wherever you may. You do not restrict your considering to the field round your job description.

That is what makes Sweetwater a troublesome little firm, and so I’ve little doubt that we are going to achieve success.

Though if we ever return to silage, I will shovel the intern.



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