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Andrew Perlman

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Andrew Perlman, the CEO and co-founder of GreatPoint Energy, can speak of the virtues of dropping out of college.

Born in Boston in 1975, Perlman began college at Washington University in St. Louis, and as a sophomore, he attempted to license and commercialize a university-owned technology to prevent credit card fraud. The university declined the request because he was still a student, so Perlman just dropped out. Dropping out didn’t get him the deal with his university — they don’t do business with former students because they didn’t want them dropping out to start companies — but he still doesn’t regret that he left school. His goal was to become a millionaire by age 21. He failed, but only barely.

At age 12, he began tracking down the owners of dormant bank accounts and taking 20 percent commission in exchange for leading them to to their forgotten money. He grew up in the cities of Newton and Cohassett in Massachusetts.

So Perlman’s decision to pursue five successful technology startups over the decade following his stint at college comes as no surprise. He was always an entrepreneur.

He dropped out with a friend, and the two had little technical education. But through research and trial-and-error, the two built and developed a device that converts voice calls into data format. When the two 21-year-olds showed up at a global network conference in 1996, they were laughed at. But by age 22, they signed a deal for the first $14 million startup financing for their new company Cignal Global Communications. Three years later, Perlman sold the company for $200 million.

But in 2005, Perlman abandoned technology start-ups and changed course. He co-founded GreatPoint Energy to commercialize a Carter-era technology to turn coal into natural gas, moving to Chicago to access lab space he didn’t have in Boston.

With backing from big U.S. corporations like Dow Chemical Co. and later from Chinese giant China Wanxiang Holdings Corp., GreatPoint landed a $20 billion-plus deal in 2012 to build ore than 30 reactors in a coal-rich, remote part of China to feed that massive country’s growing need for natural gas. With this, Perlman is not surprised that he turned to energy after a decade in the tech sector. Perlman always had a knack for science, going so far as to apply for a license from the federal government to construct an ethanol still in his parents’ house in Newton, Mass.

Perlman is also on the board of directors for both Coskata Energy and Oasys Water. He also sits on the board of AMP Americas, an integrated transportation company working with compressed natural gas.

He has been featured on the MIT Technology Review’s list of the world’s Top 35 innovators under 35 and Crain’s Chicago Business’s list of 40 leaders under 40 in Chicago. Perlman and GreatPoint Energy have been profiled by the Wall Street Journal, NPR, Forbes and Fast Company.

Companies and Investments

GreatPoint (co-fouder, CEO), Coatue Corporation (former CEO)

Coskata Energy (board member), Oasys Water (board member), AMP Americas (board member)

Lessons Learned

You should talk to everybody. In every situation where I raised money, it was never from someplace that I ever expected to.


Inspiring Quotes

Somebody said that it couldnt be done, but he with a chuckle replied, that maybe it couldnt but he would be one who wouldnt say so till he tried, so he buckled right in with a trace of a grin, on his face if he worried he hid it, and he started to sing as he tackled the thing that couldnt be done and he did it.

Edgar A. Guest

Let us dream of an aristocracy of achievement arising out of a democracy of opportunity.

Thomas Jefferson

Imagination is more important than knowledge.

Albert Einstein

Andrew Perlman's Quotes

It takes so damn long. It takes years just building a pilot plant.

Andrew Perlman

To this day, my mom says, Thats good, but he hasnt finished college yet.

Andrew Perlman

Ive always been passionate about clean energy, environmental protection and conservation.

Andrew Perlman

Influential Books

Aspatore Books Staff - Best Practices for Energy Venture Capital in 2008: Top VCs and CEOs on Energy Company Growth Plans, Valuations, Exit Strategies, and Raising Rounds of Capital (Inside the Minds)

Mentors

Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein (inspirations)

References


Technical

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