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Bill Staby

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Bill Staby spent close to two decades in finance and entrepreneurship. Now the Resolute Marine Energy co-founder is taking all that he learned along the way and channeling it towards creating better world. The clean energy entrepreneur studied architecture at Rhode Island School Design and communications at the University of Oregon before graduating with a BS in Accounting & Finance from the City University of New York in 1985. He completed his MBA in Finance from NYU’s Stern School of School of Business in 1998, serving as an associate at First Boston Corporation during his final year.

After graduate school, and a year as a Senior Investment Officer at Xerox, Staby took a position at Rabobank. Over his seven years as Vice President and co-head of North American mergers and acquisitions, Staby helped grow the bank’s M&A fees by more than $16 million. He also focused their marketing efforts and led several high-visibility international transactions. In 1998, he left Rabobank to take a position at Prudential Financial, using his experience at the agribusiness-focused Rabobank to establish Prudential’s Food & Agribusiness investment banking practice. While there, he co-founded and led early financing for Internet floral delivery company Floral Farms Direct, which later went public as ProFlowers.com.

In 2000, Staby left investment banking to pursue other passions. An avid music lover and former college music reviewer, recording engineer, and band manager, Staby joined Internet music company MCY.com. During his year as their Chief Financial Officer, he restructured the company’s financial structuring, re-focused business practices, and helped oversee turn-around management. The business solutions he created at MCY.com created the foundation of his next project, Phaon, Inc. Staby managed all activities for the business process automation solutions company until his departure in 2006.

In 2007, after almost two decades learning the ins-and-outs of finance and start-up practices, Staby turned his skills in a new direction - clean energy. As co-founder and CEO of Resolute Marine Energy, he leads an effort to use the energy generated by ocean waves to produce clean water and electricity, particularly for off-grid communities. Since its founding, the company has established subsidiaries in South Africa, Cape Verde and Ireland. Their efforts have been widely recognized, receiving accolades including the European Innovation Platform for Water Award, European Technology Platform for Water Award and the SME Award. Resolute Marine Energy is also a West African Forum for Clean Energy Financing Competition winner and MassChallenge winner.

In addition to his work at Resolute Marine Energy, Staby advocates for clean energy as Chairman of the U.S. Delegation to International Electrotechnical Commission TC-114. He also serves on the UNC-Coast Studies Institute’s Technical Advisory Board and is helping build an effective trade association with the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition in Washington, D.C. A sought-after speaker, he’s spoken at 2010 TEDx Boston and the UN’s 2015 “World Water Day,” as well as served as panelist for UNESCO’s 8th Annual International Forum for Sustainable Development. When not leading Resolute Marine Energy or involved with his other efforts for renewable energy, Staby rows competitively in the Senior Master’s program at Community Rowing in Boston.

(Sources used to write this profile include a 2010 IdeaMensch Profile, a Columbia Business School Social Enterprise Conference Profile, the Resolute Marine Energy website, and the entrepreneur’s LinkedIn profile)

Companies and Investments

Resolute Marine Energy (Co-founder, CEO), Phaon, Inc. (Founder, CEO), MCY.com, Inc. (Chief Financial Officer), Prudential Financial (Vice President), Rabobank (Vice President), Xerox (Senior Investment Officer), First Boston Corporation (Associate - Electric Utility Group)

Lessons Learned

I’ve made all kinds of mistakes, everyone does. Leaving aside mistakes made in my personal life, business-wise the biggest mistake I’ve made was to have a false sense of security that everything would work out just fine. The “rose-colored glasses” syndrome you could call it. Sure, one characteristic of entrepreneurship is optimism in the face of sometimes overwhelming odds, but another one is being afraid that the wheels can come off at any minute unless you pay careful attention to everything. So, my advice is to first get the priorities right, and then keep moving ahead one step at a time while constantly making reality checks. (Bill Staby on the value of realism, in an IdeaMensch interview)

I’d say that my greatest skill and primary role as a leader is in finding people, building teams and driving consensus. Maybe it’s because of my sports background, but I place a very high value on team work, and nothing sets me off more assuredly than someone who doesn’t see the value in that. It’s not teamwork in the “rah rah” sports sense, it’s teamwork in the “who’s in the foxhole next to me” sense. An “I’ve got your back” mentality is, to me, a sign of a very healthy organization. (Bill Staby on cohesiveness and solidarity in a team, in an IdeaMensch interview)

Inspiring Quotes

Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.

Thomas Edison

Bill Staby's Quotes

There’s really only one way to bring ideas to life, and that’s through a personal commitment to hard work and perseverance.

Bill Staby

I admire people who take action to fix things they think need fixing.

Bill Staby

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