David Hessler joins NYSERDA as Venture Fellow

David Hessler joins NYSERDA as Venture Fellow

Our good friend (and the very model of an Upstate Entrepreneur Leader) David Hessler announced last month that he had joined NYSERDA as that organization’s first Venture Fellow.  This is a logical next step for David as he has been instrumental in building key elements of the Rochester region’s startup ecosystem (successful serial entrepreneur, HTR director, organizer of HTR’s Entrepreneur in Residence program, one of the first members of the Rochester Angel Network, and so on).  For NYSERDA, the creation of the Venture Fellow position is a great step towards building better coordination across its various programs and creating a distinct policy approach to nurturing our region’s clean and renewable energy startups.

In his own words, David said:

“This note is to let you know I have agreed to “add another business card”. 

Effective next week, and continuing until summer, I have become the first Venture Fellow with NYSERDA. 

NYSERDA has long supported innovation in the clean energy arena through its research and development funding programs and over the past few years has become increasingly active in fostering startup companies through a number of programs.  In an effort to refine their policies, programs and practices to accommodate startups and their impact on New York’s energy landscape, they have asked me to serve as a “Venture Fellow” for six months.  I will be on-site at NYSERDA’s Albany office on a weekly basis, advising their executives and project managers, and helping them to appreciate the issues and challenges faced by these companies.

Some of the specific position goals over the next six months include:
  • Assist NYSERDA  Program Managers to better deal with the entrepreneurs they fund;

  • Provide input on setting up a Seed Fund; 

  • Aid NYSERDA legal staff in developing more entrepreneur-friendly documents; and

  • Develop policies for NYSERDA to deal with the three new “Proof of Concept Centers”.

I work at the direction Jeff Peterson, Innovation and Business Development Program Manager . The title of this new position was chosen to discriminate it from other NYSERDA EIR’s.

Jeff and Mike Shimazu asked me last fall to help them formulate the role and to be the “guinea pig”. The plan is for us to develop the Job Description for my successor(s) while I am evolving the role. My personal goal is to make the position very desirable for experienced entrepreneurs who want to apply their skills in an organization which can make a difference in clean tech commercialization and new company development.

I will continue to serve as an HTR Entrepreneur-in-Residence and keep an office in Rochester as well as doing company-specific projects as a NYSERDA EIR. I will also have an office and “office hours” one day a week at NYSERDA’s Albany HQ.


I am looking forward to this assignment, and to making a difference.”

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