As the CEO of Sustainable Venture Capital and the Director of Lithium Exploration Group, Brandon Colker is certainly a busy man. He became involved in the industry in the late 90s, recognizing an opportunity for significant growth while also contributing to the shift toward more sustainable technologies and environmental practices in business. The founder of Meridian Capital and CFT Capital, Colker has close to 20 years of experience in the field and is considered an expert in real estate and project financing.
His most recent endeavors have him focusing his efforts on capital financing along with sustainable technologies. Through Sustainable Venture Capital, Colker’s work has been extremely profitable while working within high standards of environmental responsibility. The company provides funding in the early stages of a project, choosing projects that have exceptional potential for growth while also meeting the demands of an untapped market.
Colker got his start in venture capital shortly after completing his degree in economics from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and he has taken advantage of his many connections in both the Santa Barbara area and the Bay area in many of his business ventures. He credits his time at UCSB as a major component of his success, but also recognizes the importance of thorough research in vetting each potential project. His career in private financial funding has been marked by numerous successes, but Colker acknowledges that it is not always the most profitable project that is most rewarding, but it is instead the project that generates the greatest amount of good.
How did you get started? What sparked this business idea?
Venture capital is something that has always been of a keen interest to me, particularly since it gives forward-thinking people a real opportunity to take a concept or idea and make it a reality.
How do you make money?
We invest in a project in its early stages. Usually the projects we select are those that have a high potential for growth and represent an untapped aspect of the market or a new technology that has only recently been developed.
How long did it take to get your business into the black?
It was significantly less time than we had projected, but our projections were intentionally conservative from the outset. We put a great deal of time and effort into the planning process, and that certainly played a role in our initial success.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I think confidence is a vital component of success in this industry, but there were a few lingering doubts at the beginning. We wanted to do really well, so we made sure that we used our time wisely and thoroughly considered how we could be as successful as possible right from the start.
How did you get your first customer?
I had met a lot of wonderful people during my time at UC Santa Barbara, and I knew of some projects that would be interesting investments. After a few meetings and some thorough market research, we found a project that we felt would be a lucrative investment. It did exceedingly well, and we were on our way.
How are you marketing your business? What strategy works best?
A lot of the people that we have worked with have contacts with other talented individuals they know have great ideas, so a lot of our work is done on a referral basis. We have found that this works best for us.
Is there a trend in your industry that particularly excites you right now?
It seems that there is just so much innovation going on right now with sustainable resources and alternative energies. It is very exciting to be able to help bring these incredible ideas to the marketplace and to be a part of these incredible ideas.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
It is tough every time we have to make a decision on any investment opportunity. Everyone we talk to is so energized by their idea and it is hard to take emotion out of our decision-making process, but it is a necessity. It is always hard to walk away from an investment, but we have to invest wisely on a consistent basis.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I think there isn’t any one thing that makes me successful, but shrewd analysis of every opportunity is certainly a big part of it.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Any time we get to tell a client that we will be investing in their project. That is always a great meeting.
Tell us about one of your hobbies when you’re not working.
There are a lot of great opportunities for sailing in Santa Barbara, and the Bay Area is also excellent for this as well, so I try to get out on the water as often as possible.
Why are you so focused on sustainable technologies and projects?
We feel that it is important to invest in ideas and projects that are going to be responsible with regard to the environment. It is the least that we can do to help make sure that more alternative energy ideas are brought to the forefront.