by Jonathan Sherwood, VP, Finance at Sweetwater Vitality

Once 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 number of the tastiest glop I might 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 prepared to get into the grime if this firm has to take action to be able to fly—title dangerous. turn out to be.

Anybody who has made the error of asking me why I really like working at a startup is struggling by this speech advert: The startup mentality is that you’re invaluable, not your place. Sweetwater wanted a finance VP, sure, but it surely additionally wanted somebody who might write grants and press releases and deal with our IT wants. Certainly one of our engineers handles our social media, and one other contributes to the gross sales calls. The one that 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 aren’t doing our job – we’re doing what is required.

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

At present, Freshwater stoves corn and processes wooden, and a commercial-scale system operates in Estonia (and is so nicely automated {that a} single particular person can run it), however Freshwater’s authentic plan The silage was to be transformed into cellulosic sugar.

I shared an workplace with my head of gross sales on the time, and after we obtained the contract, we knew what we needed to do, so the subsequent 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 are 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 realized that the scent was so lethal that we used to place our garments in our trunks in rubbish luggage, in any other case every part we got here in touch with would choose up the stench. It was two weeks of insanity, however we fulfilled the contract.

And we nonetheless do loopy issues like that immediately. On a current firm name when our chemists stated they have been scrambling, our CFO requested if he might come to the lab to scrub the beakers. Being in a startup means utilizing no matter expertise it’s important to contribute wherever you’ll be able to. 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’ll achieve success.

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



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