Named one Biofuels Digest’s 50 Hottest Companies in Bioenergy, Enerkem is one of the leading waste to biofuels and chemicals companies in the world. The company is based in Montreal and its technology converts residual materials, such as non-recyclable municipal solid waste, into clean transportation fuels, advanced chemicals and green electricity.

When Enerkem’s CEO Vincent Chornet started the business in 2000, energy prices were low and the word “cleantech” didn’t exist. The company’s vision was ahead of its time as it set to work to pioneer development of a unique process that would efficiently provide biofuels to the world in an environmentally sound manner.
 
After achieving three successful years with the technology at a pilot facility in 2006, Enerkem had the results and proof it needed to move the company forward, but in what direction and how fast? Vincent met Joshua Ruch of Rho Ventures when raising his second round of financing. He was looking for a strong investor who could bring industry expertise, connections, as well as the knowledge of growing start-ups.
 
“Joshua’s expertise in growing companies, paired with his understanding of the industry, has been an invaluable asset to our management team, especially when we were at the critical point of deciding how to take the company to the next level,” said Chornet. “Joshua understood the need for cleaner fuels, the new U.S. and Canadian biofuels regulation and the potential demand for our technology from the start. He knew we would have to move forward quickly and raise capital in order to build our sector’s first industrial scale facility if Enerkem was going to become a leader in the evolving cleantech marketplace.”
 
That decision was a major turning point for the company.  Enerkem assembled a team of seasoned managers and strong internal resources. Today, it has more than 80 employees. Chornet relied on Rho Ventures to help Enerkem understand the right path for this kind of growth. “This is where you can really judge if a VC firm is good – when to staff and when not to and what pace you want to go at organizationally – this is one of the hardest things to get right as a startup,” he said.