During his senior year at Princeton University, Darren Hammell and several buddies worked on an idea for a company in their dorm rooms, and they tested the idea in Ed Zschau’s high tech entrepreneurship class. The day after their graduation, serial entrepreneur Greg Olsen made an investment by writing a term sheet on a yellow post-it note at Starbucks on Nassau Street.
Nine years later Hammell has just turned 30, and his company, Princeton Power
Systems, has raised more than $6 million. It is cash-flow positive, has 40 employees, and is hiring, aiming for 91 new jobs in two years.
I’m quoting my own article here; it ran as the cover story in U.S.1 on January 20, and the photo is by Craig Terry. I’m rerunning the lead in Princeton Comment because Hammell will address the Princeton Chamber at its breakfast on Wednesday, February 17, at 7:30 at the Nassau Club. (Full disclosure: I’m on the program committee that scheduled this.)
I heard Hammell’s very successful presentation to the Einstein Alley Entrepreneurs Collaborative, and he also spoke to the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG-NJ). Somebody asked me last week, Why should I come to hear him? Hmm, I said, and here is my answer:
* Just plain good story: Hammell is a good raconteur with a tale that combines hard work, derring-do, and luck — and the right connections.
* Connections: He has excellent ones and maybe they’ll show up.
* Information: Hammell can tell, not just about his company (which has software-enabled heavy-duty systems for power generation and conversion) but also about the big picture on energy.
* Investment ideas: Hearing how one academic spinout succeeded may give you some ideas about where to look for your next investment.
* Inspiration: Daydream about how your 20-something offspring — or you yourself — might take a good idea down a similar success road.
* Intergenerational HR tips: Hammell says he used to “not trust anyone over 30” but his company brought in a mature CEO. How’s that working?
Maybe none of these reasons work for you. That’s OK, different strokes for, well, you know.
Another option: Ed Zschau moderates a technology commercialization panel at the Keller Center in the Friend Center on Tuesday, February 16, 5:30 p.m. It is free.
Or: the Exploring Life Sciences Mercer County Breakfast, sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber, on Wednesday, February 24, at 8 a.m. at the Nassau Inn. If you belong to either the Mercer or Princeton chamber, it’s free if you register in advance. Otherwise it’s $35.