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Savvy Spending

An entrepreneur makes the most of his VC by spending wisely and thinking strategically.

As a venture capitalist, Martin Tobias knows a thing or two about spending wisely. As chairman and CEO of Seattle-based biodiesel firm Imperium Renewables, Tobias, 42, is focusing spending on two things: landing large customers and signing leases to spur growth. "We've used our money to go after the biggest customers we could imagine," he says.

But that's only half the story. The 2-year-old company is conserving its $10 million in venture backing by taking on some project debt while relying heavily on traditional accounts receivable and accounts pay-able inventory financing. Such moves have "made the equity dollars go a lot further," Tobias says.

Imperium Renewables plans to build four bio-diesel processing facilities by late 2008, and Tobias expects the company to emerge as a market leader. "If we continue to execute the way we think we can," he says, "I would expect us to control 30 percent to 40 percent [of the U.S. biodiesel market] by 2009."

Chris Penttila is a Washington, DC-based freelance journalist who covers workplace issues on her blog, Workplacediva.blogspot.com.

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This article was originally published in the November 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Savvy Spending.

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