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Charge It!

Think tech was the end-all of booms? Ever heard of something called energy?

By Mark Henricks

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When Jeff Colborn first sought financing for his energy start-up, he studied a thousand VC firms, contacted 70 candidates and met with five. "We did a couple of epic road trips where we took our prototype and showed it to VCs," Colborn recalls. "It was pretty hard."

The odyssey occupied much of 1998 and produced $2 million total from two institutional backers. Last year, Colborn's company, Metallic Power Inc. of Carlsbad, California, went for a second round. The developer of fuel cell power systems raised $6.6 million from four firms, including its original financiers and the venture capital arms of two of North America's largest public utilities, Hydro-Quebec and Allete Inc., formerly Minnesota Power. When two additional backers showed interest at the last minute, Colborn promised a third round later in the year.

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