Fall and Rise of EPS: an “A-Typical” Italian VC story

Your typical Venture Capitalist’s post announces a highly successful (or highly visible) exit,
showering praise on the virtues of founders and the wisdom of their backers. In some rare
occasions you see colleagues publish post-mortem analysis or even (surprisingly) celebrate
their most spectacular failures.

However, you almost never hear words being spent on relatively unknown B2B investments
delivering decent (yet not spectacular) returns. Today I’d like to break with the old VC
propaganda tradition with my story about Electro Power Systems (EPS), our most recent
exit and an investment we held for 10 years through many downs and most recent ups.

Launched in 2008, EPS was a spinoff of Turin’s Politecnico and Milan’s Politecnico’s
(Italy’s top Engineering schools). It was founded by a successful serial entrepreneur with the
vision of creating a high performance energy storage system based on its patented hydrogen
fuel cell technology. The company initially pursued the Telco market in powering base
stations where EPS’ remotely managed fuel cells presented a strong proposition against
traditional batteries and diesel generators, particularly on maintenance costs.