Jeff Wolfe’s Call to “Save the Planet”

Jeff Wolfe had a simple call to arms for SJF Summit attendees to wrap up the two-day event this afternoon: go develop and promote alternative energy in order to “save the planet.”

“We will win not by losing our senses, but by finally gaining control of them,” said Wolfe, CEO of Vermont-based groSolar. “This is the moment.  Let’s go do it.”

Wolfe ended his lunch keynote with this inspirational message.  Before he got there, he laid out a bleak picture of the current times: a huge, crippling recession, global warming and a dependence on oil for energy.  But all of these trends, Wolfe noted, open up great opportunities for wholesale change.

Wolfe and his wife, Dori, began groSolar, an SJF portfolio company, in 1998.  The solar energy firm has exploded and now has 200 workers.

“GroSolar is a fantastic example of what our economic system can do and repeat,” he said.

Wolfe advocated for “endeavor” capital over venture capital.  The distinction, he said, is that venture capital sometimes makes a problem in order to solve it, while endeavor capital would be organized around fixing existing problems.

So how do businesses, investors and others move forward in promoting sustainable energy sources?  Wolfe had a few ideas.  Among them: mission statements should include the mantra, “in harmony with the Earth”; the public sector should make investments without expecting an immediate return; business should ditch its old ways and find new techniques; and labor interests need to be involved in dialogue.