First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
David Yáñez Villareal: Fortunately, we are all okay. We had some scary or tough moments, but gladly everybody is fine.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Vortex Bladeless.
David Yáñez Villareal: When I was a student at University, I had this idea of a wind turbine without rotation nor gears or shafts while watching the famous video of Tacoma Narrow’s bridge collapse. I kept that idea in a drawer for years until one day, when I felt it was ready to see the light. Then we started with very simple tech demonstrators that impressed some entrepreneurship organizations and alongside successful crowdfunding, we got our initial funding to begin developing this revolutionary kind of wind turbine which is not actually a turbine.
How does Vortex Bladeless innovate?
David Yáñez Villareal: We are in the development of new technology in wind power. We have generated 6 different patent families about a machine that can harness the energy of the wind and turn it into electricity based on the Vortex-Induced Vibrations principle. For this task, this machine does not need blades that rotate, nor gears or shafts that need oiling, nor braking or orientation systems. It is harmless to birds, silent and safe to operate as it works radically different to common horizontal or vertical wind turbines. We are in the development stage.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
David Yáñez Villareal: As we are a small startup with a very small team, we could manage telecommuting with more ease than bigger companies. Anyway, the corona has affected delivery times, meetings, travels, suppliers change their offers… it is kind of a mess for everybody, I guess. The main issue here for us is that we are an R&D company based on grants and private investment by the moment. 2020 would have been the year to get more funding, and corona hasn’t made this possible, so financial issues are starting to come.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
David Yáñez Villareal: Yes, this year we had to rethink some expenditures and costs, leave one of the offices, count with fewer people in the team… It is never pleasant to cut out costs if you don’t really waste the money, any startup will feel identified with this. The part “angel” from the word “business angel” is making more sense than ever, we are going to need some help from high grounds to hang on another year with Covid economy. The lesson here is that if you want to go far, get some people to walk with you.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
David Yáñez Villareal: My family and my kids are a great relief. I feel renovated every time I get home. However, this work and this company is my dream, and I also enjoy very much working on this project. Both are great ways to deal with daily stress produced by other sources.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
David Yáñez Villareal: For an R&D company like us, our tech has no real competitors in the current market, but alternatives that offer different features. Motorbikes are not competitors to cars nor bikes! Vortex wind power is an additional choice to regular wind turbines of other kinds, and we can even dominate some markets like wind power in protected wildlife areas or dense urban areas. We have to stay in the game with help from others to achieve our MVP, and from then, everything in the worlds needs energy… literally everything, so there is a huge market waiting for us.
Your final thoughts?
David Yáñez Villareal: Thank you very much for this nice interview. My final words will go to any reader that wants to support renewables innovation if you are into investment circles or industrial circles; talk about us, spread the word! If only a great industrial partner or a great business angel decides to join the family in these strange times, we will have the future of wind power closer than ever.