Law students advise winner of Duke Start-Up Challenge

April 12, 2011Duke Law News

Kristen Wolff ’11 and Grant Reid ’12 acted as student legal advisers to HyTower Energy Storage, the winner of the 11th annual Duke Start-Up Challenge. The yearlong competition ended last Friday with a ceremony and presentation of a $50,000 check to the winning venture.

HyTower is a hydropower energy storage company founded by graduate students at the Fuqua School of Business, Nicholas School of the Environment, and Pratt School of Engineering. The company was a client of Law School’s Startup Ventures Clinic, which launched this spring and provides legal counsel to early-stage businesses and social entrepreneurship ventures on matters related to the startup process.

Wolff and Reid, under the supervision of clinic directors Andrew Foster and Erika Buell, advised HyTower on its initial legal needs, including corporate formation and the initial corporate structure.

“We couldn’t be more excited for our client,” said Reid, who will spend his summer advising other entrepreneurs at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Palo Alto. “The team has been incredible to work with, and we feel deeply honored to have helped the company in some small way in this great accomplishment.”

Wolff will join the intellectual property law firm Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear in San Diego as an associate patent attorney following her graduation.

HyTower defeated six other finalists and 110 competitors in the competition to win the $50,000 grand prize, plus $2,500 for future legal expenses.

HyTower’s pumped-hydro system builds on proven hydroelectric technology to deliver safe, reliable energy storage at higher efficiency and lower cost than competing technologies by using abandoned water towers as storage devices. The company foresees a potential $1.5 billion annual market for its systems.

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