Another interesting little piece popped up on earth2tech this morning that I just can’t resist sharing. As a PR firm, we love working with startups. Really, we do: the struggle to grow is an adrenaline rush, and the challenge of defining their identity even as they work to determine how they fit is oftentimes frustrating, but extremely rewarding. These days, green startups are exploding, however, and even VCs are having trouble gauging which ones are the real deal.
With stimulus funds now flowing into the smart grid, investors are rushing to get in the game. And the opportunities are indeed aplenty. According to Katie Fehrenbacher, picking the market leader should be easy: the firms that have managed to complete deals with larger utility companies are clearly a step ahead of the game, right? The problem is that most utility giants are currently “sampling” the smart grid landscape, and doing a host of smaller pilot deals with several startups. And this means that almost all of the contenders have some small deal with a larger utility company. So how to suss out the winners from the also-rans?
This is a really interesting discussion that will undoubtedly get hotter as the push toward energy efficiency grows. Listen and learn…
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A bit of an aside today, but I wanted to share an interesting piece that appeared in Greentech Media’s CleanTech Investing column last week on the branding of greentech/cleantech/“insert some-new-tech here” investing. According to the author (a principal at Boston-based @Ventures), as greentech has grown in popularity and worked its way into the larger geopolitical discussion, it has become synonymous, in many cases, with the earth-friendly, “let’s all help save the planet” sentiment that makes VCs cringe. VCs, of course, want to make sure their focus on the bottom line is always paramount – no matter the sector – and that an eco-happy perception doesn’t somehow undermine their image in the investment market.
This is interesting because, as marketers ourselves, we make a living by using words and ideas to position companies in the minds of their prospective customers. That the misleading (and to VCs, harmful) connotation now attached to cleantech and greentech may force the creation of a new category is something to keep an eye on. This may be one of the first industries, for now at least, where green buzz is not necessarily a good thing. The first of more? Only time will tell. But for now, ”resource tech” and “natural resource optimization” don’t exactly roll off the tongue, do they?
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National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), taking place from April 12-18, is the largest organized environmental education event in the United States. EE Week increases the educational impact of Earth Day by creating a full week of educational preparation, learning, and activities in K-12 classrooms, nature centers, zoos, museums, and aquariums. For more information, visit: http://www.eeweek.org/
In terms of monitoring environmental efforts in the tech world, we came across a wireless-sensor start-up called Arch Rock who launched its Energy Optimizer product line today, which combines Internet Protocol-based sensors with server software for collecting and analyzing energy data for use in commercial buildings. Getting more fine-grained information on energy usage will allow businesses to shave their energy bills by 10 to 20 percent, Arch Rock CEO Roland Acra said. The company makes a sensor for electricity, and another that measures flow rates for water and gas, as well as light, air temperature, and humidity.
For more information, visit: http://news.cnet.com/greentech/
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Certainly the entire world hasn’t jumped on the green bus yet, but it is probably safe to say most of us are growing more conscious of our energy use. And given the state of the economy, saving a few dollars doesn’t sound too bad, either. Much of the media glitz around green thus far has hyped the cost-savings benefits, but it still seems like most eco-friendly steps wind up loading an additional expense on adopters. Of course, this isn’t to say some of these efforts aren’t worth the cost, but no green behavior will ever go mainstream if – over the long term – it costs us more than it saves. Bottom line, right?
New (and very cool) company Visible Energy is looking to change this rather self-defeating trend with a new – and free! – tool that allows you to track your energy usage and compare it with other homes, schools, and businesses in your world. When you learn exactly how you are using energy, you can learn how to reduce it. And reducing energy use means saving money, which is a benefit on which everyone can agree!
The company ultimately hopes that showing consumers their energy use and comparing it to those around them will empower them to change behavior for the better – not only to save money, but to reduce their carbon footprints and adopt an environmentally friendly lifestyle that saves us all in the long run.
Have to like this idea! Smart and simple. Download the free tool now and poke around at www.visibleenergy.com.
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Can saving energy be as cool as reversing time or saving Earth from an alien onslaught? A new startup certainly thinks so. Adaptive Meter, creator of web apps StickyChicken and Twitterlike, is currently developing an interactive game that pits users against each other in bets on others’ energy usage. Players will use smart-meter data from consenting participants, and will be able to stake virtual cash on whether they can reduce their energy use. They will also be able to trade virtual money for real rewards, and users without a smart meter can use this virtual wealth to encourage improved behavior in others. earth2tech reports that at its Green: Net Conference last week, the company (which presented as one of the “Startup LaunchPad 10”) asked “Wouldn’t it be cool if every time we unplugged an appliance or flipped a switch, somebody noticed?”
We’ll have to see if consumers agree. As earth2tech notes, maybe a cool idea for the next Facebook app? I can think of a few eco-cool former classmates who’d be happy to find Lost Joules. But will serious online gamers really pay top dollar for a game that monitors their energy use? And that’s assuming Adaptive Media will gain access to the data – another challenge to its potential success.
Place your own bets on this one: http://earth2tech.com/2009/03/29/playing-the-energy-conservation-game/#more-27337
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