Friday, September 25, 2009

The Green Gold Blog Launch


After joining Access Venture Partners over two years ago and heading up our cleantech investments, I contemplated starting a blog.  But there are so many blogs (especially in cleantech) that I decided to hold off until I was certain how mine would be different, insightful and valuable. While many of the cleantech blogs are informative, two things have inspired me to finally launch this blog, “Green Gold”.

First, in my travels to find great cleantech companies in which to invest, it has become glaringly evident that many more first-time entrepreneurs have entered the cleantech world than other, more established venture categories.  However, the human ecosystem around growth-oriented, venture-funded cleantech companies is simply not as mature as in more traditional areas of venture capital investment.  As a result, the cleantech community doesn’t yet have the more robust support systems and business relationships found in other sectors that would allow these new entrepreneurs to more easily network with and identify seasoned mentors, who could help them navigate the start-up and venture capital mazes.  While there are fantastic cleantech news and information blogs out there, almost none cater to the issues that entrepreneurs face in building a successful cleantech business.
 
Second, with all the political hype around cleantech it has amazed me how little dissent or critical thinking is arising on the subject of cleantech policies.  Having worked briefly on Capital Hill for a Democrat and in the Executive Office of the President under a Republican, I like to feel I have a balanced view – or at least equal disdain for both parties!  I am firm believer that vibrant debate of policy leads to better policies being implemented. The Obama Administration has made cleantech a mantle of its first year in office, which is fantastic for those of us who believe in the critical nature of finding cleaner technologies.  But much of the discussion on cleantech is being driven by the dogma of the left or the right rather than by a clear view of what is truly needed and of what will generate the desired results.

So, with those two thoughts in mind, welcome to the Green Gold Blog!  Why “Green Gold”?   Well, yes, it is a catchy and convenient title given my last name!  But of equal importance, for cleantech to be successful in spearheading meaningful change in the market and in our lives, I fundamentally believe it must turn Green into Gold.  The largest leaps in technology that have affected our everyday lives – the automobile, television, computer and World Wide Web to name a few – sometimes have their R&D seeds paid for by the government (but often not), but their growth into useful every-day tools is driven by the pursuit of profits in the free market. Real change in using clean technologies will come as the free market has the profit motive to create the change.

Through Green Gold I will endeavor to compel cleantech junkies (like me) to *think critically* about cleantech policies, whether those policies are coming from the left or the right.  In addition, I hope to provide useful business insight and guidance to cleantech entrepreneurs who, through their technologies and businesses, will bring about the much-needed revolution in how we produce and consume energy. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to post their questions to me through the Green-Gold blog site; some of my posts will answer questions about start-ups, angel capital, venture capital, and building successful cleantech businesses.

One final promise to my readers:  You will only see a new Green Gold article when I have something insightful to share.  I won’t bury you with content, but hopefully when you see a new post you will find it worth the time to read. 


1 comment:

Chris Geer said...

David,

I couldn't agree more with your statement that cleantech "must turn Green into Gold." Unless the clean and green companies can provide a product that by itself results in a profitable venture, those companies must ultimately fail as the Federal Government (and in turn we taxpayers) cannot fiscally support buoying industry that simply cannot stand on its own. That approach doesn't appear to be doing anything other than promoting inefficiency in agriculture, and I fear a similar outcome in Detroit....

Taking your comment a step further, I would argue that for cleantech to ultimately succeed, it needs to not only save the planet, but it also must save the consumer dollars. I know, this is not always the most popular of ideas amongst clean and green advocates (among whom I count myself), but it is a fact of life that while the vast majority of consumers would prefer to "do the right thing", most will not do so at additional cost. And this is not even so necessarily because we are a greedy lot who desire to horde disposable capital. The simple truth is that most consumers plain can't afford to spend more money on something that "does the right thing" unless in the end it winds up being a good investment. We just don't have the capital in our budgets!

In an effort to ensure that my comment does not become a blog unto itself, I will postulate the following and then be done: If you are an early stage cleantech company and you want to figure out how you are going to succeed, look not only to your margins but to the margins of your consumer's personal budget. Will your clean product add to the consumer's bottom line, will it detract from it, or will it have no net effect? If it detracts from it, your market will be very small (ultra-wealthy or ultra-green will be your only consumers). If your product has a net 0 effect to the bottom line, your market will expand some, but will still be limited. But if your product can save every American money, then I think you are well on your way to turning Green into Gold!

Have a great weekend.

Chris Geer
Managing Director
LJS Capital, LLC
Boulder, CO

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