The Founding of the Cleantech Open

“The mission of the California Cleantech Open is to encourage the development of clean technology companies that foster a healthy natural environment — companies that provide environmental benefits in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency, pollution reduction and resource protection, and conservation. The competition will also serve as a platform to educate the public, as well as the participants, about the environmental challenges we face and new technologies that can provide solutions to those challenges.” - With this mission statement, the inaugural Cleantech Open was launched at San Francisco City Hall on March 21, 2006.

The Cleantech Open was founded in 2005 by a group of individuals looking to make a difference by creating a competition to accelerate the creation and growth of cleantech start-ups and to help foster the nascent clean tech movement. “By Entrepreneurs,For Entrepreneurs” was the tagline used to capture the competition’s spirit of a volunteer organization working to help first time entrepreneurs. Initially organized in people’s living rooms, the competition quickly grew to a professional organization with tremendous impact.

The following founders demonstrated leadership and vision in conceiving and organizing the first Cleantech Open competition.

Michael Santullo and Laurent Pacalin were the full time organizers who co-chaired the first Cleantech Open in 2006.

Michael organized the competition’s steering committee in December of 2005 and served as a co-chair from 2006 to 2008. Michael is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors and remains an active volunteer. Prior to the Cleantech Open, Michael was the co-founder and CEO of Four11/YahooMail. Michael is currently a partner with the Cleantech Circle.

Laurent was instrumental to the Cleantech Open's early success, taking the lead for marketing and fund raising strategy. Laurent continues to serve on the Cleantech Open’s Board of Directors. Prior to the Cleantech Open, Laurent was a senior marketing executive at Siebel System and Oracle. He is currently Chief Marketing Officer at FICO.

Anna Halpern-Lande founded the MIT Club of Northern California's Renewable Energy and Clean Technology Program, which served as the platform from which the Cleantech Open emerged. Anna's program provided the community from which the Cleantech Open recruited
volunteers, partners, and contestants. Anna also established the competition's relationship with the San Francisco Mayor's Office, a crucial supporter in the first year. Anna is currently Manager of Biofuels for Shell's Future Fuels and CO2 Group.

Ben Matteo has consulted in cleantech since 2000 and understands the challenges faced by clean tech entrepreneurs. He incubated the Cleantech Open in his role as President of the MIT Club of Northern California (competition charter partner) and founded the competition’s Innovation Partner Program (chair from 2006-2008), bringing universities and laboratories as sponsors and providing a forum for them and competition entrants to reach the broader clean tech community. Ben serves on the competition's Board of Directors and is Co-Founder and CEO of Eos Neuroscience.

Marc Gottschalk, with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, was the competition's 2006 Legal Oversight Chair. Marc then stepped up to co-chair the competition in 2007 and 2008, is on the Board of Directors and continues to be one of the competition’s most active contributors. Due to Marc's commitment, WSGR has been one of the competition's strongest supporters. Marc Gottschalk is a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and Co-Chair of its Clean Technology and Renewable Energy Practice while also heading the environmental practice.

Rebeca Hwang has been the competition's Judging Chair four years running. Her experience from competitions at MIT and Stanford played a significant role in the Cleantech Open's early success. In addition to leading the competition's judging activities, she also serves on the Board of Directors. Rebeca leads Network Strategy and Development at YouNoodle, a social network for entrepreneurs, and is also completing a PhD at Stanford.

Leslie Murdock was the competition's Financial Oversight Chair for 2006 and 2007. Leslie set up the competition’s financial and accounting systems and also managed the in-kind sponsor program. He continues to be an active volunteer and serves on the board of directors. Leslie was the founder of Murdock & Associates, now part of Accretive Solutions. He is currently co-founder of Murdock Martell.

Patrick Stanton was the competition's 2006 and 2008 Sponsor Chair. His business development expertise was instrumental to the competition's fund raising success. He continues to be an active volunteer and serves on the Board of Directors. Prior to the Cleantech Open, Patrick was Vice President of Business Development at Dealix and Autoweb. He is currently managing partner at Elcade, LLC and advisor to several clean technology and automotive oriented companies

The following volunteers were critical to the first competition’s success.

Murali Vajapeyam was the competition's Web Chair for 2006 and 2007, personally leading the development of the competition's web platform. Over two years, he contributed hundreds of hours developing and managing the software and systems which supported the competition's
activities. Murali also recruited and managed other developers who also made major contributions. Murali is currently Senior Member of Technical Staff at Oracle.

Kristen Stanton was the competition's Grant Development Chair in 2006 and the Marketing Communications And Grant Development Chair in 2007. Kristen lead the production of the first annual competition report, a critical document for fund raising and marketing. Kristen demonstrated a great willingness to step in wherever she was needed, helping with marketing, website content, and other areas. She is currently Director of Marketing at Dealix.

Dave Weinerth, of Technology Venture Corporation, organized the speakers for the competition's first summer workshop series. Dave expanded his role to that of the Summer Workshop Chair in 2007 and 2008, and continues to be an active volunteer with the competition.

Brian Payer established relationships with major universities including Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, and San Diego State. Brian continues to be an active volunteer with the competition and became the Cleantech Open's first Program's Director in 2008.

The following “angels” funded the first Cleantech Open prize.

Mark Farley

Derry and Charlene Kabcenell

Wynette LaBrosse

Frank Levinson

Geoff Ralston

Michael and Amy Santullo

Additional thanks to:

The MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge for providing both inspiration and assistance.

The San Francisco Mayor’s Office, especially Mayor Gavin Newson and Jennifer Entine Matz, for their willingness to provide early support for the competition and for hosting the inaugural launch even and award ceremony.

Michael Closson and Acterra for being our trustworthy fiscal sponsor. And to Nancy Hubbart, Laura Stec, and Ashley Binter for their great back office support.

Bob Angus of A&R Edelman for his early commitment to our cause. And Jonathan Bass, Anna O’Neil and James Cortese for their work on the public relations front.

Kim Armstrong, of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, for providing the administrative support necessary to hold the first competition together.

Nancy Farestveit, Danielle Gowdy, Joyce Maguire, and Han Nguyen, of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Marketing, or designing the competition’s marketing materials, usually under unrealistic deadlines.

Tony Bogar for contributing his considerable writing and editorial talent to create many of the competition's first print and online materials.

Mehmet Fidanboylu, Eric Porter and Stina Kieffer for significant contributions to website development and content.

Sumit Agarwal for his volunteer efforts in contestant recruiting.

For additional details on the inaugural 2006 competition, please download the 2006 Competition Report.