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Blog Archive: September 2010

Volunteer Perspective:

Posted by Katie Payer at 3:00 PM, 09/13/2010

Our volunteers are the backbone of the Cleantech Open.  Without them, our various programs and events would literally not happen.  Here is a volunteer perspective from Chris Frankchuk, in his own words.


I first learned of the Cleantech Open through a chance meeting with Katie Roberts, Marketing and Communications Manager, at an alumni reunion at Santa Clara University, Leavey School of Business in 2008. What initially got my interest was the Cleantech Open’s mission statement “to find, fund, and foster the big ideas that address today’s most urgent energy, environmental, and economic challenges,” as it matched well with my interest in social and environmental sustainability in addition to my engineering and recent small business startup background.

My first involvement was assisting at events such as the breakfast briefings and annual awards ceremony with setup and registration.  Here I learned more about how the Cleantech Open functioned, the people who made it happen, and the atmosphere surrounding the events.  To this day, it still amazes me how much the Cleantech Open does through volunteers who are commonly motivated by using their business skills to help solve large problems our society faces.   These volunteers are what give the Cleantech Open so much credibility to the entrepreneurs, partners, and sponsors who work with them.  What is great about the Cleantech Open’s events is that they exist mainly to support the cleantech entrepreneur in the growth of their idea towards a viable business.  Thus there is a greater sense of purpose behind the event rather than networking and sharing ideas.  That is the main motivation for me, and I believe it is what brings many others to the Cleantech Open whether directly or indirectly.

This current year I have been serving as the Recruitment Call and Email Team Lead working with a motivated group of volunteers to reach out to interested cleantech entrepreneurs, inform them of what the Cleantech Open can do for them, finding matches, and reaching our contestant goals.  The most rewarding aspect of recruitment is the actual face-to-face time with interested entrepreneurs.  This is where I can really put all of my experience with business plans to practice for the Cleantech Open.  Discussing goals, wants, and needs with the entrepreneur; I act as a consultant/salesman explaining how the Cleantech Open can help them as well as their need for a solid business plan.  Seeing a previously lost entrepreneur with and idea but without direction, now realizing they have direction with action they can take all because I have been able to provide it - puts a smile on my face.  It is very rewarding knowing I have helped someone come closer to reaching their goals as well as using business to hopefully provide viable solutions to an environmental issue facing our society.


Being active in the outdoors and as an engineer with a career built on improving efficiency, Chris Franchuk has always naturally found himself adapt at finding ways to do more with less.  In addition to his work with the Cleantech Open, Chris keeps busy as a Team Lead with Habitat for Humanity - Silicon Valley, member of the U.S. Green Building Council - Northern California Chapter, and occasional leads guided backpacking trips for the Sierra Club National Outings.  Chris Franchuk is a Program Manager with 17 years experience in operations process improvement, supply chain, and business communications, in a variety of industries and companies, from startups to global manufacturers.  He is a former U.S. Naval Officer and has an honors MBA from Santa Clara University and Mechanical Engineer degree from the University of California, Irvine, is a LEED Green Associate and Certified Green Building Professional.

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