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2010 Cleantech Open Academy: Day 3 Highlights

Posted by at 5:00 PM, 08/03/2010

The third and final day of the Academy was focused on the investor presentation and the next steps in the Cleantech Open Competition.

The day began with a talk by Joe Khirallah, CEO of cleantech marketing and PR company Green Bear Group, titled “Tell Your Story, Sell Your Story.” He advised the teams about the art of giving an impressive presentation. He used metaphors, drew verbal images and explained the importance of engaging the investors in the conversation during a pitch.

The morning continued with a panel of Khirallah and Investment Manager of Applied Ventures, Annette Finsterbusch as judges for mock Cleantech Open semifinalist pitches by Matt Scullin of Alphabet Energy and Brian Pierson of tru2earth. Khirallah and Finsterbusch were very open and critical so that the semifinalist teams could learn and understand exactly what a good pitch looks like. The semifinalists evaluated the two presentations as well, rating both quite high in quality. A discussion around the room ensued regarding the best aspects of each presentation.

Executive Director of the Cleantech Open, Rex Northern took the stage before lunch to present on the next steps for semifinalists and guidance on how exactly to win the competition. He get the semifinalists to their feet to make a pledge that they would “prove Steve Blank wrong,” meaning they would all be successful. Blank, during Day One, had said only a very small percentage of startups become profitable.

After a social lunch thrown in honor of the semifinalists, the day ended with an Action Plan Workshop. The team thought and planned out the next steps in the development of their small businesses and to reflect on everything they learned in the last three days.

Again, a great thanks to Christina Ellwood, Cleantech Open Academy Chair, for doing such an incredible job organizing and hosting such a fantastic event, all of the wonderful volunteers, and our corporate sponsors.

Read about Day One of the Academy here.

Read about Day Two of the Academy here.

By Jackie Blair

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2010 Cleantech Open Academy: Day 1 Highlights

Posted by at 4:30 PM, 08/03/2010

Day One of the Cleantech Open National Academy was focused on creating business plans for sustainable ventures. The day began with a warm welcome by Christina Ellwood, Cleantech Open Academy Chair. Ellwood was followed by an overview of the Cleantech Open Business Competition by the Executive Director of the Cleantech Open, Rex Northern.

Next, the National Sustainability Chair, Nancy Fell, and two of her colleagues, presented on the importance of sustainability in the Cleantech Open Competition. This included the basic tenants of sustainability for cleantech startups and the resources available to the semifinalist teams.

Academy Crowd

Keynote speaker, Randy Komisar of Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, spoke on “Getting to Plan B,” based on his book of the same title. Komisar advised the entrepreneurs that their first plan might always not be the best one and it is wise to be flexible with strategies. He gave the semifinalists a template “dashboard” which many attendees found intriguing. The dashboard led the semifinalists through the process of thinking about the next path to get where they are headed, or “plan B.”

Komisar was followed by a lecture about “Business Plan Essentials” by Managing Director of Claremont Creek Ventures, Randy Hawks and Cleantech Industry Partner at Halo Fund, Leif Langersand.

Regional Directors

Later in the morning, Suszanne Bell of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich Rosati spoke on the importance of patents and trade secrets.  Her lecture was followed by a breakout session where teams discussed creating IP of value to the company and to stakeholders.

Christina Ellwood and Richard Nieset began the afternoon session with information about market strategy, specifically in finding and understanding the customer. The talk also included information about value proposition and competitive advantage. Ellwood took the stage during the always challenging “post-lunch” speaking slot, but kept the semifinalists engaged and interested in clarifying their target audiences and determining their main messages. 

Christina Ellwood

Author and Professor Steve Blank gave the last riveting lecture of the day about making money by using the business model.  His session was followed by the third and final working session of the day for the semifinalist teams.

Thank you to Chevron, Autodesk and PG&E who were Day One’s corporate sponsors.

Read about Day Two of the Academy here.

Read about Day Three of the Academy here.

By Jackie Blair

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2010 Cleantech Open Academy: Day 2 Highlights

Posted by at 12:45 PM, 07/26/2010

The Cleantech Open National Academy continued full speed ahead on Day 2 with a series of interactive lectures and workshops covering financial modeling, fundraising, capital structure and the investor pitch. The Academy was held at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose from Friday, July 25 through Sunday, July 25, 2010.

Christina Ellwood, Cleantech Open Academy Chair, led the 2010 Semifinalist teams through the day’s proceedings, which started with a presentation and workshop by Peter Liu, founder of New Resource Bank, on the key elements of an investor-worthy financial model. Peter emphasized that investors value realistic projections that identify key risks and stressed the importance of sound forecasting of working capital needs.

Keynote speaker, Trond Unneland of Chevron Technology Ventures, followed with a presentation on corporate venture capital. When approaching a corporate investor, Trond advised start-ups to demonstrate their strategic fit in the company’s core business. Greg McAdoo of Sequoia Capital closed out the morning session with a crash course in fundraising by explaining sources of funding, the investment process and how to get an introduction to investors.

Herb Fockler of WSGR began the afternoon session with a detailed look at the capital structure of a VC funded company as it progresses through its lifecycle from founding to IPO. Herb continued with a seminar on the fundamentals of a term sheet. The day closed with an interactive lecture and workshop presented by Andrew Chung of Lightspeed Venture Partners on the fundamentals of an investor pitch and common content and delivery issues entrepreneurs should avoid.

Special thanks to the speakers, mentors and volunteers that make the Academy possible and to the day’s corporate sponsors, Citi and Faegre & Benson.


By Jeff Muir

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