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Blog Entries With Tag "summer program"

Finding and understanding your customer

Posted by at 4:30 PM, 08/25/2009

By Carole Low, Clean Tech Open Volunteer. Thanks Carole!

We know that creating a winning business plan can be tricky business, especially these days. Thanks to Cleantech Open’s marquee event, the aptly named Accelerator, semifinalists throughout the western region drank water from fire hoses in interactive modules that ranged from relevant, engaging discussions on sustainability metrics to fundraising and capitalization. 

I had the good fortune to join the module, “Finding and Understanding the Customer” — or, in unsexy language — market analysis, led by two dynamic session leaders. Tom Kosnik, a Stanford University professor, and Christina Ellwood, Cleantech Open’s 2009 Summer Program Chair and technology marketing advisor, captured the audience’s attention by generously offering expertise and guidance, engaging the semifinalists, providing numerous practical examples, and closing with a hands-on workshop to solidify the day’s learning experience. Here’s what Tom and Christina shared.

Tom Kosnik

Tom Kosnik: “The goal of the Accelerator is to reduce the infant mortality of clean tech startups. Today, the majority dies in the first two years. The challenge is to get from the first few sales to selling to the more pragmatic and conservative customers that will make up the majority of their business going forward.”

Christina Ellwood

Christina Ellwood: “To do so, they need to build repeatable sales in multiple segments and select the one segment in which to build their beachhead. Then, they can focus on that segment to build momentum in their sales. In a nutshell, without market traction they won’t make it through their second year. Steve Blank’s call to “get outside the building” and engage early and often with customers and get their feedback is a great way for founders to address this challenge.”
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Accelerating cleantech semifinalists toward success

Posted by at 6:55 AM, 08/03/2009

By Carole Low, Clean Tech Open Volunteer. Thanks Carole!

The Clean Tech Open's educational program, which provides all semifinalists access to business experts, was kicked off by a stellar event: the Clean Tech Open Accelerator. Carol reports from the event...



What could entice dozens of clean tech entrepreneurs to convene on common ground in San Jose over a long weekend? Try 60 hours at the Clean Tech Open Accelerator, a 3-day bootcamp. It was crafted exclusively for this year’s 72 teams of semifinalists from the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, and California.

At the Clean Tech Open’s first Accelerator, a steady buzz of energy, focus, and passion drives the momentum. Participants dove headfirst into sessions offering greater insight and guidance on how to build a winning business and plan. While engaged in mini-MBA modules, ranging from fundraising to market analysis, semifinalists connected with a who’s who list of venture capitalists, seasoned mentors, speakers, sponsors, and select clean tech experts.

Christina Ellwood, Clean Tech Open’s 2009 Summer Program Chair and technology marketing guru, along with several Clean Tech Open veterans I met, brought me up to speed on what  sets the Clean Tech Open apart from any other business plan competition.

“At the Accelerator, semi-finalists directly interact and learn from the stars of the Silicon Valley clean-tech community: successful entrepreneurs, thought leaders, investors and domain experts. Never before have early stage clean tech startups had a team of this caliber assembled. It’s the experience of a lifetime!

These leaders have come together for the sole purpose of helping the semi-finalists succeed. Why do they do it? For the opportunity to engage, groom and influence the next generation of clean tech entrepreneurs. Their passion and commitment is incredible. Just feel the energy in the room – it’s electric!

Over the course of the weekend, deep and lasting relationships are being forged that will serve the entrepreneurs for months and years to come as they progress on the exciting buy extremely challenging journey of building their companies.

Our hope is that the cumulative effect for the entrepreneurs, investors and ultimately the community is enormous.” I couldn’t agree more.

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