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Two upcoming conferences for entrepreneurs seeking funding

Rob Day: August 31, 2009, 9:13 AM

I always hesitate to highlight conferences on this site, since there are far too many interesting ones than I could ever mention, and I hate to highlight some and not others.  However, for entrepreneurs seeking funding, there are two upcoming conferences that haven't gotten a huge amount of attention yet, but could be valuable showcase opportunities for the right startups.

Cleantech startups with at least one woman in a leadership role (at the "C" level) or in a significant position of equity and influence may want to reach out to Astia about their upcoming Silicon Valley conference, which will have a dedicated cleantech track.  The application deadline is Sept. 10th.

Also, here in...

Befuddling patent numbers

Rob Day: August 25, 2009, 10:42 PM

I was having a conversation with a European investor today, and the subject of patents came up.  Specifically, the question of which global region is the source of the most clean energy innovation, as measured by patents.

Simple question to answer, right?  Except that my quick googling for the answer has left me completely befuddled.

In the OECD report linked to here (note: opens pdf), specifically on pg. 21, it indicates that in 2005 the EU accounted for 37% of renewable energy patents, with the U.S. and Japan lagging at around 20% each.

In the Lux Research report linked to here, they suggest that the U.S. leads in cleantech patents issued, with 46% of the total for 2006.

And for...

Cleantech funding poised for an uptake?  Maybe…

Rob Day: August 24, 2009, 12:05 PM

Last week, Katie Fehrenbacher opined that cleantech funding seems poised for another big bump in the near future.  She cited a few big recent deals, and some other factors that are potentially encouraging for investors right now. 

For what it's worth, it still seems like most investors are sitting on the sidelines.  The number of companies seeking funding remains high, but even many well-positioned companies are still having a hard time lining up capital.  And I'm not sure that will change anytime soon.  With a few exceptions, VCs continue to have a hard time raising new funds from LPs, and many are scaling back their investments accordingly.  Until the VCs have more visibility into...

High valuations aren’t always good for entrepreneurs

Rob Day: August 17, 2009, 12:08 PM

In case you missed it, Flybridge's Jeff Bussgang wrote a pretty interesting column last week with some thoughts on how entrepreneurs should be thinking about valuation. 

It's a very good piece that makes an important point, that the way to think about valuation is much broader than just the stated pre-money.  I do have some quibbles with it, in the spirit of adding to a good idea...  First off, the principle is right but should be considered even more broadly, since the overall valuation picture is affected by much more than stock option refreshes.  Secondly, while the column argues that the larger option refresh makes the effective economic value roughly equivalent to the...

Why cleantech venture investments fail

Rob Day: August 2, 2009, 8:15 PM

I have been spending time sitting down with a variety of cleantech VCs on both coasts lately, and I find it to be always a very humbling experience.  Hearing how all these smart investors approach this unique sector -- and in a variety of different ways, I might add -- always serves to remind me how much more I have to learn about venture investing in this sector.

And that's one of the things that's broken about venture capital in general: The relative dearth of learning opportunities.  An investor may look at hundreds of investment opportunities per year, but they only invest in a handful of them.  And while nothing teaches like failure, very few investors talk openly about their...