Recent Posts:

Lessons From the Past 10 Years: Pooled Assets

Rob Day: October 22, 2013, 2:51 PM

Solyndra, Tesla, Fisker, cap-and-trade, "America is addicted to oil" -- there have been a lot of watershed moments, good and bad, in the cleantech sector over the past ten years. It's been a lot of big ups and downs, a wild ride. 

But one development doesn't get as much attention, and yet quietly may end up being more important than any of the above. In 2008, US Bancorp started putting money into pooled project finance structures for residential rooftop finance, backing the likes of early movers Sunrun and SolarCity.

It's not the first time financial players got involved in backing asset pools rather than individual projects one at a time, of course. But the application in...

The 3 Pillars of NextWave Greentech Entrepreneurship

Rob Day: October 7, 2013, 7:27 PM

If you watched the presentations at the NextWave Greentech Investing conference last month, you heard a lot of talk about how the "next wave" is here, as well as talk of various new investment strategies being deployed.

But from the entrepreneur's perspective, what does this mean? If you've launched a cleantech startup, or are thinking about doing so, what should you be keeping in mind?

There are a lot of underlying trends to consider in this wide-ranging sector of ours. But three themes in particular stand out for me, and should be top of mind for all entrepreneurs active in the market.

 

1. The rapid shift away from centralized systems to more distributed assets and...

It’s Not as Bad Out There as You’ve Been Told

Rob Day: September 23, 2013, 3:14 PM

Over the past couple of weeks since NextWave13, as has become usual, I've had a few conversations with entrepreneurs and investors with a lot of exposure to mainstream venture capitalists, and who've subsequently developed a deep pessimism about what's going on in our sector.

Just this morning, for instance, I fielded a call from one entrepreneur who used to work in other tech sectors, then spent the past several years in this sector, and now is wondering if he should just pack it in and go back to those other tech sectors. He was calling to see if I was still bullish on the sector. But when I said I most certainly was (with the requisite caveats about new investment models that...

NextWave 2013: A Sign of a True Turning Point for Our Sector?

Rob Day: September 16, 2013, 9:09 PM

So last week's NextWave Greentech Investing conference ended up being pretty amazing. 

The conference was completely sold out, and there was a waiting list. The crowd was a great mix of investors and entrepreneurs of all stripes. And the feedback we got afterwards was just wonderfully positive, about both the networking and the content itself. If you're interested in checking out some of the presentations, you can find them here.

Many thanks to the Greentech Media team for organizing the event and for giving me a chance to get involved; it was a lot of fun.

Clearly the message of an emerging "next wave of greentech investing" resonated with a lot of people out there. And I...

A Hybrid Approach to Greentech Returns?

Rob Day: August 28, 2013, 9:05 AM

Ahead of the NextWave Greentech Investing conference (if you haven't signed up yet, you're missing out on what's turning into a great networking event!), we've been looking at some of the innovative strategies out there for generating strong financial returns from investments in the sector.

One approach that's not exactly new, but has certainly been underutilized to date in the sector, is to pair investments in public equities markets with private equity investments. Several groups including Generation Investment Management, Firelake, and a few others have tackled this strategy in a variety of formats, but while many venture firms will say they are open to doing PIPEs (private...

Can Philanthropists Fill the Gaps?

Rob Day: August 19, 2013, 2:21 PM

The NextWave Greentech Investing conference is coming up soon -- September 12th. And the crowd that's already registered is a nicely diverse mix of types of investors (LPs, VCs, corporates, family offices, etc.), in addition to entrepreneurs and others. One type of potential "investor" that doesn't get talked about as much, however, are the philanthropists who've traditionally played a small but important role in backing innovation, particularly in this sector.

Sarah Kearney (who'll be speaking at NextWave) thinks they can serve a much bigger role. She serves as the Executive Director of PRIME, a nonprofit that encourages philanthropic efforts in the energy sector. I asked Sarah...