Recent Posts:

How to Succeed as a Cleantech Startup? Transcend the Category

Rob Day: March 24, 2014, 11:00 AM

Was Nest a cleantech startup? Was Waze?

To be blunt, who cares? From the standpoint of returns-maximizing VCs, it's a little bit irrelevant how you found the investment opportunity, if you were lucky enough to be a backer of Nest. The efficiency benefits? The superior design? The bigger home automation/security strategy beyond thermostats and smoke detectors? A strong-executing management team? Probably for most of the company's investors, it was some kind of a mix of all of the above, with varying degrees of emphasis.

Cleantech/greentech is not truly a category, although it is often treated as such out of necessity when tracking dollar amounts, describing investment strategies,...

Can ‘Impact Investors’ Save the Day for Cleantech Entrepreneurs?

Rob Day: March 3, 2014, 11:59 AM

I am writing this column while en route to a meeting of LPs on the subject of “impact investing.” Last week, I also attended a meeting of family office investors on the same subject. Impact investing is a growing trend and discussion topic. Can it make a difference for cleantech entrepreneurs and markets?

First of all, what is impact investing? As always, different people have different interpretations and uses. But at its most general level, it’s the idea of directing investments into projects and startups that are expected to generate positive returns and (wait for it) impacts on some key issue or another, such as habitat preservation or climate change, to pick two examples, but...

Venture Capital Deal Counting: What’s Really Going On Behind the Numbers?

Rob Day: February 7, 2014, 12:47 PM

The latest PwC Cleantech MoneyTree report came out this week, and kudos to the team there for pulling together a helpful deal tally tracker.

That resource, and the other tallies, provide a lot of useful insight on the current state of cleantech venture investing. It's especially valuable when a group like PwC that tracks venture deals broadly across all sectors does a special tally for cleantech in a cross-sectoral way. So my thanks to them for continuing to do so.

Once again, we learn why it's important to pay more attention to the deal counts than the headline-grabbing dollar totals.

The cover blurb reads: "In the fourth quarter, cleantech industry venture capital funding...

Some Lessons From Early Successes of the Next Wave

Rob Day: January 30, 2014, 12:00 PM

As we see increasing evidence of a "next wave" of cleantech investing and entrepreneurship, we're starting to see some early wins emerge. What lessons can we learn from the experiences of recent demonstrated successes like Nest, SolarCity, rumored upcoming IPOs (we see you, Opower), and earlier examples like Tesla?

People will draw their own conclusions, but as I've been mulling it over during the past few weeks I've come up with the following (incomplete list of) success factors I'll be looking for going forward when reviewing investments. This list isn't very original or deep, admittedly, but it's an early attempt to start trying to piece together a blueprint for big wins in our...

Cleantech Investing: 10 Predictions for 2014

Rob Day: January 13, 2014, 2:55 PM

The sun is shining, the Boston snow is mostly melted away, and dilettante "news" programs have moved away from talking about cleantech to talking about doping in baseball. And my 2013 predictions weren't so bad for once (although still not great). So why not throw some 2014 predictions out there?

Overall, I'm expecting the rebound in the sector to start to become more apparent. The next wave of investors and entrepreneurs should start to see some concrete results out of their efforts, and with luck, the overall economy will continue to revive, which would help our sector (and all other sectors). So that's the context for the following predictions (and I'll note once again -- my...

Looking Back at 2013’s Cleantech Investing Predictions

Rob Day: January 8, 2014, 10:36 PM

It's that time again! Time to look back on my predictions from a year ago and see how the year turned out. It's also a good excuse to take our minds off that horrible 60 Minutes "news" story from this past week.

Whatever. The cleantech revolution may not be televised, but it's already powering your TV.

Anyway, here are the predictions and how they turned out.


1. U.S. cleantech deal counts will be flat in 2013 (within 10% plus or minus) of 2012 levels, and dollar amounts will be down.

Hey, nailed one! Even a stopped watch is right twice a day, I guess.

My reasoning at the time was simple. LPs weren't jumping back into the sector, so VCs didn't have more capital to put...

A Simple Question

Rob Day: January 3, 2014, 4:19 PM

Happy New Year, everyone.

We're waiting for the release of year-end cleantech venture deal tallies before posting a wrapup of the year and a set of predictions for 2014. But in the meantime, I wanted to ask you a simple question.

In case you missed it, in an article from back in September, Stephen Lacey highlighted just how rapidly costs have been falling for many clean technologies. 

  • The cost of a solar PV module in the U.S. has dropped by something like 80% since 2008, including a 27% drop in 2012 alone.
  • The cost of LED lighting has dropped to something like one-sixth of what it was in 2008.
  • The cost of EV batteries has been cut in half since 2008.

So let's all...