Recent Posts:

The Cleantech Investing Summit I Would Like to See

Rob Day: February 8, 2013, 4:53 PM

Stopped by the Cleantech Investor Summit out in Palm Springs this week -- meant to stay through for the entire event, but Nemo forced me to scurry back to Boston on an earlier flight.

Ira and his team always do a terrific job of running that event, it's always a good networking opportunity and they get big names to come speak. And Tesla test drives, of course.

But it seemed to me like yet another missed opportunity. With so many cleantech investors and their ecosystem partners under one roof, it would have been great to see more exploration of the emerging "next wave" of cleantech investing strategies. Instead, most of what was presented was what I call "old Cleantech VC":...

Fundraising Advice for the Seed-Stage Cleantech Innovator

Rob Day: January 28, 2013, 10:55 PM

Cleantech investors are commonly approached by very early stage entrepreneurs. And by "very early stage," I mean garage-based-inventor stage. In many cases they're not directly looking for funding from my firm at their stage, but they're looking for advice on how to raise seed capital.

We all need such entrepreneurs to succeed. Their innovation and enthusiasm is the lifeblood of our sector. And so while it's gratifying to encounter such innovators, it's also frustrating to find that so many are having a hard time getting started. And I have come to believe that in many cases these innovators are having an especially hard time because they're not looking for the right thing. They...

Lessons From the Past 10 Years: Embedded

Rob Day: January 18, 2013, 9:03 AM

As talk of the "internet of things" -- that is, smart equipment via automation and machine-to-machine communications -- continues to get attention, we're seeing more and more entrepreneurs bringing forth some flavor of idea involving energy-focused equipment controls. Smart-home plays, automated load shifting efforts, smart grid software, etc.

From a cleantech perspective, the basic concept is the same: Using automated intelligence, make hardware save energy spend via optimized usage patterns, and then build other value propositions (e.g., preventative maintenance, more granular data, remote sensing, etc) on top of that core value proposition.

As entrepreneurs tackle a variety...

The Sky Is Not Falling

Rob Day: January 5, 2013, 10:23 PM

After the Cleantech Group released their 2012 cleantech venture totals this past week, I heard a surprising amount of pessimism out there. I saw the sector called a "bust" and was asked a couple of times if the sector is just plain dying out.

Of course not, c'mon people.

First of all, regular readers of this column probably found very little of surprise in the Cleantech Group's numbers. For a while now we've been talking about how LPs have pulled back from the sector and how that has been forcing VCs to pull back from the sector, and in many cases to go find new jobs altogether. Given all this anecdotal evidence, it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that the retrospective...

Cleantech Investing: 2013 Predictions

Rob Day: December 27, 2012, 10:31 AM

First: Several folks asked if I could post my little Christmas Eve twitter poem. Well, Walt Frick was kind enough to do so here. So enjoy, typos and all! And my thanks to Walt...

It's that time of year again! Time for some prognostications of questionable accuracy, as we head into the new year. 2012 was hard for cleantech investors. Will 2013 be a rebound year? This time next year will we be looking back and smiling broadly at our good fortune?

Unfortunately, that's not what I'm expecting.

Our sector is at a pretty low point right now, and while I do personally believe cleantech is just in the "Trough of Disillusionment" and will eventually rebound, there aren't a lot of...

Looking Back On 2012 Cleantech Investing Predictions

Rob Day: December 24, 2012, 12:07 PM

It's been a crazy year in cleantech, and a lot of things didn't go as expected.

Especially by me, apparently.

Even if I'm not particularly good at it, I find the annual prediction exercise to be useful for developing a coherent picture of the coming year, as at least a starting point for planning. And it's also just a bit of fun to take some guesses and see how they turn out.

2012 flummoxed me because I was too optimistic this time last year. I thought we were about to turn the corner on cleantech venture firm fundraising, and thus that we would start to see a rebound in dealmaking. I failed to see just how toxic the politicization of cleantech would become. And I generally...

An Open Letter to Limited Partners from a Cleantech Investor

Rob Day: December 10, 2012, 12:00 PM

Dear venture capital limited partners:

I get it.

You were promised that cleantech was going to be the Next Big Thing and it didn't happen. Instead, you've seen the GPs you've backed in the sector have to face a legislative/political headwind, a dearth of big exciting exits, and a number of high-profile flameouts. At this point you're doubtful that there are big returns to be made in the sector and your colleagues are telling you cleantech is a bad place to put capital and so you're pulling out altogether, at least for the time being.

Sure, some cleantech-focused GPs tell you that cleantech hasn't actually performed worse than other sectors for the venture capital category, and...