Recent Posts:

Consolidation in the Intelligent Energy Sector

Rob Day: May 8, 2013, 7:43 AM

Consolidation in an industry sector can be a good or a bad sign.

The waves of consolidation in the PV manufacturing sector for example, presaged (when it was vertical consolidation to lock up access to demand for panels) and then highlighted the overcapacity in that industry. Much of the ongoing consolidation upstream in the solar value chain at this point is opportunistic consolidation of IP on the cheap. Not exciting at all from an investor's perspective.

But the looming consolidation in the "intelligent energy" (i.e., IT applications in energy efficiency) sector is, I believe, a very different story. One that is positioning the sector to start showing some really exciting...

Clean Energy Policy: A Three-Legged Stool

Rob Day: April 22, 2013, 1:35 PM

As I sit here at the jam-packed BNEF Summit listening to Senator Murkowski express her frustration about unrealistic political rhetoric on energy, I'm reflecting upon all the recent discussion among clean energy advocates here in the U.S. about priorities.

There's a recognition that in this policy environment, at a federal level this sector won't be able to enjoy all the policy support it should. But upon recognizing this the three major camps of clean energy policy advocates immediately fall upon each other, arguing that their camp deserves the most attention and support.

Advocates of deployment argue for implementing today's energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies...

Why Are Utilities Letting Other People Take All the Value?

Rob Day: April 4, 2013, 1:37 PM

The traditional utility model is under threat. Industry leaders like Jim Rogers and David Crane are talking about this publicly. It's becoming harder and harder to make profits managing wires that distribute centrally sourced kilowatt-hours to end customers on demand. The aging T&D workforce, new potential significant loads like PHEVs, intermittent and distributed generation sources, an increasingly complex array of technologies on the demand side and on the grid for utilities to be on top of -- it's not surprising that utilities are finding it a daunting challenge to profitably manage their businesses with their existing wires-based revenue models.

But what I'm surprised about is...

A Roundup of Recent News

Rob Day: March 31, 2013, 3:27 PM

It's been quite a while since we did a roundup of recent news items here on the Cleantech Investing blog, but a few smaller news items have caught my eye and are worth discussing.

First of all, some housekeeping issues -- at my firm, we have made the decision to change the name of our firm to address a surprising amount of confusion out there in the marketplace. After receiving numerous business plan submissions addressed to "Black Corral Capital," we've determined it makes sense to change the firm's name to match apparent expectations. Of course, by that logic we also could have renamed the firm "Blackstone" or "Black Rock," but those are already taken. As we believe strongly in...

When’s That Next Wave Coming?

Rob Day: March 26, 2013, 9:09 AM

We recently held a one-day retreat for all of our portfolio CEOs at Black Coral Capital, and it was a really energizing affair. Rather than a day of stale presentations, we created lots of opportunities for our CEOs to compare notes with and look for ways to work with each other, and it was just terrific to be a fly on the wall as all those smart entrepreneurs chatted / cajoled / brainstormed / opined. Just great fun to watch. It certainly helped that all of our companies are in a revenue-growth phase, so they had lots of common points of discussion. And of course, they all had one shared investment partner to complain about with each other...

But to kick off the day I gave a...

Thoughts on Sales Traction

Rob Day: March 11, 2013, 12:31 PM

If you read this column regularly, you know I'm a bit obsessed with this question: Why do many startups in the cleantech sector see much slower-than-expected sales traction after successfully bringing solutions to market?

On the surface, it should be simple. If you bring to the market a solution that offers a compelling economic proposition, given how big the energy markets (etc.) are we should expect to see revenues skyrocket after commercialization. And yet that doesn't often happen. I often mention the company I saw that recently offered a customer a six-month payback period with a proven solution, and it took the customer nine months to say yes.

There are several reasons for...

How This Cleantech Investment Firm Is Tackling the Next Wave

Rob Day: February 26, 2013, 6:10 PM

Just stepped out of a great RFK Compass event, where I took the opportunity to deliver some of my current message to the limited partner community in person. And it occurred to me that, while I've put bits and pieces of the thesis into past columns here on this site, I've never really explained how we at Black Coral Capital are ourselves tackling the next great cleantech investment opportunity -- and you might want to know whether we practice what I preach. I've been reticent to turn out a column that's a blatant self-advertisement, but if you'll forgive me this once, I'll lay out what we're aiming to do and then you can all judge our performance over time... 

As background, we...