Home Depot is terrible at selling LED light bulbs. Amazon is even worse.
Have you had the experience yet of trying to buy LED bulbs at one of these places, realizing once you try the product at home that you hate: a) how it looks, b) how it fits; c) the light quality; or d) all of the above? And then you have to go through the trouble to take it or send it back for a refund. When you're paying $30 per bulb and making a 20-year purchase, these things kind of matter.
I don't blame Home Depot or Amazon -- they're not really designed to be the places where people discover which new products are up to PAR (sorry, bad pun). But if they're not the answer, what is? Lighting distributors? They don't care about the individual homeowner.
Seemed like a problem for the intertubes. So since, dork that I am, I was testing a lot of bulbs at home anyway, why not rate them and then put the results on a webpage? And thus, just for fun, I've started a new site called Lightzy. Check it out.
I'm doing it more to learn and share learnings than anything else, and so it's thin. There's a lot more functionality I would want to add were I making a more serious effort to something like this. But I throw it out there as an example of the kind of real world (testing) + e-commerce (selling) types of solutions that haven't yet been done well in our markets, and yet that should be getting tackled more by entrepreneurs. With all of the new cleantech products available to end customers these days, there remain few effective channels, and instead there are 100-year old-calcified channels that often actively stand in the way of adoption, rather than enable it. The internet won't always be the answer and probably won't ever be a full solution to this physical challenge, but it seems like an opportunity ripe for internet entrepreneurs to do some cool stuff.
And there are lots of other ways for internet and IT solutions to be deployed profitably and impactfully in energy, transportation, agricultural, etc., markets. We've talked about this before.
But for these solutions to be launched, first web and IT techies and entrepreneurs need to get interested in these markets. And too often to date, any discussion of "cleantech" has been so skewed toward the MechE and ChemE, etc., world that there's been a real separation of the cleantech and web/IT entrepreneurial communities. It's almost as if a major part of the solution has been pushed away.
This is fixable. So I watched with great interest from afar the first, very successful SF "cleanweb hackathon." And then attended the next such event, in NYC, and found it very impressive. Now the whole idea is taking off, and this weekend we're having Boston's first Cleanweb Hackathon. Should be a lot of fun.
If you know someone you think would want to take part, send this to them and tell them to sign up.
If this event is anything like the one I went to in NYC, I expect to find a good crowd of developers and designers, etc., with a passion for energy and environmental issues and who are seeking an outlet for them. What I hope they get out of the experience is an understanding of just how much these markets, being so far behind the times, are wide-open spaces for entrepreneurs like them to find something fun and productive to tackle. We need their entrepreneurial energy in this sector, but more importantly, we need their ideas. I'm looking forward to seeing some of them. I'm hoping some of them even turn into actual entrepreneurial efforts that we can then help get launched and funded via the Cleantech Open.
Because it's time to blow up these outdated markets. And no one is better positioned to do so than good, solid web and IT entrepreneurs, in my opinion. It'll need to be done with depth and seriousness -- not just with a website about light bulbs, after all, but something more substantive -- but the best way to kick off any serious brainstorming is to have a little fun. See you there.