Recent Posts:

An Intimate Conversation With… FAKEGRIMLOCK

Rob Day: June 26, 2014, 1:15 PM

We're gearing up for NextWave (register today!), and I really wanted to have FAKEGRIMLOCK keynote the conference. However, the fire commissioner said it would be a safety hazard to have a fire-breathing robot dinosaur show up and possibly eat many of the conference attendees, so that idea didn't work.

What's that? You haven't heard of FAKEGRIMLOCK? If you haven't, it just goes to show the continuing (and in my mind, unfortunate) gulf between the IT and the greentech entrepreneurial communities. FAKEGRIMLOCK is a well-known startup robot dinosaur that lives on the internet and punches entrepreneurs in the face until their "fail" falls out. If you're not already following...

The State of Cleantech Entrepreneurship in 2014

Rob Day: June 17, 2014, 12:25 PM

As the time approaches to get serious about NextWave14 (coming up in just a few weeks!), I thought it would be a good time to take a step back and review how the overall "sector" is doing right now. And by and large, it's a happy picture.

The markets are booming

I put "sector" in quotation marks above because we all know that this is really a collection of a wide variety of markets and applications gathered under a consistent investment thesis. Cleantech isn't a sector; it's a lens for finding big opportunities across sectors.

But across many of those markets right now, we're seeing amazing growth continue.

Smart Investors, Not VCs, Are Funding Growth-Stage Cleantech Startups

Rob Day: June 5, 2014, 11:00 AM

Sign up for NextWave Greentech! Seats are filling up quickly, and it sold out last year.

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote up an analysis of early-stage cleantech venture rounds so far this year. I came away with the conclusion that very little was happening, except for in cases where a startup could perhaps be considered "cleantech" but was actually funded for entirely different reasons. Basically, that there are very, very few early-stage cleantech venture funders right now.

So I wanted to look at growth-stage financings in the sector (North America only) to do a similar "analysis" (read: lots of SWAGs and judgment calls, so treat accordingly) to see if the picture looks...

Could Cleantech Lead the Democratization of Venture Capital?

Rob Day: May 29, 2014, 11:36 AM

Did you buy your ticket to NextWave 2014 yet? You didn't? Get on that! It sold out last year, so don't wait until it's too late this year.

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In my last column, I ran through recent numbers and showed that there are very few early-stage venture capital check-writers in the cleantech sector right now. By the time you peel out startups that wouldn't think of calling themselves "cleantech," follow-on rounds reported as first rounds, and stuff that's just not a fit, the numbers dwindle down to only a very few deals at that stage.

But there's good news. Crowdfunding seems to be providing some success stories out there.

FINsix, a cool company with power electronics...

So Who’s Still Funding Early-Stage Cleantech?

Rob Day: May 20, 2014, 11:34 AM

I'm generally an optimist, and there's lots to be optimistic about right now in the cleantech sector. I've never seen a stronger group of startups in the sector as I see right now, with many fast-growing companies poised to do great things. It's what we're going to be highlighting at the NextWave Greentech 2014 conference on August 5th in Menlo Park -- last year's conference sold out, so get your ticket today so you don't end up on the waitlist like a bunch of disappointed folks did last year.

That said, I have to say I was surprised when I did a little research project recently to figure out who's funding Series A and B rounds for cleantech startups. You see, my distinct...

Venture Capital, Family Offices and the Drive for More Cleantech Success Stories

Rob Day: April 22, 2014, 10:00 AM

A while back, I wrote about the role “impact investors” could play in funding the next wave of cleantech startups. This week I had the opportunity to sit in on a conversation between several such investors from the family office community and some of the smartest generalist VCs still investing in the sector. It was a fascinating and educational afternoon.

The gist of the conversation revolved around one basic idea: how impact investors and VCs can work together to drive more successes in the sector. Because such successes (“we need ten Teslas, not just a couple”) would bring a lot more mainstream investors and entrepreneurs into the sector and feed a new wave of cleantech...