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Archive for October, 2012

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/02/Hurricane_Sandy_GOES-13_Oct_24_2012_1445z.pngWhile there are a number of fake photos making the rounds, I came across 100 selected photos today of the devastation from Superstorm Sandy. With winds stretching over 1,100 miles, this is the largest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history.

See the photos here.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Vice President of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

 

 

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Vortex Tools qualified as a semifinalist in the Cleantech Open—a global competition to accelerate green technologies—for their application in turning harmful CO2 waste from oil and gas wells into recovered high-value energy. This series of blogs is designed to chronicle our experience going through the 2012 Cleantech Open as a reference point for future applicants. Today’s blog: What to expect from final judging and the awards ceremony.

Of note: I’m writing points 1 and 2 before we find out if we’re selected as one of the Rocky Mountain region finalists—it feels like I’ll be more objective that way.

After four months, we’ve completed all the regional activities in the Cleantech Open. If Vortex is selected as one of the finalists in the Rocky Mountain region, I’ll blog onward. If not, you’re on your own, dear souls. As usual, these are the opinions of one participant going through the process in 2012:

1. Even Volunteers are Frustrated by the End

I’ve mentioned throughout these blogs that there’s a degree of disorganization that needs to be addressed in the Cleantech Open. Thankfully, as the competition progress to the final stages, things mostly run smoothly for the companies. However, this doesn’t mean that the volunteers aren’t still stressed. We happened to catch a high-up volunteer on an honest day and he expressed his frustration that nearly every “this will not be moved” deadline was extended and that, with the current structure, even the simplest tasks took far too long to be completed.

In coming to the end of this process, one of the last tasks is to upload your presentation about 10 days before the final judging day. This is good, as since the Power Point deck of your presentation cannot be changed, you get a week-and-a-half to get your final presentation polished. There’s just one catch: Throughout this process, we tried to turn our work in early. This meant we didn’t get the shaft from website overload issues and that I didn’t flog my teammates as the deadline rapidly approached (it’s only happened three or four times, I swear).

In seeing that the deadline was on a Sunday—the worst day for an online deadline, as there’s all the issues and none of the technical support—we elected to wrap up two days early. Unfortunately, the Cleantech Open website wasn’t accepting any documents, as the organizers hadn’t opened the submissions back up after the worksheets were due. Apparently nobody else tried to submit early, or at the very least, they hadn’t complained. It’s these kinds of minor oversights that can cause major issues, but once you get the last of your materials in, it’s time to present:

2. Some Judges Will Be Harsh

In the Rocky Mountain region, both the mock judging and the final judging were held at Faegre Baker Daniels, though the judges and the rooms were different each time. When it comes to final judging, you have to arrive 30 minutes early. You get 10 minutes to present, then there’s 10 minutes of Q&A followed by five minutes of feedback. In the Q&A you’re graded based on how you answer questions and in the feedback you’re graded based on shutting up. Although two people can present, only one can answer questions while the other is a scribe. There are six judges in the room (it can be hard to tell who’s who) along with a few more familiar faces.

At this stage in the Cleantech Open process, no matter how much you’ve enjoyed the connections or the ways it has helped you refine your company message, you’ll be ready to be done. With this is mind we elected to go first. Why wait a few more hours?

By Alison Martin of SimonCowellOnline.com (XF58) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Simon Cowell

We’d received positive feedback throughout the Cleantech Open, but since they’re preparing you to go against other finalists from other regions, some of the judges can be tougher on you. For the most part, we appreciated the criticisms, but there was one judge who was the equivalent of Simon Cowell, where even if the heart of the criticism was fair, his delivery was not. It seemed like it was his job to get a rise out of you, but we survived him fine. Unfortunately, this was the first time we felt we experienced a bias in the Cleantech Open process—something that was wonderfully absent before.

As for the other judges, one of the earliest frustrations comes back again, in that even if the information was a part of your presentation, they can miss or misconstrue that info. In some ways it felt like they hadn’t read our worksheet materials and executive summary at all, lowering their value in the competition, but with 16 other companies still in our region (down from 20 total at the start), I can see the need to cut them some slack, too. In updating your presentation to earlier rounds of judging, you either, a) get criticism that’s the opposite of what the last judge wanted; or b) get new criticism based on the flaws that are left. Inevitably, a 10-minute presentation is designed to have gaps. In the real world, this type of presentation is designed to leave people wanting more. In the Cleantech Open, it’s a never-ending edit-fest, but that’s the parameters in this type of competition.

3. Awards Ceremony: See How Far People Have Come / Haven’t Come

And then the big day…

In our region, the awards were held at the University of Denver’s Cable Center and were hosted by Emmy award winning news anchor, Cheryl Preheim. She graciously skipped the 60-year anniversary of her own network, 9 News, to host the Cleantech Open awards.

Before that though, teams were required to show up by 2 PM (most by 1 PM) in order to set up a presentation table and get parking validated (never miss an opportunity to avoid paying for that kind of thing). At 2:30 we went through and practiced our three-minute pitches. What was strange about this is that A) some teams did not show up for this practice and had a hard time getting through their actual pitch; and B) very few teams made a specific three-minute slide deck. Many had either just a single screen or had just put in the 10-minute version, which they’d have no hope of getting though. Despite the standard claim that you wouldn’t be able to change your presentation, several companies were allowed to do so, because deadlines mean nothing in the Cleantech Open. Every deadline throughout this four-month process was amended/extended.  

Before the pitches, there’s essentially a small trade show in the main area of the Cable Center consisting of the Rocky Mountain finalists. Like the original national conference, you get a 6’ table for anything you can fit on there (electricity is extra). From 3-4, the sponsors come in and from 4-5 it’s open to anyone with a ticket—likely your friends and family who like you enough to pay $60 per ticket. There’s an open bar and “heavy appetizers,” which means random hors d’oeuvres and a feeling you should’ve eaten a bigger lunch. All in all, 170 people attended the event.

After this, you’ll hear a few brief speeches before moving into the auditorium for the three-minute pitches and awards. The teams will sit up front to get in and out easily. If you don’t complete your pitch in three minutes, the sound booth will turn up that fancypants orchestral awards music until you get the hint (though some speeches sure did seem longer than that limit). As usual, you don’t know who you’re in the room with, so present your best.

Like everything else in the Cleantech Open, not all regions are created equal. The original western region in California—which started it all and is still a hotbed of green activity—gets six entrants to the finals (one in each category). The Rocky Mountain region gets three entrants (and can pick multiples from the same category) whereas the new pilot region in Texas only got one finalist this year (based on the number of entrants). Each region also picks a winner in sustainability that gets to go on to the Global Forum/finals in California the following month. Each winner gets prizes in cash and services.

After the awards are handed out, you’ll spend the last hour back out by your table meeting and greeting people again, this time with dessert. By 8:30-9, things wrapped up and it’s tear down/pack up time. In the end, no matter who wins, you’ve built some great relationships and you’re happy to see whoever go on…

…but if you’re like me, you’ll have some opinions on who does and does not go on and why. I’ll cover those next time.

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In the next blog, I’ll reveal Vortex Tools’ placement in the Cleantech Open and will share my closing thoughts on the semifinalist process. If you have any questions or comments, please email me at blog (at) spiroflo (dot) com

Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo explains a common lie from airlines.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/16/Boeing_747_Lufthansa.jpgI was waiting for a flight recently when the staff stated, “We’re running a little behind, but we’ll make it up in the air.”

At this, the aviation engineer standing next to me scoffed. He explained that planes can go 1% faster, but as this burns 5% more fuel, no pilot — or at least the ones who don’t want to get fired — would do this, as top fuel guzzlers are tracked and disciplined, so all they’re making up is mile-high lies.

And yet you often land on time… so what is it? Well, the actual flight time is exaggerated, so even if you leave late, the airlines want to close with a good impression. As long as that rubber chicken meal doesn’t bounce back to haunt you, they might well succeed.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Vice President of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo looks at a clip from the first Presidential debate where the candidates discuss ending tax breaks for oil and green energy.

Last night, President Obama and republican candidate Romney debated a number of issues. One of the most quotable lines, however, came from Mitt Romney on President Obama’s decision to put $90 billion or “fifty years worth of (tax) breaks” into green energy, namely solar and wind. Romney cited such failures as Solyndra and Ener1. Tesla and Fisker (and their flaming car) also got lumped in as implied wastes of money.

The real zinger from Romney to Obama: “You don’t just pick winners and losers, You pick the losers.”

Of course, this was couched as being a friend’s opinion, not Romney’s. Early in the clip, Obama confirms that he believes that the 100-year oil tax breaks should go: “It’s time to end it,” he said:

However frustrating you consider these opinions, you can take comfort in knowing that you probably have more control over these politicians than moderator Jim Lehrer did last night.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Vice President of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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SpiroFlo breaks down a report from Clean Edge on the top 10 clean energy states in the US.

I’ve mentioned before that one of the problems with “green” is that it’s a term you can make mean whatever you want based on how you define things. Take this Clean Edge report on the top 10 clean energy states:

It sounds good. They use “more than 70 different indicators in technology, policy, and capital”  — including patents filed, capital invested, alternative fuels/vehicles registered, amount of clean source energy, etc. — to rank the 50 states. While #1 is no surprise, some of the others shake out differently than I thought:

  1. California
  2. Oregon
  3. Massachusetts
  4. New York
  5. Colorado
  6. Washington
  7. New Mexico
  8. Minnesota
  9. Connecticut
  10. Vermont

The top 10 list in clean energy leadership — based on capital invested, green laws, job creation, etc. — is similar, save some ranking shifts and a couple of replacements: New Jersey and Maryland come in (at #5 and #8 respectively); New Mexico and Vermont get the boot. No need to call your bookie: California holds strong at #1.

However, even the creators of the study know some of the numbers are off. For example, Oklahoma leads in electrical vehicles registered, but as two of the largest rental companies simply register there and rent the cars elsewhere — surprise! — California is still number one in this area. Iowa legitimately leads in wind power reliance, but that doesn’t actually mean they produce wind power; they just use it. This pinnacle of wind power reliance? 15%. California takes the bronze here.

Eventually though, my brain starts to rebel. Even based on conservative estimates, California has the top 6 of the 10 worst cities for air pollution (and some studies credit them with 9 of the 10), yet they place at the top of most clean energy studies. Granted, you can’t help your population (leading to more cars and thus more air pollution) and some of the other dynamics of where you live, but if it’s about effort, why doesn’t a state like Wyoming place higher? Does their high “clean” placement in wind power usage not offset their high “dirty” placement in coal use?

If nothing else, I bet I can rig a study to get the results I want. Actually, this is the internet; if I wait 10 minutes, someone will do it for me.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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