Posts Tagged ‘grants’

cleantech open logoSpiroFlo qualified as a semifinalist in the 2013 Cleantech Open—a global competition to accelerate green technologies—for its application in reducing pumping costs and providing water/energy efficiency to green communities. This blog covers the flaws of pursuing nothing but green grants.

Given that I had a thing or fifty to say about the Cleantech Open the last time, I haven’t said much this time around. However, I had a chat with one of the generalist mentors not too long ago, and it shaped my thinking on both the Cleantech Open and niche groups as a whole.

In going through the 4-5 month process in 2012 as Vortex Tools, I assumed the generalist mentor the Cleantech Open assigned to you would help fill in any confusing parts of the process. This year I know better, but I bounced my thinking off a long-term mentor. His response:

We intentionally don’t help Cleantech Open teams in every little step of the the process. You need to be able to figure it out, and serves as a litmus test for how well you’ll do overall in business. Actually, the teams that win the Cleantech Open usually don’t do the best in business. You can spend all your time in green competitions—NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory), DoE (Department of Energy), Cleantech this, Cleantech that—and never have to have any success as a business. You just keep getting grants. Often times, it’s the losers in the Cleantech Open who go out and do better in business.

It’s one thing if I think these things, but it’s another to have it confirmed by a staple of the organization (it was no surprise to me that he was mentor of the year several times). However, it’s the truth. Small green competitions are full of archetypes. When you see someone who’s under 35 at the Cleantech Open, odds are they’re a PhD. Many of them are bright; many of them have qualified for several stages of SBIR/STTR grants (government grants for small emerging technologies); and many of them will go nowhere in business.

It’s not necessarily inexperience or taking the wrong path—the archetype became a good standard for a reason—it’s the reality that doing well in the classroom doesn’t equate to doing well in the business world. Plus, the reality is most small business fail anyway—there are gobs of ways to mess it up.

Here’s to failing in the right areas.

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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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