The goal of Green Light Distrikt is constantly changing as my work, and the work of other industry insiders, continues to shift. Currently, I’ve published a study guide for the Solar NABCEP exam, invented a solar installation tool, I’m responsible for all marketing and sales at HeatSpring, and am consulting with both renewable energy installation companies and companies launching new products, technologies or services targeted at the solar or geothermal industry. All of these experiences have provided me a valuable skill, into how to build a product quickly, get it in front of customers, and collect money, or not.
What started as a personal blog, turned into a blog about the cleantech industry in Boston, then about the industry in multiple cities, and now Green Light Distrikt is a blog that is for people who are building cleantech companies. The goal is to make the blog for other people like myself, those that are constantly exploring opportunities and working to build successful companies in the cleantech industry.
Here’s a review about who Green Light Distrikt is, what we’re writing about, the projects that we’re working on and how they relate together and then topics and themes we’ll be writing about in 2012.
Most of the topics fall under one simple concept that GLD is beginning to focus around: How can we increase the velocity of cleantech companies to $1 faster ? By this I mean, what can we do to get companies out of “idea stage” and into “making money stage” as quickly as possible.
My goal in outlining what we’re about is to make it clear for readers, so that you can know what to expect when you come to GLD. I want to attract people that are interested in cleantech entrepreneurship and make sure those who aren’t are not wasting their time.
What is Green Light Distrikt?
GLD is a blog and community about building profitable companies in the cleantech industry. Everything we do and write about will support the following question; “Will X blog post, meetup, event, etc be useful to a cleantech entrepreneur?” If the answer to this question is yes, we’ll cover it. If the answer is no, we won’t. This means that we’re only interested in news, policy, or other larges trends only in as much as they impact the day to day ability of a profitable cleantech company to be created.
We’re more interested in specific “how-tos” and expert advice from people that are working on and have solved real world problems then a synopsis of news. Topics like, how do you find customers, what’s the best way to prototype a product, how do you design or install solar and geothermal systems, can you invest in green real estate, are all extremely interesting to us.
How do we define cleantech?
Our definition of cleantech is any organization that is directly working on reducing the pollution our economy creates.
For this reason, we are interested in having industry insiders from many different regions, technologies, and business roles, because the opportunities we’re looking at are extremely vast and impact every part of our economy.
Who is Green Light Distrikt writing for?
We are writing for a very specific group of people. Our writing and community is targeted at people between the ages of 20 and 35 that are expanding, or actively working on starting a company in the cleantech field. A question I receive frequently is, are we “agist”? Yes, absolutely. Their are many events for investors and CEOs only. We believe it’s also important for their to place for people that are similar to us to gather.
What is Green Light Distrikt and how are all of our product related?
There’s a number of related projects GLD is working on. Here is a review of each and how they relate to GLD’s core mission.
- Blog. The blog is free for the public and is a place for me and our industry insiders to share what we’re working on, what we have learned and the various opportunities or challenges that we face. The purpose of making the blog public is to allow like-minded professionals the opportunity to connect with and learn from one another.
- Hitchhikers Guide to Cleantech (HHG). The Hitchhikers Guide will be a downloadable free product GLD offers that will be updated every 6 months. The purpose of the guide will be to help answer 6 simple questions about cleantech cluster across the globe. The questions will allow interested professionals and entrepreneurs to quickly understand local markets, opportunities and the resources needed to start a company.
- Cluster Chapters. GLD currently has 3 active chapters, New York, Boston and London. The purpose a chapter is simple. Provide an understanding of what’s happening in a local market on the ground.
- Friends of Green Light Distrikt. The Friends of Green Light District is similar to HHG is in that we’re going to be collecting and providing a list of amazing people, groups and resources that can help potential entrepreneurs. A sample list includes, the Boston Institute for Clean Energy Prototyping, NYC ACRE, Greentown Labs, and Wattnow.
- Energy Bar. EnergyBar is the second reincarnation of what started out as “Cleantech Kingpins.” The purpose of regular local meetups is simple. Learn from experts and provide a place to create real relationships. We believe building friendships between the current and future leaders of our industry is critical to growth. Currently Energy Bar’s are held regularly in Boston and London.
- Member Meetups: We’ll host the first member meetup in NYC in February. The purpose of the meetup is simple, explore real business opportunities and not just talk about it. The meetup will be restricted to professionals looking to build a company that have either market access, people who have access to sell to a specific market, and product people, those that can actually build something. The meetup will be limited to 15 people and will be driven by short presentation from attendees on market opportunities they see, or products they would like to sell.
- Green Light Distrikt Membership. Green Light Distrikt membership is a feature that will be added to GLD in 2012. Our goal is not to create another social network but rather provide people a better way to keep in touch with people who love GLD. Benefit will include access to conferences, first access to meetups, being able to reach out to other GLD members.
What topics will we be investigating in 2012?
This list is sure to change, but here’s a list of topics I’m super excited to share and explore.
- Where are the opportunites for young professionals?
- How can we reverse engineer cleantech companies to create profitable businesses without a lot of capital or formal credentials?
- The problem with cleantech is the industry is not making enough money. Is this changing at all?
- Where are the small, profitable, niche opportunities that large multinational corporations are not looking at nor could they exploit?
- Forget the national government, what can cities and state governments do to support new companies?
- How can we apply ‘lean startup’ concepts from technology to cleantech. We need to learn how to building prototypes faster and cheaper, we need to find our customers quickly and start charging money.
- What can we do to increase decrease prototyping time and costs?
- How can we start focusing on customers first, then investors and advisors?
- What is the real difference between regional clusters? Both within the country and internationally. Is there a place where it’s easier to start a company?
- Energy and IT. Where are the opportunities in using software to solve energy problems?
- B2B Tech tools. There has been huge growth in the solar and geothermal industry and there are a lot of problems that small businesses are facing in these industry, can we create simple software products to solve them?
- Customer development: How can increase the velocity to $1 for cleantech company? We need to figure out how to find customers and sell to them quickly.
- Is it a challenge for new companies to find talent?
- How to evaluate B2B vs B2C opportunities?
- What are the challenges of creating a product based vs. service based business? How do you scale either? What are best practices?
- What to consider if building a new product or service for the solar PV, geothermal heat pump, or solar thermal market. These will be lessons learned and on-going advice from what I’ve learned at my work with HeatSpring.
- Resources and advice and entrepreneurs that are looking to building installation companies in the solar PV, geothermal heat pump and solar thermal industry. Again, this will be more insights from my work at HeatSpring.